Lagos Portugal – historic and cultural city, delicious cuisine and outdoor experiences (updated 2023)
Lagos, Portugal in the Algarve region is a fantastic city and area to explore on the western side of the region. It’s an easy city to base yourself for your vacation and enjoy some of the Algarve’s natural beauty, amazing cuisine and outdoor adventure and recreation experiences to make this an exception visit to the region.
The historic central district is a popular gathering place with historic sites like the igrega de Santo Antonio, the 17th century fort and the Moorish walls of the old city. As you walk through cobbled streets, you’ll find some authentic restaurants serving local cuisine, along with many boutique stores, bars and hang out spots for locals and tourists to enjoy exploring the myriad of historic, fun and cool spots to visit here.
The Lagos marina is also a fun space to visit and hang out, take a cruise exploring the rugged cliffs and shoreline all the way to the Ponta da Piedad Headland and the naturally weathered coastline. It’s a great area to relax, spend some time outdoors and even catch a spectacular sunset and toast the end of day here in Lagos.
When you return to the city, you’ll enjoy visiting the historic old town and while exploring around, you’ll be amazing with all the restaurants serving regional cuisine, cool bars and fun hang out spaces to check out in this pedestrian only walking areas.
The city is abuzz with fun attractions and places to visit from the Marina to the Old town section of the city and onto the beautiful coastlines, rugged cliffs and beautiful beaches you can explore around Lagos.
Lagos Portugal FAQ
Lagos has a rich historic and cultural past with a seafaring background. This show up everywhere from the marina to the old historic district. In spite of a focus to tourism, Lagos still has a distinct identify in the Algarve and retains a presence and history with a wonderful quality of life. It is fun to enjoy the outdoors and recreation in the area along with activities that you can do year round in the area.
Where is Lagos Portugal located?
Located in the Southern area of the Algarve region and at the mouth of the Bensafrim River. Lagos is in the western area of the Algarve in an area called Barlavento. It is located about 186 miles or 300 kilometers from the Capital at Lisbon.
How many days to visit Lagos Portugal?
For a vacation holiday a week would be perfect for your Algarve stay. If you are visiting as part of a larger Portugal tour then spending around 5 days exploring the entire Algarve are while basing yourself here in Lagos would be sufficient.
Can you do Lagos as a day trip?
If you are based anywhere in the Algarve region, a day trip to Lagos is doable and visiting the main attractions from the Marina, old historic center and then some of the coastline areas around the Ponte de Piedade would be a highlight to visiting the city and surrounding areas.
When is the best time to visit Lagos?
The peak season to visiting Lagos typically occurs from June to September time frame. Beach season time is ideal from May until Mid October timeframe. The shoulder season happens from March to May and then November to early March even though there are is a permanent population and wintertime visitors that keep the restaurants and attraction busy and open. Weather is great in the spring time and early fall with less crowds, making it an ideal time to visit without the mass of tourists in the area.
How to get to Lagos area?
You can fly directly to the Algarve through Faro airport from lisbon and other citys in Portugal. Also, you can take train or bus service directly to the area.
The main airport for the Algarve is at Faro airport and you can arrange your Faro Airport private transfers here to get to Lagos area
The best things to do in Lagos Algarve
The historic district of Lagos is a fascinating jumble of narrow cobblestone streets, whitewashed buildings and encircled by the ancient partially ancient city walls from the ancient Moorish past.
There’s no shortage of the beautiful and ancient combined for visitor to explore and enjoy on your own time and pace. From checking out the hundreds of restaurant menus, spotting some vibrant azulejo tile work on architecture to hanging out in the sun kissed plazas people watching and enjoying local entertainers drawing the crowds, there’s so much to see and do here.
Here’s some of the highlights of places to explore around Lago.
Explore Lagos Old town district
It is fascinating to explore the narrow streets in the old town that open up to various open plazas filled with locals and tourists hanging out, strolling, finding snacks or scoping out the menus from restaurants that spill out onto the street. The many pedestrian streets are filled with different shops, galleries and of course local gelato shops that bring in the crowds for a delicious treat.
Santo Antonia Church
Igreja de Santo António (Santo Antonio Church) is a noteworthy church in Portugal’s historic national register of monuments. When you step inside the church, you will be immediately in awe of the elegant and intricate details to this baroque inspired masterpiece. Every inch of the walls, ceilings and altar area is crafted, carved and detailed with gilded woodwork, intricate Azulejo tilework, Ceiling fresco’s and beautiful paintings adorn the entire church. Dated around 1707 and rebuilt in 1769, the church is a must visit to the church and museum with an entry of 3 Euro.
