Get ready for plenty of excitement when you explore Lagos, Portugal. Lagos sits on the Algarve coast and is known for its famous beaches, lively nightlife, and natural beauty. Surrounded by a golden coastline filled with beautiful rock formations, there are plenty of sights to see and activities to do making it the perfect beach holiday destination.
Top Things to do in Lagos
Lagos attractions are varied and plentiful. You could hike the Seven Hanging Valleys, visit a museum, or take one of the dolphin-watching boat tours. There are many things to do in Lagos, Portugal, and this guide will cover the absolute best.
1. Ponta da Piedade
If you’ve seen pictures of Lagos, the chances are that you’ve seen Ponta da Piedade. Ponta da Piedade is a headland of striking rock formations, with caves and grottos only accessible by water. From land, you can hike to the Ponta da Piedade scenic viewpoint, admiring the unique formations and snapping the postcard-perfect shot that has become so associated with Lagos.
Visiting Ponta da Piedade is easily one of the top things to do in Lagos. You’ll spot sea stacks and arches and catch glimpses of the caves when visiting Ponta da Piedade from the land. The burnt yellow rock makes Ponta da Piedade even more beautiful, and the orange look is characteristic of Portugal’s Algarve region. Even if you visit Lagos for just a few days, prioritize visiting Ponta da Piedade.
2. Take a boat tour from Lagos Marina
So, you could take a boat tour from Lagos Marina to visit the sea caves and spectacular rock formations of Ponta da Piedade. However, there are plenty of different boat trips that you can take, so venture down to the marina and pick whichever takes your fancy. A boat trip is one of the best things to do in Lagos, Portugal. The sea breeze, gorgeous coastline, and friendly marine life are a winning combination and suit every traveler and their itinerary.
The dolphin-watching boat tours are extremely popular but make sure you choose wisely. We recommend this tour if you’ve never seen wild dolphins as it keeps a safe distance and does not stress the animals.
Other popular day trips include sunset catamaran cruises and longer, half-day cruises along the Algarve Coast. These longer cruises often include breaks for swimming and snorkeling and venture to natural attractions like the Benagil Cave.
3. Praia de Dona Ana
Praia de Dona Ana is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Algarve. The beach is located on the Ponta da Piedade headland and is surrounded by limestone formations with golden strata. Easy to reach, full of facilities like showers and toilets, and absolutely stunning to look at, visiting Praia Dona Ana Beach is one of the best things to do in Lagos.
You can reach Praia Dona Ana Beach in 20 minutes on foot from Lagos town center and then climb down from the headland via a set of long wooden steps. The beach has calm waters and is excellent for less confident swimmers and families. Praia Dona Ana Beach is your best choice out of the Lagos beaches for a relaxing beach day. Just get there early to beat the crowds, as it is one of the most popular beaches near Lagos.
4. Praia da Luz
Fancy exploring further afield? Praia da Luz is a coastal town just 10 km west of Lagos, and you can easily take a day trip by jumping on the bus for a twenty-minute ride. Praia de Luz has a massive beach with watersports, lifeguards, and cafes – yet it lacks the touristy atmosphere of Lagos’ beaches.
Visiting Praia da Luz is an excellent option if you want to experience gorgeous beaches outside of Lagos and enjoy a different, more resort-like atmosphere than the beaches in Lagos. It is straightforward to reach on public transport and is not a secluded beach – perfect for an easy day trip.
5. Parque Aventura
Parque Aventura is Portuguese for ‘Adventure Park’, which should speak for itself. Parque Aventura is where to go for an adrenaline rush and fun challenges in Lagos. The park has an extensive high ropes course that takes you through the tree tops. While if you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, you can test your skill with a paintball game on the park’s paintball field.
We suggest heading to Parque Aventura later in the afternoon when temperatures are no longer sky high. The park stays open until 6 pm every day, so visiting out of midday heat shouldn’t be challenging.
6. Spend a morning in Lagos Old Town
For that cobblestone streets experience, you don’t have to venture far in Lagos. Lagos Old Town is full of cobbled streets and colorful buildings, and the historic center is surrounded by old city walls.
Spending a morning in Lagos Old Town is the best way to balance time on its best beaches. There are shops, bakeries, and small pubs to sit al fresco with a pint of Sagres. It is also an atmospheric place to try some traditional Portuguese cuisine too. If you are going to splash out on a meal, choosing a restaurant or cafe in the Old Town is a good idea. And, if you are stuck for choice, the fresh seafood is delicious.
7. Visit Mercado de Escravos
Mercado de Escravos is one of Lagos’ most beautiful buildings, yet it also holds some of Portugal’s darkest history. Mercado de Escravos was Europe’s first slave market, and the earliest dated slave market held there dates back to 1444.
The museum now educates visitors on the slavery tragedy. It reveals the harrowing details of the market’s events through engaging exhibitions. If you are interested in socio-political history or want to learn more about Portugal’s more troubling history, Mercado de Escravos should be on your radar.
