After exploring the old town of Porto and navigating the steep hills of the capital Lisbon, what more is there to Portugal? Well, head to the sunny Algarve region in Portugal for a spot of blissful golden relaxation. Lagos is a resort town to the west of the Algarve, famed for its stunning beaches and bustling nightlife. Think soft sandy beaches, framed by a backdrop of towering sandstone cliffs painted in shades of ochre, dazzling waters glimmering in ombre shades of aqua and cobalt blue for as far as your eyes can see, and gentle sunshine warming your skin. This is Lagos unfolding before you!
If this is your first time to Lagos, here’s a list of things to add to your itinerary:
1. Seek the sun in the best beaches
You won’t be able to resist the allure of the inviting blue waters once you see them. However, be warned that the waters can be quite cold, even in the summer. If you wish to start your day in the company of sand and sea, here are some of the beaches in Lagos you can head to:
If you’re staying in the Old Town of Lagos, the closest beach to head to is Batata Beach. Sitting in a sheltered cove facing the harbour, it is a fairly small beach, with gentle waves making it kid-friendly. It is also the most convenient beach to visit if you only have time for a quick dip or don’t mind sunbathing with the summer crowd. However, being so close to the town centre has its benefits. There are numerous bars, restaurants, and tour operators in close proximity. Also, if you walk towards the cliffs, you will find a hidden pathway that brings you to a quieter section of the beach.
Meia Praia is the largest beach in the Lagos region and stretches over 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) in a crescent shape. Getting to this beach from the Old Town requires a bit of a walk (you need to cross the harbour bridge to the marina) but it’s well worth the trip if you want some private sunbathing time. There is always a relatively secluded spot at this vast beach, even in the height of summer.
Praia da Dona Ana
The Praia da Dona Ana beach is widely regarded as one of the most stunning beaches in the Algarve, and that’s certainly saying something! Nestled amidst the weathered cliffs with rock formations jutting out from the azure waters, this is the vista that appears frequently on the Algarve postcards you see. This beach is only accessible via boat or from a set of wooden steps that descend from the cliff tops.
2. Do a kayaking tour around Ponta da Piedade
The Ponta da Piedade, a dramatic section the coastline riddled with sea arches and mysterious cliffs carved by Atlantic swells, is one of Lagos’ most famous landmarks. From land, the view of the shoreline is visually stunning. From a vantage point at sea, the view will take your breath away, leaving you with eyes wide open and mouth agape. It is only from the sea that you get to witness the full beauty of the cliffs and rock formations.
For the adventurer, Kayak Adventures Lagos organises kayaking tours that take you around the cliffs into hidden caves and grottoes only accessible by boat. Experience the sheer wonder of these ancient caverns, where it is rumoured that pirates used to dock, and get up close to rock formations that tower high above you.
Kayak Adventures Lagos
Meeting Point: Batata Beach
Price: From 25 EUR (28.10 USD)
Timings: 9.30 am -12.30 pm or 1.30 pm - 4.30 pm
Duration: Around 3 hours
Contact: +351 913 262 200.
Still haven’t got enough of the spectacular scenery of Lagos? Put on your walking shoes and grab your camera! This scenic walk along the cliffs will show you another awe-inspiring side of Lagos. The best time to take this walk is in the late afternoon so you can catch the magnificent sunset at the end.
From Lagos Old Town, you can follow footpaths (some unpaved) along the headlands to get an aerial view of the sandy beaches, the vast blue ocean glistening in the setting sun, and the sandstone cliffs burnished with amber. There are a few viewing points along the way where you can stop to take photos. The walk ends at the lighthouse and you can walk out on the headlands to catch the lowering sun setting, the skies and seas ablaze with its warm golden light.
Everywhere you look is a treat for your eyes.
The Path of Dona Ana Walking Tour
Departure Address: Lagos Marina Bridge
Price: From 44.57 USD
Departure Time: 9 am
Duration: Around 3 hours
4. Party on the high seas
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
Experiencing the wild nightlife in Lagos is a definite must. But, what’s to stop you from getting your party on in the day? Shake things up and hop on a booze cruise! In the company of new-found friends, all you can drink beer and sangria, and beautiful views all around you, this 3-hour non-stop party on the seas will guarantee you a day you will never forget.
Meeting Point: Nah Nah Bah, Travessa do Forno 11, 8600-605 Lagos Portugal
Price: From 40 EUR (44.97 USD)
Timing: Wed and Sat, From 1 pm
Duration: Around 3 hours
Contact: +351 968 758 785
5. Explore the Old Town
When you’ve finally had enough of the beach, turn your attention to the charming Old Town. Surrounded by old stone walls, the Old Town is home to interesting attractions, a range of good restaurants, and small boutique shops with hidden gems.
Originally constructed in 1707, the Igreja de Santo Antonio (Church of San Antonio) hides a wealth of treasure behind its plain white facade. The interior is lavish and covered with baroque-style ornate wood carvings covered with a dazzling coat of golden paint. Combined with the church is the Municipal Museum, which is worth some time exploring as well.
If you’re feeling hungry, do try cataplana, a traditional Portuguese seafood dish cooked in a metal pan typical of the Algarve region. A good place to try it is at Ala do Castelo, a short walk from the Igreja de Santo Antonio.
Take your time to wander the cobbled streets and get lost in the charm of Lagos’ Old Town.
Igreja de Santo Antonio
Address: R General Alberto da Silveira, 8600-594 Lagos, Portugal
Price: 2 EUR (2.25 USD)
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 9.30 am - 12.30 pm & 2 pm - 5 pm
Contact: +351 282 762 301
Website: Igreja de Santo Antonio
Ala do Castelo
Address: Rua do Castelo dos Governadores 40, 8600 Lagos
Opening Hours: 12 noon - 11 pm (lunch and dinner timings)
Contact: (+351) 282 788-486
Website: Ala do Castelo
All that glitters, blue, green, and gold
If you’re visiting Portugal and find yourself in need of a coastal getaway, head to Lagos. This oasis of holiday fun will entice you to stay longer than you planned. Spend your whole day on the beach basking in the sun, then spend your whole night (or day) out partying. Take the next day to explore the crystal clear cool waters and the dramatic sandstone headlines. There’s really no need to rush in paradise.
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