All of the work inside depicts different aspects of the life of St. Anthony in English and Portuguese.
Former Slave market or the Mercado de Escravos
The slave market in Lagos contains a dark past albeit a lucrative part of Portugals history that created a commercial industry around the enslavement of Africans. The Slave market is dated around 1444 and dates all the way to the 17th century. Inside, you can visit a small museum that details all the activities and trade that happened at here.
Ponta da Bandeira Fort
This military fort located on the waterfront area facing the Bensafrim river was built in the 17th century. Visitors are allowed to enter and visit the fort and enjoy the magnificent views from above into the waterfront areas of Lagos.
The city’s stone walls at Jardim da Constituicao
If you are looking for a nice shady respite from the sun and crowds in Lagos, visit this small, shady park next to the old city walls of Moorish origin. It is the perfect place to rest your feet and take a break and eventually visit the Fort Ponta da Bandeira just across the street.
Visit Lagos Marina
The Lagos Marhina is colorful and photo worthy walking along the waterfront area around the Bensafrim River. You’ll find a lot of boat tour outfitters that offer cruises along the magnificent cliffs and cave outtings along with kayaking and other cruises from the marina area.
Check out this small tour grotto cruise here to the limestone cliffs around the Lagos coastlines from the Marina area.
Bensafrim River from the Lagos Marina to the fort
An easy and fun way to experience the waterfront area is to just stroll the Bensafrim river front area from the Lagos marina to the fort. Filled with boat tour operators, souvenir stands and other vendors, the waterfront is festive, low key with cool views and spots to hang out at your leisure. It’s a great area for ending your day before heading into the old town to find a fantastic dining venue for dinner.
Ponte da Piedade
The most stunning natural landmark around Lagos, the Ponte da Piedade is striking with dramatic headlands of cliffs and limestone sea stacks the plunge dramatically into azure colored ocean waters. You can spot arches and natural sea caves along the cliff areas that have carved out and eroded this wonder of nature that you can visit and enjoy here on the southern coastline around Lagos.
Hiking around the top of Ponte da Piedade features stunning view after stunning view of the fantastic landscape and limestone features, each spot becomes even more beautiful than the last which is quite inspiring to visiting this scenic area.
Explore Lagos Beaches
Visit the gorgeous Praia do Camilo
One of Lagos iconic beach areas to visit along the coastline, Praia do Camilo has a staircase with 200 steps to this small and beautiful beach. With beautiful golden sand, gorgeous aqua colored ocean, limestone cliffs and arches, this popular beach is one of Lagos best to explore and even enjoy a sunset experience.
Praia de Dona Ana
One of the largest and most popular beaches around Lagos, Praia de Dona Ana is the beach for locals to hang out and spend a fun beach day at Lagos. With scenic vistas, limestone cliffs and gorgeous beach area, you will enjoy visiting this beautiful and expansive beach in Lagos.
Meia Praia Beach
An easy walk to this beach close to Lagos marina and from the Old town center, Meia Praia beach is the easiest to access beach and also the biggest with over 4 km of beach area to find your perfect spot to stroll or enjoy some beach time.
Fun outdoor activities around Lagos
Being in the Algarve region is all about being outdoors and experiencing the best of the region. Check out these cool adventure experience you can do around Lagos and the surrounding region.
Explore the world famous Bengali Cave here for visiting this IG photo spot along with scenic caves and cliffs from a water viewpoint.\
Kayak around the cliif areas of Lagos
Kayaking and snorkel fun – one of the cool ways to explore the beautiful cliff areas of Lagos is to do a guided tour by kayak. Your guide will take you across the azure and blue waters past many of the rugged limestone formations and into quiet coves and bays you can visit along the way. You’ll also get to stop at an ocean beach access only area to explore and swim in.
Check out this kayak tour highlights here for more information and booking your adventure experience.
Enjoy a Dolphin and cave tour off Lagos area
Enjoy this fun cruise looking out for dolphins and other marine life and also tour the main Algarve Coastline attractions and beaches along the way. This is a fun guide tour with water activities on a half day discovery tour. Check out the highlights on this tour experience here for more details.
Horseback riding on the beach?
Yes, you can really enjoy a fun horseback ride on the beach here and around the wild and rugged areas of the Algarve coastline and landscape. You’ll enjoy this fun and easy horseback ride experience for a sunset or morning tour experience. Check out the highlights on this horseback riding tour experience here for more details.
