Lagos is the perfect town to base yourself on the Algarve Coast. There are so many fun things to do in Lagos and around from magnificent beaches to some of the best coastal hikes in Portugal. With its chill atmosphere, it still becomes quite busy in the summer months as people from all over the world come to explore the impressive Algarve coast. In this post, I will round up what to do in Lagos and its surroundings.
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How to get to Lagos
There are only 3 international airports in Portugal. Lisbon, Porto, And Faro. Porto is far north in Portugal, so I will not recommend you to book a flight there if Lagos is your destination. However, if you opt for a road trip through Portugal with several destinations, it is a good place to start your journey.
The closest airport to Lagos is Faro international airport. From Faro, you can go to Lagos by train, bus, or rental car. There is also a direct shuttle which will cost a lot more but gets you directly from the airport to Lagos in only an hour.
Lisbon airport has the most flight alternatives, but it takes way longer to get to Lagos from Lisbon. Without a car, you can expect to spend the whole day traveling.
From Faro, you can easily get to Lagos by train. There are 13 departures a day and it takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes. They run between 07:00 and 20:18 and Lagos is the end station. Make sure you purchase tickets at the ticket office or machines before you board the train.
From Lisbon, there are 38 trains a day to Lagos. The average journey time is around 4 hours and they leave between 08:00 and 18:00.
Lagos train station is only a couple of kilometers from Lagos old town, so if you are on a budget and you are ok with carrying your stuff, there is no need for further transport. Just a tip, cobbled streets are not great for suitcase wheels.
From Faro, there are express buses and interurban buses that go to Lagos. They all leave from the main bus terminal in Faro. If you come by plane, you need to get the bus no. 16 from the airport to the bus terminal. The express bus uses approximately 2 hours to Lagos from the terminal in Faro.
From Lisbon bus terminal, there are nearly 30 buses a day to Lagos and the journey takes about 4 hours.
From Faro, it is easy to drive to Lagos as there are good signs all the way. The journey only takes an hour on the A22.
Driving from Lisbon to Lagos takes about 2 hours and 24 minutes via A2. The road is in good shape and signed all the way. Follow the signs to Faro until you see signs to Lagos.
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Where to stay in Lagos
There are so many places to stay in Lagos that it can be daunting to choose where to stay. I have listed up a few places for different budgets and types of travel.
Hostels in Lagos
This modern-looking hostel was fully renovated in 2016 and is a great place to stay with a superb location in the middle of Lagos historical center.
RCS Hostel has plenty of activities so it is easy to connect with other travelers if you travel solo. And within certain restrictions they even let you have friends over.
You can take advantage of a nice outdoor terrace, communal kitchen, and a TV room. Note that breakfast is NOT included here.
This cute hostel offers dorms and private rooms in a perfect location. Some rooms have an ocean view and so does the spacious rooftop terrace.
The facilities include free WiFi, free breakfast, a communal kitchen and a communal living room with cable tv. This hostel is made to make you feel at home.
Boutique Taghostel doesn’t accept card payments, so remember to bring cash.
Apartments in Lagos
Casa Praia Mar
This is my favorite place to stay when I want to get away from stress and people to just write and get around the coast. The apartments have well-equipped kitchens and they are spacious yet not too big.
This is truly one of the best places to stay in Lagos Portugal for couples and families, but you need a car to stay here. It is nearly 3 kilometers into Lagos town center.
Nevertheless, you have Meia Beach just 200 meters from the apartments while you can chill by the pool or make a barbeque in the shared garden if you want a relaxed day.
Casa Praia Mar has free WiFi and parking.
Guesthouses and hotels in Lagos
Casa das Laranjeiras
Casa das Laranjeiras is a great sustainably friendly option with 5 rooms. The family-owned guest house operates with solar-powered energy and offers free WiFi, communal kitchen and lounge area, and a terrace with barbeque.
Note that this establishment only accepts cash.
The newly renovated guesthouse is only a few minutes’ walk from the city center. They offer both rooms with private bathroom and rooms with shared bathroom. All rooms have cable TV and a couple of them have an ocean view. You get free WiFi and parking.
LC’s Guesthouse has a communal kitchen for guests to use but no proper communal lounge to mingle with other guests. However, the staff is super helpful if you need help with what to do in Lagos during your stay.
Dona Ana Garden
This cute hotel is only a 3-minute walk from the spectacular Dona Ana beach and a 10-minute walk from Lagos town center. With 2 pools, free airport transfer to Faro airport, and free WiFi, this is a great place to stay for couples and families or any solo traveler looking for tranquility.
Iberostar Selection Lagos Algarve
If you are planning to get spoilt during your stay in Lagos, Iberostar Selection Lagos Algarve is the place for you. This huge complex sits on probably some of the best beach views in Lagos with 2 huge pools, spa, gym with ocean view, free WiFi, and breakfast.
I probably don’t have to mention the rooms, but the suites do have private pools and panoramic views!
Things to do in Lagos Portugal
Now, let’s have a look at the top things to do in Lagos!
Forte Ponta da Bandeira
The modest Forte Ponta da Bandeira stands on the waterfront where the Bensafrim river meets the ocean. It was strategically built around the 18th Century to protect Lagos from pirates. The fort was restored in the 1960’s and is now one of Lagos’ main tourist attractions.
Take a boat ride
While in Lagos, it is a must to take a boat ride to explore the surrounding cliffs and natural caves. The coastline is truly astounding and should be seen from the ocean too!
The many caves that have been formed from millions of years of waves smashing through the limestone cliffs, creating hidden beaches, and natural arches, are only accessible by boat, kayak, or stand up paddleboard.
There are also dolphin sightseeing tours which are worth it if you are up for some wildlife spotting!
There are many companies to choose from but here are some tours to pick:
Explore Sagres and Cabo de Sao Vicente
Among the most popular things to do in Lagos is to visit the dramatic cliffs of Sagres, Cabo de Sao Vicente. They are absolutely astounding! The mighty cliff side towers over the Atlantic Ocean across a large area and the Sagres Fort overlooks it all.
There are popular surf beaches in Sagres as the west coast gets plenty of waves. Sagres itself, is a small fishing village, so while you are there, why not stop by for some lunch?
Kayaking along the cliffs
Kayaking along the cliffs of the beautiful coast in Lagos and surroundings is an incredible experience. It is much more relaxing than a packed boat ride, so if you have the time to spend a day in the kayak, you can go to secluded beaches and hidden coves.
Remember to bring enough water and sunscreen for the day!
Explore Ponta da Piedade
Ponta da Piedade is my absolute favorite spot on the Algarve coast and one of the main Lagos attractions! It’s only a few minutes by car or about half an hour walking from Lagos.
The cliffs are mesmerizing and you can see the coastline all the way to Carvoeiro on one side and Sagres on the other. The views are astounding!
Natural arches tower in front of you and there is a long set of stairs going all the way down to the glittering turquoise water where you can get a ride with a local fishing boat if you are lucky.
Get lost in Lagos Old Town
Lagos Old Town is super cute, full of shops, bars, and restaurants. Walk around the narrow back streets to get lost between the charming buildings and get into some serious Lagos sightseeing as there are plenty of things to see in Lagos!
Make sure you enter Igreja de Santo António, the church might seem plain on the outside but the interior is astounding with the blue and white tiles walls contrasting with wooden carvings and the colorful dome. The church is open Tuesday to Sunday 09:30-12:30 and 14:00-17:00.
Another site worth visiting is the Slave Market. Once, the market traded slaves from Africa to all around Europe. Now, it is an art gallery showcasing artwork from local artists across the Algarve.
Hike Seven Hanging Valleys Trail
Seven Hanging Valleys Trail is my absolute favorite coastal hike in Algarve and a short drive from Lagos. The hike is linear from Algar Seco to Marinha Beach. It takes approximately 6 hours to walk both ways.
However, if you are like me and love to take photos of everything, and it is really stunning all the way(!), then you might want to start early so you have enough time to get back again.
Also, there are several nice beaches to stop on the way to go for a swim. Hiking the coastal hikes is one of my favourite things to do in Lagos.
Explore Carvoeiro boardwalk
Carvoeiro Boardwalk is only about 800 meters long, yet truly beautiful. There is also a small detour off the boardwalk that takes you down the cliffs through tunnels and natural arches in the limestone.
This is such an incredible place to discover and can be combined with lunch in Carvoeiro or discovering Algar Seco including a drink in the bar.
Carvoeiro Boardwalk is great for bird watching and if you are lucky you might even see dolphins playing in the ocean.
Stand up paddleboarding
Stand up paddleboarding is a fun way to explore the coastline from the ocean side. It gives you the opportunity to explore the little coves and hidden beaches you can’t get off exploring on a boat trip. It is a great way to exercise too!
If you haven’t tried paddleboarding before, I suggest you tag along on a tour with a local guide that can help you get the hang of it and bring you to the best spots so you can concentrate on staying on the board.
Swim in a natural pool
What is better than swimming in a natural pool created by the ocean? In Algar Seco, you can! The pool is just on the bottom of the stairs to the left when you get to Algar Seco.
While it is an awesome place, make sure you are careful as the current can be extremely high some times during the day. If you go for a swim, make sure you keep an eye on the water a few minutes before you enter if there are no one else in there.
Otherwise, I recommend you stay close to the rocks so you can hold on when the current comes. The current comes from the waves on the other side of the underwater tunnel that leads the water into the pool.
Chill at Camilo Beach
One of the most beautiful beaches in Lagos is without a doubt Camilo Beach! With 200 steps to get down, the views of this gem follow you all the way down. The beach is closed up by limestone cliffs on both sides and the golden sand meets clear turquoise water.
To the left of the beach, you find a tunnel in the cliff leading to another secluded beach. Make sure you bring your snorkeling gear to get the most out of your day out!
Spend the day at Marinha Beach
Marinha beach has been nominated among the world’s best beaches more than once. And there is no doubt why! The beach is spotted with natural limestone towers and is protected by the high cliffs behind. Spending a day here is without a doubt one of the best things to do in Lagos!
There is a long set of stairs to get down to Marinha beach and once you get down on your left, there is a secret tunnel leading to a super small secluded beach!
You can buy cold drinks and some lunch in the beach bar on Marinha beach and they have public toilets.
Visit Benagil Cave
The most famous cave in Portugal is without a doubt Benagil Cave. It is a mesmerizing cave with sinkholes in the ceiling letting the rays of the sun light up the beach that has formed inside.
The best way to see the cave is to go by stand up paddleboard or kayak early in the morning from Benagil Beach before the boat rides start. Once the boats start running, there will be packed with boats hanging around the cave beach.
The boats are not allowed to let tourists off on the beach, so they are really just queueing up to make the tourists take photos while you want to enjoy this natural beauty.
However, whether you visit the cave by boat, kayak, or paddleboard this is a must when you visit Lagos Portugal!
Learn how to surf
Lagos is the perfect place to learn how to surf all year round as it is mostly sunny and the day temperatures don’t drop too drastically. There are several surf schools to choose from as well as multiple beaches with great waves for beginners.
If you already know how to surf, you can rent a board and go hang out with the locals at one of the beaches.
Any scuba diving enthusiast will want to go for a dive in Portugal. There are plenty of things to see in Lagos for all levels and if you don’t have your certificate you can either take it there or go for a test dive with an instructor.
The underwater scene is abundant in caves, underwater limestone islands, and has a rich biodiversity. There are plenty of dive centers to choose from.
There is no doubt there is a lot of things to do in Lagos Portugal. With a rental car, you can easily get to all of the surrounding places so you don’t miss out. However, all of the above things to do are pretty close to Lagos so even without a car, you can take a bus or Uber/Taxi to get there.
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