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Lagos, Portugal: 11 BEST Things to Do & Places to See (+Map & Tips)

Lagos, Portugal: 11 BEST Things to Do & Places to See (+Map & Tips)

Lagos is one of the coziest towns in the Algarve, Portugal. Whenever you ask locals where to go for sightseeing in the region, you’ll see Lagos recommended time and again.

But what to expect and what is there to see and do in Lagos?

In this guide, we cover all the best things to do in Lagos for first-time visitors. Please note that this article is primarily focused on the sights and activities in the town of Lagos and its immediate vicinity.

Of course, there is much more to see and do near Lagos and the stunning coast of the Algarve than we cover here. But that would require a few additional articles and that’s not the focus of this article. That being said, we include a short overview and a few recommendations for some of the very best things to do nearby at the end of this guide.

Good to know: Lagos is a small town and you can just walk through and see everything in a few hours. If you want to visit all the best places in Lagos mentioned on this list and spend some time at the beach, take a boat tour, or go kayaking, you can easily spend an entire day here.

To help you plan your visit and get a better idea of where everything is located, we also created a map of the best places to see in Lagos. You can find this map at the end of this post, together with some practical information on where to stay.

But first – top sights and best things to do in Lagos. Find out!

Rua da Porta de Portugal in Lagos town in Portugal
Lagos old town.
 

Here are the best things to do in Lagos:

1. Old Town

Without a doubt, the best thing to do in Lagos is simply to explore the old town. With cozy squares and a labyrinth of narrow streets, Lagos has a nice mix of very touristy and more local areas.

Just like in pretty much any of Portugal’s best cities, the old town of Lagos has typical Portuguese pavements with a variety of different patterns. You’ll also find traditional buildings, most of them white or with colored windows and doors, but I also spotted a few houses with traditional azulejo-tile facades.

Most streets in the heart of Lagos old town are lined with shops, cafes, and restaurants.  But there are also some residential areas, with laundry hanging through the windows, and locals chatting on the streets.

There are a couple of nice town squares that you shouldn’t miss: Plaza Infante Dom Henrique with the Church of Santa Maria de Lagos, Praça Gil Eanes and adjacent Rua da Porta de Portugal with colorful houses, and the cozy Praça Luís de Camões. I indicated all these places on our map further below, but Lagos old town is quite small, so you can’t really miss them.

Good to know: The main touristy part of Lagos’ old town is rather flat. But if you turn away just a block or two to explore deeper, you’ll encounter more hilly areas. In any case, comfortable footwear is recommended for sightseeing in Lagos!

Praca Luis de Camoes in Lagos old town
Praça Luís de Camões.
Plaza Infante Dom Henrique with Igreja Santa Maria de Lagos in Lagos town Portugal
Plaza Infante Dom Henrique and Igreja Santa Maria de Lagos.
Colorful houses in Lagos old town - Portugal
Colorful houses in the old town of Lagos.
 

2. Lagos Museums

There are a few small museums in Lagos. Depending on your interests and how much time you have, visit one or all of them. Here’s a brief overview:

Museu de Lagos

Probably the most interesting to see is the town museum, which is called Museu de Lagos (or Museu de Lagos Dr. José Formosinho). It’s located adjacent to the Church of Santo Antonio, and this stunning church can only be visited with a museum ticket.

This lavishly decorated chapel of Igreja de Santo António is awe-inspiring and is probably one of the most noteworthy landmarks of Lagos. It’s actually the main highlight of this museum and the main reason to visit.

In addition, Lagos museum has a mix of exhibitions related to the town’s history, but also regional artifacts, religious art, etc.

Good to know: You only need 15-20 minutes here, the entrance costs just a few euros, and it’s absolutely worth it! The museum is open every day except Mondays. For more practical information for your visit, please check the official site of the museum.

Igreja de Santo Antonio - Museu de Lagos, Portugal
Igreja de Santo Antonio – Museu de Lagos.
 

Slavery Route Museum – Slave Market

Just around the corner from Lagos Museum, on the Infante Dom Henrique square, you’ll find the Slavery Route Museum – Slave Market (Mercado de Escravos).

This museum is located in one of the oldest buildings in Lagos, where around the 15th century, African slaves were brought by boats to Europe and sold. A visit here gives you a view into this sad chapter in Portuguese history. However, the museum is really tiny and – in my opinion- not as interesting as the Lagos Museum. But if you want to see everything that Lagos has to offer, check it out.

