Lagos is a city on the western part of Portugal’s south coast. The city is famous for its stunning beaches with beautiful rocky formations and steep cliffs. The superb beauty of this charming city has no equal in the Algarve and is the reason why hordes of tourists travel thousands of kilometres to visit it every year.
Lacóbriga, the city’s original name, was founded in 2000 b.c. by a tribe called cónios which were the first inhabitants of the Algarve and Baixo Alentejo (lower area of Alentejo). The city would later be disputed by Carthaginians, Romans, Moors and Barbarians, being only conquered by the Christians in the 13th century. Due to its geographical location and economic importance Lagos became a pillar of the Portuguese Discoveries in the 15th century and in 1577 it was awarded the statute of city and was named the capital of the Algarve by King Dom Sebastião.
With its beautiful churches and a fortress, a busy marina, an interesting zoo and gorgeous nature, Lagos is the perfect destination for the whole family, having something to offer to groups of all types and ages.
Where to stay?
Historical centre – The historical centre offers plenty of hotels, hostels and villas available for rent. This is a great area to stay due to its proximity with the pleasant squares, beautiful statues and churches. The narrow cobble streets will delight you as you walk by.
Marina de Lagos – The marina is the first thing you see if you arrive in Lagos by train and it prepares you for the beauty of Lagos. With its blue shiny water, Lagos’ Marina is definitely one of the most beautiful marinas in Portugal. There are hotels in the marina and villas and apartments for rent nearby. The marina is also located near the beach which means that many rooms of the hotels and houses have a view over the ocean.
Meia Praia – This beach with a vast amount of sand is one of the most popular places in Lagos and is surrounded by many hotels, hostels and houses for rent. The great advantage of staying in this area is that you will be able to wake up and go for a morning dive in the ocean since the sea is just a few metres away.
Santa Maria – This area of Lagos is a bit more inland, but still in walking distance to the sea. Prices for accommodation tend to be lower in this part of Lagos than in other areas, something which might be worth taking into consideration.
What are the beaches like in Lagos?
Praia Dona Ana – This is definitely one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The rocky formations and cliffs together with the marvellous blue water of the ocean make it seem like you are in an exotic island somewhere lost in the Pacific. There are many canoe and kayak rides around this beach precisely due to its unique beauty. Have fun exploring the underground caves and diving of the rocks.
Meia praia – Meia praia is the most popular beach in Lagos. It is vast, with clean white sand, translucent and warm water and has a bar that serves the entire beach. It is the ideal beach for a family day because of its safe waves, relaxing atmosphere and lots of space for kids to play.
Praia de Porto de Mós – This beautiful beach has thin sand, free parking spaces and two beautiful restaurants facing the ocean. Because of its sheltered location when the wind blows from the North the beach maintains its pleasantness like nothing is happening.
Praia da Luz – Praia da Luz is located in the small fishing village town of Luz, which belongs to Lagos. It is quite rare to hear Portuguese being spoken as this beach is traditionally visited by tourists all year long. The peaceful and serene sand will invite you to a walk by the sea.
Praia dos Estudantes – Like Praia Dona Ana this beach is famous for its rocky formations and stunning cliffs. It is a small and secluded beach ideal for a romantic getaway. It is also famous for photography enthusiasts due to the different shadows and colours that its caves create.
Praia do Pinhão – This a small and charming beach that has the power to make you forget about time and real life. All your problems seem to magically disappear once you step foot in this peaceful corner of Lagos. From this beach you can reach Praia Dona Ana through caves or swimming.
Which beaches next to Lagos have a Blue Flag?
All of the beaches in Lagos have a Blue Flag and lifeguards and, as you can see from the map below, there are plenty of other beaches located close to Lagos with a Blue Flag.
Blue Flag means that the beach has been assessed based on environmental standards, water quality and beach cleanliness, and also on important facilities including toilets and lifeguards.
In the Algarve, lifeguards usually work from July 1st to September 30.
What is there to do in Lagos?
Lagos offers plenty of activities for those who enjoy outdoor activities such as playing golf in four different golf courses, parasailing, mountain biking, surfing, scuba diving, snorkelling, windsurf, kite surfing, boat tours and many more.
Zoo de Lagos – An excellent choice for someone looking to spend a fun and different day. Bring the whole family to Zoo de Lagos and enjoy a relaxing day where you can learn more about the Algarve’s animals, among others from around the world, as well as the endangered and very rare Iberian Lynx.
Slave Market Museum – Lagos’ slave market was built in 1444. Slaves were brought from Africa by the Portuguese and then dispersed through Europe. Prince Dom Henrique would get one fifth of the selling price of the slaves since he was the main force behind the Portuguese conquests and expansions in Africa. This museum has various panels detailing the lives of the slaves as they were baptized and brought into European societies. The Slave Market Museum preserves the memory of a dark period of the Portuguese and European history.
Forte Ponta da Bandeira – Built in the end of the 17th century, this fortress defended the access to the harbour and the southeast and east side of the city’s walls. At the time it was built it was the most advanced defensive structure in the Algarve with its squared blueprint, small height and strong thick walls. The moat surrounding the building can be crossed through a drawbridge. In the interior there is a small chapel lined with tiles.
Castelo de Lagos – Also known as Castelo dos Governadores, the castle’s initial construction date is unknown. In the medieval ages it suffered renovations and enlargement as it did in 17th century, contributing to turn Lagos into the most military and fortified city in the Algarve. Unfortunately the castle was severely affected by the tsunami of 1755 which devastated many coastal cities in Portugal.
Igreja Paroquial de Santa Maria de Lagos – The church was built in 1498 and went under renovations and enlargements in the 16th and 17th centuries. This small church stands right in the centre of Lagos and still has regular masses.
