Ponta da Piedade is one of the top places to visit in the Algarve, Portugal. This rocky point, with its sea pillars, arches, and small but incredibly picturesque beaches can be explored both on land and by boat.
A network of boardwalk trails runs from Praia Dona Ana to the tip of Ponta da Piedade. At several points, you have the option to walk down long sets of staircases to beaches and grottos.
Alternatively, you can visit Ponta da Piedade by boat. There are numerous boat tours and kayaking tours, a good option if you want to get up close with the enormous pillars and drift in and out of sea caves.
We did both: walked the boardwalk trail that runs out to Ponta da Piedade and took a boat tour of the peninsula. In this guide, you can learn about each of these experiences, and pick your favorite (or do both, like we did).
Table of Contents
What is Ponta da Piedade?
Ponta da Piedade is a rocky cape that sits just south of Lagos, Portugal. Over thousands of years, the sea has been eroding the rock, creating the unique rock formations, caves, and arches along the promontory.
Ponta da Piedade is often acclaimed as one of the Portugal’s most beautiful places to visit. With that being said, this is a very busy area.
At one time, visitors were allowed to explore the entire area on foot. More recently, a series of boardwalk and concrete trails were added, both to protect visitors from falling from the cliffs, and to prevent erosion from an increasing amount of foot traffic each year.
One of many great views from Ponta da Piedade
How to Get to Ponta da Piedade
Ponta da Piedade is located just south of Lagos.
If you plan to walk the trail that runs between Praia Dona Ana and Ponta da Piedade, you can park at one of several parking lots and do the walk from here.
There is a large parking lot at Dona Ana Beach. From this point, you can access Dona Ana Beach and walk out and back to Ponta da Piedade. In the summer, get here early, as the parking lot fills up fast.
Estrada da Ponta da Piedade is a road that runs out to the point. Along this road are several parking lots with access to the boardwalk trails. During our visit in October 2023, the road was being widened and an enormous parking lot was being added next to the access point for Praia do Camilo. There is also a parking lot at Ponta da Piedade.
If you plan to take a boat tour of Ponta da Piedade, the best place to do this is from Lagos. There are a number of companies here that run small boat tours and kayaking tours of Ponta da Piedade. Alternatively, you can walk down to the grotto at Ponta da Piedade and take a short boat tour from this spot (more on this later).
Ponta da Piedade Map
How to Use This Map: Click the icons on the map to get more information about each point of interest. Click the star next to the title of the map to add this map to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.
Ponta da Piedade By Land
To visit Ponta da Piedade by land, there are two ways to do it: walk the boardwalk trails (about 2 hours out-and-back from Praia Dona Ana) or drive to Ponta da Piedade and visit the viewpoints and grotto (1 hour or less).
Boardwalk Trails to Ponta da Piedade
Starting at Praia Dona Ana, here is an overview of the boardwalk trails that lead to Ponta da Piedade.
This out-and-back walk is 5 km (3.1 miles) that takes between 1.5 and 2.5 hours with 130 meters (425 feet) of elevation gain, if you walk down to both Camilo Beach and the grotto at Ponta da Piedade.
Park at Praia Dona Ana (Parking Dona Ana on Google Maps). Now or at the end of the walk, walk out to the mirador, the terrace that overlooks Praia Dona Ana, for a spectacular view of the beach.
Praia Dona Ana
To get on the boardwalk trails, walk uphill to the top of the Dona Ana parking lot. It’s a short stair climb to get onto the boardwalk (Tim counted 49 steps) and from this point, the walk is mostly flat. Occasionally, there will be a few steps but nothing like this first stair climb (unless you later choose to visit Camilo Beach or the grotto at Ponta da Piedade).
Entrance onto the boardwalk trails
As you walk the boardwalk trails, there are a few covered viewpoints with benches.
Ponta da Piedade Boardwalk
View along the trail
From the start of the boardwalk trail, it is a 0.8 km/0.5 mile walk (about 12 minutes) to get to the viewpoint of Camilo Beach. At this same place is a parking lot and Camilo Restaurant, a restaurant that gets good reviews for its views and its seafood.
PRO TRAVEL TIP: If you don’t want to do the full walk, consider parking at the lot for Camilo Beach. This saves you almost 30 minutes of walking but what you will be missing are the viewpoints of Praia Dona Ana.
Camilo Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Algarve. However, it’s small size and popularity also makes it one of the most crowded.
The view from the top of the stairs leading to Camilo Beach
To get here, you will walk down 227 wooden steps to a small, sandy beach with a sea arch and snack bar. If you walk through the tunnel, you’ll pop out onto another similar beach surrounded by enormous rock walls.
Our visit was in October, the shoulder season, but even so this beach was very busy (one of the busiest we saw in the Algarve). Later in the week, our boat captain from Lagos told us that this beach is wall to wall people and beach blankets in the summer months.
Camilo Beach Sea Arch
Ponta da Piedade
Past Camilo Beach, the trail changes to a concrete trail and further on the boardwalk trail resumes. As you get closer to Ponta da Piedade, the spur boardwalk trails to the overlooks become more numerous and the views continue to get better.
From the Dona Ana parking lot, it took us about 30 minutes to reach Ponta da Piedade and the lighthouse, visiting all but one of the overlooks (we visited Camilo Beach on the return walk back to the Dona Ana parking lot).
You can’t go into the lighthouse, but the boardwalk trails continue for stunning views over Ponta da Piedade. There is also a restaurant, bathrooms, and a bus stop.
View from the tip of Ponta da Piedade
The highlight of visiting Ponta da Piedade by land is walking down to the grotto, just be prepared for a lot of steps. There are 202 stone steps that lead down to the grotto, where you can stand at the water’s edge and gaze out to the sea arches and other formations. This is a must-see spot!
