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Our complete Lagos travel guide

Hello and welcome to our ultimate Lagos travel guide! After spending a month in Lagos in the Algarve, we got to explore everything it has to offer. Whilst it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in Portugal, Lagos offers a lot of history and has a really local feel. From top rated accommodation, local beaches, restaurants and cafes, it’s without a doubt a great place to visit if you come to The Algarve.

So you don’t miss any hidden gems whilst on your travels to Lagos, we’ve compiled a complete Lagos Algarve travel guide that will help you plan your next trip. Read on for the full guide.

Where is Lagos located?

Lagos is located on the Western part of the Algarve, approximately an hour away from Faro airport and 30 minutes’ drive from the bustling town of Albufeira. The distance from Faro Airport is often a dealbreaker for those on holiday, but we assure you that the journey is well worth it.

Lagos’ unique West Algarve location is home to some of the best beaches in Portugal and you’re only a short drive from most attractions.

Why Lagos is a great place to visit

Things to do in Lagos Algarve - Shows a pretty fountain

Popular with tourists in the summer whilst still managing to retain an authentic Portuguese feel, Lagos offers a cool combination of culture, activities and relaxation. You’ll be spoilt for choice with places to dine at, can go for an evening stroll by a stunning marina and a plethora of beaches are a short walk in any direction. What’s not to love?

When’s the best time to visit Lagos?

The Western Algarve is known for it’s breezy evenings no matter what time of the year you travel (it’s always a good idea to take a light jacket!). That being said, temperatures can reach 30+ degrees during the daytime in the summer months. We recommend travelling either April – June, or September, to avoid the soaring temperatures and high prices! On the whole, this region of Portugal offers good weather all year round and if you’re lucky, you could even have a swim in the sea in the winter months! The Algarve is known for its blue skies and lack of rainfall – Lagos is no different!

Point to note: the sea and swimming pools are quite cold in Portugal (unless they’re heated) no matter when you travel. Book a hotel with a heated pool if you’re like us and can’t handle the chilly pool temps.

How to get to Lagos

Things to do in Lagos Algarve - Shows Ponda da Piedade cliffside

As Lagos is located right in the west of The Algarve, it can take a little longer to get there, depending on where you’re travelling from. However, thanks to the A22 toll road, journeys are a lot shorter than they used to be. If you’re travelling to Lagos from Lisbon, it’ll take you around 3 hours to get to Lagos, so make sure you pack plenty on snacks to keep you going! If you’re travelling from Faro airport, it’ll take you just over an hour to get to Lagos by car or private transfer.

Top tip: prior to using the toll road, you’ll need to make sure your car is registered with a toll sensor box, or you’ll have to make a manual toll payment later in the day. If you’re renting a car, the car rental service company will usually have this sorted for you already. They should tell you how much money they have topped up with, so be aware that you may need to pay extra at the end of your stay, should you use the toll roads frequently.

Getting around in Lagos

If you’re looking to stay solely in Lagos, then you’ll easily be able to access everything by foot, as it’s all in walking distance. If you’re looking to venture out further afield and visit places near Lagos, then renting a car is advisable, especially for those who are looking to stay for 2+ weeks. We went with Drive4Fun and they provided such an excellent service. From picking up the car on the first day, to dropping the car off. The entire process was extremely smooth and would recommend checking them out if you’re looking to hire a car from Faro airport!

The best things to do in Lagos, Algarve

There’s an abundance of things to do in Lagos and you’ll be entertained for your entire trip. We were entertained for an entire month! Here’s a list of our must-see things to do in and around Lagos.

Lagos Old Town

The old town of Lagos provides remarkable old buildings and cobbled streets, full of colourful architecture and character. It’s one of the best places to visit in Lagos to check out the cool bakeries, cafés, bars and restaurants. If you want to pick up a last-minute souvenir, you’ll be spoilt for choice, as there’s multiple independent gift shops in the old town. We visited Lagos Old Town at least 5 times during our stay. During the day, it’s a bustling mix of tourists and locals, coming alive on an evening when the sun goes down. Walk around the old town at your leisure starting off at the main square and Igreja de Santo António.

Igreja de Santo António church in Lagos
Walking the colourful streets of Lagos
Wall art in Lagos Old Town - Top things to do in Lagos

The best Lagos Beaches:

It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that Portugal is known for its stunning beaches; people all over the world visit because of its dramatic cliffsides and turquoise seas. We were fortunate enough to visit most of them during our stay. Here are some of our favourites:

Praia de São Roque

If you don’t want a beach that’s right on your doorstep, then Praia de São Roque is the one for you. It’s Lagos Town’s main sandy beach and sits right by the marina. It’s perfect for those who fancy an afternoon in the sun after an action-packed morning of sightseeing in town. The beach is very long too, so you won’t ever be stuck finding a spot. You can walk to the beach via Lagos marina, crossing the bridge from town. Alternatively, drive there and park up right next to the sand dunes.

