Coves of turquoise water sparkle below the dreamy cliffs of Lagos, one of Southern Portugal’s most idyllic seaside cities. With so many amazing things to do in Lagos, Portugal, you’ll soon discover why so many travelers flock to the beautiful Algarve Coast!
Lagos, with its dramatic coastal views of the Atlantic Ocean, quaint Old Town, and historic medieval city walls, is wonderfully picturesque. And from kayak cave exploration and dolphin watching, to mineral water bathing, lazing at pristine beaches, and indulging in Algarve food and wine, there is no shortage of fun things to do in Lagos!
This guide will help you put together the ultimate Lagos itinerary. Here, you’ll find the best things to do and see in Lagos, where to stay, what to eat, and more!
Lagos, Portugal Travel Guide:
What to Do In (& Around) Lagos
Can’t wait to embark on your holiday in Lagos?
Use the table of contents below to jump to topics of interest. Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
- Lagos, Portugal Travel Guide:What to Do In (& Around) Lagos
- Where to Stay in Lagos
- 12 Best Things to Do in Lagos, Portugal
- 1. Do a Guided Kayak Tour
- 2. Explore Lagos’s Beautiful Beaches
- 3. Peruse Old Town
- 4. Take a Speedboat to the Benagil Caves
- 5. Buy Too Much of Everything Cork!
- 6. Go Dolphin Watching
- 7. Eat Algarve Cuisine
- 8. Admire the Medieval Walls
- 9. Off-Road Adventure to Secret Sunset Spot
- Best Things to Do & See Nearby Lagos
- Where to Eat & Drink in Lagos, Portugal
- Did you know…
- Lagos Travel Guide: What to Do in Lagos, Portugal!
- Lagos, Portugal Travel FAQs
Where to Stay in Lagos
Lovely Luxe Stays in Lagos
- Lagos Avenida Hotel: A rooftop pool, fabulous marina views, and light, bright, comfy guest rooms. What more could you ask for?
- Lagos Atlantic Hotel: Located a stone’s throw from Porto de Mos Beach, this hotel features coastal-inspired guest rooms and a pool.
Mid-Range Stays in Lagos
- The Salty Lodge: A sweet little surf-inspired lodge with all you need for the ultimate beach apartment stay; swimming pool, ocean views, and fully-equipped kitchens for the win!
- Baluarte da Vila Apartments: Stylish apartments with sea views and a swimming pool, your home away from home in Lagos.
- Dom Manuel Charming Residence: The name says it all: this hotel’s charming guest rooms, pool, lush gardens, and rooftop terrace make for a relaxing stay in Lagos. Adults only!
Budget Stays in Lagos
After Lisbon, Lagos is one of the most popular destinations to visit in all of Portugal. The best accommodations sell out well in advance in the high-season. You can find the best deals on Lagos hotels, apartments, and hostels on this website – and free cancellation is usually available, just in case, so don’t wait to book!
12 Best Things to Do in Lagos, Portugal
1. Do a Guided Kayak Tour
Get up close and personal with the wondrous rock formations that make Lagos, Portugal so famous. On a kayak, you can explore caves that larger boat trips simply can’t fit inside! On this Kayak Tour in Lagos (Visit the Caves & Snorkel), become one with the crisp Atlantic waters. Make your way along the stunning coastline to the famous Ponta da Piedade, viewing the most gorgeous beaches in Lagos along the way. This kayaking tour was the highlight of my time in Lagos!
As you get a workout in, your experienced guide will share with you knowledge about Lagos’s abundant flora and fauna, and share the names of rock formations and caves.
Listen to the music of the sea as you glide under naturally formed arches into sea caves which seem to speak their own language. At your beach pitstop, take the opportunity to snorkel, or soak up the warm Portuguese sun.
Finally, enjoy the second half of your kayak trip back towards the Lagos marina, or take an optional tow to relax and enjoy the ride! I’d definitely book the morning trip for calmer wind and less water traffic.
This kayaking tour, by FAR, my top recommendation for things to do in Lagos. Click here to book it.