Explore the grottoes
Take a small group boat tour to explore the many cool grottoes navigating through these small crannies and nooks to the spectacular grottoes around the cliffs of Lagos. Expert captains will take you to see these amazing features with a water experience sailing around Piedade Point.
Check out the highlights on this small group boat tour experience here for more details.
Catamaran cruise from Lagos – experience this cruise experience Admire views of Dona Ana, Porto de Mós, and Praia da Luz and gain insight in the region from on-board commentary, before anchoring in a secluded cove near Ponta da Piedade to snorkel, swim or paddle-board. All equipment is available for use free of charge, as is the on-board Wi-Fi.
Stand up paddle experience to the Bengali Cave here, a more active and fun way to explore this cool and huge cave along the Algarve coastline.
Places to explore around Lagos area and the Algarve
Although Portimao is a relatively newer city in the Algarve, it still retains some cool attractions to visit in the area especially along the waterfront, the coastline promenades and exploring the heart of the city. Many boat tour companies are based here for cruises to the caves and coastlines along the Algarve area and you can also explore the historic 17th century fort of Santa Catarina by the Praia da Rocha beach area.
The rugged cliff areas around the praia are fun to explore from above on walking trails or below on the beach areas and discovering some unique caves and hidden cove areas.
Sunset is a great time to be here on the coastline and find a casual bar or restaurant to sink in all those amazing views until the sun sets into the horizon.
** Enjoy this Portimao cliffs and boating experience here to see the best of the Algarve coastline from this port city.
Just a short drive from the small commercial center of Lagoa sits, Carvoeiro, a picturesque little town with a scenic beach area. This Portuguese resort town is charming with restaurants that climb up the narrow roads for stellar views of the beach and coastline areas.
Popular things to do here includes hiking the gorgeous trails along the coastline areas, taking a cruise to the popular cave areas in the immediate range of caves like the iconic Bengazi Cave or more resort fun like doing the popular water parks close by.
Of course, sunset and night time is ideal here spotting the perfect dinner spot here or just a nice hang out spot to watch the sunset along the coastline line. It’s all relaxed and casual fun and late at night the local gelato places are open and busy dishing out all the local favorite flavors for ice cream fantastic here.
Forteleza Sagres Fort
Located on the southern tip of Portugal at Sagres the fortress lies at a strategic point to protect the town from various invadors to the region. With gorgeous views of the coastline, cliffs and town the fortress is unusual with a strong wall and fort that separates the peninsula to the main part of the region with the rest of the area protected by sheer cliffs that are 60 foot tall. Built in the 15th century, much of the fort was destroyed in the 1755 earthquake where caves crashed above the cliffs and destroyed the fort but was later rebult.
Henry the Navigator had the fortress built and strategized his early excursions and other seafaring adventures to conquer the Cape of Africa and acess the western side of the continent along with other grand voyages that marked the Golden Age of Portuguese trading and conquests to new lands.
Details to visiting Lagos and the Algarve Region
If you are exploring Lagos and the Algarve having renting a car is the best option and flexibility of choosing where you want to go and how long you want to stay at each spot. Traveling around the toll roads and surface roads in the Algarve is easy and straightforward for you to explore with a rental car in the region.
Car rental for Algarve region
Check the best car rental rates here with Auto Europe. If you drive from Lisbon on the A2 highway, the drive takes about three hours on a fantastic toll road that is well maintained.
If you are flying into Faro Airport
The main airport for the Algarve is at Faro airport and you can arrange your Faro Airport private transfers here to get to Lagos area
Train service in the Algarve
You can catch a train from Lisbon to the main hub at Faro and then take local trains around the Algarve area. Check out the details to traveling by train service here for more information.
Local bus service in the Algarve area
You can catch a Bus service from Lisbon to the main hub at Faro and other points around the Algarve area. The main bus express service is managed by Rede Expressos to the Algarve and other cities around the country. Check out the details to traveling by Bus service here for more information.
What to eat around Lagos area
Dining here in the Algarve is fun alfresco or at any of the cool seafood restaurants and cafes around the city and waterfront areas. When you are visiting the Algarve, the local cuisine is worth trying out in the menus are any of these dining venues.
Local foods to try here includes:
Grilled Sardines – a local favorite dish easily grilled and found in every restaurant in Faro
Bacalhau a Bras – Codfish with parsley, eggs and fried potatoes
Cataplana de Masicos – mixed local seafood in a stew of tomatoes, herbs and wine
Enchidos – smoke sausages with different ingredients for filling
Pasteis de Nata – a national pastry treat of Portugal
Conquilhas à Algarvia – a delicious clam stew dish of fried onions, Portuguese sausage and local clams with garlic and parsley
Algarve Shrimp – the shrimp in the Algarve are best eaten grilled and hot from the coals and served with garlic and piri piri hot sauce.
