If you’re planning your itinerary for a pending trip to Portugal, your approach probably goes as follows: Firstly, you can’t miss the capital, Lisbon, with its plentiful miradouros and pastel buildings, if only because it’s the cheapest to fly into. A day trip to Sintra to see all the castles and palatial estates is an absolute must. Then you add the charmingly gritty Porto in because you want to eat yourself into a cheesy coma on sandwiches like cachorrinhos and francesinhas that this northern city is known for.
You can probably fit one more locale comfortably into your schedule but the question is, what’s missing that will make or break the ultimate trip to Portugal? Duh! What’s a vacation without sun-soaked beaches to frolic on?!
Lagos in particular is a choice pick. Head south to this gorgeous coastal town in Portugal’s Algarve region, known for some of the country’s most glorious, golden beaches, sweeping cliffs, scalloped coastlines and hidden coves.
Throw a couple of scandalous bathers into your suitcase, learn how to properly pronounce “Lagos” (LAH-gosh) and grab a pen. I’m sharing everything you need to know – where to eat, what to do, where to stay, how to get here – about visiting Lagos.
If you’re going to Portugal, chances are that you’re flying into the vibrant capital, Lisbon. From there, there are several options for getting to Lagos in the southern Algarve region:
✈️ Fly: Catch a 1-hour flight into Faro (under $100) and get a transfer to Lagos
🚆 Bus or Train: For the budget-conscious, it’s and costs about $30 – 50
🚗 Drive: Rent a car and drive down in just under 3 hours
Where To Stay
Lagos Old Town is conveniently situated 5-10 minutes walking distance of several gorgeous beaches as well as to a plethora of drool-worthy restaurants and bars (as if I had the energy to party after a full day of exploring but hey, I’m ambitious like that).
I’ve heard that the Lagos Marina is also a great area to stay in but Old Town is more budget-friendly.
+ Guest House Enseada: A cozy 3-story town house in the heart of Lagos, it’s a zen getaway with all-white decor with plenty of lush plants
+ Apartamentos Pinhão: Spotlessly clean with lovely and helpful hosts, this spot is perfect for couples and oh-so close to the best beaches
+ Apartamentos Marvela: Right next to Apartamentos Pinhão, it overlooks the Lagos Bay and Monchique Mountains and has lots of light and modern furniture
where to eat
+ Casa do Prego: From the friendly service to the delicious food, I can see why this eatery is one of the more popular restaurants in Lagos. As expected from reviews, there was about a 20-minute wait so we spent it sipping refreshing white porto tonicos on the rooftop. The standout dish were the prawns stir-fried in garlic, chilli and white wine.
+ Coffee & Waves: Serving up the best coffee in town, good luck snagging a coveted seat alongside a row of surfboards at this hipster café. Nosh on grain toast slathered in peanut butter, topped with strawberry, banana and shredded coconut or grab a fresh smoothie to go.
+ Cantinho do Petisco: A casual and relaxed spot to catch a snack on your way to or from the beach. I loved the spicy chicken livers and the creamy mushrooms dish, served with fresh hunks of bread to soak up all the sauce.
+ Ol’ Bastard’s: If you’re getting weary of Portuguese cuisine, check out this hip fish and chips joint. Start with jalapeño poppers (SO YUM) and fries with Guinness gravy before digging into a trio of fish tacos with all the trimmings. Don’t forget a pineapple mojito!
+ Tropical Lounge: Start your day right with a light and healthy breakfast on the rooftop terrace with avocado and scrambled eggs croissant or a smoothie bowl brimming with fruits.
What to do
+ Benagil Caves: My main motivation for venturing so far south in Portugal was to visit the stunning Benagil Caves. Located just around the corner from Benagil Beach, upon entering the cove is a hollow dome with a gaping hole in the top where light streams through, illuminating a stretch of sand.
You can rent a kayak or stand-up paddle board and head over solo or go with a tour. After my own experience stand-up paddle boarding to the Benagil Caves, I definitely don’t recommend the activity if you are co-ordination impaired…
+ Jeep Safari Tour: Explore the rugged Algarve coast from one end to the other on an adventurous jeep safari tour. A guide will pick you up in a sturdy vehicle and take you on a journey climbing hills and valleys, along the Arade River, to Sítio das Fontes a park where you can jump in the natural pools to cool off.
Wander the quaint streets of the oldest town in the Algarve, Silves, and admire the azulejo tiles while enjoying pastéis de nata gelato. Yes, pastéis de nata gelato.
+ Ponta da Piedade: A gorgeous way to spend a morning in Lagos is heading along the coastline to this scenic point to view one of the finest natural features of the Algarve. Stand at the edge of the cliffs of Ponta da Piedade and look out and the endless stretch of water framed by a dramatic, jagged cluster of limestone rock formations.
+ Praia Dona Ana: If you’re looking for a quick trip to the beach, Praia Dona Ana is the closest to town. There’s plenty of space to lay your towel between colourful cliffs and the clear Atlantic waters.
+ Praia do Camilo: Steep wooden stairs wind down to a modest spit of sand nestled between towering cliffs and coves. A little further away than Dona Ana and nearby Ponte de Piedade, it’s guaranteed to take your breath away at first sight. Around midday it’s a lively (but packed) scene so if you want the beach to yourself, head over early in the morning.
+ Praia da Marinha: Probably the most emblematic and beautiful beach in Portugal (and my favourite), Praia da Marinha is quite a ways away from Lagos Old Town but is a mere 10-minute drive from the Benagil Caves. Take a little hike around the cliffs for a bird’s eye view before heading to the beach below.
+ Praia Batata: Our Uber driver informed us that batata means “potato” in Portuguese. Why is this beach named after a root vegetable? Beats me. Not the prettiest of the beaches but conveniently close enough to town to grab a couple of Sagres and chill near the harbour.
If you’re craving vitamin D and feeling kind of like a neglected plant that’s been depraved of sunlight, Lagos is the answer to your pasty-skinned problems!
Angst-ing over how to fit Lagos into your trip? Don’t worry because I got you with this 10-day curated itinerary of Portugal.
Keep your stalking game strong and follow me @teriaki if you aren’t already!