2. Explore Lagos’s Beautiful Beaches
Now that you’ve seen the picturesque beaches (praias) of Lagos from the sea, spend an afternoon exploring them by land. When you visit Lagos, Ponta da Piedade, Praia do Camilo, Praia Dona Ana are some of the best beaches you can’t miss – and they’re all within walking distance of each other.
Venture through hand-dug tunnels as you stroll along the sand during low tide. From the top of the cliffs, you can glide down the broad wooden stairs down to Praia do Camilo.
Each beach offers something different from the other! Have fun exploring and picking your favorite, if you can!
During the high season, these beaches are always packed with sun-bathers.
P.S. If you’re hiking around and you’re looking for a more secluded beach, traverse down the gully to Praia da Balança nearby Ponta da Piedade (proper footwear and hiking experience necessary).
*Note: In recent times, many Algarve beaches have unfortunately been plagued by invasive algae. Scientists ask that beachgoers fill out this form if they come across a beach with washed-up algae.
3. Peruse Old Town
Lagos’s Old Town will draw you in for an evening of café-chilling, wine-sipping, and gift-shopping. Let it! Old Town is totally adorable, and just as historic as it is charming! Follow the beloved calçada portuguesa (iconic Portuguese limestone tile) through the small streets of Old Town and peruse around; spend a few hours getting lost.
For reference, use the tall white tower of the Igreja de Santo Antonio to guide you back down from the hills. You’ll likely pass by this landmark more than once, so why not pop inside? This baroque church is small, but quite marvelous inside with intricate gold leafing, and a small museum, Museu de Lagos, attached.
Once the sun goes down, Lagos’s lively nightlife really gets going. From pubs and bars to fancy restaurants and even a nightclub, take your pick and enjoy a night out on the town! Some must-visit bars are Bon Vivant, Peppers Bar, Three Monkeys Bar, and Eddie’s Bar for a cold pint!
4. Take a Speedboat to the Benagil Caves
A quick Google search of Lagos and the Algarve will reveal photos of the extraordinary Benagil Cave, with its open ceiling of rock. Being in the center, when the sunlight is shining down onto the crystal blue waters, is a radical sensation. That being said, it can get crowded here, so don’t expect a person-free experience (or picture!) – and bring a hat because you’ll be in the sun for a bit!
Getting to the Benagil Beach and the caves by land takes about 40 minutes from Lagos, so this Speedboat Adventure to Benagil Caves tour saves you time and offers a fun, high-speed transit to the magnificent rock formations.
Learn about the geographic history in a small group so you don’t miss a word, and remember to keep an eye out for dolphins on the boat trips! Click here to book your Speedboat Adventure to Benagil Caves.
5. Buy Too Much of Everything Cork!
On Avenida dos Descobrimentos, the main road in Lagos (just along the harbor and across from Old Town), there is an outdoor market with the BEST handmade cork goods.
This is your spot for snagging affordable gifts for loved ones (and something for yourself, too): sunglass cases and purses, makeup bags, wallets, passport covers, and coasters galore. I am OBSESSED with the cork goods I got here. (And you will be, too!)
Not to mention, there’s a great selection of breezy linen blouses and pants, as well as other cute clothes and accessories, like hand-crocheted purses and sun hats. Just make sure you have room in your suitcase!
6. Go Dolphin Watching
Dolphins love the Atlantic waters of the Algarve coastline, so spotting them is common here in Southern Portugal. If you’ve only ever seen dolphins in a zoo (P.S.skip the Lagos Zoo), it’s life-changing to witness these intelligent and playful creatures frolicking in the open sea, majestic and free.
When you visit Lagos, you should absolutely go on a dolphin cruise! Dolphin pods are found in the deep sea off the coast of Lagos year round, but April through August is the best time. You’re basically guaranteed to see dolphins in large groups, or pods, which oftentimes like to swim alongside the boats.
Book one of these Dolphin Watching Tours:
- Small Group Sea Safari with Marine Biologist from Lagos: Learn about dolphins and Algarve wildlife from a certified marine biologist! Click here to book it.
- Dolphin Watching Half-Day Cruise from Lagos: Turn dolphin watching into a half-day delight on a comfy catamaran, take in sweeping views of the Algarve, and enjoy swimming in the Atlantic between dolphin sightings. Click here to book it.
