Lagos is one of the most popular places to visit in The Algarve. It’s a lively coastal town, close by to some of the best beaches in Europe. Read on to find out 7 awesome things to do in Lagos, Portugal.
Want more information on Lagos? Check out my ultimate Lagos guide which gives tips on where to stay, where to eat and more!
Quick Links – Things To Do In Lagos, Portugal
Ponta Da Piedade
Impressive rock formations, sea arches, caves & grottos. Best seen from the cliff tops or in a boat on the water.
For more information, check out my complete guide to visiting Ponta da Piedade.
Ponta Da Piedade is a beautiful section of coastline formed naturally over thousands of years by the winds and tides. Today you will experience a series of fantasy like rock formations, sea arches and caves. What you see today is the result of thousands of years of erosion which has left behind the iconic golden cliffs, with some reaching 20 metres high. These rocks are pretty unique and many of them actually have nicknames too! Look out for the elephant, the kissing couple and the titanic!
You can view this natural wonder from above on the cliff tops or below by boat (more on this here). You could spend hours up there just exploring – it’s such a beautiful sight. You can stay up on the cliff tops or you can also descend down to sea level as there are some steps (182 to be exact) by the lighthouse that lead down to the shore where the view is also tremendous.
If you’re walking along the cliff tops do be careful, there are no fences or barriers up here so don’t venture too close to the edge as some of the cliffs can be a little unstable. If you decide to walk along the cliff tops, you’ll pass by all of Lagos’s most beautiful beaches and the view is just beautiful from above. What makes it even more beautiful is the radiant crystal clear sea that has a turquoise colour – it’s like something straight from a magazine.
The best time to visit is undoubtedly sunset as many believe the sunsets here to be the most beautiful in the world! During our trip, we ventured out here most days for sunset as it was just so breathtaking and will feel like you’re in a fairytale. Words don’t do it justice at all – you NEED to see it!
To plan your visit, I would suggest taking a taxi/uber to the lighthouse and then walking along the cliffs back towards the main town area – if you walk the whole way back it’ll take about 30 – 40 minutes. It’s a beautiful walk and you’ll pass by many of the Algarve’s most famous beaches such as Praia Dona Ana & Praia do Camilo.
Praia do Camilo
A beautiful secluded beach.
Praia do Camilo is a secluded, picturesque beach. To get to the beach, you’ll need to descend a long wooden staircase of around 200 steps that winds down the cliffs. The staircase is also a sight in itself as you get a panoramic view of the Algarve coastline and beach below. It’s a picture perfect beach with soft golden sand and pristine waters. One thing to note though is that Praia do Camilo is actually a pretty small beach and as it is also one of Lagos’s most famous beaches, this does mean that it can get very busy so you’ll have to arrive early to get a spot! The beach is divided into 2 by an enormous rock formation – it has a small tunnel running through it so you can easily access both sides.
The cliffs surrounding the beach offer protection from the wind, meaning the waters are calm and it’s not too windy here. This means it’s a great spot for swimming. The water is almost transparent making it great for snorkelling too! It’s a great place to explore the ocean and you’ll even sometimes see fish in the waters too.
If this doesn’t sound like perfection then don’t worry, Lagos has many more beaches – check out my complete Lagos beach guide which includes some hidden beaches you won’t have heard of!
Lagos Old Town
The historical town centre containing many noteworthy buildings such as a church, a fort and an old slave market.
Once you’ve had enough of relaxing on one of the Algarve’s finest beaches (can you really ever have enough?) then why not spend a day exploring the Old Town of Lagos. It contains an abundance of historical sites and interesting architecture so it’s definitely worth spending some time here just wandering and exploring.
The streets in the old town are mostly pedestrianised so it’s easy and safe to wander around. One sight you need to see whilst exploring is the Igreja de Santo António, a stunning church. Make sure you go inside to marvel at the beautiful and intricate wood carvings.
Another interesting landmark is the slave market or Mercado de Escravos. This does represent a darker time in Portugal’s history. This place was once Europe’s first black slave market where hundreds of slaves were sold every year however today it houses an art gallery featuring local artwork.
Finally, also make sure you walk down to the charming Forte da Ponta da Bandeira fort. You enter this fort by walking across a drawbridge over a moat. This fort once served as one of Lagos’s most important defences and is a super interesting place to see.
Praia da Dona Ana
A picturesque beach.
