Beach with tall yellow cliffs and rock formations at Ponta da Piedade, Lagos

25 Best Things to Do in Lagos, Portugal

Nestled on the Algarve coast in the south of Portugal, Lagos is a laid-back town with incredible beaches, whitewashed buildings, tiled pavements, and a charming historic quarter.

By day the town center may feel quite sleepy, but that’s because people are sleeping off their hangovers. Come nightfall Lagos really comes alive with the sound of music blaring from the bars and tourists dining al fresco in the streets.

Most articles on things to do in Lagos seem to cover only the major landmarks and beaches, but Lagos is so much more than sightseeing. A visit to Lagos is also about relaxing on the beautiful beaches, making new friends, eating delicious Portuguese food and enjoying the vibrant nightlife.

Lagos is known to be THE backpacker party town of the Algarve, with tons of bars and amazing restaurants. Many of the bars are run by Brits and Aussies who came to Lagos on backpacking trips and never left.

There are tons of great backpacker hostels here, as well as guesthouses and hotels, so there’s something to suit all tastes and budgets. While it’s an incredibly popular Algarve destination, Lagos still hasn’t succumb to mass tourism and has managed to retain its authentic Portuguese character and charm. Alongside trendy bars and funky eateries you’ll find traditional Portuguese cafes where you can sit and enjoy a galao (coffee) and a pastel de nata.

After sightseeing in the larger cities of Porto and Lisbon, Lagos is a welcome change of scenery, catering to those who are looking for sun, sea and relaxation. It’s one of those places that makes you never want to leave, and many people end up rebooking their flights home just to stay a bit longer.

After visiting Lagos for the first time, I fell in love with the place and ended up getting a bartending job so I could spend a summer there. I’ve been back countless times and it’s one of my favorite places in Europe. I’ve lost count of the number of times someone said they were “leaving” Lagos, only to show up at the beach again the very next day.

So sit back, stay a while, and enjoy some of these top things to do in Lagos. On the list you’ll find a mix of beaches, historic sights and some of my favorite places to eat and drink.

Batata Beach

Praia da Batata beach in Lagos, Portugal

Portugal is known for its beautiful beaches, and Lagos has plenty of them. Batata Beach is a sandy beach located right by Old Town, just a stone’s throw from all the bars and restaurants.

Due to its convenient location, this tends to be the most popular beach with visitors who are staying in hostels and guesthouses in the center of Lagos. All you have to do is stumble out of bed, pack a picnic and make the short walk to the golden sands of Batata Beach.

Nestled between stunning cliffs, it provides a perfect spot for sunbathing or a leisurely swim. The beach is sheltered, so there are very few waves, making it a safe place for children to swim. The only downside to this beach is that it can get pretty crowded in summertime, but it’s a fun spot for people watching.

On the left side is a long pier, which is used for launching kayaks and small boats. At the back of the beach is a small beach bar called Batata Beach Bar, which serves snacks and drinks.

Praia Dona Ana Beach

Praia Dona Ana beach with turquoise blue sea in Lagos, Portugal

Praia Dona Ana Beach is a true gem where golden cliffs meet stunning turquoise waters, creating a picture-perfect setting for a relaxing day. This friendly beach is famous for its intriguing rock formations and grottoes, just waiting for you to discover and explore.

Locals and tourists all adore the charming atmosphere, and you’ll find plenty of water sports to jump into, no matter your appetite for adventure. So, if you’re looking for an unforgettable beach experience with a warm, welcoming vibe, make sure to put Praia Dona Ana on your Algarve itinerary.

Planning a trip to the Algarve? Check out my guide to the best bars in Lagos, as well as these popular day trips from Faro. If you plan on exploring more of the country, check out my itineraries for 3 days in Lisbon and 7 Days in Portugal. I’ve also written a useful guide to the best souvenirs you can buy in Lisbon.

Meia Praia Beach

Meia Praia Beach, one of the largest beaches in Lagos, stretches over 4km and is distinguished by its golden sands and clear, calm waters, making it an ideal spot for swimming and beach activities. Its extensive coastline offers plentiful space for sun seekers, complemented by a backdrop of gorgeous dunes.

The beach is well-served by vibrant beach bars and restaurants, offering local cuisine and refreshing drinks. There are a number of large, modern hotels along this beach, including Palmares Beach House Hotel, Hotel Vila Gale and Iberostar Selection Lagos.

Praia do Camilo Beach

Wooden walkway to Praia do Camilo in Lagos, Portugal

Praia do Camilo Beach is your perfect chill-out spot that boasts breath-taking views, stunning cliffs, and a quaint cove of golden sand.

