Looking for things to do in Lagos? Below you will find the 15 best tourist attractions, a suggested itinerary and many tips 😉
Lagos, an ancient marine town, is one of the most visited cities in the Algarve due to its renowned beaches, incredible rock formations, great variety of hotels, bars, restaurants and spirited summer nightlife.
The city has also a very rich history that stretches back more than 2000 years. It was occupied by the Phoenicians, Romans, Visigoths, Byzantines and Moors, who in the 8th century fortified and walled the city and built a medieval castle that can still be seen today.
After the Christian Reconquista of the Iberian Peninsula in 1189, Lagos played an important role in Portuguese discoveries due to its strategic harbor position. Under the expansionist project of King Sebastian, Lagos became a city, and the capital of the Kingdom of the Algarve, in 1573.
Nowadays there are no queens or kings in town, but instead thousands of tourists who come to discover its extraordinary beauty and enjoy one of the best summer destinations in Europe.
From wandering the alleys and streets of the Old Town to visiting historical sites, beach exploring, dolphin watching and taking boat trips, here are the 15 best things to do in Lagos.
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15 Best Attractions & Things to do in Lagos
1 – Be in awe of Praia Dona Ana, the most beautiful beach in the world
One of the best things to do in Lagos is definitely visiting its world-class beaches!
Among them is Praia Dona Ana, which was considered the best beach in the world by Condé Nast Traveller Magazine in 2013.
When you arrive at Praia Dona Ana you will be completely in awe!
At one side, a long and uneven wall, formed by ravishing orange cliffs covered in low vegetation, merges with the azure water and disappears in front of your eyes. On the other side, the cliffs shelter the beach and form a “bay” with tranquil waters that is perfect for swimming.
Access to this beach is by stairway and there is a parking lot, wooden boardwalks, beach amenities, a restaurant, a masseur and lifeguards on duty.
Praia de Dona Ana is very popular among tourists and locals and even though it can get very crowded during the summer, it’s totally worthwhile visiting.
You must see Praia de Dona Ana as it’s one of the most famous Lagos tourist attractions.
2 – Take a boat trip/kayak to Ponta da Piedade
While in Lagos, you should not miss the opportunity to take a boat trip/kayak to Ponta da Piedade.
The boat takes you on a memorable journey along the breathtaking coastline and you can get an amazing perspective of several Lagos beaches, until you get to the spectacular rock formations of Ponta da Piedade.
On this 75min thrilling adventure, you will sail through fascinating sea caves, hidden grottos with crystal-clear water and incredible sandstone cliffs.
If you prefer kayaking (no previous experience needed), you will be able to enter some caves and grottoes that boats can’t access, and have free time to go swimming and relax on a calm beach.
I’ve done both and I loved it!
Whether you prefer to take a boat trip or a kayak to Ponta da Piedade, it’s an unforgettable experience and definitely one of the coolest things to do in Lagos.
It’s a trip for the whole family and the price is very reasonable, from 20 euros per person.
Pro tip: As it’s a very popular activity in Lagos, book your grotto trip online in advance. This one has excellent reviews, and if you prefer a half-day cruise with lunch and beverage included, I recommend this one.
3 – Wander around the Old Town
A trip to Lagos cannot be completed without visiting its Old Town!
Featuring lovely cobblestone streets with different patterns, whitewashed and tiled houses, museums, lovely alleys, picturesque churches, lively squares and a myriad of restaurants, stores, bars and pubs, Lagos’s Old Town is the heart of the city.
You can go sightseeing, book a walking tour with a historian, or visit the Mercado de Escravos, the very first African slave market in colonial Europe which was built in 1444, the Museu Municipal Dr. José Formosinho, one of the best in the Algarve, Lagos Castle and see the remains of the ancient city walls.
But I also suggest that you wander around and find narrow and quieter streets for a more relaxed atmosphere.
You can’t miss the Old Town, as it’s one of the best things to do in Lagos.