Good to know: The museum is open daily except on Mondays. See the official website for up-to-date information and opening hours, or just check it out when passing by and visit if it’s open. Also here, 15-20 minutes should be sufficient for a visit.

Slavery Route Museum Slave Market (Mercado de Escravos) in Lagos Portugal
Slavery Route Museum – Slave Market.
 

Centro Ciência Viva de Lagos – Science Center

If you are looking for something fun to do in Lagos with kids, then definitely check out the Science Center. This is a colorful hands-on museum that’s fun for the whole family.

The Lagos Science Center is also rather small, but it contains an indoor and an outdoor section and can keep your kids busy for a while. It has all kinds of scientific exhibits presented in a kid-friendly way. You can learn some basic laws of physics, but also different kinds of sailing knots, see old navigational instruments, maps, etc.

Good to know: Lagos Science Center is normally open daily except on Mondays and some public holidays. See their website for more information.

Centro Ciência Viva de Lagos - Science Center in Lagos, Portugal
Lagos Science Center.
 

3. Lagos Fortress

One of the best-preserved fortresses in the Algarve, Forte da Ponta da Bandeira is another nice place to see in Lagos. This 17th-century fort was built to protect the region from pirates and now serves as a museum. One of the highlights is a small chapel lined with traditional Portuguese tiles. 

Normally, you can visit the fort and also climb its roof for a nice view. However, when we were there, the museum was closed due to staff shortages, so you could only see it from the outside.

Good to know: Check the official website for up-to-date information if the fort is open. Either way, it’s worth coming here, even if only to see the fort from the outside.

Forte da Ponta da Bandeira in Lagos Portugal
Lagos Fortress.
 

4. City Walls & Lagos Castle

When researching what to see in Lagos, I stumbled upon Lagos Castle on the map. In reality, it’s just city walls, which can only be seen from the outside.

The nicest and best-restored part of the city walls can be found on the waterside, opposite the Fortress, at Porta de São Gonçalo. So if you come to see the fortress, you can’t really miss the city walls. It’s just a quick photo stop.

You’ll also find the remains of the city walls encircling the old towns in the other locations. It’s nice to see if you stumble upon it, but not something to go out of your way for.

Old city walls in Lagos Portugal
Old city walls of Lagos.
Beautiful pavement tiles and old city walls in Lagos town in Algarve Portugal
Inside the old city walls.
 

5. Lagos Market

Mercado Municipal de Lagos is a bustling food market and is a really nice place to visit in Lagos town center. Inside, you’ll find colorful fruit and vegetable stands, and lots of fresh fish and seafood straight from the sea.

The ground floor is mostly dedicated to seafood, whereas the first floor is where you’ll find vegetables, fruit, olive oil, and all kinds of local produce. There is also a nice rooftop restaurant here that serves traditional food.

Even if you’re not planning on buying anything, it’s well worth paying a visit to this local market, even if only to soak up the atmosphere.

Good to know: The market is normally open in the mornings, from 8 am to 2 pm, daily except Sundays. You can find public bathrooms here too.

Market in Lagos (Mercado Municipal de Lagos) - Algarve, Portugal
Lagos Market.
Fresh fish for sale at a local market in Portugal
Fresh fish for sale at the market.
 

6. Waterfront & Lagos Marina

The waterfront area and Lagos Marina also deserve a mention among the best things to do in Lagos.

The wide pedestrian waterfront promenade lined with palm trees offers a nice escape from the hustle and the bustle of the old town. In high season, you’ll find some places selling ice cream, drinks, etc. Closer to the market, you’ll also find some places selling clothing and souvenirs.

A pedestrian bridge connects Lagos town center to Lagos Marina. This is where most boat tours depart, and you’ll also find several restaurants, cafes, and pubs. It’s a great place to sit down for a relaxing drink and do some people-watching.

Lagos Portugal
Lagos old town as seen from the water.
Lagos waterfront Avenue dos Descobrimentos
Lagos waterfront at Av. dos Descobrimentos – Photo arenaphotouk/Depositphotos.com
 

7. Ponta da Piedade

No trip to Lagos would be complete without exploring some of the beautiful coastlines just outside the city center. An absolute must-see is Ponta da Piedade, a stunning coastal area with caves & grottos.