This cozy, little beach is tucked away between towering rock formations, creating a fantastic backdrop for those Instagram-worthy shots. A hearty climb down (and later up!) the wooden staircase is part of the fun and the views from the top are worth every step. The clear aqua waters are a dream for swimmers and snorkelers. Coupled with its laid-back atmosphere, Camilo Beach promises an amazing day of seaside bliss.

Praia do Porto de Mos

Porto de Mos beach in Lagos, Portugal

Praia do Porto de Mós is one of Lagos, Portugal’s longer stretches of beach, displaying a beautiful expanse of golden sand framed by impressive cliffs.

Renowned for its serene environment and less crowded atmosphere, it’s a favored spot for those seeking tranquility away from the typical beach hustle. The encompassing multi-hued cliffs add a distinctive character, making it a pictorial delight.

Porto de Mós is also popular among surfers due to favorable wave conditions. Accompanied by a number of high-quality beachfront restaurants, this beach offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and convenience.

Learn to Surf with Surf Experience

Fancy learning to surf? The Surf Experience is a popular surf school and camp centrally located in the town of Lagos. It’s been open since 1992 and has taught countless people of all skill levels to surf. Guests can choose from a variety of accommodation options including The Surf House, private en suite rooms or hotel accommodation nearby.

A typical day at the surf school involves meeting for a homemade breakfast in the main surf house, before loading the trucks and heading to the beach for a day of surfing lessons taught by skilled instructors.

Duna Beach Club

Sun, sand, and fun – that’s what you can expect at the Duna Beach Club in Lagos. Located right on Meia Praia, one of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal, this trendy spot offers a refreshing break from the everyday hustle. Whether you want to soak up some sun, enjoy a cool dip in the pool, or have a delightful meal at their restaurant, Duna Beach Club has got you covered. As the sun sets, the club comes alive with music, transforming it into a lively venue for late-night enjoyment. Ready for an unforgettable beach experience?

Greja de Santo Antonio

Church of San Antonio in the city of Lagos, Portugal, side view and reflected in the water.

The Igreja de Santo António in Lagos is a true gem of Portuguese religious architecture. Far from your ordinary church, its magnificent Baroque style, intricate gilded woodwork and stunning azulejos (tiles) will steal your breath away. Beyond its beauty lies history: built in the 18th century, it witnessed earthquakes and reconstruction. It interestingly houses the José Formosinho Museum, which features a number of local historical and archaeological artefacts.

Dr. José Formosinho Museum

Immerse yourself in Portugal’s rich cultural heritage at the Dr. José Formosinho Museum in Lagos. Housed within the beautiful church of Santo António, this captivating museum displays an extensive collection of archeological findings, traditional artwork, and religious artifacts. From prehistoric remains to Baroque art and an intricate gilded wood interior, the museum offers a unique insight into the region’s past.

Wander the Streets of the Old Historic Quarter

Plaza de Luis de Camóes in the old historic quarter of Lagos, Portugal

Charming visitors and exuding a distinct character, the picturesque Old Town of Lagos, Portugal, is a delightful maze of winding cobblestone streets, whitewashed buildings, and vibrant squares. The town is steeped in history, evident in its enchanting city walls, remnants of the era of Portugal’s great explorers.

The delightful restaurants, quaint cafes, and bustling plazas nestled amidst stunning architecture help create an irresistible atmosphere. Be it the church of Santo António, the fascinating slave market museum, or the lively nightlife, the Old Town of Lagos enthralls as a quintessential taste of Portuguese culture and heritage.

Have Lunch by the Marina

Aerial view of Lagos marina

Sandwiched between Lagos old town and Meia Praia beach lies the Marina de Lagos – a modern marina filled with elegant yachts.

Opened in 1994, the marina sits right next to the train station and is the launching point for yacht charters and tours of the Algarve coast. Spend an afternoon here soaking in the panoramic harbor view and grab lunch at Restaurante Adega da Marina, which serves delicious seafood and clams bulhao pato.

Jardim da Constituicao

Tucked away in the heart of Lagos, Jardim da Constituição offers a serene escape from the surrounding city bustle. This well-maintained public park is a wonderful place to relax, boasting lush greenery, vibrant flowers and comfortable benches under shading trees. Statues and a central fountain accentuate its charm, while the nearby playground delights the younger visitors. With plenty of local restaurants and cafes in walking distance, Jardim da Constituição proves an ideal pit-stop for a leisurely lunch or coffee. A truly delightful area, offering a peaceful haven amidst the vibrancy of Lagos.

Fort Ponta da Bandeira

Fort Ponta da Banderia and the town of Lagos, Portugal seen from above

Located near Lagos’ famous Praia da Batata, Fort Ponta da Bandeira is a well-preserved 17th-century fortification that once protected the city from pirates. Blending fascinating history with striking maritime views, this fort features a unique square layout, bastions at each corner, and a small chapel dedicated to Santa Barbara within. The wide terrace at the top offers sweeping views of the sea and Lagos, while the downstairs rooms host rotating exhibitions. Visiting Fort Ponta da Bandeira offers a worthwhile peek into Portugal’s maritime past in a picturesque seaside setting.

