Ericeira or Lagos: Which Destination is Best to Visit?

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Portugal: a country of sandy beaches, grilled sardines, and some of Europe’s best surf. With so many beautiful destinations to discover, it can be hard to know where to visit. Luckily, we’re here to help you decide. If you’re stuck between Ericeira or Lagos, look no further. We’ve put together a comparison guide to help you decipher which seaside paradise is the place for you.

Ericeira is a not-so-sleepy fishing village on the Western Coast of Portugal. Famed for its surfing scene, beautiful beaches, and laid-back atmosphere, the town attracts a mix of mainly Portuguese tourists in the summer and surfers in the winter. Lagos, on the other hand, is located in southern Portugal’s Algarve region. With a walled old town, baroque architecture, and rustic shoreline that offers sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean, Lagos is a picture-perfect holiday destination.

So, Ericeira or Lagos – which place is right for you? From accommodation to prices, beaches and nightlife, read on to see how the two destinations compare.

Ericeira or Lagos? Getting there

Ericeira is just a short 35-minute drive from Lisbon.
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You’ve landed in Portugal. Before you can enjoy all that Lagos or Ericeira has to offer, you need to know how to get there. So, which one is easier to access? 

Ericeira is located just 50km from the vibrant city of Lisbon – an easy 35-minute drive. If you’re planning to get to Ericeira, your best bet is to fly to Lisbon. Of course, the easiest option is to hire a car and drive yourself there, but this is by no means necessary.

For door-to-door service, you can hire a private transfer, which costs around $70 each way for 4 people ($17.50 per head). Alternatively, those on a budget can take the bus from Campo Grande in Lisbon city center, which is a short 10-minute metro ride away from the airport. It takes around 75 minutes to reach Ericeira and costs just $8. Or, there’s the option of a taxi, which costs between $70 and $80 and takes about 40-minutes.

All in all, there’s plenty of options to get to Ericeira, ranging from extremely budget-friendly to relatively pricey. But luckily none of these options take more than 2 hours, making Ericeira a very easy destination to access. 

To get to Lagos, you’ll need to fly to the Portuguese capital of Faro. From the airport, you’ll need to get a bus or taxi into the city center. There are a number of direct but infrequent buses and trains from Faro city to Lagos. While these are cheap options, they are also long. Buses take just over 2 hours and the train just under 2 hours. Taxis to take the same journey cost around $117, and pre-booked private transfers around $90 for four people one way. The journey is about 70 minutes.

If it’s a toss-up between Ericeira and Lagos in terms of ease of access, we’d say that Ericeira wins – it’s both quicker and cheaper to get to than Lagos. 

Erceira or Lagos? Accommodation

Lagos has a wider selection of places to stay than Ericeira.
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So you’ve arrived at your destination. The next question is where to stay. Luckily, both Lagos and Ericeira have plenty of brilliant places to stay. But which is better? 

Whether you’re after a quaint guesthouse or a family-friendly resort, there’s a wide variety of places to stay in Ericeira. On the more expensive end of the spectrum, there are a number of resort-style hotels complete with pools, restaurants, and even spas. These include the lavishly-fitted apart-hotel You and The Sea and Vila Galé Ericeira, a huge former mansion-turned-hotel that looms over Baleia beach.

For those on a budget, there’s a number of hostels, including a highly-rated Selina hostel. There are also some cute guesthouses. Our favorite? The Eco Soul Guesthouse, whose secluded position and beach views makes it the perfect setting for a romantic getaway. Looking for more information on accommodation Ericeira? Check out our guide to places to stay in Ericeira.

As a larger and more touristy destination, Lagos has a larger number of hotels than Ericeira. Luxury travelers can peruse a good list of five-star hotels, including the Iberostar Selection, which is renowned for its world-class service and pristine facilities.

On the other end of the spectrum, you’ll also find a good array of hostels in Lagos. Olive Hotel Lagos comes recommended as a homely hostel with a friendly and laid-back vibe. For party-goers, there are also quite a few party hostels that serve as great bases to explore the town’s nightlife. Beachside stays are the norm in Lagos, with plenty of accommodation between 300 and 1,000 yards from the beach, meaning that wherever you stay, you’re likely to have some pretty spectacular coastal views. 

So Ericeira or Lagos – which one wins for accommodation? If you’d prefer to stay in a cozy little guest-house, you’ll probably prefer Ericeira. On the other hand, if your idea of the perfect holiday is lazing in the lap of a luxury hotel, Lagos definitely has more options. All in all, being a bigger place, Lagos really does bring the range when it comes to different types of accommodation – from five-star hotels to quirky hostels – so we’d say that it just nudges it. 

Erceira or Lagos? Beaches

Praia da Dona Ana is considered one of the best beaches in the world.
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There is no shortage of golden sanded beaches in Portugal, but which destination has the best beaches – Ericeira or Lagos? 

Ericeira has four popular sandy beaches a short walk from its center as well as a great variety of different types of beaches just a short drive away. The most central beach is Praia dos Pescadores. This is also the town’s port and is surrounded by a cluster of popular bars and eateries. Due to its sheltered positioning, this beach has calm waters, making it a great spot for families.

Praia de Sao Sebastiao is a rugged beach north of the center of town, popular with surfers. A little further out – on the road from Lisbon to Ericeira – is Foz do Lizandro. This beach is actually located where the river Lizandro meets the sea. It’s a wide expanse of thick golden sand with a number of bars and cafés – suitable for bathers and surfers alike.

