Travel guide for Lagos in Algarve, Portugal with things to do, how to visit and top tips.
What does a perfect summer vacation include for you? Most likely beaches, relaxed vibe, and maybe also some adventure sport like hiking, kayaking. I’m sure a nice warm weather that ranges from 20-30 degrees sounds good too. Also, any good vacation can not be without amazing food and drinks, right? Throw in spectacular rock formations and you have got yourself a perfect package.That’s Lagos for you.
Stunning beaches, rock formations, hiking trails, viewpoints, mind-blowing food, and a super relaxed vibe – this is why I fell in love with Lagos.
Lagos is one of the many destinations in Portugal’s Algarve region. Algarve is famous for its coast. The beaches in Algarve are spectacular because of the rock formations that are all over in Algarve region.
Out of many destination in Algarve, I picked Lagos for my week long solo trip not only because it is lovely, but also because it is a bit less visited as the other nearby places – like Albuferia, Portimão or Tavira. Because of this, Lagos has somehow managed to retain a less touristy vibe.
Lagos is a little further away from Faro, the main town of Algarve. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t easy to reach. Also, the most famous photos of Algarve that you will see on travel brochures, most were clicked in Praia do Camilo of Lagos. We will talk about that beach later.
Every destination in Algarve attracts a different kind of crowd. Lagos is said to be a party destination because of bars, but I saw a lot of family travelers and non party travelers there too.
I picked Lagos because it attracts a lot of solo travelers too, but I’m not a party traveler but still Lagos was a perfect match for me. Another reason why I picked Lagos is because it has charming old buildings instead of ugly new construction. Lagos is an ancient maritime town after all, with more than 2000 years of history.
Super simple, there are a number of buses and trains from all of the nearby towns. I arrived here on a train from Faro. I didn’t need to book the tickets in advance, I could just buy on the train and I paid EUR 7.50.
I left Lagos on a bus and I had to reach the bus station before to buy the tickets because they were selling out.
If you are in Algarve with another person, then I suggest you rent a car. When you split the cost then it won’t be so expensive and it will give you so much freedom of movement.
How to move around in Lagos?
Walking is easy because it is small. You can also rent a bicycle like we did or rent a car to make your life easy.
Now that you know how to reach Lagos, and how to move around while you’re here, let’s talk about the main topic – what to do in Lagos. I also talk about my recommended places to eat and stay at the end of this post.
Things to do in Lagos, Algarve
- 1) Ponta da Piedade (for sunset)
- 2) See the Beaches of Lagos
- 3) Hiking in Lagos
- 4) Lagos Old Town
- 5) Rent a Bicycle to Explore Lagos
- 6) Visit Aqui Há Gato to Eat the Best Prawns in Lagos
- 7) Day Trip to Benagil Cave
- 8) Explore Party Scene of Lagos
- 9) Kayaking, SUP, or Scuba Diving in Lagos
- 10) See Bravura Dam
- Where to Stay in Lagos
1) Ponta da Piedade (for sunset)
Imagine a spot on top of the rocks from where you can see a beach, insane rock formations all around and clear blue water below. Good news: there isn’t one but many of them here.
Ponta da Piedade means the point of pity, is one of the most famous tourist spots of Algarve. If you are into viewpoints, then this is the place that you will want to come back to every single day. I did!
Due to the shape and slope of the rocks, there There are so many different viewpoint possibilities. I discovered something new here everyday. There are multiple beaches below that one can see from some of the viewpoints.
A section of the rocks here faces the west side and that makes it perfect for sunset sessions. It is the part that looks over Praia do Barranco do Martinho – in case you want to find it. In this point I have only posted photos of that particular section because that’s perfect for watching the sunset. I went here everyday to find new spots but realized that even though Ponda da Piedade has many viewpoints, but the one that looks over Praia do Barranco do Martinho is the best for sunset. I will talk about more spots of Ponta da Piedade in the hiking section.
An easy point of reference here is the lighthouse. You need to walk a little further when you reach the lighthouse to find even better viewpoints.
So pack a snack, a drink and a blanket so that you can stay here for a while. It does get a little chilly here right after the sunset. I visited in June and I had to carry a big jacket here every evening.
2) See the Beaches of Lagos
When it comes to beaches, Lagos will wow you every single time. There are so many of them and each one is stunning because of the rock formations.
Some reaches are easy to reach but others aren’t. The hard to reach beaches aren’t necessarily better but they definitely have less people so there’s more room. You don’t have to visit every single beach but I did, because I was curious to see what was there.
