Ponta da Piedade in Portuguese means a point of mercy. The name refers to the time when fishermen in their small wooden boats used to go out to the open sea from a small pier at the cape. Fishermen’s wives waited for them at the top of the cliffs hoping for their safe return. The only things they could see in the dark were faraway lights.
The peninsula is famous for its unusual rock formations, caves, and natural arches that you can see walking along the cliffs or from a boat. The rugged cliffs are about 20 meters high views from the tops are truly spectacular. Ponta da Piedade and the Benagil Cave are two not-to-miss attractions in the Algarve.
Cape St.Vincent in Sagres is another picturesque cape with dramatic scenery in the Algarve. It’s the southwesternmost point of Portugal and mainland Europe. If you have time I’d definitely recommend including it in your Algarve itinerary.
Where is Ponta da Piedade?
Ponta da Piedade is a picturesque rocky cape 2,5 km from the Old Town of Lagos, southern Algarve, Portugal. Visiting the cape is one of the not-to-miss things to do in Lagos.
How to get there?
Driving from Lagos is the fastest way of getting to Ponta da Piedade. The drive takes 10-15 minutes depending on where in Lagos you’re staying. There is a parking spot at the Lighthouse. In the summer it’s recommended to arrive early to find a parking spot by 10 am it gets full. If you’re planning to visit several places in the Algarve region renting a car will be the best transport option for you. It’s possible to rent a car at Faro Airport. Prices vary depending on the season with summer being at their highest. Booking a car in advance in highly recommended if traveling during the peak season.
There are no public buses that go to the point. There is a tourist train that runs during the season and goes from Lagos to Ponta da Piedade. The train stops at Meia Praia, Lagos Marina, Dona Ana Beach, and Ponta de Piedade. The ticket costs 3,5 Euros. You can take a train one way and walk back if you don’t want to wait for the next train to arrive.
Walking is a good option if you have enough time. On the way you can see two of the most beautiful beaches in Lagos: Praia Dona Ana and Camilo Beach. If you take the shortest route from the Old Town to Ponta da Piedade along the road it’s about 2,7 km one way, a 30-minutes walk. If you take the scenic route along the cliffs, past the beaches it’ll be around 3,5 km and can take about 1 hour.
Facilities at Ponta da Piedade
At Ponta da Piedade Lighthouse you can find toilets, a restaurant with a small shop, a parking lot, and a tourist train stop.
Tips for visiting the point
- Bring enough water with you if you’re planning to walk around and explore the area.
- Wear a cap and apply sunscreen. There is no shade to hide from the sun.
- Follow the established trails and boardwalks. Many people in search of a better shot climb over rails and get very close to the edges of the cliffs. Limestone cliffs are very fragile you can damage the structure and risk falling down.
- The light for taking photos is the best in the mornings and evenings.
Different tours to Ponta da Piedade
To really appreciate the beauty of the cape you have to see it from the sea. Going on a boat or kayaking around Ponta da Piedade gives you a very different view from the one that you get walking around it.
A boat tour to Ponta da Piedade is the most popular water tour to the cape and one of the best things to do in Lagos. It’s better to go on a small boat tour to be able to get closer to the cliffs and inside some caves. Boat tours are suitable for people with young children and even babies. They even have small lifejackets for kids. We did the boat tour with our 8-months old daughter and she was fine. Well she fell asleep as soon as we started driving and woke up only at the end of the trip. I wouldn’t go with a newborn but from 5-6 months old it’s fine.
Boats don’t stop at any beaches along the way it’s not allowed. They do go inside caves and through natural arches. The main thing to consider is the weather. Boat tours don’t go if it’s extremely windy. If the swell is too big they won’t be able to go inside caves and through arches. Make sure to take photos on the way to because on the way back the boat drive fast without making any stops.
All tours to Ponta da Piedade leave from Lagos Marina. We did our tour (actually all our water tours from Lagos) with the Days of Adventure tour company. It’s a reliable company, all guides speak good English. They have a nice waiting area with tables and umbrellas at the Marina. We booked our tour online the price was the same as at the office. There is often a discount for online booking.
Instead of taking a motorboat, you can sail to Ponta da Piedade. It’s a 2-hours excursion along the cliffs on a traditional Portuguese sailboat. Don’t worry about not being able to get inside the caves once at the cape, sailboats are anchored and you get on a smaller boat to visit the caves.
If you want to have a fun boat trip to Ponta da Piedade with paddle boards, water trampoline, and cocktails you can do a 3-hours fun catamaran cruise that takes you from Lagos all the way to Praia da Luz.
An advantage of doing a kayak tour is that you can get closer to the beaches and even stop at some of them. You have two options to get on a kayak at the Batata Beach and paddle to Ponta da Piedade or to do a combined boat+kayak trip from Marina de Lagos. The kayak tour from Batata Beach takes 3 hours of paddling along the coast to and back, it’s about 4 km return.
