Beach, bars, museums, shops, history, nightlife, plenty of outdoor activities and a very charming old town that’s surrounded by ancient city walls. Lagos has got it all. OK, it’s a touristy place, but it offers easy access to the desolated beaches of the western Algarve for those fed up with paying 3 euros for a coffee. What to do when you’re in Lagos? Read on!

See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine August 2016

Pictures by Kyle Rodriguez


Explore the town

Get there early (or just stay the night) as there’s plenty to explore. Lagos offers many points of interest, ranging from churches to souvenir shops. Even if you don’t actively want to visit anything, it’s a nice place for a stroll. With its many plazas, lovely balconies and cobbled streets with patterned calçadas, the old town is a must-see. Tired of walking? Find a bench in the shade of a palm tree in the Jardim da Constituçáo and relax.


Learn about Portuguese history

Although most buildings have been reconstructed after the earthquake of 1755, traces of Portuguese history can be found all around town. From the well-preserved 16th century city walls and the golden Igreja do Santo António to the remains of Europe’s first slave market which dates from 1441. Wander around Lagos and you’ll see statues of Gil Eanes, São Gonçalo, Henry the Navigator and King João Sebastião. More history can be found in the wax museum of Portuguese discoveries.


Check out the Algarve’s defenses

Giant anchors mark the entry of the Forte da Ponta da Bandeira. Built between 1680 and 1690, it defended access to the pier and part of the city walls. At the time it was constructed, it was one of the most technically advanced strongholds of the Algarve with insanely thick walls and a drawbridge. Inside, you’ll find a small chapel. Entry €2, opening times 10-12.30 and 14-17.30.

Those not keen on playing soldiers might want to check out Lagos’ Zoo instead which features dozens of animals including ocelots.


Head to the beach

Fine golden sands, impressive rock formations and clear blue water. Cliché as it sounds, this is the reason thousands of people visit Lagos every summer. The city’s beaches range from the popular Praia da Dona Ana with its rock formations to the small Praia da Batata (pictured below) which is closest to the centre and good for renting canoes. Meia Praia is one of the best beaches for water sports such as sailing and surfing, whereas most boat trips seeing the caves –including the famous Ponte de Piedade- depart from the marina.


Try sailing

If you want a bit more action than just lazing around on an inflatable mattress or sitting in a paddleboat, try sailing. Various sailing schools in the Lagos area offer lessons in optimists, dinghies and catamarans, whereas those already in possession of a VWDS licence can just rent a boat by themselves. Enjoy the Algarve tried a catamaran sailing lesson; read all about it in our July 2016 issue.


Go for a mountain bike ride

Like to explore the coastal area around Lagos but don’t fancy walking for hours? Go for a mountain bike ride on the sandstone clifftops. Enjoy the Algarve tried this in January 2016. The views over the Ponte da Piedade headland are amazing, but if you want to enjoy the scenery, make sure to stop for a break. It’s a long drop down…


Shop ’til you drop

Sun cream, post cards and beach buckets & spades are sold on virtually every street corner. But those looking for high quality Portuguese products should head to the recently opened Mar d’Estórias where sea salt, fig jam and cherry liquor are displayed next to cufflinks made from old escudo coins, ceramics and leather bags. All products come from Portugal. The 18th century building consists of different levels which are turned into a shop floor, café/bistro, homeware department and an art gallery. When visiting, make sure to also check out the roof terrace with sea views.


View local work

At the Fototeca Municipal, Lagos’ photo library in the middle of the old town, local artists get the chance to exhibit and sell their work. Which of course means that visitors get the chance to purchase a real local souvenir, and chat to the artist who created it. What’s on offer changes each month; at the time of visiting there was a black and white photo exhibition by our May Picture Perfect photographer Alexandre Manuel.


Stroll along the promenade

Sea breeze, salty smell and a good view of the (sailing) boats in the marina. Walking the palm tree-lined promenade of Lagos is a refreshing affair, especially with an ice-cream. It’s also the place to chase seagulls and buy sunglasses, beach towels and bags of all sorts.


Drink your favourite cocktail

Whether it’s a classic mojito, a passion fruit frozen daiquiri, a piña colada or a sex on the beach, they have it all in the various bars in Lagos’ old town. Combine this variety of cocktails with the latest music and young & hip surroundings -contrary to traditional Portuguese restaurants, here they’ve actually made an effort to the décor- and you’ve found the place for a party. Cheers!


See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine August 2016

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