Javali or Wild Boar – a substantial meaty local boar stew with vegetables, garlic and spices
Further reading on the Algarve and Portugal
Explore the Algarve area of Portugal
VIsit the best of Faro, Portugal
8 traditional Portuguese foods
Things to do in Albufeira, Algarve
Visit the Unesco towns of Evora
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Conclusion to visiting Lagos Portugal
Thanks for checking out this post on Lagos Portugal, it really should be on your list of worthwhile places to visit here in Portugal.
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Lagos looks absolutely stunning! I soooo want to explore more of Portugal (so far, I’ve only been able to spend a few days in Lisbon).
Lagos is an amazing city to explore in Portugal
Lagos looks like a beautiful city to visit in Portugal. My family would love to go to Lagos Beach for the day to enjoy the water and play in the sand.
Lagos, Portugal is definitely worth a visit
The buildings on those small streets are just perfect! This looks like a wonderful destination. I’d love to go one day.
You would love visiting Lagos, it is really cool and historic
The Algarve is a region that is on my list to visit. I love that things don’t completely shut down off-season, as I prefer to travel without crowds. I would love to kayak through those limestone cliffs!
Lagos is gorgeous and worth exploring all the cool attractions and fun places to visit
The coastline here is such a big draw for me. All the sea caves and the maritime history here is just fascinating. Love your pictures btw, you’ve captured Lagos perfectly
Lagos is a real spectacular part of the Algarve area and outdoor adventure is so much fun to explore nature here.
such an amazing tour to Lagos marina. I would love to visit it and see the waterfront area around the Bensafrim River and the Ponta da Bandeira Fort. Good that they are close to each other. It is interesting to know about the Forteleza Sagres Fort, which protects its citizens from invaders. Good to know about its history.
Lagos is truly historic but also a fun place to explore and hang out in the Algarve region.
This place looks beautiful and really an amazing place to stay for a few days. I am planning for Spain and Portugal and would definitely visit this amazing city Lagos.
I think you’ll enjoy visiting Lagos and the entire Algarve region of Portugal
Lagos is a beautiful place with its stunning beaches, cafes, cobblestone streets and churches. Portugal is truly an amazing destination to visit.
Lagos does maintain its historic past along with love of outdoors, nature and adventure.
I love Portugal, especially Portuguese music and cuisine, but I haven’t had a chance to visit Lagos yet. The Algarve is still on my list for its cuisine, monuments, and endless photo opportunities. It’s great that you are giving so many interesting tips on when to visit this region, how to get there, and what to see. I want to see Santo Antonia Church and Mercado de Escravos. Amazingly, the market dates back to 1444. The beaches look fantastic, I would like to spend some time on them. Especially on Praia do Camilo and Praia de Dona Ana.
Lagos is quite historic and scenic at the same time with so many options for adventure, beach fun or exploring the historic parts of Lagos in the Algarve.
This post on Lagos brings back great memories of our visits to the south of Portugal. The ragged shorelines are always a big draw for us. Getting out on the water is such a great way to enjoy a different perspective. We love wandering along the narrow cobblestone streets. And finding a cafe to enjoy on an open plaza. So fun to follow the artistic walkways along the waterfront. Can’t wait to head back to the Algarve area.
Lagos Portugal is really quite raw but also old and historic with the old town, fort and other monuments to explore.
I’ve been 3 times to Portugal but only once to the south in Lisbon. Lagos looks so pretty, especially the Old Town district. The church is spectacular, and the architecture memorable. Being in the Algarve, I can imagine the beaches to be wonderful. Lagos is on my list.
Yes Lagos the coastline, the old town and all the outdoor adventures is amazing to experience.
Lagos looks like a wonderful place in the Algarve. I like that there are so many things to do there, and the old town looks very charming as well. I would love to go there and explore the grottos by sea, as well as hike on the cliffs.
Lagos is a great combination of city and old town exploring and nature with beaches, cliffs and outdoor adventures.
Years ago I hiked the Via Algarviana that leads through the backlands of the Algarve. It ends near Lagos and after hiking for 10 days we spend a few relaxing days in Lagos. I remember some of the churches and the many small alleys very well. Nearby you can also visit Cape Sao Vicente, southwesternmost point of Portugal and of mainland Europe with a scenic lighthouse.
Nice, it’s fantastic visiting Lagos and the area around the Algarve, isn’t it?