If I had to describe Lagos in just a few words: historical, cultural, carefree, and lively. Join me in discovering this pearl of the Algarve, with this guide made by a local.
Lagos has a myriad of things to offer its visitors, especially for those looking for a destination that combines history and summer perfectly. Such symbiosis could not be kept secret for a long time and, at present, Lagos is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Algarve for both Portuguese and foreigners.
Why visit Lagos?
On the one hand, Lagos preserves the typical Algarve architecture in its charming streets and alleys that it feels like walking. The houses that extend up the hill preserve attractive architectural details for the delight of a watchful eye. The city itself exudes a sense of calm and tranquility with a slow and carefree pace of life. The pedestrian zone of the historic center is one of the most pleasant in Algarve cities. And all this surrounded by the secular walls and turrets.
On the other hand, Lagos has a vibrant artistic life with lots of street entertainment and nightlife. Sum – if the blatant invitation to dolce far niente in one of the countless and sunny street terraces. And there is no shortage of internationally awarded beaches to extend the roof and work for bronze.
Much more than beaches, Lagos brings together exceptional Portuguese historical heritage – cultural heritage. The origins are Celtic. Phoenicians, Greeks and Carthaginians passed through here, through the Celtic city of Lacóbriga. The Moors felt that the name Zawaia fit him better. Regardless of the peoples or toponymy, the truth is that they all saw their economic potential in Lagos. And in the 15th century, Infante Dom Henrique saw the maritime potential in it. Central to the Portuguese Discoveries, this was the capital of the Kingdom of the Algarve from where our caravels left to give us the New World. And today, a new world takes over the life of this city that seems to shape – itself at all times.
When to visit Lagos?
Most sites will – suggest you visit Lagos in the summer months, from June to September. Yes, nothing like a hot summer to enjoy its beautiful beaches. But the climate in Lagos is great all year round. And as the city is not just about the beach, Lagos is an excellent weekend destination with a lot to see and do. In addition, the bathing season is the one with the highest influx of tourists and vacationers, which raises prices for accommodation, catering and even goods. Nothing like walking around the historic center on a spring day without the crowds jostling – if, we can guarantee. Christmas and New Year, Easter and summer are the high seasons. On August 29 Lagos revives the tradition of the Bath Party 29 at a beach party that stretches into the night with lots of music, entertainment and snacks, and the peak in the mandatory night bath.
Where to sleep in Lagos?
Lagos Avenida Hotel
Even in front of the Marina de Lagos, it is going out and embarking on your boat trip to Ponta da Piedade and Algar de Benagil. The Lagos Avenida Hotel is two steps from the historic city center, nor does it need a car to reach restaurants, bars and beaches. Rustic decor – contemporary sophisticated and comfort of air-conditioned rooms maximum score. It has a delicious rooftop pool and a small – simply fabulous buffet breakfast.
Iberostar Selection Lagos Algarve
With Half Beach at a pace, Iberostar Selection Lagos Algarve offers Spa and well center – be, indoor pool and 3 outdoor pools with panoramic sea views. Luxury 5 stars ( deserved! ) for couples and families. Luxurious rooms with private balcony, with sea or garden view, others more exclusive with private pool. Superb breakfast, but consider the option all included or half – pension.
Stay in the heart of Lagos with luxury and all the convenience. The hotel 4 stars Casa Mãe is decorated with refinement and good taste. Breakfast is fantastic. Attentive and helpful staff, exquisite cleaning and ease of parking give you – the “superb” score. All rooms have a terrace and desk, suitable for leisure or work. It is the perfect setting for a weekend getaway.
A House on the Sun
With an idyllic garden, a swimming pool and a terrace, A Casa à Beira Sol is a peaceful retreat just minutes from Praia Dona Ana. Ideal for couples without children or with a child. There are studios and apartments in regime bed & breakfast ( superb ), but you can choose a quarter ( romantic, ) or suites with sea views. Cozy and relaxed atmosphere in a typical Algarve house with light and harmonious decoration.