Igreja de Santo António – This is definitely one of the most beautiful churches in Portugal. The interior is all gold except for the ceiling where it is the emblem of Portugal. It was initially built during the realm of Dom João V and it was intended to serve as place of faith for the militaries in the city. It certainly deserves a visit.
Igreja de São Sebastião – The building features an altar, a body of three naves, separated by arches with gold columns and side chapels also decorated with gold carving. Attached to the church there is the Chapel of Bones, of small dimensions, in the Johannine style.
Discoveries Wax Museum – The exciting Discoveries Wax Museum tells the spectacular tale of the Portuguese Discoveries in sixteen different scenes, from the Battle of Aljubarrota, passing by the marriage of Dom João I and Filipa de Lencastre and the Treaty of Windsor between Portugal and England establishing the oldest diplomatic alliance, and focusing on crucial moments like the Conquest of Ceuta, the Discovery of Brazil or the arrival of Vasco da Gama to India. This is a great opportunity to learn more about Portugal’s part in one of the most important periods in world history.
What is the best time of the year to visit Lagos?
Summer – Lagos attracts thousands of tourists in the summer due to its perfect weather. A lively vibe is felt throughout the whole city with the hotels and hostels being fully booked, the beaches are busy and the bars packed with visitors until the early hours in the morning. Despite welcoming a lot of tourists between the months of June and August, Lagos still manages to conserve its authenticity and charisma.
Winter – Like the rest of the Algarve, Lagos is receiving more and more tourists every year during winter time. The lack of rain and the warm weather makes this one of the best destinations for people wanting to run away from the cold weather of Northern Europe. Because prices are lower and there are less people than during summer, this is a great time to properly explore the Algarve without facing massive crowds or waiting in line for the most popular attractions.
Autumn/Spring – Nowadays most attractions in the Algarve and Lagos are open during autumn and spring months due to the amount of tourists flooding the region even during these months. The weather warms up and there is even less rain, making it incredibly enjoyable to visit Lagos and walk by the sea far from people at work, and kids at school.
What is the weather like in Lagos?
Lagos has a warm and temperate climate.
The average annual temperature is 17.2ºC. The hottest month of the year is August with an average temperature of 23.3ºC and the coldest month is January with an average temperature of 12.1ºC.
July is the driest month of the year with the amount of precipitation being close to 0 mm and November is the month with the most amount of rain with 78 mm of precipitation.
The following graph shows the monthly average temperatures and the monthly rainfall average for 2017.
What are the best places to eat in Lagos?
Restaurant Vivendo – This delicious and sophisticated restaurant with a view over the ocean offers some of the best cuisine in the Algarve. The food is superb and doesn’t take long. The speciality is fish and the deserts are truly amazing. Because this is a high end restaurant it can be a bit expensive. Be advised that it is hard to get a table, so you should be prepared to call in advance and make a reservation.
Real Portuguese Cuisine – Visit the Real Portuguese Cuisine and taste some traditional Portuguese dishes. Try the cheese in the oven as an entrée and ask for the famous Portuguese bacalhau (cod fish) as the main dish and you will not be disappointed.
A Casa do Pintor – A Casa do Pintor is a small charming restaurant which conserves a familiar and cosy atmosphere due to the waitresses being the owners of the restaurant and their son. The food is really terrific and an excellent proof that Lagos’ cuisine can rival with any top restaurant in Europe.
Restaurante Calhou – This is a seafood restaurant with a delightful cataplana (another regional traditional dish). Restaurante Calhou has the added benefit of having live concerts of fado, the Portuguese traditional music style, during low season. For desert try the three chocolate pie.
What are the best places for a night out in Lagos?
Families – Families looking to go out in Lagos should head to the marina where there are lively cafes and delicious ice-cream shops.
Couples – If you are looking for romantic spots in Lagos we have you covered. Check out Restaurante dos Artistas for a romantic meal or try Restaurant & Bar Duna Beach and Bahia Beach Bar near the beach where the sound of the waves bursting against the sand and a star night will set the perfect mood for an enchanting evening.
Groups of friends – Lagos has some of the best nightlife in the Algarve. Dance all night long at places like Nox Club, Lendas Bar, The Star or MJ’s Bar.
How far is Lagos from…?
Faro airport – 90 km (approx. 1hr drive)
Albufeira – 60 km (approx. 45 min drive)
Portimão – 25 km (approx. 30 min drive)
Sagres – 35 km (approx. 35 min drive)
Vilamoura – 75 km (approx. 1hr drive)
Tavira – 115 km (approx. 1hr15 drive)
Lisbon – 300 km (approx. 2hr45 drive)
Seville – 300 km (approx. 2hr45 drive)
Spanish Border – 140 km (approx. 1hr20 drive)
All distances have been rounded up.
Where are the bus station and train station?
The bus station in Lagos is located at 645, Largo do Rossio de São João Batista 2, 8600-315 Lagos.
Lagos also has a train station which is placed at the following address: Estrada de São Roque, 8600-318 Lagos.
Both the bus and the train stations are quite busy stations where you can take a bus or a train to most cities in the Algarve and Portugal.
How much is a taxi from Faro’s Airport to Lagos?
The price of a taxi from Faro’s Airport to Lagos, for one passenger, is usually around 80€ each way (160€ return). In case you decide to pre-book the price drops to around 70/75€ each way (150€ return).
If it is a private taxi or a mini-bus the price will tend to be higher, however, depending on the number of people it carries it might end up being cheaper per person.
Please note that if the trip takes place during the night, the price will be higher because a special night rate is charged.
In case you are alone or just two people it might be cheaper to take a taxi from the airport to Faro train station (around 10€), take a train to Lagos train station (around 12€) and then if you need a taxi from the station to your address (around 10€). This whole trip would be around 35€.