Honestly, every single beach is worth visiting but I’m sure that can’t happen if you’re there fo 2-3 days only. In that case, I have done the work for you and I have tagged some beaches as “must visit” you in case you can’t to visit them all.
2.1) Easy to Reach Beaches in Lagos:
Dona Ana (must visit)
Dana Ana beach is often called the main beach. Everyone who comes to Lagos, visits Dona Ana at some point. It is easy to visit, beautiful and excellent for swimming.
The beach is massive compared to many other beaches and there’s plenty of space to put your mat down and read a book. There are rock formations around and on the beach, that make it an excellent photo spot.
Some beaches of Lagos have water full of seaweed but I didn’t see that on Dona Ana beach. There aren’t small pebbels or rocks, just a massive sandy stretch with interesting rock formations – so this makes Dona Ana a perfect beach for swimming.
Keep in mind that the water is colder than you would expect it to be, because you’re swimming in the Atlantic ocean.
There is a a parking spot that’s close to the beach and a few restaurants. There’s also a bus stop that’s right outside the beach. The time I visited, this beach was pretty empty in early evenings before the sunset.
Praia do Camilo (must visit)
Praia do Camilo is the most beautiful beach in Lagos as per me, because I loved the rock formations here. Keep in mind that you have to climb down a hundred steps to reach it, but the view after every 10 steps is worth it. Despite the 100 steps, I’d say this is beach is easy to reach because the steps aren’t steep and you don’t have to go on a hiking trail.
This beach tends to get crowded because it is lovely. Arrive here as early as 9 am and you will have almost the entire place to yourself. I did!
Praia do Camilo is divided into two beaches and there’s a cave that goes from one beach to another. How cool is that! No you don’t have to swim through the cave but you can just walk through because the cave is directly on the beach. There are also a few rock arches here where you can click stunning photos.
Both the sections of Praia do Camilo are small, so obviously they tend to get crowded during the peak hours. There is a high end restaurant on top with a nice view, so you can visit it for cocktails or a nice meal when you visit Camilo beach.
I mentioned before how some of the beaches in Lagos have seaweed or black algae but Camilo beach was absolutely clear of that. In fact, the water clarity was so good that I could also see schools of fishes as I walked inside.
So, Camilo beach is definitely a must visit beach because of it’s beauty and ease of swimming.
Porto Mós (must visit)
Porto Mós is a long stretch of sandy beach which you can reach without climbing. This beach is a bit outside the Lagos city so you can come here on bus. The bus journey only took 3 minutes and the bus stop is right outside the beach entrance. I could have easily walked it but I didn’t.
If you’re visiting Lagos with family, then Porto Mós is the perfect beach because the water is good for swimming. There aren’t any rock formations on the beach but they are behind the sandy part, so they make a lovely backdrop.
The rocks behind the Porto Mós look a bit different than the ones on the other beaches. They have a layered look, like a fossil. They are stunning!
This is the longest beach in all of Algarve and you will see it as soon as you arrive in Lagos by train. It is 4.5 KMs long and it reminded me of the beaches of Goa because of its golden sand and a few beach bars. It stretches from Lagos to Alvor at Ria de Alvor.
Meia Praia beach is massive and hence never feels crowded. The sand is super soft and this beach again is excellent for swimming. There are a few restaurants and beach bars on Meia Praia – Bahia Beach Bar, Gavioto Restaurant, and Palmares Beach club to name a few.
Unlike some of the beaches in Lagos, you don’t have to hike or climb steps to reach Meia Praia. There are lots of parking spots and you can arrive here easily.
There are no rock formations on Meia Praia, just endless sand. For me, this beach was lovely but not as special as many others because I visited Algarve to see beaches with rock formations.
Praia do Pinhão
This is a small cove that’s near Dona Ana beach. There is a scenic route that comes from the city to Pinhão restaurant, after that you have to hike for just 3 minutes, and then climb down around 40-50 steps to reach the beach.
This beach has some interesting rock formations, caves and arches. I visited it 3 times but all those times it was full of black sea weed and it wasn’t so easy to walk on some sections of the beach or to even think of swimming.
The good thing was that I found a stunning photo spot and had this beach to myself but this isn’t a “must visit” beach because you can’t swim here.
Praia dos Estudantes
This is a small beach that’s lovely and has the famous “roman bridge”. You have to go through a tunnel from Batata Praia to arrive here and to see the old roman bridge. The beach is clean and good for swimming.
Praia da Batata
Batata beach is also near the city centre and is usually busy.