Steps leading down to the grotto
Ponta da Piedade grotto
Steps to Ponta da Piedade Grotto…we counted 202!
You have the option to take a boat tour from the grotto. Look for small, motorized boats in the grotto. You can board the boat right from the grotto, for a quick tour of the nearby pillars and sea caves. Expect to pay about €20 per person, in cash, to the captain.
To complete the walk, retrace your steps back to where you parked.
Ponta da Piedade By Sea
Taking a boat tour of some sort is a very popular way to see Ponta da Piedade. You can hire a boat in the grotto (mentioned above), take a small boat tour, or take a kayaking tour.
We took the Grotto Tour with BlueFleet. This tour is in a small boat, so it can go in and out of sea caves. The tour starts in the Lagos marina and the boat runs out to Ponta da Piedade for a total time of 75 minutes. We really liked this tour because it was fast, just hit the highlights, and the boat was small enough that we got to see quite a few sea caves and enter the grotto. Check out our photo tour below.
BlueFleet also offers several other tours, from boat trips out to Benagil Cave to dolphin watching tours.
You also have the option to take a kayaking tour of Ponta da Piedade. With BlueFleet, a catamaran takes you out to the point. You board a kayak and then can paddle around the sea pillars and caves. The kayaking tour takes just over 2 hours.
The advantages of a boat tour are that it’s quicker, it’s better for photography, and you can just sit back and enjoy the view. Sea kayaking is more fun and a great option for those who want to be active and adventurous, but it takes longer and photography is more challenging.
Aerial view of Ponta da Piedade | Luis_Mendes/shutterstock.com
Ponta da Piedade Photos from a Boat Tour
Below are photos of the Grotto Tour with BlueFleet. We took this tour in an afternoon in mid-October. Even though we got good photos, I think the morning would be a better time for photography.
Pinhao Fort Bridge
Dona Ana Beach
Steps to Camilo Beach
In a small boat, you cruise through this arch. Look up to see the opening at the top (photo below).
Praia dos Pinheiros
Entering the grotto
In the grotto
Sea arches around the grotto
Which is Better: By Land or By Sea?
Let me start off by saying that Tim and I enjoyed both experiences, but we both liked the walk just a little bit more than the boat ride.
We really liked the views from on top of the cliffs and walking down to the grotto and beaches. But we are also big hikers and love being active and adventurous (we chose the boat tour over the kayak tour so we could take photos). Plus, walking the boardwalk trail is free and this takes no advance planning (boat tours can sell out in advance in peak season).
The boat ride is beautiful, and you get to see more, since you cruise around the pillars and in and out of sea caves. It’s also a good option for those with mobility issues. Sea kayaking would be very nice in the summer, when the weather is warmer.
For the best experience, consider taking a boat or kayak tour of Ponta da Piedade and a visit to Camilo Beach and/or the grotto at Ponta da Piedade, parking at one of the lots next to these places. You will get the sea views, the aerial views, and can visit one of the most beautiful beaches in the Algarve.
Best Boat Tours of Ponta da Piedade
We took this 75-minute small boat tour with BlueFleet. It starts and ends in Lagos and you get great views of the sea pillars, caves, and beaches.
This 4-hour catamaran cruise includes Ponta da Piedade and Praia da Luz. You can also go snorkeling and stand up paddle boarding. Just be aware that the catamaran is too large to enter the sea caves and arches.
Frequently Asked Questions
When is the best time of day to visit Ponta da Piedade?
The best time to visit Ponta da Piedade is first thing in the morning or near sunset. During these times, crowds are low, as are the temperatures. Since the walk on the boardwalk trails are fully exposed to the sun, this can be a very hot walk midday in the summer. Ponta da Piedade is the most crowded from 9 am through 4 pm, especially during peak season (July and August).
Is Ponta da Piedade worth it?
Ponta da Piedade is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the Algarve, Portugal. With its dramatic coastal scenery, sea pillars and caves, Ponta da Piedade is a joy to explore, both on foot and by boat.
How many steps are at Ponta da Piedade?
We counted 202 steps to walk from the boardwalk trail to the Ponta da Piedade grotto.
What can you do near Ponta da Piedade?
Ponta da Piedade is located just south of Lagos. Before or after visiting Ponta da Piedade, spend a few hours in Lagos. Be sure to visit Dona Ana Beach, stroll through the old town, and have lunch or dinner in town.
If you have any questions about how to visit Ponta da Piedade, or if you want to share your experience, let us know in the comment section below.
More Information for Your Trip to Portugal
ALGARVE, PORTUGAL: Here are 10 gorgeous beaches to visit in the Algarve. Learn how to hike the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, one of the most beautiful walks in Europe. Don’t miss our guide to Algar Seco, find out where to stay in our Algarve Hotel Guide, get a list of the best restaurants in Albufeira, and learn why October is the perfect time to visit the Algarve.
PORTUGAL ITINERARY: If you have 10 days in Portugal, here are 5 different ways to plan your trip.
LISBON: In our Lisbon Bucket List, we list 40 highlights and hidden gems to visit in Lisbon.
DOURO VALLEY: Get started with our Douro Valley Travel Guide, which covers the essential things to know when planning a trip to this wine region. We also have a guide to 8 Wineries to Visit in the Douro Valley.
TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY: For more information about the camera gear we carry, check out our Travel Photography Gear Guide. And tips and tricks for taking great photos in our article How to Take Better Photos while Traveling.
We have TONS more information about Portugal in our Portugal Travel Guide, including Lisbon, Sintra, Porto, the Algarve, and the Douro Valley.
Note: This post contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase using one of these affiliate links, we get paid a small commission at no extra cost to you.
All rights reserved © Earth Trekkers. Republishing this article and/or any of its contents (text, photography, etc.), in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited.