There are so many things to do in Lagos—you are in for a natural treat! I love this town, and after visiting it several times, I’m finally writing about it. Don’t ask why I have waited this long…
Lagos is packed with natural attractions and impressive rock formations, the Old Town is full of picturesque buildings and tons of history, and the seafood is to die for. This Algarve town is a great place to base yourself for days filled with beach bumming, hiking, boating, and touring the Algarve region.
Best Things To Do in Lagos
1. Ponta da Piedade and the New Boardwalk (My Fav Thing to Do in Lagos)
If you are heading to Lagos, you, without a doubt, have to visit the dramatic Ponta da Piedade coastline. It is what Lagos is known for and is what makes it one of the most desirable spots in the Algarve. Check out the sea stacks in the ocean, the delicate limestone arches, caves, grottos, and golden cliffs.
In the summer months, you would never imagine that this stretch of coast gets pummeled by winter storms, creating the unique rock formations you see today.
There are two ways to witness this natural phenomenon, and we recommend both. One of the best ways to get a good look at the cliffs is by boat, and there are plenty of tours that will take you out in the water and alongside the cliffs.
Alternatively, take one of the many hiking trails that crisscross the clifftops, taking in the views from above. For an easy access route, there is a new boardwalk trail that takes you from the lighthouse to Praia do Pinhão or towards Praia de Porto Mós, hugging the coast and providing spectacular viewpoints.
It is, without a doubt, one of the best things to do in Lagos. Do note the cliffs are dangerous and crumbly. The first few times I came here, there was no boardwalk. It’s much safer now. Stick to the boardwalk or walk a few feet from the edge, at the least.
2. Roam the Old Town
Lagos’s old town is a maze of mosaiced streets that are a delight to explore. You don’t have to plan anything more than strolling down side streets that look interesting, delving into quaint souvenir shops, or stopping at an al fresco cafe or bar for a drink.
Although small, there are still a fair few places to visit in Lagos you should make the time to see, such as the beautiful church of Santa Maria, São Gonçalo Gate, Ponta da Bandeira Fort, and Infante Dom Henrique Square, to name a few.
You should keep an eye out for interesting architecture, such as “The Greenhouse,” a stunning building covered in green tiles. Ensure you also make time to visit the city walls that surround this historic town.
TIP: Visit Mar d’Estórias—It’s a restaurant, gallery, rooftop bar, and gift shop all wrapped into one!
3. Avenida dos Descobrimentos
Avenida dos Descobrimentos is one of the main streets that take you into Lagos. There are beautiful views of the marina here, so you can sip a drink while watching the boats bobbing on the water.
You’ll also be able to get your shopping fix, with plenty of shops to dip in and out of, as well as market stalls to pick up a souvenir or two.
4. Forte da Ponta da Bandeira
Forte da Ponta da Bandeira lies just outside the city walls and is one of the best-preserved fortresses in the region. A visit here will not only give you an insight into the history of the defenses of Lagos but also benefits from panoramic city and sea views.
Pay a small entrance fee to peek inside, where you will find an art gallery, a small, tile-lined chapel, and a museum.
Right next door, you will find kayak rentals, a bunch of shops, and beach bars, so you could easily spend half a day here.
5. Jardim da Constituição
Next to the walls of Lagos, you’ll find a stunning garden, perfect for a stroll in the sun. The white stone paths are dispersed with well-tended flower beds and tall trees.
It won’t take more than 10 minutes to enjoy this small garden, but if you are looking for a spot to relax in the shade of the trees, Jardim da Constituição has you covered.
The gardens also contain castle fortifications, including the historical site of Porta de São Gonçalo, so add it to your list of places to visit in Lagos.
Worth It Tours Around Lagos
So far, everything above could potentially be done for free. But if you want some more fun things to do in Lagos, you’ll need a tour or rental.
6. Visit Benagil Cave by Boat
The coastline near Lagos is littered with sea caves begging to be explored, and with this Benagil Cave Boat tour, it would be almost rude not to oblige.
Witness the incredible coastal rock formations on the way to Benagil Cave, the region’s most well-known cave, with free commentary on board. Benagil Cave is an astonishing sea cave and has to make your bucket list of things to do in Lagos.
Due to the weather and sea conditions, every cruise is different, as some sea caves are only accessible under certain conditions, so part of the fun is you never know what you will get!
7. Kayak Around Lagos Caves (One of The Best Things to Do in Lagos!)
On this guided tour, you’ll take a boat from Lagos to the designated area at Ponte da Piedade and hop in a kayak.
The kayak allows you to explore the sea caves better as you follow your guide to secluded golden beaches and incredible rock formations. You’ll even have time to swim in the cooling waters before returning to town.
8. Dolphin Watching
Head out onto the waves for a good chance of spotting majestic dolphins swimming free in the ocean. You’ll be able to get up close and personal with some of Portugal’s most stunning and exciting creatures on this tour.