4 – Visit Praia do Camilo, the most picturesque beach in Lagos
Among all the beaches in Lagos, my favorite is Praia do Camilo, a very scenic beach framed by impressive limestone rocks.
The tiny beach, surrounded by orange, yellow and red cliffs, has crystalline green-blue water, amber sand and is accessed by a long wooden staircase.
What I like most about Camilo Beach is that, it’s just as picturesque whether you see it from the cliffs, the stairway, the sand and even the water.
The infrastructure is very basic and there is only one restaurant on top of the cliff close the stairway, which is really nice by the way. There are lifeguards on duty but there are neither kiosks nor beach amenities, so be prepared to take a cooler with water, booze and snacks.
I love Praia do Camilo and for me it is not only one of the most beautiful beaches in Lagos but also in the whole Algarve.
Don’t’ forget to put Praia do Camilo on your what to do in Lagos list.
5 – Go dolphin watching
Dolphins are constantly seen in the Atlantic Ocean and one of the greatest things to do in Lagos with kids is dolphin watching.
These adorable and playful creatures are some of the most liked marine animals and nothing is better than seeing them in their natural habitat, swimming and jumping in front of you.
The most common species of dolphin that can be found around the Algarve coast are: Bottlenose,Common, Striped, Harbor Porpoise and Risso.
Dolphin tours are offered in Algarve from March to November, although the best months to spot dolphins are from June to September.
A tour costs an average of € 40 and takes between 1 and 3 hours. Children usually pay a lower price.
Most of the dolphin tours depart from the Lagos Marina, and I highly recommend that you book your tour in advance.
6 – Visit Igreja de Santo Antônio, a baroque masterpiece of gilded wood
One of my favorite things to do in Lagos is visiting churches.
When you’re in the Old Town, do not miss one of the most breathtaking and important churches in Portugal, Igreja de Santo Antônio.
Constructed in 1707 and rebuilt after the great earthquake of 1755, this single nave church in the baroque style has a vaulted ceiling, covered with colored and intricately drawn paintings, and two bell towers of differing heights.
The church interior has lower walls decorated with traditional blue and white azulejos and above the tiles is one of the finest examples of carved gold-plated woodwork ever found in Portugal. It’s a masterpiece and everywhere you look seems to be shimmering gold.
The gilded altar has a statue of St Anthony holding baby Jesus and a rare statue of St Eloi (Eligius), the patron saint of goldsmiths.
Igreja de Santo Antônio, one of the most outstanding Lagos attractions, is also a National Monument, open from Tuesday to Sunday and the entrance ticket costs only 3 euros.
7 – Stroll along the marina
If you’re looking for things to do in Lagos with family, don’t forget to put the Marina de Lagos on your list.
Constructed in 1994 in the Bay of Lagos, near the historic center, this award-winning marina features 462 pontoon berths for yachts up to 30m, several types of restaurants, a good choice of bars, shops, a kids club, art academy & gallery, farmer’s market and even resort.
Lagos marina also hosts events, such as Portuguese cooking classes, wine tastings, art exhibitions, boat shows, etc.
You can visit it any time of day, but my recommendation is at the end of the afternoon because of the heat.
8 – Go beach exploring
I love beaches, and one of my favorite things to do in Lagos is beach exploring.
The greatest thing about Lagos is that some of its best beaches are very close to each other, so you can take in a few in one go.
You can start at Praia da Batata, the closest beach to Lagos’s city center, and walk all the way to Ponta da Piedade, approximately 2.5Km (1.55mi).
If you walk along the beaches, which I highly recommend, you will have to use hand-dug tunnels along the way. It is best to do it at low tide because some of them will have water in at other times. But be reassured that the tunnels are big enough to stand in and crossing them is exciting.
During your beach exploration you’ll have the opportunity to visit Praia dos Estudantes, a picturesque beach with a charming Roman arch, part of Pinhão Fortress that was almost completely destroyed by a tsunami following an earthquake in 1755, and Praia do Pinhão, a secluded beach surrounded by orange towering cliffs, until you get the world famous Praia Dona Ana.