Lagos beaches - Shows Praia de Sao Roque

Praia dos Estudantes

Whilst the above beach is on the north side of Lagos, stretching for miles to Alvor, the beaches to the south of Lagos are very different. These beaches are surrounded by majestic golden cliffs, leading to a coastline of caves, coves and small inlets. Starting at Praia dos Estudantes and onward to Praia do Pinhão, you can walk the full stretch of coastline to experience some amazing views. Alternatively, pick out a nice quiet spot on the sand and bask in the warm sun. Praia dos Estudantes is only a 10-minute walk from the old town.

The best Lagos beaches - Shows the Roman Bridge
Praia do Camilo  

Renown as one of the best beaches in Portugal, Praia do Camilo is a captivating cove with stunning cliffs, caves and sandy beach. Whilst it’s a bit of a trek down as you walk down around 200 steps, the views are truly worth it! Praia do Camilo is one of the smaller beaches, so aim to get there as early as possible to ensure you get a spot. It’s more of a relaxation beach, as opposed to one you explore and walk along. There’s a nice bar/restaurant at the top of the beach staircase where you can enjoy a refreshing break from the sun. The views are spectacular!

Praia do Camilo beach in Lagos - Algarve

Lagos Marina

Who doesn’t love to admire the prestigious yachts of the rich and famous on holiday? Lagos is home to a beautiful marina that’s located next to the promenade. As one of the largest marina’s in the Algarve, it has a variety of yachts, sailing boats and sightseeing boats, of all shapes and sizes. Go for a long morning or sunset stroll and stop from a drink in one of the many bars and restaurants along the edges of the marina.

Boats docked at Lagos marina

The Lagos promenade

If you fancy a long walk to burn off some calories and admire the sea as you take a stroll, then you’ll love the promenade. On weekends, the promenade is home to various market stalls, making it the best time to visit. If you’re looking for sightseeing cruises, then this is also the place to go. Tour operator booths line the promenade and you’ll be spoilt for choice at boat, kayak and adventure activity options.

Lagos old town promenade

Ponte da Piedade

One of the best places to visit, not only in Lagos, but in the entire country, is Ponte da Piedade. Famous for its intricate network of caves, rock stacks and cool cliffside scenery, Ponta da Piedade is a must see for everyone. The location is best explored by boat or kayak so you get amongst the caves and coves, but a trek to the overhead viewpoint is essential too! Once you’ve finished your boat tour, catch the mini train or drive 5 minutes from Lagos town to the summit of the cliff-face.

Shows Ponta da Piedade attraction cliffs

Castelo dos Governadores

The castle of Lagos, also known as Castelo dos Governadores is a medieval castle with its walls deep within Lagos’ old town, once providing a means of defence. Whilst it’s not a hugely impressive castle, it’s at the heart of Lagos’ historic past and the nearby waterfalls, yellow sand walls and cobblestone streets make for some excellent scenery.

CASTELO DOS GOVERNADORES

Lagos Fortress

The Lagos Fortress lies on the waterfront near the castle. It was built around 1690 and would have been part of the important defensive structures guarding the harbour from raids by pirates and the Spanish. Whilst there isn’t much to see inside the fort and it’s more of an exterior photo opportunity, it brings a lot of history to the town of Lagos and is definitely worth seeing!

Best things to do in Lagos, Algarve - Lagos Fortress

Lagos Zoo

Another great attraction and a must see for the whole family is Lagos Zoo. Located just a 20 minutes’ drive north of Lagos town, it’s a place where you’ll encounter flamingos, monkeys lions and rare species like toucans! The zoo often hosts shows, so be sure to check their website to ensure you don’t miss out! Tickets are very affordable and there are discounts for kids and seniors. It’s well worth a visit!

Flamingo's at Lagos Zoo

The best restaurants in Lagos

Lagos is home to some incredible places for you to wine and dine, no matter the time of day. Whether you’re looking for a traditional seafood meal that’s typically Portuguese, or a widely loved Italian or Mexican, Lagos restaurants have something for everyone. We’ve put together a list of some of our favourite Lagos restaurants to check out below.

Poké Lagos

VIEW ON MAP | TRIPADVISOR RATING 4.5/5

We’re starting off our list with a less-traditional place to eat, but somewhere great for those who love ‘clean’ food and a healthy lunch. Poké is located in the heart of old town amongst other restaurants. As the name suggests, they serve Poké bowls with either salmon, tuna, chicken or other vegan options as a base. You can either make your own Poké bowl, choosing from a variety of ingredients or select an option from the menu. They also make delicious acai bowls with a variety of tasty toppings! Prices are reasonable and the service is excellent.

