Ponta da Piedade – the complete guide
Ponta da Piedade is a group of spectacular rock formations, caves, grottoes and sea arches along the coastline of Lagos. It is one of the most beautiful places of the Algarve and Portugal. The rock formations are visited by many tourists every year. Technically, Ponta da Piedade is not a beach, since there is no sand. However, the bay downstairs is sometimes referred to as the beach of Ponta da Piedade. Literally, Ponta da Piedade translates as Piety Point. After reading this article, you will know more about these rock formations and will know what to look for.
Watch it in HD
Are you curious to see the true beauty of Ponta da Piedade? Then watch the short video below.
The rock formations of Ponta da Piedade are a wonder of nature. You will see caves, grottoes and sea arches. These rocks are the result of thousands of years of erosion. The limestone cliffs surrounding the rock formations are up to 20 metres high.
Some rocks are so famous, that fishermen have given them a nickname over time:
O elefante (the elephant):
The kissing couple:
Cabeça do camelo (camel head):
O submarino (the submarine), which is the rock on the left in the picture below:
A catedral (the cathedral):
Other rocks you will see are:
- A cozinha (the kitchen)
- O chaminé (the chimney)
- The Sphinx
- Belas-artes (fine arts)
- Museu (museum)
- General de Gaulle
There are hidden caves and grottoes as well, which can be reached by boat or kayak. Some even have a name, such as gruta dos amores (the grotto of love). In most caves, you can see ancient fossils in the rocks.
Last but not least, there are beautiful sea arches as well.
Stairway to heaven
When you arrive by foot or car, you will see the view from the cliffs. Although the cliff views are beautiful, you should go to sea level to see the true beauty of Ponta da Piedade. There is a big staircase from the cliffs to sea level. The staircase consists of 182 steps.
When walking the stairs, you will discover that 182 steps is actually quite a lot. It is quite tiring, but well worth it. Along the way there are several viewpoints as well.
When you finally reached the end of the stairs, you can truly appreciate the beauty of this natural wonder. Usually you can also find small fishing boats here that can take you to the caves nearby. Afterwards they can usually drop you off at a beach nearby, which is better than walking all these stairs back up again.
The view downstairs is absolutely fabulous.
The water surrounding Ponta da Piedade is crystal clear and has a turquoise colour. The water here is also great for snorkelling. If you want to go snorkelling, the best thing is to go on a boat trip that has a planned swimming stop, or to rent a kayak and leave the kayak on the secluded beach of Praia da Balança.
When you visit some grottoes by boat, you can see how clear the sea water is.
From up on top of the cliffs, the view is amazing. You can see all the way to Sagres in the west and Carvoeiro in the east. Don’t go near the edge of the cliffs however, since the cliffs can be unstable, especially after rainfall.
Kayaking to Ponta da Piedade
One of the coolest things to do in Lagos is to rent a kayak and go to Ponta da Piedade. This has several advantages. By kayak you reach several caves, grottoes and secluded beaches, which are not accessible otherwise. Take for example the beach of Praia da Balança, which can only be reached by boat or kayak. Since a kayak is smaller than a boat, you can also reach small caves that boats can’t reach.
A kayak gives more flexibility than a boat, since you don’t have to conform to the boat schedule and route. You can take your time to appreciate a certain rock formation or a secluded beach. Kayaking is also the most eco-friendly way to visit Ponta da Piedade, since you are not polluting anything. Furthermore, kayaking is more peaceful than a boat tour, since you don’t have the noise from the boat engine. And last but not least: kayaking is adventurous and a good work-out.
You can rent a kayak on Praia da Batata, which is only a short walk from the centre of Lagos. Another option is to rent a kayak on Praia do Barranco do Martinho (Martin Barranco Beach). Another option is to rent a stand-up paddle board (SUP) instead of a kayak.
It is recommended to go kayaking with a guide. The water here can rise quite quickly all of a sudden and guides know exactly how to deal with the tide and if it is safe to go in a certain cave or not. A guide also knows exactly which places to visit and which ones to avoid. There are several kayak excursions that you can book in the marina of Lagos.
Or book your kayak tour already online:
Boat tour to Ponta da Piedade
A boat trip to Ponta da Piedade is one of the most popular things to do in Lagos and is actually for many people the highlight of their holiday in the Algarve. You will go on a small fishing boat, while the guide will tell you everything about the amazing rock formations. There are many different boat trips in the area. Most boat tours will also take you to the caves and grottoes nearby, but there are also boat trips that include dolphin watching or snorkelling stops. A boat tour usually costs between € 15 and € 25.
General advice for a boat tour:
- Bring sun cream. The sun in the Algarve can hit quite hard, especially when on the water. Use sun cream to avoid a sunburn.
- Visit the toilet before the boat tour. There is no toilet on board of the boat, which means that the boat tour will be quite unpleasant if you do have to go to the toilet suddenly.
- Arrive 15 minutes before departure. This ensures that everything runs according to schedule. If you are not on time, the boat can leave without you and you probably won’t get your money back.
During a boat trip you will wear a life-jacket, which is mandatory.
If you are interested in a boat tour to Ponta da Piedade, you can already book one online. These are our favourite boat tours in the area:
Praia da Balança
Near Ponta da Piedade is a small beach, called Praia da Balança. You can see it on the picture below.
Praia da Balança is difficult to access. When you are standing on the cliffs, you probably can’t even see the beach, because the cliffs are so steep. The best way to access the beach is to rent a kayak and go there yourself. When you arrive on the beach, you will definitely be rewarded. It is a beautiful remote beach and there is no one there. Enjoy the peacefulness.
