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8 Things To Do In Malta

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Covering just a small archipelago of three islands in the Mediterranean Sea, Malta surprises its visitors with its astounding ability to meet everyone’s expectations and desires. From prehistoric sites, unique architecture, fascinating museums to beautiful beaches and natural wonders, Malta packs up marvelously all the ingredients that make a place stand out on our bucket lists. Home to a captivating mix of cultures, Malta wears the marks of a rich legacy, where the beauty of history and tradition combine with that of nature. For those who wonder where to start their exploration, here are some tips.

 

  1. The Grand Harbour

The Grand Harbour is one of the great pillars of Malta’s history. It has witnessed the Great Siege of 1565 when the Knights of St. John fought to protect the land against the Ottomans, but also the tragic events of World War II when it had to host the British Royal Navy. Besides its historic merits, the harbour is a picturesque place packed with colorful little wooden boats, the traditional dghajsas. The boats are available for tours.

 

  1. Diving

Malta offers some of the best diving experiences in the Mediterranean. Although there is an abundance of sea life to discover, diving in Malta is more about the opportunity to check amazing underwater landscapes, including wrecks. Both amateurs and experienced divers will have no issue with the logistics, as dive centers abound all across the country, offering from beginners’ courses to equipment. Most of the dives are either available from the shore or within easy reach by short boat trips.

  1. Valletta

Valletta is Malta’s capital and being almost an open-air museum, it is now considered a World Heritage Site. Home of emperors, heads of state, and artists, the city boasts a Baroque architecture nothing short of majestic. A visit to St. John’s Cathedral is a must, not only for its grand architecture but also for the excellent works of art that it hosts, especially Caravaggio’s masterpiece “The Beheading of Saint John”. A short stroll will reveal an abundance of imposing churches and bastions standing across quaint cafés, restaurants, or wine bars.  Although covering less than one square kilometer, Valletta has its own distinct character, emphasized by the historic buildings, colorful balconies and doors, and the stunning views over the Grand Harbour.

 

  1. Mdina

Mdina is Malta’s old capital, a perfectly preserved walled city, known also as Citta Notabile (The Noble City), where in the past, most of the Mediterranean elite had a home. Some call it the “Silent City” since very few cars are allowed to get there and disrupt the peace of its narrow, cobbled streets. The Baroque architecture is punctuated by the charm of medieval monuments, churches, palaces, or fortified walls. Protected by massive ancient ramparts lay unique sandstone buildings. The heart of Mdina is the Cathedral of Saint Paul, a magnificent example of the Baroque, with lavish decorations and intricate design. While strolling around on the winding streets, you pass by several grandiose medieval palaces of great historical and architectural value, such as Pallazo Santa Sofia, Palazzo Vilhena, or Palazzo Falson.

 

  1. The Blue Lagoon on Comino Island

Comino is the smallest of the three inhabited islands of the Maltese archipelago, located between Malta and Gozo. The tiny island is a nature reserve and bird sanctuary, but the real reason for its huge popularity is the stunning Blue Lagoon, one of the perfect places in the Mediterranean for snorkeling, diving, or enjoying views over crystal-clear turquoise waters. Easily accessible by ferry, the large lagoon protected by rocky hillside makes for a perfect, natural swimming pool. It is clean, calm but crowded.

  1. Gozo

A day trip to Gozo is a wonderful way to explore a different aspect of Malta. Although it is less developed, the island of Gozo has an idyllic charm while still offering a wide range of attractions. You can explore the fortified medieval city Victoria, or the bustling seaside resort Marsalforn. The Musem of Archaeology, the Cathedral of the Assumption, or the Cittadella, a medieval castle turned into a modern fortress, are well worth your time. If you prefer nature to history, there are gorgeous caves to discover, such as the popular Calypso Cave, which overlooks the red sands of the island’s finest beach at Ramla Bay. With its picturesque landscape, peaceful old fishing villages, and unspoiled beaches, Gozo is ideal for enjoying a relaxed pace without giving up on the attractions of culturally-rich places.

