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.
Lagos is a fascinating city, surrounded with stunning beaches, a characterful historic center and a buzzy nightlife, this all combines to form the ideal holiday destination for who wants more than just great beaches and glorious weather for their holidays.
It is located about 90 kilometers from Faro Airport, it’s also the final train stop in the western Algarve, which makes the town accessible by public transport, but consider at least 2 hours to go from Faro to Lagos by public transports. To the north of Lagos are the mountains of Monchique. These mountains shield Lagos from winds and clouds from the north. That is why Lagos is one of the towns in Europe with the most sun hours per year.
The atmosphere in Lagos is very relaxed and the local people are nice. 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 center with its narrow cobbled streets, traditional houses and pretty harbor front. Very few towns in the Algarve have the variety of historic buildings, and that’s a good reason why Lagos is so popular as a day trip from the surrounding region.
It is very nice to walk through the city and experience the all the local culture. You will also find many shops, restaurants and bars in the old town, with a lively nightlife scene. There is a great variety of bars, with all kinds of music genres. One thing is for sure: you won’t be bored at night here.
Here’s some spots that you should visit:
Praça Gil Eanes
In the old town of Lagos you can find a square called Praça Gil Eanes. On the square is a statue of king Dom Sebastião. It is a fine work of modern sculpture made by João Cutileiro in 1973. In the statue, the face of this unexperienced young king is represented in such a way that it is not possible to recognize if it is an adult or a child, a man or a woman. The yellow building on the northern side of the square is the town hall, which dates back to the 19th century.
Igreja de Santo António
Also in the old town of Lagos you will find the church of St. Anthony, better known as Igreja de Santo António. This small but beautiful church was built in the 18th century. The highlight of the church is the altar piece, which is made out of wood and gilded with gold from Brazil. There is an amazing amount of detail in the carvings and the painted ceiling. Inside the church you will also find a small museum
Igreja de Santa Maria
Within a short walking distance from Igreja de Santo António you can find another church, called Igreja de Santa Maria. The church is located on a big square. It is an interesting church, even though the interior is not as amazing as the church of St. Anthony.
Statue of Henry the Navigator
In front of Igreja de Santa Maria, there is square with a statue of Infante D. Henrique, otherwise known as Henry the Navigator. He initiated the Age of Discovery in the 15th century. Most of his voyages started in Lagos. The statue says 1460 – 1960, but of course he did not live for 500 years. The statue was inaugurated in 1960, which was 500 years after his death.
City walls and castle
In Lagos you can find the Castle of Lagos, also known as the Governor’s Castle (Castelo dos Governadores). Its walls surround the town of Lagos and are known as the city wall. In Portuguese, the fortifications of Lagos are called ‘Muralhas e Torreões de Lagos’. The entrance to the castle consists of an impressive arched gate. This is a great place to take some pictures and walk around. Other than the entrance and the city wall, there is nothing left of the castle.
Forte da Ponta da Bandeira
Near the castle you can find a fortress called Forte da Ponta da Bandeira. The fortress was built in the 17th century. It defended the city by blocking the entrance to the harbor to enemy boats. Inside the fort there is a small museum and a small chapel with Portuguese tiles. From the fort you also have a superb view over the bay of Lagos
The marina of Lagos is a nice area to walk around. You can see many different boats, from small sailor boats to expensive yachts. Watching the boats go in and out of the marina is very nice. The marina of Lagos is also the starting point for most of the boat trips in the area. There is a large sidewalk, where you can see different boat trip vendors with their stalls. Around the marina you will also find several bars and restaurants.
Portuguese Discoveries Wax Museum
Near the marina you can find the Portuguese Discoveries Wax Museum. This museum details the stories of Portuguese sailors and kings and their achievements. It is more about the stories of these people than about the wax statues. The wax statues of these people are just a means to tell the story. Visiting the museum is a nice way to learn more about Portuguese history.
Viva de Lagos Science Centre
There is a science centre in Lagos, which explains science and technology in an interactive and fun way. The main topics are navigation and naval communication. Especially kids love to discover things here. All information is in both English and Portuguese.
Ponta da Piedade
The most famous attraction are their iconic gold colored rock cliffs of Ponta da Piedade. These cliffs are a symbol of the Algarve all over the world, and are in reality even more breathtaking than on pictures.
Lagos / Ponta da Piedade Lighthouse
Near Ponta da Piedade you can find a lighthouse. It is located at the end of the road. The lighthouse itself is closed to the public, but walking in the area makes for an unforgettable walk with impressive sights. The cliffs around the lighthouse provide breathtaking views over the area. They are also a great place to watch the sunset from.
There is a great walk in Lagos, along the coast. Go to Praia do Pinhão and walk in the direction of Ponta da Piedade. Visiting Ponta da Piedade is especially beautiful during the sunset. The sun gives it an extra yellow, which gives it a magical look. The sun shines beautifully right through the holes in the rock formations. The best place to view the sunset is from the lighthouse it´s here . Enjoy the spectacular views and walk until Praia do Porto de Mós. After the walk, you can enjoy a nice restaurant there.
In the surroundings:
Just outside the city of Lagos, there is a zoo. The zoo has more than 140 different animal species. The animals are well treated and have plenty of space. Visiting the zoo can be a nice day out. Especially if you are travelling with young children, a visit is highly recommended.
Monte da Casteleja (wine tour)
Just outside Lagos you can find Monte da Casteleja, which is a farm that produces organic wines. They offer a wine tour, where you will learn about their process of making organic wine. The tour includes a visit to the winery, the cellar and of course tasting the wines. It is an entertaining way to spend a couple of hours. Contact us if you want to visit the vineyard, because it important to book beforehand to guarantee the visit.
To recap the highligths of Lagos are:
- Cultural heritage in the old city including the churches and museums
- Fortress called Forte da Ponta da Bandeira
- Sunset in Ponta da Piedade
- water sports, boat trips
- The zoo and the wine
Don’t forget to check all tours on our website www.algarvenaturetours.com and If you want us to tailor made your holidays in Portugal, you just need to contact us by e-mail or leave your phone number so we can arrange a call.
Enjoy Algarve, Travel with Algarve