Note: Both of these dolphin-watching tours usually sell out in advance, so don’t wait to book your favorite option!
7. Eat Algarve Cuisine
If you’ve read some of our other guides and itineraries before, such as our 3 Days in Lisbon Itinerary, you already know how much we love dining experiences during travels! So of course, we think that one of the best things to do in Lagos is sampling the freshest seafood and other local delicacies.
Get to know Portuguese culture through your tastebuds! This Classic Food Tour of Lagos is adored by travelers who desire to savor the most authentic bites in Portugal and on the Algarve. Honestly, I prefer the Portuguese flavor palate to Spanish food; for me, nothing beats freshly caught fish and aromatic Portuguese spices!
This food tour also sells out, so if you want to taste your way through Lagos, don’t wait to book it!
Typical Algarve Food & Drinks to Try
Whether you take a guided food tour or not, some dishes you must try (if your diet permits) are cataplana de marisco, a super flavorful and rich Algarve staple seafood dish named after the ancient pot it’s cooked in; arroz de marisco, a typical rice and seafood dish that’s more like a stew (pictured above); the celebrated Portuguese grilled sardines (and canned fish, in general); and of course, pastéis de nata! All of the pastries in Portugal are to die for.
As for Portuguese drinks, of course you’ll have to order a refreshing caipirão cocktail, made with Portugal’s most consumed spirit, Licor Beirão. Another famous liquor is ginjinha, made from sweet cherries and often served up in a little chocolate cup! Yum.
Looking for something on the lighter side? Try Portuguese Sangria made from red, white, or sparkling wine, or order a glass of vinho verde, a spritzy white wine made in Northern Portugal. With your dessert, sip on Portuguese Port wine, also exclusively produced in the northern region of Portugal. In true Algarve spirit, I suggest capping off the night with an almond liqueur digestif, or amêndoa amarga, it is absolutely delicious!
Click here to book your Classic Food Tour of Lagos!
P.S. Find my top Lagos food & drink recommendations toward the bottom of this guide!
8. Admire the Medieval Walls
While in Lagos, there are a few important medieval sites to explore, from forts to castle ruins.
Forte da Ponta da Bandeira (Flag’s Mast Fort)
At the entrance to the Lagos Marina is one of the best-most preserved maritime fortifications in the Algarve: the Forte da Ponta da Bandeira. A historic coastal defense fort from the 17th century, this fort was built to protect Lagos and the Algarve from pirates and corsairs.
Way back in time, Lagos was the head of the military government for the Algarve. For a small fee of 2 euros, you can climb to the top and be transported to this poignant time in history. It’s a great vantage point of the Ribeira de Bensafrim River outlet, Old Town Lagos, and the Atlantic Ocean, too.
If you want to learn more about Lagos’s military history, check out the on-site museum attached! There is also a small church on the ground floor with a lovely tile mosaic floor. This chapel is dedicated to the patron saint of artillerymen, Santa Barbara.
Castelo de Lagos (Castle of Lagos)
At the front of Old Town Lagos, you will see the Castelo de Lagos, which seems like it’s missing the castle… Because it is. After the 1755 earthquake, tsunami, and fire that struck the country, the castle was destroyed and never rebuilt. As such, it may seem like there’s not much to see. However, the walls stand as a landmark and a reminder of Portugal’s past and resilience. It is said that the water from the tsunami reached the height of these massive medieval walls! It wasn’t until the 20th century that the walls surrounding the castle were rebuilt and preserved as a historical site.
Porta de São Gonçalo (Arch of São Gonçalo)
As you admire the Castle of Lagos, you’ll come across the Porta de São Gonçalo, or Arch of São Gonçalo. This arch pays respects to the Patron Saint of Lagos, and was built at the site of his birthplace in 1360. This is the patron saint of fishermen, who is said to have miraculously multiplied tuna fish, as well as protected the Lagos fishermen. Pass through the arch from the front wall of the Castelo de Lagos, which doubles as a grand entrance into Old Town.
