Lagos is where we find some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. White sands, crystal clear waters and vertiginous cliffs are some of the ingredients for the breathtaking beauty you will find there!
It is in the city of Lagos that we find Praia Camilo, Praia da Luz and Praia Dona Ana beaches, three of the most beautiful Portuguese beaches! As you may know, the Algarve is divided into the eastern zone (Sotavento) and the western zone (Barlavento).
The Sotavento Algarve offers beaches with dunes and little wind. The Barlavento (to which Lagos belongs), is famous for its brownish cliffs and a north wind (perfect for water sports enthusiasts who depend on the wind).
Lagos has a population of 31,000 inhabitants and a historical center that is worth visiting and getting to know. Lagos’ past was strongly linked to the Portuguese discoveries and its present is absolutely associated with tourism.
WHERE IS LAGOS?
This city in the Western Algarve belongs to the district of Faro. If you drive from Lisbon you will need only 2h45 to cover the 301 kilometers that separate the two cities.
You can also go to Lagos by train or by bus. If you go by train expect a trip of about 5 hours and an average ticket price is around 30€ (prices vary depending on several factors such as how far in advance you buy your ticket). If you choose the bus, you will need approximately 3h30
and the average ticket price is 27€.
WHAT TO VISIT IN LAGOS?
If you visit Lagos you will find a quiet town with a peaceful atmosphere. There is an almost constant breeze that surrounds the town and carries with it an intense smell of the sea. As the list of attractions is very long, we chose to divide it into 1-Lagos Natural Heritage (beaches, rocky structures), 2-Lagos Cultural Heritage (forts, churches) and 3-Other Attractions in Lagos (dolphin watching, kayaking, walking trails)
LAGOS’ NATURAL HERITAGE
BEACHES IN LAGOS
The beaches of Lagos are famous for their beauty. A beauty that we can’t find anywhere else in the country. A perfect combination of cliffs, blue-green sea and enigmatic caves embedded in a rocky coast. The beaches of Luz, Camilo and Dona Ana are three of many that you will find
in this region of the Algarve. For your orientation, we have prepared a map with the most impressive beaches of Lagos. We hope you find it useful!
Protected and supported by large cliffs, it has a small white sandy beach and clear turquoise water. Before you descend the staircase (200 steps), enjoy the magnificent view! You will be looking at one of the most stunning beaches on the European continent. A beach that is a symbol of the Algarve and a symbol of Portuguese tourism.
The beach is guarded (during the bathing season), has parking nearby and sun beds for rent, shower area and toilets.
HOW TO GET TO CAMILO BEACH?
If you are at Marina de Lagos, take the EM534 until you reach Avenida da República. Then take the N125 until you reach Rua Professor Luís Albuquerque, the street that will take you to the beach.
At 7 kilometers from Lagos, Praia da Luz beach is also called Praia da Vila da Luz, as the beach is located in the village of Luz. There you will find a small fishing village that has been transformed in the last decades into a major tourist attraction. If you have a particular interest in old fishing districts, be sure to read our articles on Figueira da Foz, Vila do Conde, and Costa da Caparica. The once small town of Luz is today a place with a wide range of services
such as restaurants, bars, hotels, and small shops.
Praia da Luz beach is located in front of the village of Luz and is another example of a beautiful beach in the region. It is small and perfect for those who want to relax and enjoy the sun. It is famous for the small pools of water that form on the rocks. These small natural pools are particularly inviting for children to play safely.
If you are one of those vacationers who likes to observe the mollusks and small crabs that live on the rocks, then this is “your beach”! But if you are one of those people who likes to fly “a kite” then don’t leave it at home because the wind is a regular presence.
HOW TO GET TO PRAIA DA LUZ?
It is approximately 15 minutes from Lagos marina. Take the national 125 road and you will easily reach Praia da Luz. The beach has a parking zone and the access to the sand is made through the “passadeiras”. It has lifeguards during the bathing season, showers and toilets.
DONA ANA BEACH
The most beautiful among the beautiful beaches of Lagos! It is also small and sheltered by enigmatic cliffs. The sea, the sand and the rock formations form an idyllic scenery. The beach inherited its name from a nun who once lived in the city’s convent. During World War II, the
convent of nuns was invaded and all the nuns were murdered. All… except one: the nun Ana escaped through a tunnel that connected to the beach.
Over the years, the beach has won several international awards and has figured in international tourist itineraries. Tripadvisor considered it the best beach in the world in 2015!
HOW TO GET TO DONA ANA BEACH?
Dona Ana beach is close to Camilo beach. It is approximately 10 minutes away (by car or motorcycle) from Lagos marina. Although the distance is short, the road signs to get there can be confusing. Turn on your GPS, it will be the easiest solution not to make a mistake on the way.
Praia Dona Ana beach has a parking lot and a huge stairway to access the sand. The beach has lifeguards during the summer. As beach support you can count on public showers and toilets. The beach has sun loungers for rent.
The beaches of Camilo and Dona Ana are perfect for resting, reading a book and listening to music or the sounds of the sea. As they are beaches with small sandy areas, they are not ideal for those who like to play soccer or other sports activities.
