Lagos - incredible beaches, picturesque squares and old churches

Set along the bank of the Bensafrim river, Lagos is among the most visited town on the western Algarve coastline. It's located about one hour west from Faro airport.

Around 22,000 people live in this seaside town, known for its magnificent rock formations, white sandy beaches and buzzing nightlife. Formerly known as Lacobriga, Lagos has more than 2000 years of history and was occupied by many civilizations throughout the centuries including the Romans, the Visigoths, the Byzantines and the Moors, who renamed it to Zawaia, meaning lake or “lago” in Portuguese.

In the 15th century, Lagos played an important role in launching the Portuguese Age of Discovery. At the time, the town also became the centre of the European slave trade, which you can learn more about by visiting the Slave Market Museum.

Those dark days are gone and today the Atlantic coast of Lagos is a popular summer destination for both Portuguese families and tourists. There is a fantastic kayak tour that leaves from Lagos to explore the magnificent coastline here and is one of the best ways to see it.

Lagos has a beautiful historic centre with picturesque squares and old churches, surrounded by the walls of the Lagos Castle (or castelo). The castle was originally built in the Roman period but it was later expanded to protect the growing urban area of Lagos during the 16th century. Ponta da Bandeira is also worth visiting - it's real name is the Nossa Senhora da Penha de França. It was built in the 17th Century at the entrance to Lagos from the ocean. There is a small chapel inside.

The Marina of Lagos has over 400 berths and has earned several awards, including the “European Blue Flag” and the "Euromarina Anchor Award". From the marina, you can take a boat trip along the coast and visit the caves of Lagos.

The most popular beaches in Lagos are Meia Praia, a long sandy beach which extends for 4km and Praia Dona Ana with its beautiful sandstone cliffs and calm waters.

On the south end of Lagos stands one of the most remarkable natural features of the Algarve, the dramatic cliffs of Ponta da Piedade. Below these cliffs, there are spectacular arches, grottos and sea caves that can be explored by boat.

Lagos is also a famous wine region, known for its Moscatel wine and the aguardente de medronho, a strong spirit that is produced all over the Algarve. The nearest golf course is at Boavista Golf and Spa Resort which is just a short drive away. Other towns nearby that are worth visiting include Portimao, Vila do Bispo, Sagres and Aljezur.

Banho 29 is a traditional event in Lagos that takes place on the 29th of August, celebrating the time when villagers came down from the hills to enjoy the start of summer. The day begins with picnics on the beach and a dip in the sea, usually at Praia da Batata, and ends with a fireworks display at midnight.

You can also see fireworks on April 25th, a celebration of Portugal’s Liberation Day and during New Year’s Eve near the marina. 

Explore this region by following our Lagos tour. Also read about Lagos beachesWant to stay in Lagos, then take a look at our Lagos vacation rentals, some of which are in the Boavista resort. If you prefer a hotel then we can suggest either the Cascade Wellness resort in Lagos or the Bela Vista hotel in Portimao. Call us or email to book.

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