From Dona Ana to Camilo and Ponta da Piedade, the safest way is to walk along the road, although the views from the cliffs are outrageously beautiful.
Pro tip: Please be careful when standing on the cliffs because of the risk of erosion and falling.
9 – Discover the nearby cities and towns
Albufeira, Lagos, Vilamoura, Carvoeiro, Loulé and Portimão are generally considered to be some of the best places to visit in Algarve.
But the Golden Coast, which extends for an area of 4,997 Km2 (1,929 sq mi), has many other attractions.
And this is the reason that when you’re in Lagos, you should take the opportunity to discover the nearby towns and beaches.
If you’re like history, you should visit Loulé, Faro or Silves. If you prefer unique beaches don’t miss Lagoa and Portimão, two of the most breathtaking beaches in the Algarve are in these municipalities.
But if you’re more into off the beaten track, my top recommendation is Costa Vicentina Natural Park, where you find a bit of history and gorgeous beaches.
No matter your decision, you should definitely discover the nearby towns and beaches while in Lagos.
10 – Explore the Algarvian coast by boat
The best way to explore the breathtaking Algarvian coastline is definitely by boat. So when you’re in the Algarve, you should not miss the opportunity to take a boat trip.
You will sail along beautiful scenery and discover sea caves, grottoes, hidden gem beaches and magnificent rock formations from the perspective of the boat.
There are several boat trips that you can take while in Lagos and the more popular choices are: 3-Hour Algarve Cruise by Fun Catamaran, 2-Hour Boat Trip to the Benagil Caves and Algarve Golden Coast 4-Hour Cruise.
But if you’re looking for fun things to in Lagos with family, my top recommendation is the 2-Hour Sunset Cruise with Wine & Tapas and live music on board.
Tours start from 30 euros and bookings in advance are highly recommended.
11 – Try the Algarvian cuisine
When visiting a new destination, besides the desire to see famous tourist attractions and have memorable experiences, there is also the curiosity to taste local and different dishes.
While in the Algarve, you must not miss the opportunity to taste Portuguese cuisine.
Some of the food you should try when visiting the Algarve are: Bacalhau à Brás (fried potatoes, codfish and parsley mixed together with eggs); Cataplana de mariscos (mix of seafood with herbs, tomatoes and white wine); Enchidos (smoked sausages filled with different ingredients); Grilled sardines and Pastéis de nata (the famous Portuguese custard tarts).
I love Bacalhau espiritual (Spiritual Cod fish) and Pastéis de nata, and every time I’m in Algarve I eat a lot of it.
12 – Take your kid to a waterpark
Have you ever been to a waterpark?
With plenty of slides, tunnels, inflatable mattresses, giant buoys, wave pools and fountains, spending the day at one of the Golden Coast waterparks is certain one of the most fun things to do in Lagos, for kids and adults alike.
Zoomarine, in Guia, municipality of Albufeira, is probably the best and most beautiful, also offers live performances, a dolphin show and interactions.
The first time I went to a waterpark was in July 2019. My family and I went to Slide & Splash and we had a blast.
13 – Visit Lagos Zoo
Wondering what to do in Lagos with kids that is not beach related? What about visiting a zoo?
With over 140 different animal species from 5 continents set in natural habitats, Lagos Zoo is undoubtedly the best option.
There is a wide range of birds, including pelicans, flamingos and parrots; mammals, including big cats; reptiles; fish and amphibians.
There are also playgrounds, a swimming pool, pet farm, educational room, incubation room – where baby birds are hatched, and the “create room” in which animals are reared by hand, a lovely picnic area around lakes and lawns and restaurant, etc.
The zoo participates in several conservation programs, is open all year around and is one of the best Lagos tourist attractions.
You can buy your ticket online in advance here.
14 – Do water sports
The Algarve is blessed with fantastic conditions for water sports, with over 300 days of sunshine a year and regular thermal winds.