PORTO DE MÓS BEACH
This is a beach with a very long stretch of sand. If you like to be on the beach with plenty of space, walk about 10 minutes to your right and you will find it. If you walk to the end of the beach, you will find some rock formations with clay. Take advantage and get your skin treatment! The beach is sheltered from the wind (something rare in Lagos), always has a peaceful atmosphere and the sea is very calm. I confess that it is my favorite beach in this region! It has a very large parking lot.
A very beautiful beach, wild and for adventurers. The access is difficult and for this reason it always has a small number of people. To get there, you have two possibilities. First option: wait for low tide and make the crossing on foot through the beach of Porto de Mós (see our map above). Second option: enter Praia do Canavial into the GPS. Youwill come to a sort of square where you should park your car. Then you have to walk a little bit on foot through some improvised stairs made of dirt and wood. The trail is fairly difficult but quite beautiful (take tennis shoes for safety).
One of the hallmarks of Lagos! Before going down to the sand, enjoy the view from the top. Tunnels have been formed between the rocks that allow access between beaches. Pay attention at high tide, when the tunnels naturally fill with water. The sandy area is very small and there is a risk of rocks falling from the cliffs. Don’t risk it and stay as far away as possible. This is an uUnguarded beach. Definitely a place to visit, but not the best place to spend a nice afternoon (unless you like small, crowded beaches).
Another area of great beauty but with a very small sandy beach. At low tide the sand disappears. A place to get to know but not so much to spend a quiet day at the beach. The access is difficult. If you like snorkeling, this is a magnificent place (but wear a thermal suit). The sea is cold, but crystal clear and calm. For me, this cold water is the only negative aspect of this part of the Algarve.
PONTA DA PIEDADE
This is one of the most beautiful places on the entire Algarvian coast, a natural monument formed by 20 meter high cliffs. Piedade Point is a natural bay surrounded by rock formations of different configurations. You can walk along a walkway near the cliffs to appreciate their beauty
or you can climb down some stairs to sea level. The sea is crystal clear in a turquoise blue tone, contrasting with the rock formations and forming images of incredible beauty. During the summer, down the stairs you will find boat tours that will take you to visit the caves and tunnels of the surrounding area. Prices vary greatly from boat to boat, or we wouldn’t be talking about a fairly clandestine activity.
You can also take advantage of Ponta da Piedade for a swim. During the summer it is quite crowded. If you prefer a quieter environment, we suggest you try it during the months of June or September. The place is always beautiful, but it’s even more beautiful during low tide.
BOAT TRIP TO THE LAGOS CAVES
I have been going to the Algarve regularly since 1988. But I confess that I have never embarked on this tour that is said to be one of the most iconic activities in the Algarve.
This part of the Algarve is famous for the spectacular caves and rock tunnels that stretch from Ponta da Piedade to Lagos.
VIRTUAL TOUR – LAGOS
CULTURAL HERITAGE OF LAGOS
CENTER OF LAGOS
The historic center of Lagos consists of narrow streets flanked by typical Algarvian white houses. Bars, cafes and small stores are everywhere, inviting you for a relaxed stroll. The streets of Lagos are filled with a fresh atmosphere and a sea breeze. The center of Lagos is bustling by day and even more so at night. Lagos is famous for its bars and clubs and for the party atmosphere that dominates the summer nights.
STROLLING ALONG THE LAGOS WATERFRONT
During the summer the Lagos waterfront fills up with people and small stalls where you can buy, among other things, regional products, beach items, and handicrafts. The walk is short but pleasant. On one side you can see the marina and on the other a different view of the city. The
waterfront connects the Lagos fort with a pedestrian bridge (easily identifiable) that connects the waterfront and the marina.
THE HISTORY AND THE CASTLE OF LAGOS
In Lagos, there are records of human presence since prehistoric times. It is believed that the city’s defensive system was first created by the Romans. Later, Visigoths and Arabs took over the city. Dom Sancho I was the first Christian to conquer the city (1189) only to lose it soon after to the Arabs. It was Dom Sancho II who took it definitively from the Muslims.
Lagos was a major player in the Portuguese maritime expansion. It was from here that the ships that discovered Madeira (1427) and the Azores sailed. It was from Lagos that Gil Eanes sailed to round Cape Bojador, and it was also from here that the men who conquered Ceuta (1458) and
Tangier (1472) left.
The Castle had been reinforced by 1642 during the War of Restoration (conflict between the kingdom of Portugal and the kingdom of Castile). Later (in 1755), the castle was heavily destroyed by the great earthquake that also destroyed the city of Lisbon.
There is little left of the medieval castle. Still, the monument bears the title of National Monument.
PONTA DA BANDEIRA FORT
This monument is quite close to Camilo beach and Dona Ana beach (5 minutes by car) and is in excellent condition (it was restored in 1960). It is also called Forte do Pau da bandeira. It was built in the late 17th century and played an important role as a defensive structure of
the city of Lagos against the Spanish (War of Restoration that opposed Portugal joining Spain). As you enter the Ponta da Bandeira fort, pay attention to the drawbridge that rises over a moat. Inside the fort you will find a chapel dedicated to Santa Barbara lined with tile panels dating from the 18th century.
