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The best guide to Lagos

by Giddioso Travel Guides

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Lagos, Portugal Tourist Guide - Fully Updated for 2017!

Lagos is a historic and lively city that is situated on the beautiful Western Algarve coastline. As a holiday destination, Lagos offers visitors glorious beaches, buzzing nightlife and a charming historic centre, which has retained its traditional character and charm. Within the Lagos region is an abundance of varied sights and activities, which makes the city a fantastic destination for tourists who want more than just great beaches and glorious weather for their holiday.

Lagos Portugal town

The river front of Lagos Portugal

For the intrepid visitor, Lagos can be used as a base from which to explore the entire western Algarve and there are numerous enjoyable day trips, many of which are easily accessible by public transport. This article will provide an introduction to Lagos, by answering some of the common holiday questions and providing links to further in-depth information.

Why Visit Lagos, Portugal?

Lagos perfectly blends traditional Portuguese culture and beautiful beaches with great tourist facilities. Lagos has a delightful historic centre, which is surrounded by the ancient Moorish walls and overlooks pretty harbour estuary. Within the city centre is an extensive selection of restaurants and the nightlife is equally as varied, with small sociable bars through to late night banging nightclubs. Close to Lagos is a variety of activities and sights, which range from waterparks and zoos through to historic monuments and challenging hiking trails.

Ponta da Piedade lagos

The Ponta da Piedade coastline, near Lagos

To the south of Lagos is the Ponta da Piedade headland, a series of highly weathered cliffs that are lined with spectacular grottos, arches, sea caves, and are regarded as the finest natural feature of the Algarve. Extending to the east of Lagos is the 4km long Meia Praia Beach, which is the longest sandy beach on the western side of the Algarve. Surround Lagos are many interesting towns which make for enjoyable day trips and include Sagres, Silves, Luz and Portimão. There is so much to do in Lagos, and for a guide to the major sights and activities, please click here.

How long to spend in Lagos?

Lagos is ideal as a holiday destination for a 1-week holiday. A week in Lagos could combine time on the beaches and a couple of excursions to the interesting towns of the region, while in the city there are sufficient restaurants to eat well and somewhere different every night. For a full guide to a 1-week holiday to Lagos, please click here.

historic centre Lagos

The historic centre of Lagos

For those visitors who are touring southern Portugal should plan to spend at least two days in Lagos. The first day would explore the historic sights of the town and the second day would visit the dramatic Ponta da Piedade cliffs and the beautiful of Praia do Ana beach. Alternatively, Lagos could be used as a base from which to explore the Western Algarve, for a list of the popular day trips from Lagos please click here.

Who Should visit Lagos?

The extensive range of sights and activities means that Lagos is perfectly suited for a range of different visitors, and this includes families, young couples and more mature visitors. Visitors seeking a cultural holiday will be impressed by the number of historical monuments and the traditional heritage of Lagos, while younger couples will discover a lively nightlife and numerous exciting activities. Lagos is not designed for large groups wanting to drink excessively and party uncontrollably (typically stag or hen do’s), for this head to the Strip in Albufeira.

 

 

What about Lagos for families?

Lagos is a great destination for families as it has a good range of family-friendly accommodation and restaurant options. The town is more relaxed than other resorts, such as Albufeira or Praia da Rocha, which makes it very safe and quieter at night. Lagos is ideal for families with older children and teenagers as they will be enthralled by the water parks and theme parks of the region.

The best water park is Slide & Splash, which is close to the town of Lagoa while Zoomarine is an excellent marine park that specialises in dolphins. Lagos Zoo is great for younger children and is much closer. Children of all ages will love the boat trips that depart from the harbour, while the beaches are clean and safe, being supervised by lifeguards.

Lagos for 2017

The Algarve and Lagos are experiencing massive growth within tourism; each year new visitors discover this wonderful, safe and inexpensive holiday destination, and then continue to return. This increased popularity is great for the region, but it does mean that the summer months, especially the school holidays can get very crowded. Lagos is expecting a sell-out summer for 2017 and this comes after the successful summer 2016 season.

Our advice to you is, if you are seriously considering a holiday to Lagos book your flights and accommodation now as price will rise and then sell out. Many hotel booking websites also allow visitors to make a reservation without paying a deposit, so book early to secure the best price. For a guide of the best hotels in Lagos please click here.

lagos night

A great night in Lagos starts with a Sagres beer!

When to Visit Lagos and southern Portugal?

The Algarve is blessed with a wonderful climate with long hot summers and pleasant spring and autumns. The summer months of southern Portugal are characterised by their hot dry weather, with temperatures reaching a maximum of 35C. The main tourist season is from June until September and if planning to visit during the height of the summer, always book well in advance as hotels sell out quickly.