There’s a historic lighthouse here, but it can’t be visited. However, you are free to explore the stunning surroundings around it. The cliffs are unbelievably picturesque and the scenery is breathtaking! Just be careful where you walk as the area isn’t fenced and the drops are steep!

You can also take a steep staircase down to the sea grottos. It’s nice to see, but not an absolute must if the stairs look intimidating to you. The best views are definitely from the top of the cliffs or from a boat. And yes, a boat tour around Ponta da Piedade is really a must in Lagos. You can find more info about boat tours further below.

Good to know: The entire area around Ponta Piedade is crisscrossed by walking paths and boardwalks. You could spend hours walking around here and exploring some of the nicest beaches nearby too. And talking about beaches, there are a few you shouldn’t miss – see below!

Practical information: There’s a big parking area at the lighthouse of Ponta da Piedade. In the low season, you can just drive up here and park without any issues. However, in the summer, it can be very busy. If you have time and don’t mind some exercise, you could also walk to Ponta da Piedade from Lagos town center in about half an hour.

Ponta da Piedade cliffs and steep stairs - Lagos, Portugal
Ponta da Piedade.
Ponta da Piedade in Lagos, Algarve, Portugal
Ponta da Piedade.
 

8. Lagos Beaches

The area around Lagos has lots of beaches. You could easily spend a week or two sunbathing and swimming on a different beach each day. But also if you’re mainly interested in sightseeing, you’ll be glad to know that several of the most beautiful beaches of Algarve are located here.

Best beaches close to the town center

The easiest beaches to visit in Lagos are Praia do Cais da Solária and adjacent Praia da Batata right next to the city walls and the fortress. There is a seasonal cafe here and in season you can take sailing lessons or also kayak tours to Ponta da Piedade. For example, this kayak tour starts right next to the fortress.

Just nearby, there is another nice beach Praia dos Estudantes, famous for the Roman bridge higher above that has become an Instagrammers’ favorite. This beach is accessible from the top of the hill, close to Mar restaurant a bit further south of the town center. The bridge itself can’t be accessed, but the view from the bottom is really nice.

A bit further, there is another nice beach, Praia do Pinhão. You can also explore some sea caves and rocks on foot here, especially when the tide is low.

In the other direction, close to Lagos Marina, you’ll find the biggest and the flattest beach in Lagos – Praia de São Roque. This beach stretches for several kilometers and different parts of it have different names. You won’t find sea cliffs here and so this beach is not as scenic as the others. But if you are looking for a nice stretch of sand for long walks, jogging, or sunbathing without it being too crowded, this is by far the best option.

Praia da Batata beach in Lagos Portugal
Praia da Batata.
Praia dos Estudantes and Roman Bridge in Lagos Algarve Portugal
Praia dos Estudantes.
Praia do Cais da Solaria in Lagos, Portugal
Praia do Cais da Solária.
 

Most scenic beaches

The most beautiful beaches that you really shouldn’t miss in Lagos are Praia Dona Ana and Praia do Camilo. They are located next to each other, just a short walk or drive from the town center in the direction of Ponta da Piedade.

It’s here that you will find the picture-perfect Algarve beaches with the most impressive sea cliffs all around you. Just beware that reaching these beaches involves quite a lot of stairs, especially at Camilo Beach.

Good to know: Parking is limited and it can get very busy here in the summer. You could walk to these beaches from the old town in about 15-20 minutes. It’s also easy to combine a visit here with that of Ponta de Piedade.

Praia do Camilo in Lagos Portugal
Praia do Camilo.
Praia Dona Ana beach in Lagos, Portugal
Praia Dona Ana.
Coastal scenery near Praia do Camilo in Lagos Portugal
Coastal scenery near Praia do Camilo.
 

9. Kayak tours and boat trips

If you are traveling to Lagos in the summer season, definitely consider booking a boat or a kayak tour to explore the beautiful coastline around Ponta Piedade. This is one of the best things to do in Lagos that’s worth a trip here in its own right!

In addition, there are also boat tours that take you further along the beautiful Algarve coast in the direction of the famous Benagil Cave. While it’s easier to visit Benagil Cave with a boat tour from Portimao or from Albufeira, in the high season, you can also do this from Lagos.

Here you can find an overview of tours departing from Lagos. And here is our hand-picked selection of some of the best boat tours from Lagos:

READ ALSO: How to Visit Benagil Cave

Benagil Cave, Algarve, Portugal
Benagil Cave.
Sea caves and cliffs near Ponta Piedade in Lagos Algarve
Sea caves at Ponta Piedade.
 