Church of Santa Maria de Lagos

Church of Santa Maria, Lagos Portugal

The Church of Santa Maria de Lagos, sitting regally in central Lagos, Portugal, bears witness to the city’s religious and architectural history.

Initially a humble 15th-century chapel, it has evolved through centuries into a grand church, its beautiful facade belying the simple interior. Inside, the gilded altar attracts attention, while locally crafted statues add charm. The church also has a historical spirit, its location right at the site of the old slave market, hinting at a darker past.

Slave Market Museum – Mercado de Escravos

Slave market museum in Lagos, Portugal

A poignant reminder of a darker past, the Mercado de Escravos (Slave Market) in Lagos offers visitors an opportunity to explore the history of the transatlantic slave trade. Housed in the same location as the original 15th-century slave market, this small museum showcases artifacts, multimedia, and informative panels detailing the slave trade’s impact on Portugal and Africa. The thought-provoking experience affords insight into the lives of enslaved people and their role in shaping modern Lagos. A visit to the Mercado de Escravos is an essential educational experience, paying tribute to an important, if dark, chapter in history.

Kayaking to the Ponta da Piedade Caves

Ponta da Piedade Caves in Lagos, Portugal

In Lagos, your adventure isn’t complete without a kayaking trip to the Ponta da Piedade Caves. Glide through the crystal clear water, beholding remarkable rock formations, hidden grottoes, and secluded beaches that will take your breath away.

The highlight is the awe-inspiring sea caves, whose beauty is amplified by the sunlight reflecting from the water, creating an otherworldly aura. This experience caters for all skill levels, ensuring even beginners can marvel at this natural spectacle. The Kayaking trip to the Ponta da Piedade Caves is truly a nature lover’s paradise.

Breakfast at Cafe Odeon

Cafe Odeon is a hole-in-the-wall breakfast spot that’s super popular with Lagos locals and tourists. This no-frills spot serves delicious Full English breakfasts to hungover customers who are on their way to the beach. Prices here are super cheap, so it’s the perfect spot to grab brekkie if you’re visiting Lagos on a budget.

Have a Beer at 3 Monkeys

3 Monkeys Bar is an institution in Lagos. Owned by long-time Lagos resident Kendall, 3 Monkeys is a famous backpacker bar, known for its beer bongs and fun party vibes. An hour or so here and you’ll soon find yourself dancing on the bar. It’s that kind of place!

Have Dinner at Casinha do Petisco

There are tons of great restaurants in Lagos, but if you want to go where the locals eat, check out Casinha do Petiscos. This no-frills spot serves authentic Portuguese cuisine with large portions, so make sure you come with an empty stomach. On the menu you’ll find cataplana (stew cooked in a clamshell shaped cooking pot), grilled fish, seafood and a variety of meat dishes.

Dance the Night Away at InsideOut

When many of the bars close, most partygoers head to InsideOut, which is open till 4am. InsideOut is a crowded bar with good tunes, a wild dance floor and a fun party atmosphere. The bar is known for its fishbowl cocktails and 2 for 1 drinks before midnight.

Fine Dining at Don Sebastião

Don Sebastião is mentioned in the Michelin guide and for good reason. This Portuguese restaurant is located on a main thoroughfare in Lagos (Rua 25 de Abril) and serves some of the best food in town. Their filet mignon with mushroom sauce is to die-for, as are their grilled king prawns.

The restaurant has been open since 1979, and is known for its excellent service. You really can’t go wrong with this spot for a special occasion. It has an extensive wine list and an underground wine cellar, plus two large dining rooms and a dining area on the cobblestone streets. At the end of your meal, coffee and port are always served accompanied by a basket of figs and almonds.

Romantic Dinner at No Patio

If you’re looking to have dinner with a romantic atmosphere, check out No Patio, which serves amazing, creative food in an intimate courtyard garden setting. The narrow entrance makes it easy to miss, but once you’re inside you’ll discover the pretty patio from which the restaurant takes its name.

Parque Aventura

Parque Aventura, Lagos, Portugal

Get ready for an action-packed day at Parque Aventura, located in Lagos, Portugal. This exciting adventure park offers visitors the opportunity to conquer various obstacle courses set high up among the trees. With electrifying ziplines and challenging trails, you’ll experience the great outdoors like never before, all while enjoying the park’s scenic natural beauty. Designed for a wide range of ages and fitness levels, Parque Aventura ensures safety for everyone.

