Lagos is a small city on the south coast of Portugal, towards the east of the Algarve region. It is well-connected to Faro, the administrative capital of the Algarve, being just one hour’s drive along the highway, or less than two hours on the train.
You can also take a direct bus or train to Lisbon, the country’s capital, although that takes significantly longer.
Lagos is known for its accommodation of tourists, not only for its tourist attractions and popular Marina, but also for its beautiful beaches and nightlife. For such a small city, it really does have everything.
The historical centre is made up of old fashioned cobbled streets lined with shops, restaurants and bars, whilst the coast is filled with sweeping views of limestone cliffs, incredible hidden beaches, and their gorgeous, classy marina. One thing is for sure, that you’ll never run out of things to do in Lagos.
This 48-hour itinerary in Lagos makes the perfect weekend break, or can be included on a longer trip through Portugal, the Algarve or even Spain, too, thanks to its ideal location.
It includes the best time to visit Lagos, how to get around Lagos, and where to stay in Lagos, as well as some of the best things to do in Lagos to make the most of your trip.
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The Best Time to Visit Lagos Portugal
Along with the rest of the Algarve, Lagos is sunny year-round. That being said, it is less stifling than it’s inland counterparts during the summer thanks to a decent Atlantic wind, which can also make it a little chilly during the winter.
It really starts to get warm around late Spring, so a trip at the end of April or May will give you a good chance at some beach-worthy weather. During the summer the temperatures really excel, reaching an average high of 28-29 degrees, but it can be very crowded with tourists around this time.
The best time to visit Lagos is at the end of the summer, in September. The tourists are making a quick departure, but the gorgeous sun is not! This time of year is also best for surfers; the waves coming in from the Atlantic are at their largest, but the water hasn’t yet turned cold.
During the winter months between November and February, Lagos is quiet with average daytime temperatures of 16 degrees celsius and more rain. The nightlife in Lagos and the local music scene also excel during the summer and die down in the winter.
How To Get Around Lagos Portugal
As it’s a small city, you don’t need to be especially fit to get around Lagos on foot. You can walk from the city centre to Ponta da Piedade in under an hour, or reach the beach and the Marina in less than 15 minutes.
If you’re slightly less able to walk, there are regular bus services to make the journey for you. Several buses run from Lagos through surrounding suburbs, taking you to popular nearby locations such as Sagres, Portimão and Alvor.
The Lagos Tourist Train also can’t go without a mention! Although it can be a little slow and is often ridden for a novelty ride, this land train (you know, the kind you get stuck behind on the road) takes an impressively convenient route. It runs all the way from Meia Praia beach to the north of Lagos to Ponta da Piedade, passing through Lagos Old town and stopping by several Lagos beaches.
If private transport is more your thing, taxis and Ubers are very reasonably priced. There is an abundance of places to hire bikes, although don’t forget that many of Lagos’s most beautiful beaches are found at the bottom of a steep set of stairs!
Where To Stay in Lagos Portugal
Lagos Old Town will give you access to the best variety of things to do, but staying by the Marina will make you feel more like you’re on holiday, and it’s closer to Meia Praia beach.
If you’re looking for more of a party vibe, you’ll prefer to stay near Batata Beach, the closest beach to the city centre and the one known for its nightlife.
If you’re into surfing, stay towards Porto de Mós, a suburban town with direct links to the city centre as well as the surfing beaches.
Olive Hostel Lagos – There aren’t many hostels to choose from in Lagos, but thankfully Olive Hostel is here to save the day! It is by far the best-rated and most affordable hostel in Lagos, and located right in the centre of the Old Town.
Individual beds start from 25 €, or private rooms are around 50 €. Although this isn’t the cheapest of hostels, it’s worth it for the quality they offer.
Casa Luma B&B – This mid-range hotel is situated in Lagos Old Town, where you’ll never miss out on the action.
This family run bed and breakfast comes complete with a shared lounge and terrace and, of course, free breakfast. This luxurious guesthouse is the perfect spot for your 2 days in Lagos for just 64 € per night.
Tivoli Lagos – Tivoli Lagos is an upmarket hotel in Lagos just off of the Marina, bringing you closer to the high-end restaurants and bars found in this area.
They have a spa, swimming pool and two restaurants on site, and they run a free shuttle service to their private beach club on Meia Praia beach. Tivoli Lagos gives you the epitome of luxury from just 70 € per night off-season, or 103 € per night on-season.
What To Do in Lagos Portugal
Take in the views at Ponta da Piedade
Ponta da Piedade is a unique rock formation on the Algarve coast, just 3km from Lagos. You can walk to it from the city centre in less than an hour, and even include a stroll along the beach on your way!
The rough waves from the Atlantic Sea clashing with the soft limestone cliffs has created these unique, stunning views. You can take the steps down to sea level and marvel up at the surrounding cliffs, or simply take in the incredible sights from the top.
Taste the local cuisine at the Marina
You’ll find many cuisines along Lagos Marina (they do love to take care of their tourists!), but you should definitely try traditional Portuguese food at least once during your trip.
Of course, thanks to its unrivalled access to the coast, food in the Algarve revolves heavily around fish, including dishes such as cataplana (fish stew), grilled sardines and ‘conquilhas’ (clams).