10. Shopping & Dining

And finally, no visit to Lagos would be complete without spending some time exploring its many souvenir stores, doing some shopping, or sitting down for a nice meal at a local restaurant.

The best place for shopping and dining is, of course, the old town. But also the waterfront area and the beaches offer some very nice options, albeit mostly in the high season.

TIP: If you are looking for something nice and more authentic to do in Lagos, consider joining a food tour. It’s not just a great way to get acquainted with traditional cuisine, or discover some local restaurants away from the main tourist routes, but it’s also a fun way to get to know the place deeper, learn more about its history, local anecdotes, etc. This is one of the best-rated food tours in Lagos.

Pastel de nata Portuguese cakes in Lagos, Portugal
Pastel de nata – traditional Portuguese pastry.
Colorful souvenirs for sale in Lagos old town, Algarve, Portugal
Colorful souvenirs in Lagos.
Portuguese cork purses for sale in Lagos
Portuguese cork purses for sale in Lagos
 

11. Excursions & Day Trips from Lagos

In addition to all the nice things to do in Lagos, there is so much more to see and experience in the Algarve region. If you have a car, you can spend weeks exploring the region and still not see it all.

Some of the nicest places to visit near Lagos include Sagres and Cabo de São Vicente, the most southwestern point of Portugal’s mainland, Monchique mountain, the stunning coast around Carvoeiro, and the wild beaches on the Atlantic coast, such as Praia da Bordeira.

With kids (and if visiting in high season), you may want to plan some time at the Slide & Splash waterpark or Zoomarine amusement park (although it’s closer to Albufeira and is about 40 minutes drive from Lagos).

But also without a car, you have many options for sightseeing trips from Lagos. There is a railway station in Lagos, which gives you access to quite a few nice places in the Algarve.

And of course, there are also quite a few organized tours available. Here are some of the most popular (half) day tours and excursions from Lagos:

Cabo Sao Vicente Portugal
Cabo Sao Vicente near Sagres is one of the most popular places to visit in the Algarve.
 

Map of the Best Places to See in Lagos

To give you a better idea of where everything is located and to make it easier to plan your time, I created this map indicating all the main sights, landmarks, and attractions in Lagos.

As you can see, it’s a rather small town and everything is within walking distance. Just keep in mind that there are some hilly areas so a seemingly short walk can be a bit more demanding, especially if you are visiting in the summer and it’s very warm.

Good to know: In the high season, there’s also a little tourist train in Lagos. It can be a good way to see more of the area without having to walk far.

How to Use This Map: Use your computer mouse (or fingers) to zoom in or out. Click on the icons to get more information about each place. Click the arrow on the left top corner for the index. Click the star next to the title of the map to add this map to your Google Maps account. To view the saved map on your smartphone or PC, open Google Maps, click the menu button, and go to ‘Your Places’/’Maps’.

 

Where to Stay

With the stunning coastal scenery, so much to see and do, and a rather central location along the Algarve Coast, Lagos is a good base location to stay for exploring Algarve.

If you decide to base yourself in Lagos, you’ll be glad to know that there are plenty of accommodation options in town and in the surrounding area. You can choose between some really nice beach resorts, but also city hotels with or without pools, smaller guesthouses, privately-rented apartments and villas, etc.

If you have a car, be sure that your accommodation provides easy parking. If traveling by public transport or if you want to be very close to shops and restaurants, stay in the town center, close to the Marina (this is also where the train station is).

Here are just a few of the best-rated hotels in Lagos for different budgets:

These are just a few examples and the price ratings are based on standard room prices in the shoulder season. Keep in mind also that prices can differ a lot depending on the season when you travel, room types, etc. Also, some hotels and accommodations have a minimum number of nights requirement, which might also differ depending on the season.

TIP: Using the map below, you can also see which accommodations are available for your group size and travel dates. Check it out!

 

So, this is our guide to some of the best places to see and things to do in Lagos.

I hope that this gives you a better idea of what to expect and make the most of your visit to this beautiful part of the Algarve. Have a great trip!

READ ALSO: Most Beautiful Beaches in Algarve

More inspiration and tips for your trip to Portugal:

If you found this post helpful, don’t forget to bookmark it and share it with your friends. Are you on Pinterest? Pin this image!

Best things to do in Lagos Portugal
 

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