The best independent guide to Lagos
Lagos is a fascinating city that boasts, stunning beaches, a characterful historic centre and buzzing nightlife. This all combines to form the ideal holiday destination for tourists, who want more than just great beaches and glorious weather for their holiday. This guide will detail the most popular activities and things to do while on holiday to Lagos.
Unlike many other resort towns, Lagos is an important city that is steeped in history, and the variety of historical monuments and buildings reflect this varied past. Fascinating buildings include the beautiful Santo Antonio church, the Mercado dos Escravos (Europe’s first slave market) and the charming 17th century Bandeira Fort.
Half a day can be easily spent exploring the historic centre with its narrow cobbled streets, traditional houses and pretty harbour front. Very few towns in the Algarve have the variety of historic buildings, and this is why Lagos is so popular as a day trip from the surrounding region.
The Ponta da Piedade are a series of beautiful sandstone cliffs, that are considered as the finest natural feature of the western Algarve. This headland to the south of Lagos has been eroded over the millennia by powerful winter storms to form unique cliff formations, which include sea arches, grottos and smugglers caves.
The Ponta da Piedade can be explored from the pathways that cross and climb the cliffs, but a much more enjoyable approach is to join one of the boat tours that depart from Lagos marina.
Related articles: The Ponta da Piedade
Lagos has a wonderful coastline that comprises of vast expanses of sands, secluded coves and picturesque beaches. Within the Lagos region there is a beach to satisfy all, and range from the massive the Meia Praia, to the surfing waves of Porto de Mós and the beautiful Praia da Dona Ana.
Within in walking distance of Lagos are four outstanding beaches, while a short bus ride away are the traditional resort towns of Praia da Luz and Burgau or the craziness of Praia da Rocha.
Related articles: Lagos beach guide - Praia da Dona Ana
Lagos zoo is a small zoo which is suited for families with younger children. The animals are well cared for, and the selection of animals includes birds, wild cats, and a petting farm for small children. The standout feature is the monkey island which contains many adorable monkeys! The entrance fee is €18/€14 (adult/child) and the zoo is open all year round. More information can be found on their website:
Departing from the Lagos Marina are an assortment of different boat trips, which include tours of the coastline, dolphin watching or deep-sea fishing trips. For the more adventurous there are speed boat tours, jet boats or jet-skis. Costs of the boat tour vary depending on the style of tour and novelty of the boat, but typical prices are:
• 90min caves/grottos tour €20/€10 (adult/child)
• 90min dolphin watching tour €40/ €30 (adult/child)
• 3-hour fishing for snapper, mackerel, grouper €40/€25 (adult/child)
We have worked with Getyourguide.com over the last five years, and a selection of their best tours from Lagos includes:
Sagres is at the western edge of the Algarve and is characterised by massive cliffs, raging seas and windswept landscapes. The power seas and expansive beaches attract surfers from all over Europe, and this has provided Sagres with an understated trendy vibe, which aligns with the ramshackle appearance of the town.
Further along, the coast is the Cabo Sao Vincente, the south-westerly tip of mainland Europe, and is a dramatic but barren region with towering cliffs and ceases winds. The Sagres region is ideal for visitors who appreciate nature's raw power and enjoy outdoor activities, be that surfing hiking or cycling. There is a regular bus service from Lagos to Sagres.
Related articles: A day trip to Sagres
Slide and Splash is an amazing waterpark, filled with gravity-defying flumes, near vertical slides and colossal rubber ring rides. The waterpark is incredible fun for children, teenagers (and adults!), and the facilities are safe and well-maintained. The only downside is the steep entrance fees - €27/€19 (adult/child). Slide and Splash is near the town of Lagoa (25km away) and there are transfers; further information can be found on their website:
Zoomarine is a wonderful marine park that specialises in dolphins, marine life and tropical birds. In the marine park, there is a diverse selection of activities including dolphin shows, aquariums, and a good water park with slides, wave pools and rapids. The animals of Zoomarine are kept in modern facilities and all are well cared for.
The variety of attractions means Zoomarine is ideal for both families and young couples but again has a high entrance fees of €29/ €21 (adult/child). Zoomarine is in central Algarve (40km from Lagos) but transport can be organised. More information can be seen on the Zoomarine website:
The map below shows the location of hotels and rental rooms in Lagos, and by altering the date to your holiday, the map will display current availability and prices:
An escape room is an exciting group activity or ideal for an inclement day. There is an enjoyable escape room hosted by Xscape-it, which is based around an Orphanage, and has the novelty of a jump-scares (only if wanted!). The room caters for groups of 2-6, with prices per person varying from €16 to €25. The puzzles are in English (along with Portuguese, French, Spanish and Italian) and more information can be seen on their website:
The Praia de Mós beach is 3km to the south-west of central Lagos and, as faces a southwesterly direction, is exposed to some of the largest waves of the Lagos region. This makes the beach a popular destination for surfing or body boarding and there are surfing schools to master the skills and shops to hire equipment. Mós beach is connected to Lagos by the local bus network.
There are surf lessons at Mós beach
Tired of all of that eating and sitting around? Well then head to Luso Aventura for a forest adventure of high rope walkways, vertical nets, cobweb and monkey bridges that span the forests just to the east of Lagos. There are different circuits to challenge both children and adults, and the two-hour “fearless” course cost €17. For more information see the Luso Aventura website:
There are a series of scenic coastal hiking routes along the western side of the Algarve, and this is a great activity for the winter months. There is an outstanding route which heads west from Ponta da Piedade (or the Porto de Mós) and passes through the villages of Praia da Luz and Burgau. For this 4-hour hike, which is well signed, it is recommended to catch the local bus to Burgau and walk back to Lagos. Details of the buses can be found on the A Onda bus website:
Surrounding Lagos are quiet roads, pretty villages and a beautiful coastline, all of which are great to explore by bike. One of the best cycling routes is to the peaceful resort town Praia da Luz (8km from Lagos) or to the sleepy village of Burgau (13km from Lagos). Bikes can be hired for €10-15 per day.
Lagos is an ideal location to try local and authentic Portuguese cuisines. Portuguese foods tend to be filling and hearty (often served with rice, chips and bread as a starter) and Algarve specialities are often based around freshly caught fish or shellfish.
One dish to try is Cataplana, a seafood rice stew, that is both cooked and served in a large copper dish that resembles the key ingredient, clams. Cataplana is designed to be shared, with the copper dish being placed in the centre of the table. Locally produced wines are the perfect accompaniment for any meal!
A delicious prawn Cataplana
Silves was the ancient capital of the Algarve and during the Moors era (9-11th century) was an important trading town and port. Today Silves is an unhurried and scenic town, with remnants of this once importance dotted throughout the town.
The town is dominated by the huge redbrick castle and leading down to the slow flowing Arade River are cobbled streets lined with traditional houses. Silves makes for an enjoyable day trip from Lagos and is connected by the regional railway.
Related articles: Silves introduction
Silves is a charming town for a day trip