Speed seamlessly across the Atlantic on a comfortable high-speed boat, taking in the views of the incredible coast, keeping an eye out for both bottlenose and common dolphins.
You will be out on the waves for around 90 minutes, and with knowledgeable guides who know where to look, you have a good chance of spotting some.
9. Food Tour
Did we mention that Portugal has some of the tastiest food out there, especially the seafood, which is so fresh? One of the best ways to get acquainted with the Portuguese food scene is to take an Algarve food tour; that way, you are assured you are not missing out on anything good.
This food tour takes 3 hours, and you will hit up four different spots to give you a real taste of the region’s traditional cuisine. You’ll end up trying around ten other dishes, with a drink at each stop, so come hungry!
Your knowledgeable guide is also bursting with historical and cultural knowledge, so you will come away full of more Portuguese facts than you came with.
10. Snorkel Catamaran Cruise
There is no better way to spend the day than out at sea on a luxury boat. This 3-hour catamaran cruise will take you on a relaxed journey from Lagos to Praia Da Luz and back again, allowing you to view the Ponta da Piedade coastline from a different angle.
Keep an eye out for sea caves and the iconic golden beaches of the region as you sit back and soak up the sunshine. If you weren’t already relaxed enough, the cruise stops in a secluded bay, where you can have free reign on the boat’s paddleboards, snorkeling equipment, and even an inflatable balance track.
The Best Thing to Do in Lagos—The Beaches!
There are some incredible beaches in the region; it is no wonder beach bumming is one of the best things to do in Lagos. Here are just a few of the many stretches of golden sand that are worth a trip from town.
11. Praia Dona Ana
Is Praia Dona Ana the best beach in the Algarve? You tell us!
The golden sands are surrounded by azure waters and towering sandstone cliffs, accessed by a wooden staircase that is equally as visually appealing.
12. Porto Mós Beach
Despite picture-perfect sands, scenic sandstone cliffs, and clear blue water, Porto Mos is one of the quieter beaches in the region, as it is a little outside of town. Although, during summer—all bets are off.
It is one of the longest beaches in the Lagos region; in fact, only Meia Praia is bigger, so you can rest assured you will get a large stretch of sand yourself. The beachfront cafes, restaurants, parking, and other facilities make for an easy beach day.
13. Praia do Canavial
Praia do Canavial is a different kind of beach from the touristy beaches near the resort. It is a long stretch of wild, isolated beach backed by a tall yellow cliff. Reaching the beach is part of the fun, as you follow a trail on top of the cliffs before it plunges to the sand via steps carved directly into the cliff face.
Try to visit at low tide, as the beach is very narrow, and you don’t want to sit too close to the unstable rocks.
14. Meia Praia
Meia Praia is the perfect expanse of golden sands. It is a vast beach surrounded by a relatively calm sea, making it ideal for families looking to spend the day on the sand.
Watersports are available, and there are plenty of places to grab a bite to eat.
15. Praia do Barranco do Martinho
This incredible beach is rarely crowded and requires a lot of effort to reach, but that makes it even more rewarding when your toes finally touch the sand. You either have to scramble down the rocks from the cliffs above, which is not for the faint of heart, or access the beach by boat or kayak.
The small caves in the rock provide shade, and the sheltered cove means the crystal blue waters are usually nice and calm.
16. Praia dos Estudantes
Praia dos Estudantes is not only a beautiful beach to spend the day on, but it’s within walking distance from Lagos Old Town, making it super convenient to reach.
Keep an eye out for the old Roman-style bridge that spans between the cliffs. It’s not something you see every day on a Portuguese beach, or any beach for that matter.
Day Trips from Lagos
Renting a car? It’s a great idea if you can! This is one of the best ways to explore the Algarve and is usually what I do as well. You can still use Lagos as your base as well if you wish, as everything here is reachable within about a 45-minute to an hour’s drive from Lagos.
You will have a good time on a day trip to the beautiful town of Luz. This Algarve gem is just a short drive from Lagos, situated on the edge of a sandy bay.
The beach here is scenic and sheltered, making it popular with families and those that fancy doing nothing more than enjoying a warm summer paddle in the ocean.
The town is now a popular place to stay, largely thanks to this beautiful beach. Still, the former fishing village has managed to maintain much of its old town charm. A good few hours could easily be spent wandering the picturesque streets and enjoying the local shops and delicacies.
TIP: Kinoah is a great spot for food, drinks, and a swim on a hot day!
Never thought you would be going to the end of the world when on vacation in Portugal, did you? Okay, it is not technically the end of the world, but travelers back in the day certainly thought it was. Once you are standing on the cliff edge of the most southwesterly point of mainland Europe, it’s easy to see why.
You’ll feel as though you are a million miles away from the bustling resort towns you have left behind. In fact, this part of Portugal is pretty wild, remote, and barren, with a raging sea below you.
There are hiking trails, opportunities for surfing for the experienced surfer, and even a fort. Unsurprisingly, there are also some lovely sandy beaches, ideal if you want to get away for a while.