 

  1. The Megalithic Temples

Older than the Pyramids of Egypt and the world’s second oldest religious structures, the Ggantija temples on the island of Gozo will fascinate history buffs. The megalithic temple complex is over 5,500 years old and was entirely built with the use of bone and wooden tools. On the main island, in the small town of Qrendi, there are two equally fascinating temple sites, Hagar Qim and Mnajdra. While Hagar Qim stands on a hilltop with spectacular views over the sea and the tiny island of Filfa, Mnahdra is just 500 meters away, on a lower side of the cliffs. Although all three sites feature incredible archeological treasures, such as altars, statues or partially intact facades, Mnajdra has its own unique atmosphere due to the complexity of the site, with three temples overlooking an oval forecourt.

  1. The Blue Grotto

On the southern coast of the main island you can find the Blue Grotto, a chain of sea caverns, perfect for sailing and scuba diving. Each morning, the sunlight shines through the caves just at the right angle for a perfect view over the phosphorescent colors of the marine flora, turning the waters into a brilliant, vibrant blue. To enjoy the Blue Grotto, you can take a boat tour in a colorfully painted traditional fishing boat, known as luzzu. You will pass under a massive arch of over 30 meters and enter the system of caves where you will witness an amazing spectacle of colors and shades as the caves mirror the purple, orange, and green off the mineral in the rocks. The best time to visit is early in the morning when the overwhelming crowds of visitors haven’t arrived yet. The coastal scenery when approaching the Blue Grotto is also spectacular, as the road winds on a cliff at great altitude.

 

Combining outstanding living history with Mediterranean hospitality and charm, Malta is a great destination for anyone. Although tiny, the country offers an endless list of attractions that will impress even the most spoilt of us.

9 Interesting Facts About Dubai

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dubai for tourists

Think Dubai, and the first thing which comes to mind are the undulating dunes, the delicious Arabic meals and the winding roads. This is not all, for the country is well known for its famous “Belly Dancing”, white sand beaches and towering skyscrapers. Well, is this all there is to do in Dubai? It’s time to think again, for this is just the tip of the iceberg.

  1. Hotels:

With a 7-star hotel and a series of 5-star hotels adorning the skyline of the city, there is a lot on offer in Dubai. The city is dotted with beautiful, luxurious hotels, each of which promises to be better than the other. The Burj Al Arab, Burj Khalifa and Al Mahara are some of the prominent names which are like the crown jewels of Dubai.

  1. No record of crimes:

Unlike some of the other cities of the world, Dubai boasts to be a crime free city. Considered to be one of the safest cities in the world, this Arabic town is the haven for its residents. With a lot of strict punishments for offenders, there is almost negligible scope for crime, which makes it a city to reckon with.

  1. First debt intolerant city:

If you have the means to pay off your pending dues, only then you can be a happy resident of Dubai. Yes, you read that right. If you are struggling to pay your dues on a month on month basis, get ready to be deported immediately. This is a debt intolerant city; if you don’t have the means to manage your livelihood, it’s best to say goodbye to your lavish lifestyles.

  1. Growing city:

Dubai is indeed a city to reckon with; it’s growing at an alarming pace, and the end does not seem to be anywhere near. Given the thriving tourism perspective, lax law regulations and abundant luxuries available to the residents, Dubai has everything one can dream of. Enjoy the comforts money can buy and live like a king/queen, as the city continues to expand at a steady pace.

  1. A mini city within the city:

Remarkable! Trust the Arabs to keep reinventing their own beliefs. To be ahead of everyone else, Dubai is beginning to build a mini-city within the main city. Shocked? Well, it’s true. The mini city is slated to be 2.25 the size of Monaco< and will have its personalized climate controls. Despite the heat, you will feel like you are in sheer heaven.

  1. Gambling is Legal:

Some people say that Dubai is like Las Vegas but without the casino’s and gambling. However, this is not strictly true. Given the conservative leanings of Islamic culture, you probably thought that gambling was illegal. Not, so! Dubai, is only one of three countries in the UAE where gambling is tolerated. While, you won’t find slot games which are so popular these days. You will find lots of race tracks. And you can bet to your hearts content.

  1. Adieu premarital sex:

Despite all the monetary leeways, Dubai is still conservative in its age-old traditions. For this very reason, premarital sex is always a taboo in the Arabic city, making it impossible to be consummate before tying the knot. Be wary of your affairs, for your unthwarted actions might land you on the wrong side of the law.

