Lagos is situated on a beautiful stretch of Portugese coast. Gifted as a birthday surprise to me, the trip was a great choice and a welcome end to the British winter. In early April the weather there was great for exploring, not too hot for walking but not too cold for the beach.
Accessed from Faro airport, it is a 1.5 hour train ride from Faro. The Algarve coast has several resorts but Lagos stood out for us as the one with the most natural beauty.
As you go further to the west from Lagos the cliffs get higher and the the landscapes more wild till you reach the headland of Farol do Cabo de São Vicente with its lighthouse guarding the busy shipping lane out to sea.
Between Faro and Lagos there are a number of resorts with beaches that can be stopped off at on the way to Lagos. Faro itself is set back from the sea behind an island, but there are beaches just to the south of the city not too far away. It’s worth spending a couple of hours there to just look round before catching the train. It’s the biggest city on the Algarve and there are a number of historic buildings to see.
You arrive in Lagos by train on the opposite side of the estuary from the town near the Meia Praia / São Roque beach. You may want to head straight to your hotel to drop off your luggage but it’s worth heading back to this beach at some point. It’s pretty nice and has a couple of beach bars and restaurants so you can spend some time there.
There is a footbridge across the estuary channel so you don’t have to walk all the way round, and you can use this to reach the main town. The port has a number of boat tours around the coast and there is also canoe hire close to the seaward end of the channel.
On the south west side of the channel runs the Avenue dos Descobrimentos, a long boulevard heading down to the river mouth. At the end of the avenue there is the small fort by the sea, and the Castelo de Lagos is a larger castle on the other side of the road.
Our best days were walking south of the city out to the Ponta da Piedade area which has amazing cliff formations and beaches and coves getting there and more beaches out to the west of the headland. There are many boat tours that will give you a sea view of the cliffs and beaches, and will land at some of them for swimming. Canoes are also a great way to see the cliffs and are highly recommended as the sea views are spectacular.
The beaches have beautiful golden yellow sand and the cliffs also are yellow sandstone. There are nooks and crannies to explore in the cliffs and some of the beaches are linked by natural tunnels in the rock formations. You reach the beaches from the top of the cliffs down a fair number of steps. You can snorkel around the rocks, but you may not see too many fish.
The town is picturesque, with lots of alleyways to explore between the white painted houses. We were there close to a week and there was plenty to see and do with lots of nice bars and restaurants to hunt out. Lagos has kept its charm perhaps because it is right out at the end of the Algarve and has to be one of the top places in Portugal for a visit.
Main image by Jerome Bon at Flickr (cc).