9. Off-Road Adventure to Secret Sunset Spot
After a kayaking excursion, a trip to the Benagil Caves, a dolphin-watching tour, and plenty of meandering the cobblestone streets of Lagos, you may be ready for a view that’s totally off the beaten path. This off-road sunset trip will take you to an amazing secret sunset spot, nearby one of the most astounding places to watch the sunset in the world: Cape S. Vicente.
Since Cape S. Vicente can get really crowded (we’re talking thousands of people) your guide will chauffeur you to a viewpoint where there won’t be another soul in sight. Just you, and the spectacular view of the sunset at the southwesternmost point of Europe. Relax, as you ride back to Lagos, in the comfort of your private jeep. What a treat!
P.S. Your guide may even surprise you with some sunset wine and pastel de nata. But it never hurts to come prepared and BYO (or extra) wine, cheese, and pastries along for the ride. ;) Click here to book your Sunset Sagres & Jeep Off-Road Algarve Natural Park Secret Spot Tour.
Best Things to Do & See Nearby Lagos
10. Hike the Coastal Trail to Praia da Luz
If you like hiking and long walks on the beach, then embark on the final part of the Fishermen’s Trail (a multi-day hiking trail in the Algarve) from Lagos to Praia da Luz.
This one-way hike stretches almost 11 kilometers long (nearly 7 miles) and will take you 2-3 hours, including stops for gazing out on the horizon and studying all the spectacular rock formations and turquoise waters. The views are seriously amazing! It’s an easy hike (not steep), so it’s one of the best things to do in Lagos to get close to Mother Nature.
You can start from Lagos Old Town, or you can Uber to another Lagos starting point (like Praia do Camilo or the Ponta da Piedade Lighthouse) if you want to shorten your hike a bit! Wherever you begin, you’ll make your way over to neighboring Praia da Luz, a charming beach town, which is also designated as an eco-conscious “Blue Flag” beach.
Head out in the early morning to avoid the intense heat of mid-day. When you’re ready to return, simply hop on the bus or in an Uber back to Lagos. Or, if you’re feeling super ambitious, you can retrace your steps, hiking back to Lagos before sunset.
P.S. If you really love hiking, and want to embark on one of Europe’s best hikes, take a 40-minute drive east, over to Praia da Marinha. From there, set out on the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail. You’ll drool over the coastal views, of course, as well as pass by the red-domed Alfanzina Lighthouse, Benagil Caves, and end at the beautiful Praia do Vale de Centeanes. This one-way, 6-kilometer hike takes about 2 hours.
11. Visit Sagres
If you have a rental car, I highly suggest spending a day in the laid-back surf town of Sagres, about one hour west of Lagos. In Sagres, you’ll find a chill little town focused on waves, good eats, and cold beer (Sagres or Super Bok, that is the question!).
Definitely grab brunch at Laundry Lounge, and a late lunch and craft beers at The Hangout!
While you’re in Southern Portugal’s beloved surf spot, why not take a lesson or rent a board (and wetsuit!)? Spend a day earning that cataplana di pesce, then catch one of the most jaw-dropping sunsets of your life on the cliffs just outside town.
12. Explore the Algarve Countryside
Nature, history, and wine, anyone? Book this Small-Group Day Tour of Silves and Monchique to visit the countryside towns of Silves and Monchique.
You’ll spend some time in Silves, visiting what once was the original Capital of the Algarve region, and marvel at beautiful views, historic castles, and cathedrals. Then, near Monchique, unwind with a soak in the healing thermal waters of a natural hot spring! Lastly, delight in a wine-tasting experience at a small, family-owned winery, Quinta do Francês Winery, before heading back to Lagos.
Bet you didn’t expect to say you went to the mountains when you visited Lagos!
Click here to book your day trip to Silves and Monchique!
Where to Eat & Drink in Lagos, Portugal
Really, there is no going wrong with the food in Lagos. There’s a plethora of amazing dining options and cool bars here, but these are some of the most loved!
- Restaurante dos Artistas: Treat yourself to a five-star dining experience while you’re visiting Lagos. Bask in the ambiance and exceptional service, and dine on artfully presented, extravagant dishes.
- Casa Do Prego: Casa Do Prego is a crowd favorite for food, drinks, music, and rooftop bar. As such, it’s wise to make a reservation, this spot fills up fast!