8. Praia dos Estudantes
Praia dos Estudantes is another of Lagos’ best beaches, and you should visit it even if you are only in Lagos for a few days. The small beach is famed for its unique bridges and tunnels, which visitors use to access different areas of the beach. You can switch between the northern and southern sections of the beach by walking through a natural tunnel in the cliff face. While overhead, there is an old Roman bridge connecting the cliffs.
The layout of Praia dos Estudantes easily makes it one of the most interesting beaches on the Algarve. This is the best beach for you if you want a memorable beach day. Plus, it is within walking distance of Lagos town center.
9. Go kayaking to the sea caves
You can certainly take a boat trip to see these magnificent caves, but the more adventurous might be tempted by a kayaking trip. Exploring the sea caves by kayak is a different experience and certainly not for the fainthearted or unfit.
You can rent a kayak and head out independently or go on a guided kayak tour – it all depends on your confidence. Either way, you’ll be able to get up close with the beautiful formations along the coast and see marine life in their natural habitat. You can squeeze through tiny sea caves and tunnels that larger boats cannot fit through, giving you much more opportunities to explore. And, if you get lucky, a pod of dolphins might pop up around you.
10. Praia do Vale de Centeanes
Praia do Vale de Centeanes is one of the top beaches to take a day trip from Lagos. It takes around forty minutes to drive to and is easiest to visit if you have a rental car, rather than catching multiple buses. So, why make the trip?
Visiting Praia do Vale de Centeanes is the best on a windy day because it is backed by towering limestone cliffs. It is a dramatic introduction to the Algarve’s characteristic cliff-backed beaches. It is also much more spacious than the small beaches around Lagos. For a heavenly beach day, it is well worth a day trip.
11. Centro Ciencia Viva de Lagos
Family holidays can be difficult, especially when it comes to keeping little children entertained. The Centro Ciencia Viva de Lagos is entirely tailored toward families – providing engaging, child-friendly science exhibits and activities. So if you are traveling with children and want to keep them entertained, Centro Ciencia Viva de Lagos is a fun, reliable option.
The science museum is open from 10 am until 6 pm every day apart from Mondays. It is an excellent place to visit, escape the midday sun, or keep busy if the weather is terrible. The museum also has indoor and outdoor exhibits, making the experience enjoyable and varied.
12. Meia Praia
Meia Praia is the largest beach around Lagos and stretches over 4 km in length. On a busy day, visiting Meia Praia is a way to guarantee yourself a sunbathing spot. Lagos gets so busy in summer that Meia Praia becomes a bit of an emergency option.
Meia Praia is conveniently located just outside the Old Town and within easy walking distance of the town center. Visiting Meia Praia is a great idea if you want to squeeze a beach day into a busy day or just be close to many amenities.
13. Seven Hanging Valleys Trail
If you like staying active, walking the Seven Hanging Valleys is one of the best things to do in Lagos, Portugal. The coastal path is a 5.7km out-and-back trail that arguably covers the most scenic section of the Algarve coastline. The route starts at Praia da Marinha and ends at Praia de Vale Centeanes, taking around two to three hours to complete.
The Seven Hanging Valleys Trail passes stunning vistas, including many sea caves and spectacular formations. You could hike it one way, which would take about 2-3 hours, or walk the path as an out-and-back trail in around six hours. The choice is yours.
14. Praia do Camilo
Looking for a secluded beach? Praia do Camilo is the one for you. The small beach is accessed by a wooden staircase of over 200 steps – so prepare yourself for a workout. Praia do Camilo is totally worth the effort, though. The beach has crystal-clear blue-green water and the Algarve’s characteristic orange glow in its golden sand and cliffs.
Praia do Camilo also has a tunnel connecting two different sections of the beach. You can walk through the natural tunnel and pick your favorite (or the least busy if you’re visiting in peak season). Praia do Camilo is a fun, pretty place to visit near Lagos.
15. Visit Ponta da Bandeira Fort
History lovers, this attraction is for you. Ponta da Bandeira is a 17th-century fortress complex that now runs as a museum and art exhibition venue. Ponta da Bandeira overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and Praia de Batata Beach and was once a stronghold against enemies attacking the Algarve from the sea.
Heading over the drawbridge, you’ll have enough exhibitions to keep you entertained for at least an hour or two. Ponta da Bandeira is one of the best things to do in Lagos, Portugal, to get a historical insight into the area.
16. Praia da Batata
So, you’ve visited Ponta da Bandeira. As we mentioned above, the fort overlooks Praia da Batata, which is a beautiful beach to visit near Lagos. And, if topping up your tan under a 17th-century fort sounds memorable, it is worth adding to your itinerary. The sands are famously soft and golden, and the waters are calm and perfect for swimming.
Visiting Ponta da Bandeira and Praia de Batata is an excellent combination. Start your morning at the fort, and then head to the beach to enjoy some afternoon sun.
17. Spend a day in Faro City
Lagos is full of things to do, but since you will probably travel to Faro for Faro Airport anyway, it is worth dedicating time to exploring Faro as well. You could even plan a day in Faro before you fly home.