Places to Visit in Lagos Portugal
Mercado de Escravos
Reported to be the first slave market in Europe, the Mercado de Escravos was turned into a museum by Lagos city council in 2016.
It is now a memorial of the forgotten and an acknowledgement of Europe’s past mistakes, shining light on an important piece of European history.
The Portugal based International Observatory of Human Rights awarded this museum the award for “International Centre for Living Memory of Human Dignity” in 2018. Mercado de Escravos is in the town centre, close to many other museums and attractions.
Castelo de Lagos
Governor’s Castle, or Castelo de Lagos, is of course Lagos’s castle. It was badly damaged during the earthquake of 1755, but there is still plenty to see amongst the remains.
The castle is a key part of Lagos’s history, which you can discover on the information boards within. You will also see many ruins of the city walls that surrounded Lagos all over the city, and they can all be traced back to the castle.
Benagil Cave is so popular that you can take boat trips there from many locations within the Algarve, and Lagos is no exception.
There are many trips to choose from, some of which will let you explore the hidden beach inside the cave or jump off the boat to go snorkelling and paddleboarding, as long as the waves aren’t too high.
Benagil Cave in particular is famous for the distinctive hole in its roof, and it is so large it is sometimes referred to as Benagil Cathedral.
Igreja de Santo Antônio
Igreja de Santo Antônio, or St Anthony’s Church in English, has some of the finest gilded woodwork in Portugal.
The entire church is covered in Baroque-style artwork, so extravagant that the Roman Catholic church is classified as a national monument. It houses six paintings depicting the life of St Anthony, with information in English and Portuguese.
Supposedly, the church is so elegantly decorated thanks to the many explorers that prayed here before a long voyage, attributed it to their safe return, and then showered it with riches.
Tours To Do in Lagos Portugal
Speed Boat Tour to Benagil Cave
Speed boat tours to Benagil Cave leave from several Lagos beaches, including Meia Praia and Praia Dona Ana, as well as Lagos Marina.
Although Benagil Cave is the largest and most unique of the caves in this area, they will take you to many different locations and tell you the history and legends of each.
This tour takes you into the Atlantic Ocean where waves can be big, so although this tour is completely safe, be prepared for a bumpy ride!
Algarve Wine Tasting Tour
The Algarve is known for its fine wines, and the Lagos region is home to some great vineyards and wineries.
A half-day wine tasting tour will take you out of the city and into the countryside to sample not only the local wine and tapas, but some of the region’s best views, too.
You can usually get your transport, guide, admission fee and samples all included for around 50 €. And the best bit? They’ll be your designated driver!
Jeep Safari or Quad Bike Adventure
Depending on how adventurous you’re feeling, a jeep safari or quad bike day trip is a great way to explore the local area. It is worth a special mention in the tours section of this guide as it’s generally not something you can do yourself.
At least, I don’t know of any quad bike rentals in Lagos! These tours will either drive or guide you through the beautiful landscapes of the Lagos region with a little more adventure than you’d get in a car.
48 Hours in Lagos Portugal
Day 1 in Lagos
On day 1 of your 48 hours in Lagos, you’ll start as you mean to go on with your speedboat tour of Benagil Cave. You’ll get up to some high speeds and see some incredible sights to get you going for the day.
Once you’re taken back to Lagos Old Town, it’ll be time to wander the cobbled streets and find some traditional Portuguese food for lunch.
In the afternoon, you’ll have plenty of time to explore the local museums – Lagos Ciência Viva Science Centre is best for families and children, or Mercado de Escravos if you want to find out about the history of Lagos.
Next, you’ll head to Ponta da Piedade, either on foot (30 to 40 minutes) or by Tourist Train (definitely worth the 4 € ticket!).
If you’re visiting early or late in the year, you might just catch one of the most breathtaking sunsets of your life. Head back into town for dinner, and then wander around the Marina for the evening, stopping in for drinks or simply marvelling at the view.
Day 2 in Lagos
Your two days in Lagos will continue this morning with one of the most incredible beach adventures.
Starting at Praia Dona Ana, not far from the centre, you’ll find a series of small beaches, each connected by tunnels and archways carved into the limestone cliffs that separate them. You’ll find yourself emerging from complete darkness into the dazzling sunshine like you’re in Alice in Wonderland.
After lunch at one of many cafes sprawling the beach, it’s time for your wine tour. You’ll get to explore more of the surrounding areas of Lagos whilst tasting some of the region’s finest wines and dining on local cuisine. After such a packed two-day itinerary in Lagos, it’s time to kick back a little!
Recommended tours in Lagos Portugal
- Tour to go inside the Ponta da Piedade Caves/Grottos and see the beaches – Lagos
- Fast Adventure to the Benagil Caves on a Speedboat – Starting at Lagos
- Half-Day Lagos Golden Coast Cruise with Lunch
- Swim and Chill at Benagil
- Small-Group Day Tour of Silves and Monchique with Wine Tasting
- Small group Wine Tasting Tour from Lagos
- Sunset Sagres & Jeep off-road Algarve Natural Park West Coast secret spot tour
- Sealife Sea Safari, Dolphin Watching with Marine Biologist’s Lagos
- Small-Group Quad Adventure in Lagos