2.2) Hard to reach beaches:
Praia do Canavial is right before Porto Mós but I’d day it isn’t easy to visit because the trail is hard to find for some people. The wooden path that comes from Ponta da Piedade, also crosses Canavial, but you have to get off the wooden path in order to go on the beach.
I was looking for this beach but I was lucky to find a girl who was on her way back from the beach and she described the trail to me exactly. I also met an older British couple that lived in Lagos and they said they had never heard of or been to this beach.
The Canavial beach can be seen on multiple viewpoints and it looks lovely from all of them. But the best viewpoints are right before arriving on the beach, as you stand on top of the rock and look down at the beach.
Praia do Canavial is good for a swim because the water is shallow and doesn’t have seaweed. The beach does have some pebbles and but I didn’t mind them.
The time I visited, there were just 4-5 people on this beach in total.
Praia Santa Maria
This is a nudist beach that’s right after Camillo beach. I just found the trail by sheer luck because it was already my 7th time on Ponta da Piedade boardwalk.
It isn’t easy to get to this beach at all. The hike to reach this beach gets very steep at the end. There was no one on this beach when I went.
I wouldn’t say this is a stunning beach, it was pretty average compared to the other beaches of Lagos. I did see a bunch of black seaweed in the water. But I think visiting a beach like this is not so much about the beauty, but it is about the feeling of reaching a hard to reach place.
Praia da Balança
This is actually one of the most stunning beach in the “hard to reach” list that I found in Lagos. I actually found it on my last day in Lagos and I saw it from a viewpoint.
Praia da Balança is actually a small cove that’s surrounded by interesting rocks all around. The viewpoint wasn’t so far from the beach so I saw things very clearly. I saw blue water, clean sandy beach and rock formations.
I did see a few kayaks on the beach, so I thought it can only be accessed from water. By the time I saw the trail that goes to this beach, it was already time for me to check out from my hotel. I had to run back so I left this beach for another visit. Maybe it is a good thing I didn’t go, because I was in my flip flops and the hotel staff told me later that it isn’t easy to reach this beach by hiking.
Praia do Barranco do Martinho
I love how this beach looks from up above. I actually went to the viewpoint everyday from Ponta da Piedade that overlooks Praia do Barranco do Martinho, because of the perfect sunset.
The hike to this beach isn’t easy and also the hiking path is tricky to find. I didn’t find the path at all. I did ask the hotel staff member and he told me that the hike is very difficult because it is steep and goes from the other side of the boardwalk.
I did see reviews on Google Maps of those who visited, but some were clearly confusing it with another beach and were talking about it. If you visit Lagos, do visit and let me know if you end up on this beach. I’d love to feature you.
3) Hiking in Lagos
One of the best hikes that you can do in Lagos is moving from beach to beach on the rocks that surround the beaches. You don’t have to stop on the beaches unless you want to take a break, sit and swim a bit. This hike will take you to some seriously stunning viewpoints.
The hikes aren’t difficult at all in Lagos. In fact, I did them wearing my flip flops, but I recommend you wear shoes because flip flops can be risky. I saw a lot of interesting flowers and I specifically remember the cactus flowers.
Start at Praia do Pinhão, from here you can walk on the rocks and move to Dona Ana beach. If you want, you can climb down on to Praia do Pinhão and see the two rock arches here.
When you arrive at Dona Ana beach, you can go on the beach or take the path on the rocks beyond the beach. The viewpoints from Dona Ana beach to Praia do Camilo are seriously stunning. There are many of them.
I wouldn’t recommend you take a break on Praia do Camilo because this is a beach that you should leave for another day. It is seriously stunning but you have to climb down a hundred steps to reach it.
The trail that goes after Praia do Camilo will take you to Ponta da Piedade, which is the most famous viewpoint of this area. The trail after Camilo beach is a proper wooden hiking trail with gazebos at prominent viewpoints.
You can get off the wooden trail if you want, I did because I was curious to see what else was there. But, I realized that the viewpoints are better marked on the wooden trails where the gazebos are.
After Ponta da Piedade, the trail will take you on top of Praia do Barranco do Martinho. You can get out of the gazebo here to take a better look at the beach below.
If you stay on the trail, there’s another viewpoint that comes where you can see two beaches together – Praia do Canavial and Porto Mós.
The trail further goes from Praia do Barranco do Martinho to Praia do Canavial. Get off the trail here to take a break on the beach. The climb down isn’t that tricky, I did it with flip flops but it may take you a while to find the way to the beach. Luckily I met a girl who was just coming out of the beach and she told me where to find the trail for the beach.