Sunset and sunrise
The sunrise and the sunset at Ponta da Piedade are truly stunning. This is because of the light. You can see sunrays going through holes in the rocks, which provides a magical effect that is hard to capture on a photo. You can watch the sunset either from a boat or from the top of the cliffs.
Ponta da Piedade Lighthouse
Near Ponta da Piedade you can find a lighthouse, which dates back to 1913. The lighthouse is closed to the public, but is still nice to admire from the outside. From the cliffs near the lighthouse you also have a breathtaking view over Ponta da Piedade and the bay of Lagos.
Ponta da Piedade boardwalk (new)
There is a relatively new boardwalk in Lagos, which goes from the lighthouse of Ponta da Piedade to Praia do Barranco do Martinho in the west and then even further, all the way to Praia do Canavial. It follows the coastline and there are several viewpoints along the way. It is great to have a walk here and enjoy the magnificent cliff views. It is safe to walk here, also with small children. You are not near the edge of the cliffs, but can still enjoy the scenery. The boardwalk is suitable for people in a wheelchair as well.
How to get there
The rock formations of Ponta da Piedade are located to the southwest of Lagos. There are 5 ways to get there: by car, by foot, by boat, by kayak and by tourist train. We recommend to visit by boat or kayak, since you will then see the beauty of the coastline from the sea.
By car or taxi
You can go to Ponta da Piedade by car. You can park your car near the lighthouse or on the side of the road. Parking is free. During summer, the parking spaces can fill up quickly, so we recommend to go early. Ponta da Piedade gets busier as the day goes by. You can also take a taxi, which costs around € 6 from the centre of Lagos. Of course, when you arrive you then still have to descend the 182 stairs to actually get to Ponta da Piedade.
From the town of Lagos, you can walk to Ponta da Piedade. The distance is about 2,5 kilometres and the walk takes 40 minutes more or less. It is a beautiful walk. On the way to Ponta da Piedade, you will pass the popular beaches of Praia da Batata, Praia dos Estudantes, Praia do Pinhão, Praia da Dona Ana and Praia do Camilo. Make sure you bring plenty of water, since walking in the hot sun is a way to quickly get dehydrated.
Although the cliffs views from land are fabulous, there is nothing like seeing Ponta da Piedade from the sea. You can take a boat tour from the marina of Lagos to go to Ponta da Piedade. There are boat tours from Portimão as well. On a boat tour you can just lay back and admire the coastline of Lagos.
The most adventurous way to reach Ponta da Piedade is by kayak. One advantage of a kayak trip is that you can decide your own route. You can for example stop on the secluded beach of Praia da Balança to enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
By tourist train
During summer, there is actually a tourist train that departs from the marina of Lagos. It has 7 stops, including Ponta da Piedade. The tourist train has a capacity of 56 people and has 4 wheelchair seats. A ticket costs € 3,50 per person. The train leaves several times a day. More information, including the time schedule, can be found on the website of the Lagos Tourist Train.
Can you swim to Ponta da Piedade?
In theory, yes. You could swim from Praia do Barranco do Martinho, but we don’t recommend it. The current is quite strong and you have to watch the tide. Moreover, there are many boats in the area, and the skipper might not even see you swim. Avoid swimming to Ponta da Piedade. Instead, go there by kayak or SUP.
Next to the car park on top of the cliffs at Ponta da Piedade, you can find a restaurant called Bar Sol nascente. It has a great view over the Atlantic Ocean. It is a good place to enjoy a drink and watch the sunset. The food here is simple and not great. It is better to only have a drink here.
If you are looking for a proper restaurant nearby, we recommend the following places:
- O Camilo. This is the restaurant on top of the cliffs of Praia do Camilo. The food is good, the portions are big and from the restaurant you have a great view over the bay of Lagos.
- Ashoka Indian Tandoori. This is one of the best Indian restaurants in Lagos. If you like it extra spicy, they will not let you down. Great naan bread as well.
- Restaurante Paraíso. This Portuguese restaurant is loved by locals. The quality of the food is very good and prices are reasonable. Great value for money.
There are many good hotels in Lagos. Below you can find our favourite ones that are not that far from Ponta da Piedade:
- Costa d’Oiro Ambiance Village. This four star hotel has very nice rooms, each with a private balcony or terrace. There is a swimming pool, as well as plenty of other facilities. The hotel has themed nights twice a week (one with Fado music and the other one with barbecue and folklore), which provides nice entertainment for guests.
- Dona Ana Garden. This guest house near Praia da Dona Ana has clean and comfortable rooms. It provides great value for money, since the hotel is good and relatively cheap.
- Boutique Hotel Vivenda Miranda. This luxurious four star hotel is one of the most upscale hotels near Ponta da Piedade. All rooms offer a great view over the Atlantic Ocean. There is an outdoor swimming pool, a sauna, a gym and several other wellness facilities. Highly rated.
After the busy summer season of last year, we recommend to book your hotel now, as it will probably sell out. Below you can find a map with the location of hotels in Lagos. By changing the date of your holiday, the map will show you the current prices.
Since Ponta da Piedade is not a real beach, there are few facilities near Ponta da Piedade. For example, there are no lifeguards. However, there are toilet facilities in the Bar Sol nascente restaurant on top of the cliffs. You can also eat or drink there.
Check out the video below to see one last reason for visiting this truly amazing place.