Olive Hostel Lagos
For an economic stay and super good wave, no one beats Olive Hostel Lagos , in the heart of Lagos and 10 minutes from the beach. True, rooms and dormitories with bunk beds ( all with shared bathroom ) are, shall we say, cozy, but very clean. Each room has bed linen and towels. The rooftop is one of the best common spaces in the hostel, where there are yoga classes. There is also a room with games, musical instruments, books and magazines. It has a shared kitchen for meals, which is excellent for those who want to save a few more euros.
What to see and do in Lagos, Algarve
Currently, Lagos is one of the most sought after Algarve cities, not only for its golden sand beaches and crystal clear waters, but also for the scenic beauty of its bay and its architectural legacy.
Start your tour on Avenida dos Descobrim, the riverside marginal airy, along with the mouth of Ribeira de Bensafrim, which will take you to some of the points of interest in Lagos worthy of your visit. On the waterfront, stalls with handicrafts, beach items, and regional products seek to attract buyers. You will also find small stands offering boat trips to the stunning cliffs of Ponta da Piedade among other activities.
Marina de Lagos
You will easily see the pedestrian point that gives you access to the Marina de Lagos with a good dozen terraces to launch an invitation for a brief snack or drink while letting yourself be kissed by Sun. Go to the Museum of Wax of Discoveries if you want to know or remember a little about the golden age of – Portugal , the Discoveries. The museum is 5 minutes away from the marina and takes about half an hour to visit.
Caravela Boa Esperança
Back at Avenida dos Descobrimentimentos, enjoy the Caravela Boa Esperança anchored, a replica of our 16th century caravels. The small space makes – question how it was possible for sailors before to take Portugal so far.
Lagos Municipal Market
The Lagos Municipal Market with doors open since 1924 ( Monday to Saturday, from 7 am to 2 pm ). Saturday is the strong day. The ground floor is a part of the ground floor for those looking for fresh fish and seafood and the second floor looks like a rainbow – iris of fruit and vegetables. Early risers are said to get the best deals at the best prices. To get to know the top floors, namely the terrace ( the restaurant has spicy prices ) overlooking the canal and marina, do not use the elevator. Climb the stairs and enjoy the ceramic mural by the artist Xana.
Praia Gil Eanes
In the center of the ever-living square Gil Eanes raises – if a Dom Sebastião left the hands of João Cutileiro. The controversial marble sculpture is one of the most famous postcards in Lagos, a city chosen by the sculptor to live in the 70s. The tribute to the king who raised Lagos to the capital of the Algarve was the target of harsh criticism. Cutileiro was “accused” by a mere decorator, “an object maker” and came to be considered a minor artist. In his defense he said, unsubstantiated, that this was the function of a sculptor, to be the creator of decorative pieces.
This square is one of the entrance doors to the historic center of Lagos, practically all converted into a pedestrian zone. Commerce, restaurants and terraces alongside street stalls, street artists and street touts live peacefully in these charming streets. Rua Garrett leads to Praça Luís de Camões whose trees provide a refreshing shade.
Santo António Church
Traveling all Rua 25 de Abril, you will come face to face with the Church of Santo António. Built in the 18th century, the frugal exterior does not guess the beautiful interior decoration. The Church of Santo António is an authentic jewel of Baroque gilt carving in Portugal.
Dr. José Formosinho Municipal Museum
A multidisciplinary museum founded in 1932 by the notary and natural archaeologist from Lagos, Dr. José Formosinho. The museological pieces of the Municipal Museum Dr. José Formosinho, considered unique in Portugal , justify the visit to the vast archaeological, ethnographic, historical and artistic estate of the Algarve. Rate – 3 €
Dom Henrique Infante Square
We walk back towards the sea to explore Praça Infante Dom Henrique. In this square are – several tourist attractions in Lagos.
The Church of Santa Maria dates from the 15th century but later additions contributed to its lavish decorated interior.
The statue that pays homage to the great “son” of the land is unmistakable and provides one of the best postcards in Lagos. Infante Dom Henrique aiming at the sea, always the sea, seems placidly to watch over the kids who happily cool off in the shallow waters of the pier, even in front of them.
