It may not be my favourite place in the Algarve but lots of people absolutely love visiting Lagos. They’re attracted by some of the best beaches in the Algarve and the dramatic beauty of it’s cliff-stacked coastline but that’s not all that Lagos has to offer.
The old town is full of history and character, with cobbled streets, attractive architecture, some intriguing sights and a range of places to relax and unwind as well as plenty of places to visit in the surrounding area.
Here are my suggestions for things to do in Lagos, including some of Portugal’s best beaches and unforgettable trips.
Tip: If you’re looking for accommodation, check out my post on where to stay in Lagos for some great recommendations.
1. Be amazed by the Benagil caves
Benagil is only a small fishing village but it has become famous for it’s astonishing sea caves. These really are some of the most beautiful rocks and caves in the world. The colours of the rocks are amazing and the sense of awe at the power of nature makes a visit inside them an unmissable Lagos experience.
Or, if you are feeling more energetic, maybe this Benagil Caves Kayaking Experience. would suit you better.
2. Explore Ponta da Piedade headland
Located just to the west of Lagos, the Ponte da Piedade headland shows off the beauty of the rugged coastline. Golden cliff-like rocks stretch up to 20 metres high and there’s a footpath you can use to explore them from different perspectives. You’ll find grottos and sea arches that nature has sculpted from limestone over thousands of years.
Another great way to discover these caves and grottos is by one of the many boat trips available such as this Ponta da Piedade Boat Tour with Local Guide.
If you enjoy the magic of a beautiful sunset then try this Ponta da Piedade Sunset Tour.
3. Forage for edible plants by the ocean
Take a tour with an experienced forager, teacher and cook and search for the many edible herbs and flowers along the stunning cliffs of Lagos.
He’ll show you how to forage sustainably and tell you how these findings can be used both in cooking and medicine. All rounded off with a lovely outdoor picnic!
4. Take a chef-led seafood tour of Lagos
Accompany a professional chef on a tour of his favorite seafood spots in the city. Sergio will take you off the beaten track and show you the restaurants and taverns where the locals eat.
He’ll also tell you about the culture and history of Lagos while you stroll through the colorful streets of the old town.
5. Go on a full day food and culture tour of Lagos and Sagres
Experience this food and culture tour and visit a small fishing village whilst talking with some local fishermen before heading to Cabo de São Vicente. In Sagres, you’ll try a local delicacy and then visit a vineyard for a tour and tastings.
After that, you’ll learn about the best spots in Lagos for eating seafood, as well as some dishes to try out and local history and culture. All of this with a local guide who will share his best kept secrets!
6. Bask on the beaches of Lagos, Portugal
Lagos is blessed with some of the best beaches in the Algarve. These four are close to town and easy to walk to.
Best beaches in Lagos
At over 4 km long, Meia Praia is the largest of Lagos’ beaches. It’s popular but because of it’s size it doesn’t really get overcrowded, especially if you’re prepared to walk a little bit further to claim your spot on the sand.
If you want a decent beach walk (or run), this is the place to go. It’s a clean, accessible beach, with calm water, making it good for young children. Be warned though; the sea is calm but quite chilly!
Praia Dona Ana
Shadier, thanks to the cliffs, and far less expansive – it’s only 160 metres wide – is Praia Dona Ana. Because of its size it can get crowded during the summer months. It has very clear waters so is popular for snorkelling around the rocks. You’ll see spectacular rock formations here but note that access to the beach is via a lot of steps.
Praia do Camilo
If you’re thinking of visiting Praia do Camilo, again consider access. The views going down the steps are wonderful but sometimes they feel never-ending (more than 200 steps). It’s a small beach which gets very busy in summer. However, it’s a great place for swimming and kayaking is very popular.
Praia da Batata
The closest beach to the centre of Lagos is Praia da Batata, which means Potato Beach, although I’m not sure how it got that name. Perhaps one of its lovely rock formations looks a bit spud-like. This small beach is safe for swimming and is quite sheltered.
7. Wine tasting
The Algarve has a long history of producing some wonderful wines and you can easily explore these from Lagos. You can try this small group half day Wine Tasting Tour from Lagos and learn all about wine production as well as discovering the local countryside. Or maybe this Private Algarve Wines Route tour which includes multiple tastings.