Lagos has plenty of beaches right on its doorstep. Praia da Batata, for instance, is just a few minutes walk from the town center. With an east-facing aspect that shields it from winds and Atlantic swells, this is a very safe beach to bathers. It’s also a great spot to laze in the sun, catching a lot of the morning sunshine.

Praia da Dona Ana is the jewel in the crown of Portugal’s many beaches. This beach is cited as the best beach in the Algarve and was even called the ‘best beach in the world’ by Condé Nast Traveler. With crystal clear azure waters and rugged sandstone rock formations, Dona Ana is a truly beautiful sight – a must-visit for anyone visiting Lagos.

While both Ericeira and Lagos have a tremendous range of beaches, Praia da Dona Ana wins this one for Lagos!

Erceira or Lagos? Surfing

Portugal has some of the best surfing in Europe.
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Lagos may be home to the best beach in the world, but which destination is better for surfing? 

Ericeira is home to some of the best surf spots in Portugal. In fact, it’s the only place in Europe to be considered a World Surfing Reserve, a title it earned in 2011. As a consequence, Ericeira has become something of a Mecca for surfers from all around the world, who come here to ride hefty Atlantic waves. From challenging breaks for seasoned surfers, such as Coxos, or entry-level beaches like Foz de Lizandro, Ericeira is the place to go for anyone with an interest in surfing. 

Lagos does reasonably well on the surfing front too. Porto do Mos is renowned for having large swells during winter months, while Praia da Luz and Meia Praia both have good breaks throughout the year. 

However, there’s no real contest here. Ericeira is the best surfing destination in Portugal. Some would even say the best surfing destination in Europe!

Erceira or Lagos? Nightlife

There are plenty of great places to go out in both Ericeira and Lagos.
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If you like to party, you’re probably wondering whether Ericeira or Lagos has the best nightlife. The truth is that both have fairly thriving nightlife scenes. 

Ericeira’s nightlife tends to be a bit more laidback and casual. Think cocktails with sunset views after a long day surfing. Jukebox Ericeira and Bamboo Bar are favorites with people seeking out this sort of vibe. For clubbing, Ouriço, which overlooks Praia dos Pescadores, is a popular option. At fifty years old, this is one of the oldest clubs in Portugal. And if you’re into your live music, be sure to head to Ericeira in June for the Sumol Summer Fest – an annual reggae festival with a lineup of Portuguese and international artists and DJs.

Lagos’ party scene is arguably more varied. Here you’ll find a good range of after-hours spots, open until sunrise. Nox Club, for example, is a popular spot for electronic music, while Inside Out is known for its fish-bowl cocktails (approach with caution!). In terms of bars, there’s a great selection: from Stevie Ray’s with its live jazz music to Three Monkeys – a cheap spot for $5 cocktails. There are also many sunset boat trips that leave from Lagos, which are a great option for meeting people and enjoying a few drinks as Lagos transitions into evening.

When it comes to nightlife, Lagos trumps Ericeira for its larger selection of places to go come nighttime. With a greater selection of party hostels, too, Lagos is definitely the place to go if you’re coming to Portugal to go out.

Erceira or Lagos? Price

Ericeira pips Lagos to the post in terms of affordability
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Finally, which destination wins in terms of price? 

The average daily cost of a trip to Ericeira is around $94. This comes in at slightly cheaper than Lagos, where the average daily cost is around $110. Lagos’ higher price accounts for the fact that it’s a larger, more popular tourist destination, with a greater variety of high-end places to stay and eat. 

The average cost of accommodation for two in Lagos is around $105 per night, compared with $96 per night in Ericeira. Of course, this can vary wildly according to the type of accommodation you opt for – staying in one of Lagos’ many four or five-star resorts will set you back considerably more, while one night stay in a hostel dorm can be as little as $23 per night. 

When it comes to the cost of eating, Ericeira and Lagos are pretty much like for like – you can expect to spend around $25 per day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, if you eat in fairly average priced places – but of course, you could spend much more if you go to one of either town’s fancy fish restaurants. 

All in all, there’s not a huge difference in price between Ericeira and Lagos – how much you spend in Portugal is more determined by the type of traveler you are, than which destination you pick. However, if we look at the averages and factor in transportation costs to and from the closest airports, Ericeira just beats Lagos as the more budget-friendly destination.

Conclusion

Ericeira or Lagos? If you asked us, Ericeira just nudges it.
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So, all factors considered – Ericeira or Lagos – which destination is better to visit? It’s definitely a tough call. 

Looking at it from a purely price-focused perspective, you might say that Ericeira is the better option. It’s easier and cheaper to get to, and attracts fewer tourists than Lagos, making it both less expensive and less crowded. Similarly, there’s only one place in Portugal to visit for those after the country’s best surf, and that is Ericeira. 

On the other hand, if you’re an avid party-goer or someone who loves to stay in large hotels, Lagos probably has more to offer to you. The chance to visit what has been called the world’s best beach – Dona Ana beach – is another key draw to this part of the Algarve.

Ultimately, it depends on what you like. If you asked us, Ericeira just nudges it. 

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Charlotte Hanwell is a writer and travel enthusiast from London. Her studies of Spanish language and literature have taken her from Barcelona to Buenos Aires. In between travels, she loves to run, read and cook her way around the world.