So, naturally, one of the top things to do in Lagos is taking a dip in the sea and doing water sports.
Some of the beaches in Lagos that offer water sports are: Praia da Batata, Dona Ana and Meia Praia.
15 – Visit Forte da Ponta da Bandeira
One of the historical Lagos tourist attractions that should be on your “Things to do in Lagos” list is Ponta da Bandeira Fortress.
It was built in the late 17th century to protect the important harbor from Corsairs, pirates and the Spanish raids.
The well-preserved Fortress of Nossa Senhora da Penha de França, aka Ponta da Bandeira, lies beyond the city walls, where the Bensafrim River enters the sea, overlooking Praia da Batata.
The fortress was entirely restored in the 1960’s and the complex includes a chapel dedicated to Saint Barbara, with walls lined with traditional tiles, a restaurant, a small museum and an exhibition area.
Forte da Ponta da Bandeira is an interesting military building that gives a clear impression of the naval fortifications of old Lagos.
It provides magnificent panoramic views of the city and seafront, is open from Tuesday to Sunday, costs 2 euros and the visit doesn’t take more than 30min.
This is my list of the 15 best things to do in Lagos and you’ll also find a suggested itinerary and some tips to plan your trip.
Safe travels and have fun in Portugal.
More posts about the Algarve that might interest you:
- 20 Very Best Things to Do in Algarve
- 12 Cool and Unusual Things to Do in Algarve
- 10 Best Things to Do in Algarve with Kids
Things to Do in Lagos in 5 Days – Suggested Itinerary
- Da 1 – Arrive in Lagos
- Old Town, Praia da Batata, do Estudante and Pinhão
- Day 2 – Praia Dona Ana, Camilo and Boat Trip to Ponta da Piedade
- Day 3 – Waterpark and Lagos nightlife
- Day 4 – Day trip to Albufeira, Portimão or Costa Vicentina and Marina de Lagos
- Day 5 – Departure from Lagos
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Planning a Trip to Lagos – Tips
Where is Lagos located?
Lagos is a city in the south of Portugal, located 301Km (187mi) from Lisbon and 90Km (56mi) from Faro, Algarve’s capital (check exact location here).
How to get there?
There is an international airport in Faro, but the more popular choice for travelers from outside of Europe is Lisbon.
From Lisbon you can take a bus or a train to Lagos. The prices are basically the same and they take around 3h to get there.
You can find the best deals on airlines tickets at Skyscanner. This is the website that I use, trust and recommend.
Best time to visit Lagos?
The best time to visit and enjoy all these things to do in Lagos is definitely during the summer and particularly July and August. But if you don’t like crowds and heat, you could go in June or September.
How many days to spend in Lagos?
At least 3 full days. For me the perfect Lagos itinerary is 5 days. With it, you can see several points of interest, including the most famous beaches and also some historical sites.
Where to stay in Lagos?
If you want to stay in a central location, I would suggest anywhere between the Old Town and Praia Dona Ana.
If you prefer a quieter area, I would suggest near Praia do Camilo or Ponta da Piedade.
Some Lagos hotels that I recommend are:
How to get around?
The best thing is to hire a car because public transportation in the Algarve isn’t good.
Intercity buses stop running around 9PM, or even earlier, depending on the company. Trains don’t run very often, and neither do the local buses.
You can take a transfer from Faro airport and once you’re in Lagos you can use Uber, but it isn’t cheap.
If you’re visiting only Lagos and staying in a central location, you may not need a car, however it is easier to get around and much more convenient with a car.
You can hire a car with Rental Cars here with no extra cost to you.
What are the top attractions in Lagos?
- Old Town
- Praia Dona Ana
- Praia do Camilo
- Boat trip to Ponta da Piedade
What are the best day trips from Lagos?
- Praia da Marinha and Benagil Cave
- Silves and Monchique
- Sagres and Cabo de São Vicente
What are the most popular things to do in Lagos with kids?
Have you been to the Algarve? What do you think of my list? Leave a comment below 😉
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