  1. Experience snow in the middle of the desert:

Doesn’t this sound ironical? Having snow in the middle of the desert? Well, not for Dubai. The Dubai Mall offers this panoramic facility, wherein you can ski right in the desert, without having to worry about catching a chill. Offering an indoor ski resort spanning over 22500 square meters, the snow park is going to amaze your wits.

  1. Planning to drink – obtain a license first:

If you are someone who likes an evening drink to relax your frazzled nerves, then you might need to get a license to drink, even in your own home. While this does sound very weird, it’s nevertheless true. Think before you start enjoying your drink on the rocks.

  1. Oil everywhere:

There is a reason why Dubai is considered to be one of the top producers of oil in the world. With massive oil reserves everywhere, there is a lot of oil being produced daily. In fact, it contributes 6% to the world’s total oil income.

Conclusion:

Dubai is truly a modern marvel. While, it has some what we in the west might consider weird traditions ( I mean a license to drink – come on!), it is still a city rich with culture.

If Dubai is on your bucket list make sure you scratch it off. It is definitely worth a visit.

5 Games To Play While Traveling

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board games for traveling

Boredom is one of the worst things to face, especially when you are traveling. As we stay connected to the world through the Internet, we have come to realize the importance of being occupied on a minute to minute basis. For this very reason, we have become even more accustomed to the idea of being involved mentally, when we are traveling, playing, or talking to someone.

If you too have a long journey planned for yourself, then it’s time to check out some games you can play to kill your free time.

Twenty Questions:

This is an age-old game; rightfully, the name says it all. Twenty questions is an enticing game, especially if you know how to play with things. The answerer chooses a subject/object, which must be discerned by the other players. To guess the object in question, the players need to ask 20 questions, so that they can understand what the object is. The more obscure the object of discussion, the harder it would be to frame questions around its existence. This way, not only do the players get to stay involved, but it proves to be a good mental exercise for people who are not afraid to use their grey cells.

games to play when traveling

The Story Game:

The name of the game is the Story Game. Funny as it may sound, there are a lot of variations one can add during the playing period. Ideally, one person should start the story, and then others can keep adding to it, making the tale unwind as it goes. Right from putting in magical creatures to making it more adventurous, this is an ideal game for people of all ages, who are getting bored and want to get some free time off their hands.

Slot Games:

Although, a little different than the other games mentioned here. I do have a thing for slot games. They are my candy crush! When people think slot games they think gambling but there are lots of slot games that you can play for free. To kill some time (and brain cells) you can’t beat slot games. Most slots are mobile friendly and don’t require download so you can play them on the go, which makes them perfect for travel.

Two Truths and a Lie:

An ideal game if you want to get people guessing. The whole idea behind the game is to throw three statements at your fellow players. Two statements out of these need to be right while one needs to be a lie. The players need to guess the lie, without too much prompting. Let’s see how much your family and friends know you.

Dumb Charades:

One can never tire of playing this game, just because it gets everyone involved in a frenzy. One person from each team has to enact a given movie title, while the team members are supposed to guess the name through assumptions and suppositions. As the time begins to run out, the players often get into a frenzy, trying to tie the loose ends for guessing the name of the movie.

Depending on the type of preferences you have, there are a lot of options available to players. While some can be played online, many others can be played offline as well. Which one are you going to choose today?

27 Interesting facts about Bora Bora

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  1. 1. The name of the island is not exactly Bora Bora, but Pora Pora since in Tahitian, the letter “B” doesn’t exist. The first European explorers to visit the island misheard the locals and the name Bora Bora has stuck ever since. The original name Pora Pora means “first born”.
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  3. 2. The first European who reached the island was a Dutch explorer, Jakob Roggeveen. He visited Bora Bora in 1722.
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  5. 3. Bora Bora belongs to the French Polynesia, which means that it is an overseas territory of France and French is the official language.
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  7. 4. The native language of Bora Bora is Tahitian, a language with only 16 letters and 1,000 words.

