Lagos is one of the most beautiful cities in the Portuguese Algarve. What are the best things to do in Lagos and what are the most beautiful sights? You can read it in this article.
Lagos: an introduction
Lagos is a beautiful historic town in the western part of the Portuguese Algarve. The city is almost 2000 years old and has long been the link between Europe and Africa.
Now it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Algarve. If you’re looking for where to stay in the Algarve if you’re visiting the region for the first time, Lagos should be on top of your list. The city has many to offer: a good combination between history, culture, beautiful beaches, impressive rock formation, many restaurants where you can eat, and vibrant nightlife.
Although it is a medium-sized city (Lagos has about 20,000 inhabitants), it always feels cozy because of the many narrow streets, cafes, and restaurants. From Lagos, you can get into nature in no time, since there are many hiking trails along the coast. Lagos is therefore the ultimate holiday destination for people who love city life as well as nature.
10 fun things to do in Lagos
Would you like to stay in Lagos for a while during your vacation in the Algarve? There are many great sights and things to do in the city itself.
Explore the historic city center
Lagos has a beautiful old center that is partly car-free. Narrow streets with colored houses (often with gorgeous Portuguese tiles) and beautiful squares with a fountain or artwork. There is also a lot of street art to be found, one is even more beautiful than the other. There are also several beautiful churches to visit in the center of Lagos, such as the Igreja de Santo António and Igreja de Santa Maria de Lagos.
Visit Ponta da Piedade
Ponta da Piedade is a rock formation and one of the best sights in the Algarve. Here you have golden cliffs up to 20 meters high, a photogenic lighthouse, and beautiful views of the coast. On clear days you can even see Alvor and Portimão on one side and Luz and Sagres on the other.
Ponta da Piedade is located about 3 kilometers south of Lagos and is a 30-minute walk from the city center. You can also hike on a coastal trail, this will take a little longer, but it is so much more fun than road walking. Don’t feel like walking? You can also visit Ponta da Piedade on a boat tour. In that case, you can also see the caves below.
Visit the Marina
The Marina de Lagos is quite new (opened in 1994) and a marina full of colored boats and impressive sailing boats. You can take a nice walk here between the palm trees or relax with a drink in one of the many restaurants. This is also the place where most boat tours leave, for example, you can watch dolphins with a boat tour, visit the caves of Benagil or go fishing.
Stroll along the boulevard
Between Avenida dos Descobrimentos and the river there is a lovely boulevard full of palm trees and benches to relax. It’s a great place to go for a stroll. If you do this when the tide is low, there is a chance that you will see the bright red starfish in the water.
Forte da Ponta da Bandeira
At the beginning (or the end) of the boulevard is a historic landmark: Forte da Ponta da Bandeira. This is a well-preserved fortress from the eighteenth century. You can visit the fort, there is a beautiful chapel with typical Portuguese tiles. You also have a nice view of Lagos and the Atlantic Ocean from here.
Discover the beautiful beaches
Some of the most beautiful beaches in the Algarve can be found in Lagos. My personal favorite is Praia do Camilo, a beach that is somewhat hidden between the golden yellow rocks. It is accessible via a long wooden staircase. Other beautiful beaches in Lagos include Praia de Porto de Mós (with huge cliffs) and Meia Praia (here you have more of a dune area).
Hike a section of the Fishermen’s Trail
If you visit this website regularly, you will know that I love to hike, especially long-distance hikes. Did you know that one of the most beautiful long-distance hikes in Europe ends in Lagos? This is the Fishermen’s Trail and it follows the Portuguese coast from São Torpes (near Sines in the Alentejo region) via Cape Saint Vincent to Lagos.
The section from Luz to Lagos is a great hike for an afternoon, it is only 11 kilometers long. You will hike the cliffs and pass many of the highlights in Lagos, including Ponta da Piedade and Forte da Ponta da Bandeira.
Fun day trips from Lagos
Do you want to know what else you can do during a holiday in Lagos? These are a few fun day trips:
Day trip to Sagres & Cape St. Vincent
Lagos is located about 40 kilometers from the most southwesternmost point of mainland Europe: Cape St. Vincent. Here you have the feeling that you are at the very end of the world. The wind is always blowing (hard), the cliffs are very high and you can see the waves crashing against the rocks. At the tip is a lighthouse, which you can sometimes visit (there is a cafe).