Faro is easily the most famous city on the Algarve. In fact, it is considered by many as the gateway to the region. However, its city center is a great place to spend a couple of hours – which we highly recommend doing. Walk the Old Town to admire the cobbled streets and neoclassical architecture. Then visit the major attractions like the Arco de Vila, Faro Cathedral, and the Municipal Museum.
If you have not rented a car and want to explore Faro, this tour has you covered. You will also see other cool cities in the Algarve like Olhão, Tavira, and Cacela Velha.
18. Tour inside Igreja de Santo Antonio
Igreja de Santo is an ornate Catholic Church with Baroque architecture and a lot of history behind it. The church is located inside the Old Town and is easily added to a morning in the town center. Igreja de Santo is believed to be the birthing place of Saint Anthony of Lisbon – meaning it holds great religious significance, especially amongst the residents of Lagos.
The church interior is gorgeous, and you can walk through, admiring the sculptures and no-expense-spared decorations. There’s also a small museum, which contains exhibits and more information about the church and Saint Anthony of Lisbon. Allow an hour or two to experience Igreja de Santo thoroughly.
Now that we’ve covered the best things to do in Lagos, Portugal, let’s look at some common FAQs.
How to get to Lagos
Lagos is located in Southern Portugal on the Algarve coastline. The easiest way to reach Lagos is to fly into Faro Airport and then catch public transport to Lagos. You can take a shuttle bus straight from the airport or travel into Faro to catch the train to Lagos. Allow around three hours for both options.
Since Lagos sits on the Atlantic Ocean, there are multiple ferry routes if you fancy an adventure. You are best considering catching a ferry if you want to ferry hop down the Portuguese coast.
As it is also located in mainland Europe, you could take a road trip to Lagos from Spain, France, and even the UK if you are feeling particularly adventurous. Driving across Europe is popular, and you’ll just need to be comfortable adjusting to different driving styles. Also, keep in mind that you’ll need a much longer time frame for this, and we’d recommend allowing at least two weeks to road trip to and then enjoy Lagos comfortably.
Getting around Lagos
Lagos is a town and has everything available within walking distance. Some of the most picturesque beaches in the region are just a short walk from Lagos town center. Plus, there is Lagos train station where you can catch a train to nearby spots on day trips. You can easily get around Lagos and its surrounding area without driving a car. If you want to stay local and are only visiting for a few days, we suggest sticking to walking and public transport.
Of course, you could hire a rental car if you want the freedom to explore further afield. You’ll be able to head up the coastline and even out to the Valley of Guadiana Natural Park. If this is the case, you may wish to book a rental car to pick up from Faro Airport so that you can drive to Lagos instead of catching public transport.
Best time to visit Lagos
The best time to visit Lagos is in its shoulder seasons – early fall or late spring. The trick is to avoid the crowds but still get good weather. After all, why not make the most of Lagos’ beautiful beaches?
May and June are the best months to visit Lagos in spring, while September and early October are the best months in fall. Still, struggling to decide? The atmosphere tends to be slightly better in spring when local tourism is excitedly warming up for the peak season in summer. It is also usually a bit breezier in spring, which is good for outdoor activities.
Where to stay in Lagos
Last but not least, where should you stay in Lagos? There are loads of high-quality options to suit all budgets, but these are our absolute favorites.
Budget hotel: Old School Guest House
Lagos has hostels, but it is better to stay at the Old School Guest House for a little extra. It is the highest-rated budget-friendly option in Lagos, and each guest gets a double or twin room. It also has a central location in Lagos town center.
You’ll have a shared kitchen, free bikes, complimentary wi-fi, and even BBQ facilities. There’s also a paid airport shuttle to make your airport experience more relaxing.
Mid-range hotel: Fazenda Viegas
Fazenda Viegas is a privately run resort rather than a large commercial accommodation choice. The benefit of this is that there are thoughtful touches like on-site wine tasting sessions, a welcome drink, and fantastic sporting facilities like a football pitch and volleyball courts.
Guests can choose to stay in an apartment or villa, and when you aren’t swimming in the outdoor pool, you can head to the closest beach – about 2km away.
Luxury hotel: Boavista Golf & Spa
If you want luxury, say no more. Boavista Golf & Spa is a five-star property with all the indulgent facilities you could want. Guests choose between townhouses and villas, so forget about cramped hotel rooms or small apartment complexes. There is also a shared rooftop terrace, endless entertainment activities, and an indoor heated pool. While for extra pampering, you can head to the spa to enjoy a sauna, steam room, hot tub, and gym.
A trip to Lagos is one of the best beach holidays you could take in Europe. Between the stunning landscapes and vibrant Portuguese culture, there are so many things to do in Lagos, Portugal. We hope you get the chance to experience as many of these things as possible.
Once you’ve visited Lagos, you should explore the rest of the Algarve region. There are many amazing cities in Portugal, plus the Douro Valley and Obidos if you travel further up north. Trust us, you’ll need a return trip.