Zoo de Lagos

Zoo de Lagos in Portugal is an eco-conscious animal park offering a delightful experience to wildlife enthusiasts. It hosts a diverse range of animals from different parts of the world, housed in comfortable environments simulating their natural habitats. Notable attractions include monkeys, tropical birds, reptiles, and a petting farm for kids. Educational programs and feeding times provide an interactive, educational experience to visitors. With its lush gardens, picnic areas, and play zones, Zoo de Lagos truly is a good place to go if you’re visiting Lagos with kids.

Lagos Living Science Center

Ready to have some fun while learning cool science stuff? The Lagos Living Science Center is a dynamic platform for scientific learning and exploration.

This modern, interactive museum is a treat for kids and adults alike, featuring a collection of hands-on exhibits, creative workshops, and engaging presentations on various scientific disciplines.

From diving into deep-space mysteries at the planetarium to inspiring your inner scientist at interactive experiment stations, the center makes science accessible and fun.

Where to Stay in Lagos

Hotels

Belmar Spa & Beach Resort: A luxury resort offering exceptional service, comfort, and abundant amenities including spa services, a fitness center, and stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Cascade Wellness Resort: Renowned for its elegant rooms, wellness facilities, and golf academy, it offers a serene getaway with splendid views of the surrounding coastline.

Lagos Avenida Hotel: Perfectly located, this hotel impresses with its sleek, modern design, rooftop pool, and marvelous views of the marina and the sea.

Vila Gale Lagos: A family-friendly hotel with wide-ranging facilities including a massive outdoor pool, kid’s club, and a health club.

Iberostar Selection Lagos Algarve: Located near Meia Praia Beach, this hotel offers upscale rooms, a golf course, spa, and superb dining options.

Hostels

Rising Cock Party Hostel: This lively hostel is known for its social atmosphere and hostel-organized parties. The beach is a mere stroll away, making it perfect for beach-goers and nightlife enthusiasts.

JJ’s Yard: A relaxed, friendly hostel, JJ’s Yard offers both dorms and private rooms. Its central location in Lagos gives easy access to beaches, restaurants, and nighttime hotspots.

Bura Surfhouse: A haven for surfers and beach lovers, Bura Surfhouse combines fun and comfort. It boasts good vibes, a rooftop terrace, a pool, and even organizes surf trips.

Banana Beach House: Offering a cozy, home-like feel, Banana Beach House is just a few minutes walk from the beach. It provides a social atmosphere, communal kitchen, and comfortable dorms.

Olive Hostel Lagos: This charming hostel is situated in Lagos’ city center, providing a laid-back atmosphere, clean facilities, and relaxed garden area for socializing.

TopCity Hostel & Suites: A clean and modern hostel near the city centre, TopCity offers dormitory rooms and private suites. It’s praised for friendly staff, a nice garden, and convenient location close to local attractions.

Best Time to Visit Lagos

Kayaks on the beach in Lagos, Portugal

The best time to visit Lagos, Portugal, is during summer, from June to September, when the weather is consistently warm, perfect for beach activities and exploring the beautiful old town. At this time of year all the bars and restaurants are open and the town is a hive of activity.

For those aiming to avoid larger crowds and benefit from slightly milder conditions, May and October provide pleasant alternatives. From November through Easter, while experiencing cooler, sometimes rainy weather, visitors can still enjoy a quieter Lagos, offering the chance to experience local life, savour regional cuisines, and immerse oneself in the rich history and culture undisturbed. Winter in Lagos is pretty quiet, but there’s still a sizeable local population with some places still open year-round.

A Final Word

While there are a few historic sites to see in Lagos, the main activities here center around beaches, restaurants and nightlife. It’s the sort of place you want to top up your tan, relax, and not plan too much. It’s definitely one of the best towns to visit on the Algarve and a must-do if you’re visiting Portugal.

Book Your Trip

Don’t forget travel insurance: Heymondo is the best travel insurance company and offers affordable policies. Safetywing is perfect for long-term travelers and digital nomads.

Book your flights: Find cheap flights using Google Flights or Skyscanner. To get travel deals sent straight to your inbox, sign up for Going or Jack’s Flight Club. Download the Hopper app for their algorithm-powered price predictions.

Booking your accommodation: I use Booking.com to book all my hotels. Their Genius loyalty program allows you to earn reward credits no bookings and 10%-20% off hotel prices. You can also try Google Hotels and TripAdvisor to search prices across a variety of sites. Agoda is the best site for booking hotels in Asia.

Use your phone abroad: Purchase an Airalo eSIM so you can avoid hefty data roaming charges while traveling.

Travel on a budget: Staying in hostels is a great way to meet people and is best if you’re on a budget. You can find plenty of awesome hostels with Hostelworld.

Find Tours: For day tours and multi-day trips I always use GetYourGuide and Viator.

Rental Cars: Search the best rental car deals on Rentalcars.com or Discover Cars.

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