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Lagos 3 days - suggested tour and itinerary
Lagos is a historic Portuguese town that is situated on the western edge of the Algarve. The town is surrounded by some of the most beautiful coastline sceneries found in Portugal, and these stunning beaches have transformed Lagos in one of the most popular tourist destinations of the Algarve.
The river front of Lagos Portugal
Lagos has been responsibly developed into a resort town, by maintaining the historic centre and loosing none of its traditional charm. Lagos positioning, on the western edge of the Algarve, means that it is an ideal location from which to explore the surrounding region and there are numerous great day trips available from Lagos. This guide will provide a suggested 3 day itinerary for a visit to Lagos and detail the major tourist attractions of the region.
3 day Lagos tour Overview
Day 1 – Exploring the old town and the Ponta da Piedade cliffs.
Day 2 – Day on the magnificent beaches
Day 3 – Day trip either to Sagres, Silves or Portimão
Day One of 3 Day Tour
Lagos has had a turbulent history, reflected in the varied number of historic monuments and buildings that can be found within the old town. The town was established as a trading and seafaring centre, but was under the constant threat of raiding pirates and foreign invaders, especially during the 16-17th century. One of Lagos’ early and lucrative cargoes was in the form of human slaves from Africa, and the ancient slave market still stands today. During the morning of the first day in Lagos, it is suggested to explore the old town, and on the second half of the day, the stunning cliff formations of the Ponta da Piedade should be visited.
The Baroque Igreja de Santo Antonio church
All of the sights of the old town are close together, so Lagos can be easily explored on foot in some 2-3 hours. Popular and important buildings in central Lagos include:
• The charming Forte da Ponta da Bandeira fort, which once guarded the entrance to the Lagos estuary.
• The decorative interior of the Saint Anthony church. The church is lined with some of the finest wood carvings found in Portugal and beautiful painted tiles (azulejos).
• The Mercado de Escravos, which was the first slave market in Europe, later converted into the customs house.
• The 16th century city walls that encircle Lagos, the best preserved section of which is the Saint Gonçalo's gate, opposite the Bandeira fort.
The Ponta da Piedade cliffs and coastline are best viewed by boat
For the afternoon it is suggested to follow the coastline south from Lagos, passing the Praia do Pinhão beach, the Dona Ana beach and onto the Ponta da Piedade cliffs. The Praia do Pinhão is a small beach that surrounds the Ponta da Bandeira fort, while the Praia da Dona Ana is regarded as the most beautiful beach of the Algarve. The final destination of the 2km walk are the high weathered cliffs of the Ponta da Piedade headland. These sandstone cliffs have been carved by the power of the Atlantic Ocean and have created sea arches, caves and grottos. The cliffs can be viewed from the shoreline, but for a better appreciation it’s advisable to hire a small tour boat, which can navigate the numerous grottos and caves. These tour boats can be hired from the base of Ponta da Piedade or from the Lagos marina.
Day 2 of the 3 day Tour of Lagos
The recommendation for the second day is to spend some time on one of the glorious beaches that surround Lagos. The region is blessed with both stunning and varied beaches, ideal for all different styles of tourists. The Dona Ana beach (that was passed on the previous day) provides a sheltered, family suitable beach, with soft golden sands and crystal clear waters teeming with sea life.
Dona Ana beach is stunning
The largest beach of the region is the Meia Praia beach, which is positioned on the opposite side of the Lagos estuary and stretches around the long shallow bay for 4.5km. This beach is only a short walk away and provides masses of wide open sands, ideal to escape the crowds in the height of the tourist season.
Lagos suggested tour Day 3
For the third day, it is suggested to have a day trip from Lagos to one of the interesting surrounding towns. There are three suggested options, the remote village of Sagres, the Moorish town of Silves or the modern resort of Praia da Rocha, with its great beach. The choice depends on your style of holiday and on the season that you visit Lagos.
The massive surfing waves of Sagres
Sagres is the most westerly town of the Algarve and is dominated by the powerful seas of the Atlantic Ocean. These beaches offer the best surfing conditions of the region, while the town itself is quiet and peaceful. There are direct bus services from Lagos to Sagres; you’ll find a Sagres guide here.
Silves is an extremely pretty destination inland from the coast
Silves is a pretty town that was founded by the 12th century Moors as their capital. During the height of the Moor’s era, the town had a population greater than 30,000, as well as the most important castle of the whole Algarve. Today, the redbrick castle still dominates the skyline of Silves, while the slow flowing Arade River reflects the pace of life of Silves. The town makes for an enjoyable day trip from Lagos and is thus highly recommended.
The beach front of Praia da Rocha
Praia da Rocha is the largest resort of the western Algarve and it becomes a bustling and lively place during the summer months. The beach is simply stunning, but popular. Praia da Rocha is just south of sleepy Portimão and is reached by bus or train.