A boat + kayak tour to Ponta da Piedade from Marina de Lagos takes about 2 hours. First, you get on a big boat with kayaks on it that takes you out of the harbour. Once at the cliffs, they launch kayaks and you can start paddling. There are single and double kayaks. The kayak tour consists of 3 parts; driving on a boat (30-45 minutes), kayaking (1 hour), swimming or snorkelling at grottos (15 minutes).
Just like boat tours, it’s impossible to go on a kayak tour in bad weather conditions (strong wind, big swell). The tour is suitable for children but not for toddlers/babies.
Highlights of the tours
- Batata Beach
- Praia dos Estudantes
- Dona Ana Beach
- Ponte Romano (the Roman Bridge), you get the best view of it from the water. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to access the bridge by land because it’s a private territory.
- The Elephant rock, a cliff that looks like an elephant’s head.
- The Kiss rock, two rocks that look like two head joined in a kiss.
- The Titanic rock, two cliffs next to each other one looks like a ship and one like an iceberg.
- Praia do Pinheiros, a beach that can be seen at low tide with a difficult access.
- Praia da Balança, another small beach that is difficult to access it completely disappears at high tide.
- Many natural arches and caves.
- Ponta da Piedade Lighthouse is one of the oldest lighthouses in Portugal. The best views of the lighthouse are definitely from the water.
- Porto de Mos Beach.
Hiking at Ponta da Piedade
We’ve hiked to and around Ponta da Piedade many times. The scenery along the route is spectacular; rugged limestone cliffs, sandy beaches, turquoise water, bizarre rock formations, and breathtaking lookout points. You can start the hike from the cliffs at Praia do Pinhao. It’s about 3,5 km from the Pinhao Beach to the Lighthouse at Ponta da Piedade. The walk takes 1h30min. or longer depending on how much you stop and how many beaches you visit along the way. From Praia do Pinhao you can walk to Praia Dona Ana, one of the most picturesque beaches in Lagos. The views of the beach from the top of the cliffs are the best. This part of the route is not for travellers with small children.
From Dona Ana you can continue along the road on a sidewalk towards Ponta da Piedade. You can get back to the cliffs at Camilo Beach there is a turn off from the road. To access the beach you have to go down a long staircase. O Camilo Restaurant on the top of the cliffs is a nice place to stop for lunch or snack. It’s known for having fresh seafood and fish. From Praia do Camilo you can continue walking along the coast first on a footpath and then on new boardwalks all the way to Ponta da Piedade Lighthouse.
Once at the lighthouse follow a footpath (on the left) to a couple of breathtaking lookout points and a long staircase leading down to a small pier. In old times the pier was used by fishermen. Nowadays small boat tours leave from there. Only four families have the right to launch their boats at the pier. They’ve inherited the right from their ancestors that were local fishermen.
The boardwalk continues on the other side of the road. The total length of the boardwalks at Ponta da Piedade is around 2 km (one way). The boardwalk is wide without stairs suitable for wheelchairs and baby strollers. We often walk there pushing our daughter in a stroller. There are several lookout points with benches along the route.
It’s possible to walk from Ponta da Piedade to Porto de Mos Beach. The distance is 2,5 km it’s partly on boardwalks, partly on a footpath and partly on a sidewalk throughout the town. The last stage of one of the Rota Vicentina multi-day routes – the Fishermen’s Trail from Praia da Luz to Lagos goes around Ponta da Piedade.
If you enjoy walking I can recommend you to visit the Carvoeiro boardwalk, a short 600 m wooden walkway along the cliffs. For a longer walk head to the Alvor boardwalk, a 6-kilometers boardwalk between Alvor beach and the river.
When is the best time to visit?
During the peak season between June and September especially on weekends early morning is the best time to visit Ponta da Piedade. It’s better to arrive there at 8 am (or earlier) to have some time to walk on boardwalks and take photos at the scenic spots without hundreds of tourists. Another advantage of coming early in the morning is the weather it gets very hot in the Algarve to do any outdoor activities in summer it’s better to start as early as possible.
One more thing to consider is the wind we have some extremely windy days here in Lagos all year round. It can be unpleasant to walk around Ponta da Piedade if it’s super windy. Again thumbs up for early mornings it’s usually less windy in the morning the wind starts picking up in the afternoon.
Evenings are great too for avoiding the heat and for taking nice photos of the coast. The light in the evenings is really good. There are fewer tourists in the evenings as well compared to late morning/afternoon.
If you happen to be in Lagos during the off-season (October to March) you don’t have to worry too much about crowds and heat. Just choose the best weather day and time and go there.
Where to stay in Lagos?
Lagos is a popular summer holiday destination. Even though there are hundreds of hotels, guesthouses, and hostels during the peak season (July to September), booking your accommodation in advance is highly recommended. Otherwise, most well-priced places with good reviews will be fully booked.
Budget | JJs Yard 2 | Boutique Taghostel | Cloud 9 Hostel |
Middle price | Old School Guest House | Palm Villa Estudios | Dream Lagos B&B |
High-end | Villas D. Dinis – Charming Residence (adults only) | Marina Club Lagos Resort |