To only have a few days in a location, where there is so much to see, may seem challenging, so we have prepared a 3-day itinerary for Lagos and its surrounding areas, which takes into account the best beaches and restaurants, tours and places to visit. We have compiled this itinerary from a local’s perspective, so hopefully nothing has been left out and this wonderful holiday destination will not easily be forgotten.
Breakfast in “Mar d’Estórias”
Mar d’Estórias is a place you’ll enjoy going to no matter what time of day it is, but there is nothing like starting the morning with the combination of the best fresh, healthy and tasty products. The carob and fig homemade bread is one of its specialities so don’t miss out on some of this, toasted, with butter and jam on it. To really get the most out of this place go up to the roof terrace and feel the morning breeze while you take in the view over the bay of Lagos and some of its important historical monuments. These are only just a few of the reasons to start your day at the new place in Lagos that everyone is talking about.
Walking through the historic town
The city centre is surrounded by medieval and renaissance style walls, thick fortifications that mark the urban and economic development of Lagos since the 16th century.
The Infant Dom Henrique square is probably the most well-known in Lagos and is the central point from where you can reach different points of cultural interest: The Slaves Market, the Santa Maria church, the Governors Castle and the Ponta da Bandeira fortress, located on the “Solaria” pier facing the sea. To the west of the town centre, you’ll find the Santo António church, a highlight amidst the historical monuments in the Algarve due to it being covered in gold. You’ll also come across the Lagos Cultural Centre, which features music performances and art exhibitions.
Running alongside the city centre is the main avenue, whose name comes from the “Discoveries” where you can enjoy pleasant walks alongside the river estuary which leads to the Atlantic Ocean.
Lunch at the restaurant bar “A Lota”
For lunch, we suggest the restaurant-bar “A Lota”, just next to the Lagos train station. This is simply decorated with a relaxing atmosphere and the fish is always fresh and well grilled. We also recommend the tuna steak, which is always a generous portion and is cooked exactly the way you want it. This restaurant is located close to moored fishing boats evoking the feel of an authentic fishing port.
Cocktail in the Lagos Marina
The Marina is located on the east side of the city which catches the afternoon sun. It’s where both sailing and speed boats, of all different sizes and colours are moored and completely framed within one of the best views in town.
The “Amuras” bar is the ideal place to relax and soak up the view while drinking a cocktail and enjoying the music while being waited on by the friendly staff. The large, ceiling to floor, windows provide a generous vantage point to look out on the amazing view. This is undoubtedly one of the town’s hot spots and not to be missed, especially because the Lagos Marina is winner of the Yacht Harbour Association’s 5 Gold Anchors award, IMCI’s 5 blue Stars, the “Euromarina Anchor Award” and the “European Blue Flag”.
Visit the “Ponta da Piedade”
This peninsula, directly translated as the “pity point”, is so called because during the maritime discoveries women would witness their men departing from this headland to the unknown.
To watch the sunset from here is one of the best sights of Lagos, so make sure you don’t miss out.
If you walk from the city centre to the “Ponta da Piedade”, you should also take time to have a look at the beautiful beaches of Dona Ana and Camilo, which are the result of the natural erosion of the majestic cliffs of the Golden Coast. Alternatively you can decide to take the small road train, known locally as the “chora-chora”, which starts at the marina of Lagos and stops at the “Ponta da Piedade” before making its way back to the marina.
Dinner at “Camilo”
When the night starts to draw in, and you start to feel peckish, on your way back stop off at the “Camilo” restaurant, named after the beach it presides over. This time, not only to check-out the view, but also to try one of the best fish and seafood places in town. This modern restaurant has recently been remodelled and adapted to the demands of a larger clientele, with a terrace that is perfect for eating al-fresco on the warmer nights.
You can’t go wrong by choosing any of the fish on offer, whether it is stewed or grilled, but if there is sea bream or sea bass on the menu don’t hesitate in ordering it. These fish are among the most populated that inhabit our waters. To go with the fish there are boiled potatoes basted with olive oil and oregano and a deliciously dressed salad. It will definitely be an unforgettable dinner, right on the on the cliff top with a panoramic view and great food.
Go for a drink in the city centre
Lagos attracts countless tourists from all around the world and is also sought-after by a younger generation, which contributes to the upgrading of the night life in the city. The historic centre has a large number of eclectic bars and night clubs catering for all tastes and budgets, and also welcomes alternative street artists/ buskers, which fill Lagos with a contagious energy.
Stevie Rays is the ideal place if you like good live music. It often hosts different artists and international DJ’s, who fill the dancefloor, especially after a cocktail or two, which are the speciality of the top floor. The bar has a romantic and enigmatic atmosphere, mainly due to the red walls and the elevation of the performance area in relation to the dance floor and the bar. It closes at 4 am, which means you have all night long to enjoy yourself.
Don’t miss out on the same roof terrace we recommended for breakfast, but this time at sunset. “Mar d’Estórias” is a space of commerce of Portuguese products only, and culminates on the roof terrace bar where you can while away very pleasant evenings until it closes at midnight. From cocktails to craft beers, wine by the glass and sparkling wine, coffee and natural juices, this is an ideal place spend your evening. Make sure you try the hot and cold “nibbles” as well as the delicious desserts created by the chef.
urday is market day in Lagos. The local farmers market, located next to the bus station, is the right place to go if you want to buy the freshest organic farmed products – fruits and vegetables, plants, herbal teas, jams, dried fruits, homemade honey, farm eggs and other delicacies.
In addition to acquiring the freshest vegetables and fruit in the city, this weekly event also captures moments of typical Algarve rural life and its local people.