After Praia do Canavial, the trail goes to Porto Mós Beach (Praia do Porto Mós). It is a massive beach and you can stay here if you want. There is a bus stop at Porto Mós from where you can find a bus to take you to the main city. Or you can just walk back, it isn’t more than 2 KMs.
4) Lagos Old Town
Old Portuguese buildings are beautiful and this is why I don’t miss even a single town center when I visit Portugal. The town centre in Lagos is lovely and it is full of Jacaranda, lemon and orange trees.
The Jacaranda trees were in full bloom when I visited. Also, the orange and lemon trees were fruiting. These trees made the already lovely streetscape even prettier.
Ever heard of Azulejos? I spoke about them in my Lisbon post too. They are ceramic tiles that are painted, and you can see them on many old buildings all over Lagos old town.
Get lost in the narrow lanes of Lagos old town. Explore the shops with unique handmade things and buy a few souvenirs. They aren’t expensive and are nicely made. I did buy a few small handmade toys for my daughter.
You can see the city walls of Lagos, the castle, Porta de São Gonçalo and cathedrals. I did not have them on my mind when I visited Lagos old town but I saw them while walking around.
Find a nice street side restaurant when you’re done exploring the city centre. Sit outside and order a drink to cool off.
5) Rent a Bicycle to Explore Lagos
Lagos is small and you can cover everything by walking, but it means a lot of walking. If you want to avoid that then get yourself a bicycle for a day or two to explore more that this city has to offer.
I rented my bicycle from a surf shop called COAST Supply Co in Lagos main town. I did it on my first day to get a sense of all that there is to see in Lagos. I’m happy I did because after that I had a clearer idea of what I wanted to do during my stay of one week here.
Keep in mind that Lagos is slightly hilly, so you will have to cycle up and down. This is why you may want to avoid the town centre with your bicycle.
I had a normal bike but I recommend you get yourself a mountain bike, so that your butt doesn’t hurt as much as mine did.
Cycling in Lagos will give you an insane amount of freedom to explore the city at a faster pace. If you like cycling then I highly recommend you do this. This is what I do when I travel solo and I did this during my weekend in Amsterdam too.
6) Visit Aqui Há Gato to Eat the Best Prawns in Lagos
One of the best parts of traveling is getting an opportunity to try new food. In that aspect, Lagos, or any part of Portugal won’t disappoint you.
Sure, Lagos has a lot of international restaurants and I did find an amazing Nepalese one where I ate momos, but some of my most memorable meals were in a small family run Portuguese restaurant called Aqui Há Gato.
Aqui Há Gato isn’t in the busy town centre, which is a relief. You can walk here from the main town – it will take you 15 minutes or drive here. I actually visited because there was a board outside that said they have the best prawns in Lagos. Of course, I went in because I love prawns.
When you visit Aqui Há Gato, order “the best prawns of Lagos” here – they are not mentioned in the menu but are written on a board outside. The prawns are massive in size and the portion is huge. They are buttery, garlicky and full of flavor. They come with fries (or bread) and salad. I loved this meal so much that I came here everyday.
I fell in love with the atmosphere here because I saw a lot of locals and enjoyed the sounds of Portuguese conversations. I always spent a long time here, drank coffee, beers, sometimes caipirinha, and talked to the staff. This restaurant isn’t just about the food, but also the vibe.
I also brought a few people to this restaurant who enjoyed the food as much as I did.
6.1) Other restaurants in Lagos
Sunrays Kitchen: Looking for a healthy wholesome meal in a pretty restaurant? Visit Sunrays kitchen. It is an amazing restaurant where you can find delicious meal bowls, kombucha and coffee.
Momo Express: It is a small Nepalese restaurant in the city centre. I visited it because I love Momos – a popular Nepalese snack.
Marisqueira “O Perceve”: This is a seafood restaurant. Visit it to eat lobsters, crabs or any other food from the sea. I ate a big crab and I paid around 25 Euros with beer and coffee.
Additionally, visit any bakery and eat Pastel de Nata: the yummiest Portuguese snack and it is also a dessert. These egg tarts are simply delicious and they make the perfect breakfast.
Try Green Wine: I never knew of green wine but I tried it for the first time in Portugal. It is a little like white wine and is delicious. It goes well with fish.
7) Day Trip to Benagil Cave
There are a lot of day trip possibilities from Lagos, but one of the best ones is a visit to Benagil. So what is Benagil cave all about?