Sagres is a sleepy town, but this is often where I find myself basing while in Portugal, actually! So I think it’s definitely worth a visit.
Carvoeiro is blessed with one of the most amazing beaches in the Algarve. The town almost spills out onto the soft sands, which are bordered by the region’s iconic cliffs. The town itself is quaint, much like the beach, meaning you have a restful place to return to after a day of adventuring on the coast.
If you haven’t yet had your fill of dramatic rock formations, you must visit the Algar Seco caves, a natural wonder. These wave and wind-formed caves are dotted with natural pools, filled with the bluest water. The holes in the cave sides perfectly frame the seascape like a carefully painted picture.
You can take a boat trip to view the caves, or if life at sea is not for you, you can also take Carvoeiro’s boardwalk on foot, built on top of the cliffs.
How To Get to Lagos and Getting Around
If you’re arriving from outside Portugal, the easiest way to reach Lagos is by flying into Faro International Airport, which is about 56 miles (90 km) away. From the airport, you can take a taxi, a bus or rent a car to reach Lagos.
If you’re arriving from other parts of Portugal, you can take a train or bus to Lagos. The train journey from Lisbon takes approximately 3 hours, while the bus journey takes around 4-5 hours.
Once you’re in Lagos, you can explore the town on foot, as it’s quite small and easy to navigate. Alternatively, you can use Uber or rent a car to explore the surrounding areas. Check car rentals here.
If you’re looking for bus, boat, or train tickets around Europe, you can easily book them online! Check Availability
Where To Stay in Lagos
Sitting right on the marina, the Boutique Taghostel is a 10-minute walk to the local train station and offers dormitory-style rooms with air conditioning.
Breakfast is included in the price of your stay, and there are plenty of hangout spaces to meet new friends!
Dona Ana Garden
only a 10-minute walk to the center of Lagos, this budget hotel is a great option for some privacy with more of a B&B feel. The bedrooms are spacious, have free Wi-Fi, and private bathrooms.
Featuring a year-round heated outdoor pool, you also have the option of Dona Ana Beach just a few 100 meters away.
Casa Luma B&B
Offering clean double and single rooms with contemporary decor, Casa Luma is a little haven to escape to. You can add on a delicious continental breakfast before heading for a quick 12-minute walk to Meia Praia Beach.
Each room has a private terrace to bask in the afternoon sun and you won’t have to worry about noise from the street as it’s generally a calm area.
Boutique Hotel Vivenda Miranda
You’ll feel like you’ve stepped straight into a travel magazine when you stay at the Boutique Hotel Vivenda Miranda. With Atlantic Ocean views directly in front of their gorgeous outdoor pool, you have the choice to walk for 5 minutes to the beach or take advantage of the on-site spa and sauna.
The rooms have eclectic, tasteful decor giving them a unique flare that stands out amongst the rest. This is definitely a good romantic location with an on-site restaurant serving haute cuisine.
The Salty Lodge
Spend your time in these stylish apartments which are centrally located in the heart of Lagos. You’ll enjoy privacy (no shared bathrooms here!) and many restaurants sit directly outside of the building.
Each apartment comes with a kitchen if you want to keep costs lower and cook yourself. Take your meal up to the rooftop terrace to enjoy a sunset overlooking the town with distant beach views.
When to Visit Lagos
The best time to visit Lagos depends on what you’re looking for during your visit. The Algarve region, including Lagos, has a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot summers.
The peak tourist season in Lagos is during the summer months of June, July, and August, when the weather is hot and sunny, and the beaches are busy (sometimes VERY busy!).
However, should you be looking for a more laid-back time, it’s best to visit in the shoulder seasons of spring (April-May) or fall (September-October) when the weather is still warm but the crowds are thinner.
This is my favorite time to visit because, during the shoulder seasons, the prices of accommodations, car rentals, and flights tend to be lower, making it a more budget-friendly time to visit.
The winter months (November-March) are the least busy, but the weather can be rainy and cooler.
What to Pack For Lagos
- Sunscreen – The Algarve is sunny and can be very hot as well. Don’t underestimate the sun here.
- Comfortable Shoes – The Algarve is also great for hiking and exploring, so pack a comfortable pair of walking shoes or sneakers.
- Lightweight Clothing – Pack lightweight and breathable clothing to stay cool in the hot weather but…
- Warm Clothing – Depending on when you’re visiting, it can get cold and windy as well!
- Insect Repellent – Mosquitoes and other insects can be a problem in the Algarve, especially during the summer months.
- Adapter – Portugal uses the Europlug socket, make sure to pack an adapter for your electronics.
- Travel Insurance – Protect yourself in case of any unexpected events or emergencies.
I hope this helped you plan your trip to Lagos, Portugal!
Nina Ragusa is an adventurer, messy bun master, breakfast fan, and full-time travel blogger. She’s been abroad since 2011 and blogging on Where in the World is Nina? for nearly as long. Nina helps people like you move around the world while making money. She loves talking about how to work abroad and online to travel longer!