- Taberna da mó: A central location perfect for a shopping break. This Portuguese taverna has a great selection of tapas, wine, and desserts. Hint: Try the sangria!
- BARBOSA Bar & Kitchen: This Iberian restaurant offers an array of amazing international food. Come for the food, stay for the nice ambiance and cocktails!
- Pastelaria Algarve: My favorite Pasteleria in Lagos! They have amazing pastel de nata, as well as colorful sweet treats of all kinds and a prime people-watching location.
- KISA’ Real Italian Food: Real authentic Italian food with gluten-free pasta dishes. The owner is celiac; no cross-contamination here! Wine, food, service, all superb.
- Bon Vivant: Big, red, and loud; Bon Vivant is unmissable on a night out in Lagos. Come here for killer cocktails, stay for the best rooftop view on main street!
- Peppers Bar: More than just a swanky vintage-style cocktail lounge, you can come enjoy a lovely dinner at Pepper’s before your night out (Bon Vivant is a skip away).
Did you know…
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Lagos Travel Guide: What to Do in Lagos, Portugal!
A proper trip to the Algarve requires a visit to Lagos. Join the club of admirers who have fallen in love with Lagos for its superb weather, tremendous cliffs, beautiful beaches, and adorable Old Town.
Coastlines that make thoughts dissipate from your mind with their striking beauty; that is why we travel! Lagos is one of those places you’ll dream about revisiting once you’re back home. (Maybe that’s why there’s such a large community of expats here!) Of all the incredible things to do in Lagos, Portugal, admiring the landscape and letting wonderment wash over you may be number one.
Lagos, Portugal Travel FAQs
Yes, Lagos, Portugal is absolutely worth visiting. Whether you visit Lagos for just one day or a whole week, you will enjoy yourself immensely! From beaches and boat trips, to hikes and kayaking excursions, to simply sightseeing on land or resting on the sand, there are beautiful memories waiting to be made on your trip to Lagos. Lagos is great for solo travelers, as well as for couples, and families.
Lagos is known for its gorgeous beaches and marvelous, colorful cliff formations. Lagos is also famous for its many ocean caves, which can be explored by kayak or boat trips. Come find out why Lagos, Portugal is the most popular tourist destination in the Algarve Coast!
You should stay in Lagos, Portugal for at least two full days to get to know the city’s historical sites, embark on a boat or kayak tour, and spend time in Old Town. If you have more time, you should stay in Lagos for one week, making it your home-base for exploring other cities, villages, and beaches along the Algarve Coast. For a luxe stay, choose Lagos Avenida Hotel. For a comfortable, mid-range stay, choose Topcity Hostel & Suites.
There are so many fun things to do in Lagos, Portugal! Some of the best things to do include kayaking along the coastline, exploring Lagos’s beautiful beaches, taking a boat trip to the Benagil Caves, exploring the Old Town, eating Algarve cuisine (on this food tour!), going dolphin watching, hiking the coastal trails, visiting historical sites, and shopping for handmade cork souvenirs.
The best thing to do in Lagos, Portugal when it rains is to hang out in Old Town and pop into different restaurants, bars, boutiques, and gift shops. When it rains, it’s best to stay indoors and watch the storm pass by. Before you know it, you’ll be back at the beach!
Lagos, Portugal is not expensive – especially compared to other beach destinations in Europe, and around the world. Portugal is one of the least-expensive countries to visit in all of Western Europe, but the Algarve is one of the most expensive regions in the country. That said, if you travel on a budget, you can definitely still travel to Lagos. There are some great budget accommodations, like Topcity Hostel & Suites and Banana Beach House. Note that the off-season (the months before and after summertime’s peak season) are the most affordable months to visit Lagos, Portugal.
FIND MORE PORTUGAL INSPIRATION HERE!
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Maddy’s Avenue embarked on this Kayak Tour in Lagos (Visit the Caves & Snorkel) as a guest of EZRIDE Ocean Kayak Tours. As always, our opinions are 100% honest and completely our own. This post may also contain affiliate links, which help keep this site running, at no extra cost to you! Thank you for your support. :)
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