Poke Bowl - The best Lagos restaurants

THE GARDEN

VIEW ON MAP | TRIPADVISOR RATING 4/5

If you love a jungle-Caribbean vibe, then The Garden is the perfect Lagos restaurant for you. It’s situated slightly away from Lagos old town and nestled discreetly on a quiet side street. It’s a place to come for either a light bite to eat in the afternoon or for a dinner under the stars. They serve everything from sandwiches and various salads to BBQ, burgers and steaks. Food-aside, it’s a great place for drinks too! Have a causal cocktail with great atmosphere before heading to livelier bars.

Pro tip: The Garden gets quite busy, especially during weekends, so we advise to book a table in advance, or to make a trip during the week.

Real Portuguese Cuisine

VIEW ON MAP | TRIPADVISOR RATING 5/5

If you’re looking to try a traditional Portuguese dish, then we’d recommend Real Portuguese Cuisine. Rated number 2 on Tripadvisor and voted for at the Travelers’ choice awards in 2020, no wonder it’s a great option! It’s a small restaurant that offers both outdoor and indoor seating. They serve wonderfully fresh seafood and also have some excellent wine! The service is second to none.

Tasca Do Kiko

VIEW ON MAP | TRIPADVISOR RATING 4.5/5

If you’re looking for the best of both worlds; traditional Portuguese cuisine and a bit of Spanish tapas, then Tasca Do Kiko is the place for you! From fresh fish and meat to sensational tapas that will make you want to order more – it’s well worth checking out.

As with most top-rated restaurants in The Algarve, places can get booked up very quickly, so make sure you make a booking to avoid disappointment.

Great places to visit in Lagos for a quick snack

After spending hours upon hours exploring the beauty that Lagos has to offer, you’re going to want to have a bit of a pick me up to keep you going. What better way than to head to some of Lagos’ best bakeries?

Padaria Central

VIEW ON MAP | TRIPADVISOR RATING 4.5/5

Sample Portugal’s traditional sweet tart, Pastéis de Nata. It’s a custard tart with a rich egg custard, nestled in a crisp pastry. So, if you have a sweet tooth, don’t forget to grab one (or two!) They also have an excellent selection of cakes and breakfast pastries.

Croissanteria 29

VIEW ON MAP | TRIPADVISOR RATING 4.5/5

If you’re looking for a quick bite to eat for breakfast, or maybe a mid-morning snack, then head to Croissanteria 29. They offer freshly baked croissants with a variety of fillings. They smell and taste amazing!

Gelicia – Italian Gelato Lagos

VIEW ON MAP | TRIPADVISOR RATING 5/5

All over Lagos you’ll find traditional hand-scoop ice cream stalls. Most restaurants have their own! However, not all ice cream is created equally. If you want to try the best gelato that Lagos has to offer, Gelicia is where it’s at! They serve the most delicious ice cream, from a smooth coconut to passionfruit and Kinder Bueno. You will not be disappointed!

Pom Pom Bagels

VIEW ON MAP | TRIPADVISOR RATING 5/5

Another spectacular gem located in Lagos Old Town is Pom Pom Bagels. They serve freshly made bagels and offer an array of different fillings, from salted beef, to smoked salmon and cream cheese, or hummus and roasted vegetables. The cute grab’n’go spot is run by friendly staff has a true ‘family feel’ to it! It’s the ideal place for a light lunch.

Pom Pom Bagels café Lagos

Where to stay in Lagos – The best Lagos hotels

Lagos is home to many hotels; some located opposite the beautiful marina in the heart of Lagos town, and some further afield next to some gorgeous beaches! We had the pleasure of staying in two amazing Lagos hotels during our stay and thoroughly researched the accommodation on offer before arrival. Check out our favourites below!

Booking.com

Lagos Avenida Hotel

VIEW ON BOOKING.COM | TRIPADVISOR RATING 4.5/5

Located on the opposite side of the promenade is Lagos Avenida. It’s a 4-star hotel with a very boutique feel to it, home to only 46 rooms in total. With rooms facing out on to the marina and a rooftop pool with a view, it’s the perfect place to stay in Lagos for those that want to be in the heart of the action.

Marina Rio

VIEW ON BOOKING.COM | TRIPADVISOR RATING 4.5/5

Situated next to Lagos Avenida hotel is Marina Rio. It’s another small 4-star B&B with rooms overlooking the marina and promenade. If you’re looking to stay close to town and want a good base, then Marina Rio is a great choice for you! Rooms are very affordable, and you’re only a short walk from many bars, restaurants, cafes, shops and beaches.