8. Learn local history at the Dr. José Formosinho Museum
Go on a journey through the cultural history of Lagos and the Algarve in this museum. Here you’ll find a collection of curiosities, works by local artists and examples of skills from basketry to embroidery.
Open from Tuesday-Sunday, 10:00-13:00 and 14:00-18:00. Closed Monday. Entrance: €3 (You can also get joint tickets for other museums). See here for details.
9. Discover Lagos’ less-than-glorious past at the Slave Market
The Mercado de Escravos or Slave Market highlights one of the darker sides of Lagos. It is located on the site where the first slave market in Europe of the modern era took place, in 1444. The museum building was built in 1691 and is one of the oldest buildings in Lagos. If it’s not open when you’re there (it was closed when we tried to visit), you can take a virtual tour of the museum, details here.
Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00-13:00 and 14:00-18:00. Closed Monday. Entrance: €3.
10. See military architecture at Ponta da Bandeira Fort
When it was built this 17th century fort was one of the most technically advanced fortresses in the entire Algarve and it remains one of the best preserved in the region.
Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00-13:00 and 14:00-18:00. Closed Monday. Entrance: €2.
11. Marvel at the golden altar in Igreja de Santo António
The outside of The Church of St. Anthony may appear relatively simple but take a step inside and you’ll see gilded carving considered to be some of the most beautiful in the country. The altarpiece (which survived the Lisbon earthquake in 1755), ceiling and azulejos make this church very special indeed.
12. Wander around Lagos Marina
Take a stroll along the marina and you’ll find a selection of cafes, restaurants and hotels, perfect for an afternoon refreshment or an evening meal. Many of the tour operators for boat trips, dolphin watching and such-like can be found here.
13. See the patterns of the cobbled streets
Many towns and cities around Portugal can boast of some truly amazing cobbled streets or Calçada Portuguesa and Lagos is no exception. You’ll find them in many pedestrian areas as you wander around and you’ll be amazed at their complex geometry.
14. Find bargains at the Municipal Market
Lagos market is quite typical for a Portuguese market and here you’ll find fresh fish and vegetables as well as many other local delicacies. You can pause for a snack at the small cafe or go up to the top floor restaurant with views of the promenade.
15. Imagine what the Governor’s Castle was like
Part of the Lagos city wall, what remains of the Castelo dos Governadores is mostly a couple of towers that flank the gate entry to the old town. It’s nice to have a little wander around and there are small but pleasant gardens to take a break in.
16. Go dolphin watching
Getting up close and personal to one of nature’s most spectacular and fascinating species in their natural habitat is awe inspiring. Being led by experienced guides like on this Dolphin and Sea Life Watching Experience or having the knowledge of a marine biologist at hand while they collect scientific data on this Dolphin Watching with Marine Biologists tour will create memories you’ll never forget.
17. Follow one of the Lagos walking routes
There are many ways to discover Lagos including some very interesting themed and pedestrian routes. You can choose from culture and knowledge through to urban art. Check out this website for details.
Things to do in Lagos for kids
18. Feed the animals at Lagos Zoo
Just outside Lagos (15 minute drive) you’ll find Lagos Zoo, which has conservation and animal welfare at its heart. Some of the animals wander freely and you can even swim side-by-side, but separately, with penguins at the zoo’s special beach.
Opening hours: April-September 10:00-19:00. October-March 10:00-17:00. Entrance: Adults €18, Children €14. (Book online here for €2 off.)
19. Get your adrenaline fix at Parque Aventura
If you’re after a little adventure and don’t mind heights, Parque Aventura would be a great option. You can take on different challenges moving from tree to tree all under expert supervision. Or if there are 6 of you, relieve that stress with an outdoor paintball match. See here for details.
20. Be a scientist at Lagos Living Science Center
There’s more hands-on fun to be had at Lagos Living Science Center. You can join a workshop to program a robot or create a slimy elastic monster but, if that’s not your cup of tea, you can just learn more about the scientific side of the Discoveries.
Opening hours: Tuesday- Sunday 10:00-18:00. Closed Mondays. Prices can be found here.
BEFORE YOU GO...
If you're interested in visiting or moving to Portugal, why not get my free insider tips and resources by email? These newsletters also include blog updates and information about relevant products, services and special offers.