Praia da Dona Ana beach is another one of the Algarve’s near perfect beaches with lots of unique rock formations surrounding the beach. It offers a natural setting nestled amongst the famous cliffs of Ponta Da Piedade. With golden sandy beaches and crystal clear, azule waters, it’s truly beautiful. It is often regarded as one of the best beaches of the Algarve and is often the beach you’ll see on postcards and in brochures.
It is an ideal place to spend a relaxing day at the beach and is close to the main town of Lagos (around 20 mins). It is actually the largest beach along the Ponta Da Piedade coastline however it is still only 160 metres so it does also get very packed, especially in the summer. It’s a great place to sunbathe and you can always take a dip in the sea whenever you like. One thing to note is that the waters here are very cold! It tends to have a very calm and tranquil environment – you won’t find many beach activities or water activities here and it is also very clean.
You can access the beach by descending down one of the two sets of steps that lead down the cliff face to the beach. You’ll get impressive views from the top of the cliffs here and can see all of the surrounding area which is very picturesque.
Check out my complete Lagos beach guide for more beach options!
A tour of the caves and grottos of Ponta Da Piedade by kayak (or boat).
There are plenty of boat trips in Lagos that will take you on tours of the magnificent grottos and caves of Ponta Da Piedade. One of the best, and most fun, ways to see it is by kayaking! These organised tours will take you out into the sea and you’ll paddle around the cliffs, through the tunnels and sea arches and into the caves and grottos themselves. There are also many alternatives to kayaking such as diving or snorkelling. My main recommendation would be to just get out onto the sea! You get the most magnificent view of the rock formations of Ponta Da Piedade here that are unmatched by any other. One advantage of heading out on a kayak is that as well as seeing the caves and grottoes, you’ll also come across many secluded beaches.
We took an organised kayak tour where a tour guide took small groups of around 6 kayaks out into the sea. He took us on an amazing tour around the caves and grottoes and even let us spend half an hour relaxing on one of the beaches. As the kayaks are a lot smaller than the boats, you’ll often be able to head into the smaller caves that the boats can’t fit into. You can also rent a private kayak if you want to spend more time exploring on your own. One advantage to having a guide though is that they give you lots of interesting information – our tour guide pointed out all the rocks that have nicknames such as the elephant and the kissing couple! The guides will also take you to the best spots, many of which you may not find on your own.
For more information on this, check my Ponta da Piedade guide.
A beautiful marina filled with many boats & yachts, lined with an atmospheric promenade.
The Lagos Marina, or Marina de Lagos, is an award winning marina built back in 1994. Sitting close to the main town of Lagos, it is easily accessible and is a great place to wander around and explore. Additionally, there is a promenade filled with restaurants, cafes and bars.
Leading up to the marina, is an opening bridge. Most of the time it will serve as a bridge helping pedestrians get from one side of the river to the other. However, when a large boat comes through the bridge will split into two and open up to allow the boat to pass. It can be fun to sit and watch the bridge opening and closing for passing boats.
There’s plenty to see in the marina as it has space for up to 462 boats! During the daytime, there is a constant hum and the marina really comes to life. In the evenings, it’s a great place to sit back and relax – you’ll also come across live music in the bars along the promenade! This area is very modern and has a relaxed, enjoyable atmosphere.
A peaceful beach.
Meia Praia is one of the longest beaches (4km) in the whole of the Algarve! It’s the perfect beach if you’re looking for some peace and quiet or if you’re wanting to take a long beach walk/run. It’s never overcrowded so you’ll always have plenty of room and as it is very close to the main town of Lagos, it is super convenient. It does attract a lot of locals and tourists and is one of the most popular beaches in the area, however due to its size there is always plenty of room.
This beach has super soft, golden sand, perfect for walking on, and is also immaculately clean. The sea is pretty calm and there are no rocks in the ocean so it’s perfect for swimming – beware though that the water here is very cold, even in the summer.
Unlike Praia da Dona Ana and Praia do Camilo, this beach is not surrounded by cliffs. This does mean that it can get a bit windy on the beach so it’s something to bear in mind. You’ll need to anchor your parasol into the ground and make sure any loose items that may blow away are secured. There is an upside to the wind – it makes this beach a great place for certain activities such as windsurfing and paragliding.
Lagos is an amazing destination filled with picture perfect beaches, a stunning old town and has plenty of adventurous activities to partake in. I hope you enjoyed this list of the top 7 best things to do in Lagos, Portugal.
For more information on Lagos, check out my ultimate Lagos guide which tells you everything you need to know about visiting Lagos.