The Ultimate Guide to Lagos, Portugal

So much to be said about Lagos! Endless rugged coast, burnt orange rocks, and turquoise waters, are what definitely set it apart than anywhere else in the world. It’s one of my favorite areas in all of Portugal! Although, there are plenty of beaches all over Portugal, the Atlantic waters are pretty cold even in the hottest months and down south the water is slightly warmer.

Here is a list of my favorite spots in Lagos! Not only to photograph but to hang out at as well. Because who isn’t happy when they are spending the day in some of the worlds most picturesque spots, soaking up some European sun!

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT?

As always this is dependent on what experience you are wanting. Summer months are always the most crowded with the month of August being the worst because this is the month most Portuguese get off from work. However these are the warmest and best beach days. Shoulder season is a lot less crowded. I’ve noticed spring time March to early May the least crowded but still gets pretty cold with lots of wind. Autumn may be the best time to visit in my opinion. Definitely not as crowded as summer (more than Spring) however the weather is still perfect to enjoy the water.

HOW TO GET TO LAGOS, PORTUGAL

BY CAR

So since I usually stay with family when I travel to Portugal this is the method we take to get to the Algarve. Lagos is about a 3-hour drive from Lisbon.

  • From Lisbon: 3 hours 
  • From Faro: 1 hour

BY TRAIN

Lagos is well accommodated by trains from other parts of Portugal as well as southern Spain. Although, you may need to change routes depending on where you are coming from. This is definitely the best option for those getting to Lagos from both Lisbon and Faro if you are looking for the quickest, cheapest option.

  • From Lisbon: 3 ½ hours, tickets from €10,70
  • From Faro: 1 hour 50 minutes, tickets from €7,40

BY PLANE

The nearest airport to Lagos, Portugal is Faro, which many budget airlines fly into. From Faro, you can get a train, bus, or shuttle to Lagos.

WHERE TO STAY

I don’t have any where in particular to suggest but on our last visit we stayed here and didn’t have a bad experience. It was fairly close to everything we wanted to do and had a kitchen so we could make our own food. I usually make hotel stays through either:

WHAT TO PACK

  • swimsuits- all you really need during summer.
  • tennis shoes- lots of hiking down to beaches and along the coast.
  • sweaters for the evenings- it does tend to cool down a bit even in the summer.
  • travel towel- depending where you stay.

ALGAR SECO, CARVOEIRO

We found this spot randomly years back and it has seriously become one of my favorite places in the Algarve! Mainly because you can cliff jump… need I say more? You can find this spot right next to the Boneca Bar Restaurant.

Another spot in this same area is the The Carvoeiro boardwalk. The boardwalk  takes you on a picturesque cliff top walk that leads from the Nossa Senhora da Encarnação (near Praia de Carvoeiro) fort to the Algar Seco rock formation. This short walk is along an elevated wooden walkway, on the top of the cliffs and offers wonderful views over the stunning coastline and we have even seen dolphins from this spot as well!

LOCATIONS:

Algar Seco collage

PRAIA DE CARVOEIRO

Just down the road from Algar Seco is Praia de Carvoeiro and you are greeted with this gorgeous beach. You can take the the Carvoeiro boardwalk from Algar seco and it will take you to Nossa Senhora da Encarnação like I stated above, and not too far off, you will end up here. This spot really comes alive at night and you can usually find some music and lively outdoor restaurants.

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BENAGIL

Not only is the beach stunning it is also home of the famous Benagil sea cave!

HOW TO GET TO THE CAVE?

  • Boat Tour 
  • Swim
  • SUP
  • Kayak 

You can easily swim out to the caves from the beach, which I had no idea was possible my first time here. You can also go on a boat tour, which we did on our first visit and see all of the sea caves in the area, but the one closest is definitely the main attraction- the Benagil sea cave (pictured Below). The boat tours last for 1-2 hours and can be combined with dolphin watching tours and, depending on the length of the tour, prices typically range from €25-30. The one we took was a company that you will find right on the Benagil beach. There are also paddle boards and kayaks to rent right on the beach to get out there if you prefer that as well.

LOCATIONS: 

PRAIA DO CAMILLO

This beach is typically what I imagine when I think of the Algarve, it checks all the boxes; dramatic, rugged, and an epic boardwalk; stairway to heaven! This spot does get very crowded during the summer months, as you can see from the photo below.

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PONTA DA PIEDADE

One of most iconic spots in the Algarve! There are tons of little beaches you can hike down to from this spot! (Just make sure to bring tennis shoes.) We had an amazing time exploring all the little coves of this beautiful area! There is a small coffee shop here, Sol Nascente, and to the left of this cafe is where you will find the trails leading down to different beaches.

LOCATIONS: 

WHAT TO EAT?

PIRI-PIRI CHICKEN (FRANGO À GUIA) 

RESTAURANTE GRADE

Ok, so it’s not actually “peri-peri” chicken, but actually called Guia Style chicken, since peri-peri chicken is the spicy Mozambican style version you can find all over Portugal and at restaurant chains like Nando’s or Peri-Peri Factory. Guia style chicken is the Portuguese non-spicy version from a small town near Albufeira. I usually don’t eat out much when travelling to save money and try and to eat a bit healthier, but some spots are worth the indulgence and this place is one of them. This is an absolute must when visiting the Algarve!

Not technically in Lagos however, it’s not too far off and so worth it. Guia is the dish the Algarve is known for and this spot is THE spot to try it at. The best chicken and fries I’ve had in my whole life. It’s like the authentic version of Nando’s but 10x better.

PASTRY SHOP

PASTELARIA RIVERA  

Pasteries are huge in portugal. You can find them on pretty much every corner throughout the country, but what makes them each unique is the pasteries they serve. Each reigion has their own typical pastry. For example, in the center it’s Ovos Moles (Aveiro specifically), Pastel de Belém in the capital, and in the Algarve it is know for its Almond, Fig, and Carob pastries, so make sure you try these while you are here!

One of the best pastry shops in the Algarve, serving the typical Portuguese fare and traditional pastries from the region. Locals come here for the Algarve pastries made of almonds, candied soft eggs, candied string eggs, figs, and carob flour. Pastries like, Dom Rodrigos, Morgadinhos, Cheese Figs, Figs filled with Almonds, and the Marzipan sweets in a variety of shapes and colors, but you’ll also find here, like in any other pastry shop in Portugal, the famous pastel de nata (traditional creamy egg custard poured in a flaky puff pastry crust and baked to perfection!) and Bola de Berlim (the Portuguese version of the Berliner donut).

OTHER NOTABLE LOCATIONS: 

Thanks so much for reading! Let me know below your favorite spots in Lagos or if you have any tips to add, I’d love to hear them!

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