Imagine a hidden beach, that’s inside a cave which is open on the top for a little light that falls dramatically. The only way in is by swimming or kayaking – sounds good? That’s Benagil Cave.
When you arrive in Lagos, you will see lots of shops in the Marina where they try to sell you a tour to see the Benagil cave. The thing is, those tours will take you on a big boat, and big boats can only see the Benagil cave from outside.
You can’t go on the beach unless you take a tour with kayaks. There isn’t one from Lagos, but there’s one from Portimão and this the one we booked. Portimão is easy to reach from Lagos with a bus or a train.Book Benagil Cave Kayak Tour
This tour was excellent. Not only we visited the Benagil cave, but we also visited some of the other caves around and they were all good. We also saw the famous Praia da Marinha, which is supposed to be one of the most beautiful beaches of Europe.
8) Explore Party Scene of Lagos
Lagos is also called a party destination. To be honest, I didn’t explore this side of Lagos much, even though I visited without my kid. But I’d still like to mention this point so that you don’t miss out on this.
The old town of Lagos has plenty of bars and pubs, so if you visit in the evening, you are sure to hear loud music and follow it.
Some notable bars and pubs are: Zanzibar Lagos (highly recommended by a local), Beer & Co, Peppers and Aficionado.
9) Kayaking, SUP, or Scuba Diving in Lagos
Lagos has many caves and hidden beaches and some can only be explored via water. Join a kayaking tour or get on a stand up paddleboat (SUP) for a day of adventure.
Have’t done kayaking or SUP before? No worries! In my experience, both kayaking and SUP are easy sports and you don’t need a prior experience to enjoy them. I also tried them for the first time while traveling and on tours.
I have narrowed down two amazing kayak and SUP tours for you which will take you to some secluded beaches of Lagos:
- Kayaking and Boat Cave Explorer Tour: EUR 35 per person, it is a 2 hour tour which will take you to the caves and beaches and caves of Ponta da Piedade with Kayaks. The advantage of going on a kayak is that you can enter some beaches where a normal boat can’t go.
- Ponta da Piedade Kayak Tour from Lagos Marina: EUR 35, this 2 hour tour will also take you to the beaches and caves of Lagos. It is pretty much the same as the tour above, it is just a different operator.
- Lagos: Stand-Up Paddle Board Rental: Rent a SUP for 4 hours for EUR 25 per person.
- Guided Scuba Diving Trip for Beginners: EUR 99, this is a scuba diving trip for beginners, with 3-4 hours in the ocean.
- Dolphin Watching & Snorkeling: EUR 40.50, 3.5 hour boat trip where they will take you to see dolphins. The boat will have snorkeling gear too, so you can grab it and jump in the water. A snack is also included.
- Boat Cruise to Ponta da Piedade: EUR 22.50 per person, it is a 1 hour 15 minutes tour that will give you a chance to look at the beaches of Lagos from water. Pick this if you don’t want to do kayaking.
I highly recommend GetYourGuide but because I have had an amazing experience booking tours through them. Bud I’d still recommend you to read everything before you book.
10) See Bravura Dam
Bravura Dam is a peaceful escape from Lagos and the surroundings are lovely. It is 45 minutes drive from Lagos main town, so this is one of the places that you can visit if you rent your car, or if you get an electric bike.
Get to Hello Goodbye cafe, and start your Reservoir walk from there. The complete hike will take you 2 – 2.5 hours. You will see the water, little hills and lots of greenery.
Tip, follow the road signs to “Barragem da Bravura” instead of following the Google Maps navigation.
Visit this place only if it is easy for you to arrive here. Don’t make an effort to be here and don’t rent a vehicle just to visit this place. It is lovely but isn’t worth so much effort.
Where to Stay in Lagos
Safari Beach Guest House:
When I travel solo, I usually research for days to find the perfect place to stay. After all, I’d be on my own and I want my trip to be as easy as possible.
I didn’t want a typical hostel with loud party atmosphere, but also I didn’t want the entire room to myself because I wanted to find a possibility of making a friend or two. For me, Safari beach guest house was the perfect middle ground and I loved it. This is also a hostel but also a guest house so they have dorms and private rooms.
I stayed in a 4 bed female dorm and we had our own bathroom that was attached. The good this was that the guest house was away from the loud city centre but closer to the beaches. So, the dorm rooms were quiet and I had a good sleep quality.
This place had a nice sitting area outside with a sun umbrella, a big living room with TV, airy kitchen with all the appliances, and even a washing machine.
The private rooms with balcony were upstairs and they looked lovely too. If I revisit Lagos, I will book one of the private rooms on top.
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