Don’t miss the Municipal market of Lagos, which is split on two levels between a fish and fruit market, where you can also find a great variety of local products such as honey, dried fruits, typical desserts and souvenirs. If you are staying in one of our properties, with a well equipped kitchen, why not do as the locals do and purchase, prepare and grill your own fish?
The trip in the small fishing boats that take you to visit the caves of the Gold Coast should be done early in the morning, so take advantage of that fact you’re in town, after visiting the markets, and book your trip.
If you prefer, you can catch a boat directly from the “Ponta da Piedade” beach or even Dona Ana, which will be skippered by local fisherman who can regale you with stories about Lagos as well as name the rocks and caves along the coast. Normally, these boat tours take approximately one hour.
If you would rather go in the company of something more touristic, but where the boats are also skippered by local people, you should book the tour with “Seafaris”, which is situated in the marina, from where their boats depart. The trip takes one hour and fifteen minutes and costs 12,50€/ person (5€ for children).
To Sagres by jeep
Don’t miss out on an opportunity to explore the west coast and get to know the best beaches, from Lagos to Sagres (Luz, Burgau, Cabanas Velhas, Boca do Rio, Salema, Zavial, Ingrina, Barranco).
One of the options is to rent a car with the “Multirental” Car Hire Company, grab a map and venture off on your own. The other option (and probably, the most sensible) is booking a jeep tour with the company “Natura Tours”. Made up of local guides they will take you to the most stunning places and will make you feel as if you‘re amongst family. Furthermore, the local guides will also provide lunch hampers with delicious homemade chorizo bread, cakes and red/ white wine. It will be hard to beat seeing the sunset from the cliffs in Sagres, with a blanket sheltering your legs from the wind, while enjoying a crunchy chorizo bread and a glass of wine.
Lunch at the “Boia Bar”
On your way to Sagres, don’t forget to stop off at Salema beach, where you’ll find a lovely restaurant at top of the beach, Bóia Bar, with a terrace that allows you to soak up the surrounding atmosphere while cooling off in the sea breeze. Grilled fish and seafood are its specialities. Salema is a typical fishing village, where the small boats bob on the water and the fishing nets are still made by hand.
Sunset in Sagres
Once you reach the most south easterly point of Europe, Cape Saint Vincent in Sagres, don’t forget to hand around to watch one of the most beautiful wonders of the western Algarve - the setting of the sun from the peninsula of Sagres.
Dinner at the restaurant “Ribeira do Poço”
Only 9 km away from Sagres is Vila do Bispo; a council of the Vicentine Coast which boasts amazing beaches such as Castelejo, Cordoama and Barriga. In the centre of the village, immediately before the second roundabout that takes you to the beaches mentioned above, you’ll find a wonderfully cosy restaurant called “Ribeira do Poço”. It has regional and local food including grilled fish, seafood and stews. The space is very tranquil with an eclectic mix of locals’ and tourists.
Lagos is the place to be for nautical wind sports, such as kitesurf, windsurf and sailing. We have already mentioned the beauty of the Gold Coast, with the charming beaches of Batata, Camilo and Dona Ana running along it. Now imagine appreciating this beauty from a sailing boat rippling through the sea and navigated by the wind.
“Southwest Charters” is a private boat charter company with its headquarters on the first floor of the Marina which provides a high quality service and unforgettable moments sailing off the coast of Lagos. You can choose to book a full day, half day, or even a sunset tour. You’ll want for nothing during this experience because they will even provide you with a glass of wine or champagne to help celebrate life, allowing you to sit back and enjoy the intimate, relaxed and picturesque environment.
Lunch in Bahia Beach Bar
Along the Meia Praia bay you’ll find several restaurants and beach bars, but the one we would recommend for an enjoyable lunch is “Bahia Beach Bar”.
It’s a wooden beach bar with a tropical setting that serves delicious lunches. On Sundays, there is the added pleasure of being able to watch bands play live.
Reading and chilling out
If you are staying in one of our wonderful properties in the historic centre of Lagos, such as “Casa das Andorinhas”, then sundown is the perfect time to enjoy the tranquillity of the secluded outdoor patio. Whether reading, listening to music or, simply trying to take a nap, the quiet evenings that can be enjoyed in this traditional Portuguese property are unforgettable. The house was named after the family of swallow’s that adorns the entrance hall wall. Most of the photographs on the walls were taken by the Lagos born man, António Crisógono dos Santos, who also gave his name to the street where the house is located.
Another option where you will likely spend very pleasant moments it’s the apartment named after the historical square where it is located – Apt “Praça d’Armas”. This newly modernised and very chic apartment has been tastefully decorated. The owners have chosen high quality finishing’s and a mix of vintage and modern furnishings giving the apartment a feeling of luxury. Not only is the apartment located within a few steps of everything that you might need but it is also immersed within a historic part of Lagos, with a small south west facing balcony facing the medieval city walls and roman arch.
Don’t forget to visit the Cultural Centre of Lagos where dance performances, music concerts, theatre shows, and art and photography exhibitions can be seen.
The Creative Arts Laboratory (LAC) also deserves special mention for the excellent effort it makes in making sure Lagos always has something of artistic interest to offer, and always of a very high standard. Its headquarters is located where the prison used to be and now the old prison cells are used by resident artists to exhibit their work.
Wherever you walk through the city of Lagos, you’ll come across flashes of artistic expression, especially on the main murals of city buildings where there is some amazing graffiti.This is an initiative of LAC which has brought together several artists from all around the world to express their artistic flare in Lagos.
Make the most of Lagos, and remember, this most southerly city in Portugal is an expert in balancing tourism, with the sun and beaches, with culture, history and art.