Wander or Bust is an Elite Daily travel series that follows young women all over the globe to record their journeys as they experience the thrill of the far-flung and unknown.
They'll track their budgets, where they stay, where they eat and drink, and where they took that amazing Instagram that got them ~maximum exposure.~ The internet is full of travel advice, but none from women just like you. Read on for the tips no one else gives you, and when in doubt, get on the plane.
Here's Brittany Leitner's Wander Or Bust guide to Lagos, Portugal.
My Name: Brittany Leitner
What I Do: Senior Lifestyle Editor, Elite Daily
Where I Live: Brooklyn, New York
Where I Went: Lagos, Portugal
How Long I Stayed: 3 days, 2 nights
My Spending Style: Occasionally indulgent. I don't throw money around, but I will definitely splurge on more than a few expensive things on a vacation.
Where I Got My Recommendations:
My friends and I who went on the trip (four girls) sort of blindly planned this trip. It all started with an Instagram post I saw of the Benagil Cave, and the trip formed from there.
Exchange Rate At Time Of Travel: $1 USD = €.84 EUR
What That Looks Like IRL: $50 USD = €40.15 EUR
Preferred Payment Method: Cash
Phone Bill: I had just switched my carrier to Wing that month, so as a joining bonus, all costs were covered by Wing.
Mode of Transport: Airplane
I was already visiting London, so took a flight from London to Faro, Portugal and then back to London again.
Price: $600 from New York to London; $155 from London to Faro
Extra Costs: $10 for train transport from Faro to Lagos (two-hour ride, but felt like a lot longer).
Transport Total: $765
Location: Rua Infante de Sagres 156 Lagos, Faro 8600 Portugal — right on the main strip of restaurants, bars, and beaches. Perfect location.
Extra Costs: None
Would I Recommend It To Someone Else:
I think I would recommend it for its location and access to the main beach area. However, it was a bare minimum AirBnB and had no AC.
Accommodation Total: $60 (was $240 total, but split between four people)
Breakfast-Lunch Cost: About $30/day
Dinner Cost: $20/day
Average Total Cost: $50/day
Tip Situation: We tipped about 10 percent the whole time. Tipping is appreciated, not expected.
Breakfast was a challenge, though if you poke around on the main strip, you can find something similar to an American breakfast (something hearty that will last you throughout the day), instead of what everyone else seemed to be eating for breakfast, which was fruit or a smoothie.
I’d recommend going to dinner early so you don’t have to wait for a table. Most people have dinner later at night, and the waits get longer for a table.
Favorite Restaurant: Cervejaria Ferradura
Location: Portugal, R. Primeiro de Maio 26A, 8600-315 Lagos, Portugal
Price: I think the four of us probably paid around $13 each for a full and amazing dinner, complete with tall Portugese beers.
I am so thankful I took a photo of the outside of this place, so I could remember it fondly. What made this place so perfect was its authenticity. We sat in a little table outside, and the owners were a husband-and-wife duo, who didn’t speak English (and we didn’t speak Portugese!), so we had to go inside the restaurant and point to what we wanted to have them cook up for us. We got an assortment of clams and mussels and octopus. The clams in butter were perhaps the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted in my life. Also using the bathroom was a treat, since you needed a key and I had absolutely no clue how to ask for that in Portugese. Someone eventually just noticed me standing near it and pointed to the barback, who handed me a key.
Food Total: $150
There are a lot of young people hanging around and walking the streets at night. This was so nice to see and to be walking distance from the nightlife from our AirBnB.
What People Wear Out:
Casual clothes. There were a lot of shorts and tank combos, especially with bathing suits peeping out underneath. It is a beach town, after all.
Average Cost Of A Pint: Depending where you go, a beer can cost between $3 to $5.
Extra Cost To Know About: No
Last Call: 1:30 a.m.
Average Total Cost Of A Night Out: We usually took turns buying rounds, so around $40 per night.
Cheapest Bar I'd Actually Go Back To: Black Cat bar
Black Cat bar had awesome mojitos. Most people hang out outside of the bar in the streets, which makes for an interesting and super approachable environment. A few guys had guitars and sat outside and led a group sing-along, with a lot of American songs.
Going Out Total: $200
What I Spent A Lot On That Was Totally Worth It:
The best thing we did by far was tour the Benagil Cave in Portimao. We were very much train people during this vacation. Took a train to Portimao from Lagos and it took forever! The train is reliable (comes on time) but is very slow, so make sure to account for lag time. We really didn’t spend a lot the whole trip though, we spent $25 each for this boat tour.
What I Spent A Lot On That Was Totally Not Worth It:
Nothing! Our tour was the only thing we spent money on. The beach days were free!
What I Spent Little Or No Money On That Was Awesome:
Definitely the beaches. We went to Praia Dona Ana, in the photos below. The sun was burning and the water was very cool, almost too cold to be in for too long! Women went topless, which I had a great time partaking in. It just feels better to be free like that in Europe, as opposed to America where old creeps ogle you.
Favorite Thing I Did, Regardless Of Cost:
The boat toar to the Benagil Cave was incredible and probably the most underrated thing to do on a European vacation. It was like a dream.
Hidden Gem I Found:
The restaurant I mentioned earlier was definitely a hidden gem. We just got lucky and tried it. The beaches are filled with hidden gems, like swimmable caves, and more. My advice would be to not park it in just one spot on the sand. Leave your group and walk around a bit. See where the kids are running toward, or where people are gathering. This is how my friend and I discovered one of the coolest beach caves that we had to swim to. Didn’t even have time to bring a camera! That’s how spur of the moment it was.
The Photo I Took That Got The Most Attention:
Excursions/Extras Total: $35
General Shopping: $0
We didn’t exactly go souvenir shopping (I hate clutter), but the four of us girls on the trip did rock $4 “friendship anklets,” which we thought were very fun and funny. Photo of us wearing them here.
Souvenirs/Shopping Total: $4
Best Lagos Hack:
Definitely stay in a cheap Airbnb, if anything else, it encourages you to get out and relax on the beautiful beaches instead of your hotel room.
Advice For Anyone Traveling Alone:
The trains did feel safe (and had AC!), but they were a huge time suck. If I could do it all again, I’d splurge on a car service just for more stress-free/efficient travel.
Total Trip Cost: $1,214
Worth It? Absolutely. The boat tour really was magical. While on the boat going right under and in the caves of Portimao, I just had this moment where I couldn’t believe I was actually there. I also couldn’t believe that more people I knew weren’t talking about Portugal and its beauty! It’s highly underrated in my opinion, and I am so thankful I decided to go there.