Not far from Cape St. Vincent is the town of Sagres and it is also worth a visit. Fortaleza de Sagres (a gigantic fort) is worth a visit and you can see a lot of people surfing on the beaches. There are also a lot of great cafes and restaurants in Sagres. A nice place to enjoy yourself for a day.
Sagres is easily accessible by bus or car from Lagos.
Portimão is one of the largest cities in the Algarve and there are a lot of fun things to do. There are several museums, beautiful squares and the beaches (with high cliffs) are spectacular to see. There are also various hiking trails along the coast to discover even more beautiful places.
Portimão is easily accessible from Lagos by train, bus and car.
Hike the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail
Do you like to hike? Then you should definitely do the most beautiful hike in the Algarve: the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail. This is a hiking trail between Praia da Carvoeiro and Praia da Marinha. Along the way, you have beautiful views of the Algarve coast and you come across various hidden beaches. The walk is 6 kilometers long (12 if you walk back and forth).
Praia da Carvoeira and Praia da Marinha are best reached by car.
Where to eat in Lagos
Where can you enjoy good food and drink in Lagos? A couple of recommendations:
- A Barrigada: locals say this is the best place to eat fish in Lagos.
- Coffee & Waves: for good coffee and tasty smoothies.
- Beats & Burritos: Mexican for a good price (many vegetarian options).
- Nah Nah Bah Restaurant: tasty burgers and tasty (special) juices.
How do you get to Lagos?
Portimão is located in the most southwestern part of Portugal (and mainland Europe) and is accessible by car or train. .. For example, if you travel to Portimão from The Netherlands by train, it will take about two full days. That’s why most people who visit the Algarve, arrive by plane.
The nearest major airport for a vacation in Portimão is Faro. You can fly from several countries in Europe to Faro directly, for example from the United Kingdom, France or The Netherlands. These are mainly budget airlines, so a plane ticket to Faro is usually not that expensive. Check Skyscanner for all options and prices.
I myself booked my ticket from The Netherlands to Faro with Transavia. They fly from various Dutch cities (Amsterdam, Eindhoven, and Rotterdam) to Faro. The advantage of booking directly with Transavia is that you can choose more (flexible) options and, for example, easily add luggage.
Rental car in the Algarve
From Faro Airport it is easiest to pick up a rental car and drive to Portimão. The journey takes about an hour (via a toll road). A rental car in the Algarve is usually not that expensive and you can rent a car for just € 5 per day (in low season).
I myself rented my cars in the Algarve through AutoEurope and Sunny Cars. Both are great websites to make a reservation and they have a special all-inclusive package.
Read more: Renting a car in Portugal: everything you need to know
Public transport in the Algarve
Lagos has a train station and a bus station and is easily accessible by public transport from all over the Algarve. It is not expensive (a train ticket from Faro to Lagos costs € 7.45), but the trains do not run very often. The train ride takes 1 hour and 45 minutes.
Check the website of Comboios de Portugal for train times and prices and on Algarve bus for bus times. Note, the latter is an unofficial website, but very accurate and complete.
Where to stay in Lagos
Where do you sleep in Lagos? A couple of recommendations:
- Camone Hostel: super nicely decorated hostel in the center of Lagos. Perfect for the budget traveler.
- The Salty Lodge: cozy studios and apartments with terrace and sea view in a fantastic location.
- Carvi Beach Hotel: hotel on one of the most beautiful beaches in Lagos with swimming pool on the roof.
Accommodation for a short stay, a hotel room, or a bed in a hostel is best booked through Booking.com.
Lagos is very popular with digital nomads and also very suitable for a longer stay. If you also plan to do that, then it is good to look at Airbnb, you often get an extra discount if you book something for a week or a month.
TIP: through Airbnb, you can also find gorgeous villas with a swimming pool for a good price.
Want to read more about Portugal and the Algarve?
Order one of these great travel guides to make your trip even more fun:
Algarve Travel Guide: 54 Cities/Towns/Villages
Or check out one of these articles about more gorgeous places in Portugal:
- Things to do in Faro | Portugal
- 14 awesome things to do in Portimão
- The best things to do in Albufeira, Portugal
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