  1. 5. There is no public transport in Bora Bora, except for a bus which runs two-hour tours around the island and is known by locals as Le Truck. Visitors must either walk or rent a bike or a car.
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  3. 6. Bora Bora comprises only three villages: Anau, Faanui, and Vaitape, which is the largest.
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  5. 7. Unlike other tropical attractions, Bora Bora does not have dangerous insects or poisonous snakes that could ruin someone’s stay.
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  7. 8. The major danger in Bora Bora is falling coconuts. Considering the weight of the coconuts and the height of the palm trees, a coconut falls at incredible speed, hitting the ground with the equivalent force of a tone. When they are not a dangerous threat, coconuts make valuable ingredients in meals and drinks.
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  9. 9. Bora Bora played a significant role in World War II. It never became an actual scene of combat, but it served as a supply outpost for the United States’ South Pacific Fleet. The base was closed at the end of the war. Many Americans had a difficult time leaving the island that had become their home and some only returned to the U.S. after repeated complaints from their families. The defense fortifications are still in place in some areas.
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  11. 10. Bora Bora is one of the most secluded and exclusivist islands on the planet, considering that the whole of French Polynesia gets in a year a lower number of visitors than Hawaii gets in just ten days.

  1. 11. People in Bora Bora indicate their relationship status simply by placing a flower on one of their ears. A flower on the left ear means that they already have a special person in their lives, while on the other hand, a flower on the right ear means that they are single and open to flirtations. A flower waved behind the head means “follow me”.
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  3. 12. The Tiare flower, also known as Tahitian gardenia, is the national symbol of Tahiti and people of Bora Bora love to wear these flowers as a necklace or a crown.
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  5. 13. Only 19 km from Bora Bora, there is a coral reef formation called Motu Iti that has the shape of a heart. Together with the island’s beauty and isolation, this convinced native French Polynesians that Bora Bora is the Romantic Paradise. Unsurprisingly, Bora Bora is a top honeymoon destination.
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  7. 14. The population of Bora Bora is very young, with half of the people below 20.

  1. 15. In an article by CNN, Matira Beach of Bora Bora reached number eight on the list of the World’s 100 best beaches.
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  3. 16. In Bora Bora, tattoos have a sacred meaning and were considered for a long time a sign of both beauty and status. As indicators of one’s position in society, tattoos were applied in special ceremonies, always with great concern for their aesthetic value. The English word “tattoo” has its origin in the Tahitian word “tatau”.
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  5. 17. Bora Bora has no public cemeteries and people bury their loved ones in the backyard.
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  7. 18. The 2009 Hollywood romance “Couples Retreat” was shot in Bora Bora and increased the island’s popularity as a honeymoon or couples’ destination. The movie stars Vince Vaughn and Kristen Bell.
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  9. 19. Black pearls are some of the most beautiful, expensive and rare souvenirs one can take from Bora Bora.
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  11. 20. Most resorts in Bora Bora are built on motus, which are sandy, coral islets that form a ring around the main island. The motus offer incredible views over the blue lagoon and the lush green slopes of the Mt. Otemanu.

  1. 21. In the crystal blue water that surrounds Bora Bora and its islets live black tip reef sharks. However, they are not aggressive. Further away from the lagoon you can spot humpback whales.
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  3. 22. Visitors of Bora Bora are usually greeted at the airport by a hotel representative who offers them a fragrant lei, which is a necklace of either frangipani or orchids. It is impolite to throw the lei in the trash. In Polynesian tradition, the flowers should be returned to the earth by simply cutting the string and letting the petals flutter away.
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  5. 23. Until 1888 when the French annexed the island, Bora Bora was an independent kingdom. Its last ruler was Queen Terrimaevarua III. The Queen never had children and her marriage ended in a divorce so she remained the head of the royal house of Bora Bora until her death.
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  7. 24. The philosophy of the native population of Bora Bora is often summed up as “aita pea pea”, which means “not to worry”.
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  9. 25. The typical tourist accommodation in Bora Bora is the over-the-water bungalows which are small houses built on stilts, ranging from basic to luxurious.
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  11. 26. The island of Bora Bora was formed over 4 million years ago by a volcanic eruption. The remnants of the extinct volcano are the two peaks at the center of the island.
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  13. 27. In 1770, famous British explorer Captain James Cook visited Bora Bora during his journeys of exploration in the Pacific.

 

 

8 Awesome Activities To Do In Cook Islands

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Cook Islands

cook islands

Cook Islands are an archipelago of 15 islands that together make the dream of many people around the world. Besides their volcanic peaks, translucent lagoons, and gorgeous beaches, the islands are renowned for the charming hospitality of the native Polynesians who make everyone feel welcome with their laidback and friendly attitude. While Raratonga and Aitutaki are the most touristic, other islands, even though more remote, offer equally stunning attractions. Either fascinated by the lush green forests or the seemingly endless white beaches, everyone can find something alluring in Cook Islands. If you don’t know where to start your exploration of this paradise, check out these tips.

    Punanga Nui Market

Every Saturday morning, the best thing to do in Avarua, the capital of Cook Islands, is to check out the Punanga Nui Market, one of the best markets in the South Pacific, set right on the waterfront. The colors and flavors will intoxicate you while you discover the traditional Polynesian food, delicious fruit smoothies, fish and seafood, roast pork rolls with apple sauce, lemon meringue, and other equally delicious treats. Among the local delicacies, you can find mitiore (fermented coconut with seafood and onion), rukau (steamed taro), ika mata (raw fish marinated in coconut and lime) and poke (banana with coconut and arrowroot).  The mountains of mangos, passion fruit, and pineapples cannot leave anyone indifferent. The market is not just for foodies, as it also boasts an abundance of fragrant tropical flowers, jewelry, and clothes.

    Aitutaki

Aitutaki is one of Cook Islands’ main attractions and has a stunning lagoon surrounded by a ring of 15 dreamy palm-covered, uninhabited islets with an abundant marine life that offers perfect snorkeling conditions. On Maina, or Little Girl, bird watching is a popular activity as the islet is home to the red-tailed tropicbird, while Tapueta’I, or One Foot Island, is famous for its white beaches. A deep water channel brimming with tropical fish separates Tapueta’I from Tekopua. While exploring the islets of the lagoon, you can check the wreck of cargo freighter Alexander, which found its demise there in the 1930s. The images of the Aitutaki’s lagoon will be stuck with you, as the intense contrast between the vibrant blue of the water and the white sand is stronger than anywhere else. One Foot Island is the most famous motu of Aitutaki and you will be surprised by the exquisite ways in which it matches all our images of paradise.

    Cross Island Track

Hiking is a great way to unravel the mysteries of the lush green Cook Islands. The Cross Island Track is a popular trail on the island of Rarotonga. It starts on the north coast, going up to the Te Rua Manga rock and then continues to the south coast, on the opposite side of the island, after passing by the Wigmore’s Falls. The hike is clearly marked and takes about four hours, requiring some dense forest climbing to the base of a steep rock known as The Needle, which pierces straight into the sky. While climbing the Needle is only for experienced rock climbers, hiking just to the base it’s well worth it for the spectacular views over the coast and the forest.

    Avarua

Avarua is a charming little town on the north coast of Rarotonga that serves as the capital of Cook Islands. Here you can get a good glimpse into the friendly and relaxed pace that characterizes the Polynesian lifestyle while still having enough attractions available to keep you busy. Besides the shops and restaurants, the town has a unique church made of coral, from where you can hear Maori hymns. A visit to The Cook Islands Library and Museum can prove very interesting as it hosts a wide collection of rare books about the Pacific’s history and culture.

    Snorkelling

Cook Islands are a perfect destination for snorkeling and the best place to check this out is the Aroa Marine Reserve, on the west coast of Rarotonga. The crystal clear waters protected by the outlying reef have an incredibly rich marine life. Some of the species you can spot here are the parrot fish, wrasse, angelfish, and the Moorish idols. Motorized boats are prohibited in the lagoon which makes the experience even more pleasant for snorkelers and swimmers. When tired, you can rest on the gorgeous beach.

    Scuba diving

Scuba divers will be as pleased as snorkelers by the exploration opportunities in Cook Islands. There are excellent dive sites around both Aitutaki and Rarotonga, where divers can enjoy some close encounters with sea turtles, reef sharks, or moray eels. Not only that the coral is thriving, but the visibility is optimum for a great diving experience.

    Anatakitaki Cave

Anatakitaki Cave or the Cave of the Kopekas is a spectacular karst cave in Atiu. A multichambered cavern hidden in the thick jungle, it is home to the kopeka birds, also known as Atiu swiflets, which live in nests between the stalactites and are known to navigate by using echolocation, just like bats. After exploring the chambers and the passages, you reach a freshwater lake found at the base of the cave, which is connected to the ocean through the Tiroto Tunnel. Covered by banyan tree roots that permeate its depths, the cave is indeed a natural wonder.

    Whale-watching

The territorial waters of Cook Islands are an official whale sanctuary. Between July and October, humpback whales migrate to the South Pacific waters, and they swim close enough to the shore that you can spot them from the beach. The best places to spot whales in Rarotonga are the Paradise Inn, the Fishing Club, and the entire shoreline in front of Avarua’s main street. If you visit outside the migration season, you can pay a visit to the Whale and Wildlife Center where interesting exhibits cover the wildlife of Cook Islands.

Cook Islands offer the greatest package of relaxation, excitement, and novelty fulfilling your need for both adventure and stability. Either you prefer the wonders of the underwater, underground or great altitudes, there is surely something fascinating to hold your attention. For those less adventurous, the beaches and quaint towns will provide equally attractive opportunities.

6 Reasons To Visit Lagos, Portugal

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Capital of the region, until decimated by an earthquake in 1755, it was from here that Henry the Navigator set out to explore Africa in the fifteenth century. Lagos is steeped in history.  Today it is a definitively charming tourist destination, its winding streets full of wrought iron balconies and delightful patios.  Its beaches among the most beautiful in the Algarve, its seafood second to none; Lagos is a destination of delight for visitors of all ages.

 

The Beaches

The beaches of Lagos are probably the reason why most people first visit Lagos.  There are four outstanding beaches within walking distance of the town, or you can take the tourist mini-train that leaves from the Marina.  Praia da Batata is the closest of the four and its sheltered calm waters make it ideal for families, although it does become very crowded in the summer.  No problem with overcrowding on the Meia Praia, although its five-kilometre length still gets busy.  The most spectacular local beach is Praia don Ana where turquoise water and golden sand are encircled by high sandstone cliffs.  The small beach of Praia do Pinao may not be as spectacular but has a charm and beauty all of its own.

 

The Water Sports

water sports

Flickr Credit: JJ Hall

The mild climate and consistent conditions make this an ideal location for a range of water sports.  A variety of swell sizes are ideal for surfers of all abilities or you might prefer a variant such as windsurfing or kitesurfing.  The offshore Nortada winds offer perfect sailing conditions and the reefs, wrecks and underwater canyons are a delight for divers of all abilities.

 

The Culture

Flickr Credit: Shever

Established since Roman times, Lagos has a rich cultural history to enjoy.  Great views of the town can be enjoyed from its ancient walls or the restored castle on the river.  A visit to the Municipal Museum will give you an overview of the town’s development.  It’s open every day except Monday and its entrance fee is a mere three euros.  The eighteenth-century church of Santa Antonio has some of the finest baroque carving in the Algarve or for a glimpse of the darker side of Lagos’ history you can visit the old slave market.  In a corner of the Praca da Republica, under the arches of the old Customs House, is the site of Europe’s first slave market.  At its height, ten thousand slaves a year were shipped from Africa to satisfy the Portuguese demand.

 

Cheap Accommodation

Hostels start from as little as 9 euros a night and although most hotels raise their prices during the summer months, many locals will rent their homes for as little as 12 euros a night.  Some of them are even located right by the beach.

 

The Nightlife

Lagos nightlife is often described as ‘chilled’ and there’s no shortage of atmospheric bars and clubs.  Backpackers head for ‘Inside Out’, which is guaranteed to be rammed during summer months.  Centrally located and brightly painted the ‘Bon Vivant’ has a popular terrace, which is great place to watch the world go by.  The chances are though that you’ll drift from bar to bar as the tide of your companions takes you.

 

The Seafood

flickr credit: Kotomi_

Make no mistake – Lagos is seafood heaven.  Get up early and visit the Gustav Eiffel designed Fish Market to get you in the mood and then take your pick from the scores of seafood restaurants.  With fish this fresh it’s almost impossible to go wrong.