Lagos Portugal weather

The average weather conditions for Lagos Portugal

The Spring and Autumn seasons are bright and sunny, and the Algarve boasts over 3,000 hours of sun a year (compared to 1,450 hours for London, 1,840 for Paris or 2,150 hours for New York). Temperatures in Lagos are suitable for spending time on the beach from early May through to mid-October.

Winters are mild but the weather can be unpredictable with an equal number of good or bad weather days. Lagos has a large permanent population therefore most of the restaurants and cafes will remain open during the winter season but the majority of tourist facilities close at the end of October and re-open for Easter.

Does Lagos have great beaches?

Lagos has some of the finest beaches of southern Portugal and within walking distance of the town are four wonderful beaches. The Meia Praia is the largest beach of the region and is a vast sandy beach that extends for 4km from Lagos. The Praia Dona Ana and Praia do Pinhão are beautiful small beaches that are surrounded by sandstone cliffs and provide crystal clear bathing waters. The pretty Praia da Batata beach is located at the mouth of the estuary and overlooks the little fort.

Praia Dona Ana Beach

The stunning Praia Dona Ana Beach

On the south-western side of Lagos is the Porto de Mos beach, an area popular with resort hotels and holiday homes, great for visitors who prefer not to be in the centre of the busy city. Porto de Mos is a great location for surfing but for some of the best surf in Portugal (and possibly Europe) head further along the coast to the small town of Sagres, which also makes for an enjoyable day trip.

The sheer number of varied beaches within the vicinity of Lagos means that, even at the height of the summer, space can be easily found for a relaxing day under the glorious sun. Visitors are often surprised by extremely cold water temperatures in the Algarve, which are driven by the Atlantic Ocean rather than the warmer Mediterranean Sea. For a guide to the beaches of Lagos please click here.

Porto de Mos lagos

The Porto de Mos beach

What is the best Sight of Lagos?

The Ponta da Piedade is a series of highly weathered cliffs that form the southern headland of Lagos. The powerful Atlantic Ocean has chiselled stone arches, grottos and sea caves into the colourful sandstone cliffs and these cliffs are considered the best natural feature of the Algarve. The Ponta da Piedade formations can be seen viewed from cliff tops but a much more enjoyable approach is to hire a boat and view them from the water. Click here for a guide to the Ponta da Piedade.

 Ponta da Piedade lagos

The Ponta da Piedade cliffs are best explored by boat

What are the best day trips from Lagos?

The two best day trips from Lagos are to the historic town of Silves and the surfing town of Sagres. Silves was the ancient capital of the Algarve and remnants of this glorious past are found throughout the peaceful and relaxed town. The prominent feature of Silves is the massive red brick castle, while traditional houses and shops line the cobbled streets that lead down to the river. For a guide to Silves please click here.

silves portugal

Silves is a very scenic town in southern Portugal

The town of Sagres is at the western tip of mainland Europe and this coastline is battered by strong winds and powerful Atlantic waves. The region comprises of dramatic cliffs and vast beaches and is ideal for tourists who appreciate nature's raw power. Sagres is a popular surfing destination and there are many excellent surfing schools. For a guide to day trip to Sagres please click here.

Sagres fishing harbour

Sagres fishing harbour is sheltered from the power of the sea

Alternative day trips from Lagos include the quiet resort of Luz, the shopping town of Portimão and the hectic resort town of Praia da Rocha. All of these day trips can be reached by the inexpensive public transport and there is no requirement to hire a rental car while on holiday to Lagos.

Airport transfer to Lagos

The nearest international airport to Lagos is Faro Airport, which is 90km to the east of Lagos. It is recommended to pre-book airport transfers before arriving in Portugal as Faro airport can get very busy and a taxi hire from the arrivals building will be very expensive. A private transfer will cost around €68 while a shared coach transfer will be around €25.

Faro to Lagos train

The regional train from Faro to Lagos

There are train and bus services from Faro city (not the airport!) to Lagos and the journey takes around 1.5 hours but departures are infrequent and do not continue late into the night. For an extensive guide about travelling from the airport to Lagos, please click here.

Should I go all-inclusive for my holiday?

Our suggestion is to avoid all-inclusive holidays in Lagos, as food and drink in Portugal is inexpensive while being tied to just one hotel limits the selection and choice of places to eat. Lagos has vast selection of different restaurants, catering for every conceivable cuisine and budget. Dining out at local restaurants also helps to support the local economy, rather than remotely managed multinational chains. Outside of the summer months Lagos can be a great budget destination, significant discount on hotels, while food and transport is inexpensive.

portugal lagos food

Portugal has an abundance of locally grow foods

What airlines fly to Faro Airport?

All of the low-cost airlines fly to Faro Airport. Make sure to book these well in advance but always be sure of dates before confirming as flights with these airlines are non-refundable.

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