Slave Market – Slavery Route Museum Nucleus
From the construction of a car park outside the walls came one of the most important archaeological discoveries for the city of Lagos. Archaeological excavations discovered 155 skeletons that would reveal – if of African origin. This unique discovery in the world gave rise to the opening of the Rota da Escravatura Museum Center in Praça do Infante. A tariff of 3 € allows to know the space known as Mercado dos Escravos that gathers the history and pieces of that dismal period of the slave trade.
A very well preserved area on the wall of Lagos, the Castle of Governors is an example of military architecture. Two turrets flank the entrance, the Arco de são Gonçalo, an oratory from the 1940s with a niche and image of the saint who immortalizes the patron saint of Lagos. It is assumed – if the castle was erected on the Islamic alcove with a polygonal plant. The 1755 earthquake devastated the city of Lagos, walls and turrets inclusive. A continuous effort of preservation has brought to our days a well-preserved and restored part of the wall. Framed in the Castle the Manueline window from which tradition tells us that D. Sebastião informed the people that he was going to go into battle with the Moorish king, in Alcácer Quibir … And from there the king left to never return! Right next door, in Jardim da Constitution, a statuary tribute to the great Portuguese navigator who doubled Cabo Bojador in 1434, the Lacobrigense Gil Eanes.
Forte Ponta da Bandeira
Fort of Nossa Senhora da Penha de França, Forte do Pau da Bandeira or Forte do Registo. It dates from the 17th century and also functions as a Museological Nucleus evocative of the Discoveries. Inside, a 17th century chapel lined with tile will delight your gaze. Forte Ponta da Bandeira is considered one of the best examples of maritime fortifications in the entire Algarve. Rate – 2 €
The beaches of Lagos
Praia da Batata, Luz, Pinhão, Camilo, Porto de Mós and the long sandy beach of Meia Praia, to name just a few of Lagos’ 11 accessible beaches. But the one that received the queen’s crown from all of them was Praia Dona Ana, listed in several “Tops” from foreign media.
Praia da Dona Ana is undoubtedly a picturesque beach in the Algarve region. Steep cliffs surround the small bay, the crystal clear waters are amazing with waves breaking over a golden sand. A chromatic provocation of vibrant colors. But, those who know the beaches of the Algarve well know that there are more similar jewels on the Algarve coast, capable of dethroning Dona Ana beach.
Pity Ponto 1
After visiting the city of discoveries, head to Pity Tip where you will be treated to some of the most beautiful coastal landscapes.
Ponta da Piedade is a set of wonderful cliffs sculpted by the elements. Caves and natural arches, rocks that seem to have been hand carved and small coves and beaches, bordered by a sea of blue tones – turquoise and emerald, make up this painting painted by the precept of Mother Nature. A true work of art that will leave you jaw dropped!
Be sure to watch the sunset at Ponta da Piedade. It is the icing on the cake for a visit to Lagos.
Local Guide Tip: there is no better way to get to know this magical corner of the Algarve than by walking the phenomenal trail and walkways of Ponta da Piedade, clearly one of the best trails and walking routes in the Algarve.
What to eat in Lagos? Gastronomy and wines from Lagos
Many restaurants spread odors in the streets and alleys of Lagos that make their mouths water. The offer of food, in the Algarve fashion, in the Portuguese fashion, in the “quickie” fashion, or in the foreign fashion, is vast.
But if you are looking for typical Lagos dishes, start with fish or seafood, undoubtedly one of the strengths of Lagos cuisine. A fed horse mackerel, or a big block to open hostilities. Dare – to taste some bedbugs or a shaman with freshly arrived shells from the coast. For meat, nothing like a lamb or pork grain stew, the way Lagos brought the mountain to the coast. Drizzle with a local wine, for example, the fantastic organic red of Monte da Casteleja or the award-winning Herdade do Soromenho. Dessert? Unwrap a Dom Rodrigo.
It would be a sin to leave Lagos without tasting this conventual sweet of egg threads, almond kernels, cinnamon and sugar. To help digestion, dare – with a chalice of Muska, a dry liqueur wine produced by Quinta dos Lopes, known as the muscat of Lagos.
Tours and Activities in Lagos
The coast between Lagos and Ponta da Piedade is one of the most beautiful in the Algarve. And nothing like a boat or kayak ride to make the most of this magical corner of Portugal.