Cascade Wellness Resort

VIEW ON BOOKING.COM | TRIPADVISOR RATING 4.5/5

If you’re looking to splash out and treat yourself after a long hard-working year, then the 5-star Cascade Wellness Resort is worth checking it. It offers both a half board and self-catering options, either in the main hotel building, or in separate ‘villa style’ apartments. They’re huge! We stayed in a 2-bed apartment for 2 weeks and absolutely loved it. The resort boasts a golf course, driving range, three swimming pools, tennis courts, a football academy, spa and so much more.

Boa Vista Golf Resort & Spa (Bela Colina Village)

VIEW ON BOOKING.COM | TRIPADVISOR RATING 4.5/5

If you’re a family that’s looking for a friendly Florida-resort type vibe, then the Boa Vista Golf Resort – Bela Colina is the perfect choice. Not to be confused with the Bo Vista Resort (which is the hotel) the Bela Colina Village is renown as one of the most prestigious holiday escapes in the Western Algarve. With either 1 bed or 2 bed apartments available and two large pools at either side of the resort, it’s a great place to stay and explore Lagos!

Lagos nightlife – The best Lagos bars

Lagos’ nightlife scene is home to many bars and pubs, which really come alive with great atmosphere during the summer months. In and around the coast is where most bars are at, and luckily for you, Lagos has much to offer! Alternatively, if you’re looking for a more vibrant nightlife with a more club-strip base, then Albufeira would be the better fit. However, if you’re just looking for a casual drink (or two) with great company, then we’ve listed a few of our favourite bars below.

Ol’ Bastard’s

VIEW ON MAP | TRIPADVISOR RATING 4.5/5

Not sure whether to go for a bite to eat, or for a drink? Why not just find a place that does both! Ol’ Bastard’s is a fish n chips / cocktail bar that’s located in the heart of Lagos Old Town. You’ll be able to munch away on some traditional English fish n chips whilst sipping on a beverage. They serve many other drinks, from craft beers, to wines and spirits.

ZanziBar

VIEW ON MAP | TRIPADVISOR RATING 5/5

If you’re looking for a vibrant, yet cosy atmosphere and like a bit of rock music, then ZanziBar is perfect. It’s a great place for you to have a drink with family or friends and especially appeals to cocktail lovers. So, treat yourself to a Pina Colada or two!

The Star

VIEW ON MAP | TRIPADVISOR RATING 4.5/5

Do you fancy a more local and relaxed bar to enjoy a few drinks? The Star is a cosy local bar on a side streets that’s popular with the Lagos locals. Be sure to check out their social media as they organise quiz nights and events every now and again. They serve up some fantastic beverages and and a good food menu too!

Our top tips for visiting Lagos

Lagos Algarve travel tips - Shows a view point overlooking the marina
  • Be sure to check the reviews of restaurants Tripadvisor or Google Maps before visiting. Often, the back-alley, tucked away restaurant is better than the dining options in plain view of the tourist centre.
  • If traveling by car, we recommend parking next to Praia dos Estudantes beach (view map location here). It’s only a 10 min walk to town and you’ll avoid the busy traffic and narrow streets, which can be difficult to manoeuvre. Alternatively, park in the centre of Lagos at ‘Parking Centro de Lagos’ car park (view map location here ). It’s free and has plenty of spaces.
  • If visiting Lagos for a day trip, aim to spend half a day exploring the town and the other half at the beach and marina.
  • Lagos can get quite busy so it’s best to go visit outside of school holidays if possible, avoiding July-August.
  • The main attraction near Lagos town is Ponta da Piedade. Join a boat trip or kayaking tour in town and visit by water. It’s the number one place to check out during your stay!
  • Part of the beauty of Lagos is wandering around and seeing the impressive, colourful buildings. Sightsee at a slow pace and stop off at a local café for a coffee and sweet treat.
  • Be sure to check out the local shops. It’s a great place to grab a bargain and pick up some gifts for your loved ones! Lagos is one of the best towns in the Algarve for shopping – you’ll find everything from fashion, swimwear and gift shops to specialist surf stores and handmade ornaments.

So there you have it, our complete Lagos Algarve travel guide! We hope you enjoyed reading and found it useful. As always, if you have any questions or would like to share your experience of Lagos, we’d love to hear it. Leave us a comment down below or send us an email! 😊

By Susie

Author bio:

I’m a passionate traveller that loves a sunny beach holiday, but also appreciate the cultural side to a trip and checking out undiscovered destinations. I’m the go-to Toucan Traveller for great holiday stories, cool photos and foodie recommendations.

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