The space is now a place of culture (art exhibitions, live music and a restaurant that evokes Lagos’ past). It should be noted that this is where the most traditional festival in Lagos takes place every year: the 29th Bath. On the 29th of August the people of Lagos take the midnight
swim, formerly considered a purifying bath. The view of the city is also an attraction of the Ponta da Bandeira fort.
It is worth taking a walk to the Lagos lighthouse. The building is not a very spectacular structure but the way to get there is very pleasant and the view even better. We suggest a visit at the end of the day so you can enjoy the magnificent sunset you can admire from there.
OTHER ATTRACTIONS IN LAGOS
DOLPHIN WATCHING OFF THE COAST OF LAGOS
Few people know that it is possible to see a lot of dolphins off the Algarvian coast. To have this experience, go to the Lagos marina and there you will find people providing this service. The trips are made by catamaran or RIB (a smaller rigid inflatable boat that allows you to get very close to the animals) and last 90 minutes. Venture out into the ocean! Each tour is unique since all trips depend on the location of the dolphins.
SEE THE BRIDGE AT PRAIA DOS ESTUDANTES
Above the students’ beach we can see a beautiful Roman bridge that connects to a belvedere. The students’ beach is next to Dona Ana beach and has a rather small sandy beach. It is worth a visit because the framing of the Roman bridge on top of two cliffs is actually quite
beautiful. But if the goal is to spend a beautiful afternoon at the beach, we suggest the beach of Porto de Mós.
GO KAYAKING TO THE CAVES
Another way to get to know the rock caves is through a kayak tour. It is an activity that can be done by anyone with average physical condition. No previous experience is necessary and all the material is provided by the operators. Before leaving for your trip, you will have a brief lesson on how to paddle a kayak and also on safety measures. The kayaks are large, have good stability and are perfect for two adults. The rental is for a period of 3 hours, which gives you enough time to get out of the kayak and take a few dives between visits to the caves. The price naturally depends on the time of year, but be prepared for around
PEDESTRIAN TRAIL BETWEEN LAGOS BEACH AND PRAIA DA LUZ
If you like walking you will like to know that the pedestrian trail between Lagos and Praia da Luz is 11 kilometers long. Along the way you will pass by Ponta da Piedade and Praia dos Estudantes, where you canadmire the beautiful Roman bridge that joins two cliffs. 11 kilometers is a considerable distance to cover on foot. We suggest that, in between walks, you stop and enjoy the beaches you pass by. For example, walk for an hour and then stay for an hour on a beach for a swim and to “work on your tan”.
WHAT TO VISIT NEAR LAGOS?
Lagos has a very large number of things to see and do. But the truth is that in the surroundings of Lagos there are also very interesting tourist attractions. We leave you two suggestions: Passadiços do Alvor and Vila do Bispo. Before we briefly describe what you can do there, please check distances so that you can organize your tours efficiently.
From Lagos to Alvor it is a distance of 19 kilometers, which can be covered in 26 minutes by car. The trails of Alvor are one of the largest in the country (with a length of 6km) and surely one of the most
beautiful of the Algarve. They make the connection between Praia dos 3 Irmaos and the Ria de Alvor. The walk is always made by the sea offering
absolutely breathtaking views. Along the way you will have the opportunity to see dunes, the sea, small beaches, marshes and an immense biodiversity. The route is flat and accessible to anyone.
Lagos to Vila do Bispo is 24 minutes away. Vila do Bispo is a peaceful place that has
resisted large-scale construction. It is close to majestic beaches, but also close to large natural parks. It is a popular spot for surfers because the waves on this part of the coast are perfect. One more note is the quality of the gastronomy with special emphasis on fresh fish. Finally, the friendliness of the residents. Tourism in this area is not massive and has never provoked a saturation effect on the residents. Click on the image if you want to know everything there is to know about this Portuguese village.
HOTELS IN LAGOS
Lagos has a very wide range of hotels. The following recommendation is related to the price/quality ratio and the comments/rankings on Google.
DOM PEDRO LAGOS, BEACH CLUB APARTMENTS
3 star hotel. More than 500 reviews and an overall rating of 4 stars on google. (in Lagos, to find higher ratings you have to go to 4 and 5 star hotels). The most complimentary comments mention the cleanliness, the fantastic view and the location (5 minutes from the beach and 1 minute from the pool). The price/quality ratio is surely one of the bestin the city.
RESTAURANTS IN LAGOS
Has an overall rating of 4.8 out of 5. More than 200 customer reviews and only one $ regarding price. The reviews mention a family atmosphere, live music, friendly service and exceptional quality. The positive reviews remark on the quality of the guacamole.
Kiko’s Tasca has more than 590 online comments and a 4.6 star rating (out of 5). It is a tapas restaurant where you can also eat good hamburgers. Tapas cost an average of 7 euros. It has an extensive and good quality wine list. Count on 50 euros for two people. The restaurant has free parking.