The ancient maritime town of Lagos is one of the most popular destinations in the Algarve. Stepped in history and culture this comes as little surprise when you realise how much there is to do and see here. Famed for its beautiful sandy beaches, Lagos also has attractions ranging from museums and art galleries to restaurants and bars, this town really has something for everyone; especially scuba divers.
Logistically, Lagos is ideally suited to visit for a diving holiday; having amongst the best diving sites in the Algarve right on its doorstep. It's only 10 minutes by boat from the mouth of the river to the nearby Ocean revival wreck sites, and even closer to the excellent reefs that line the surrounding coastline. Lagos also sees generally excellent conditions all year round, making it an ideal choice for a cheap winter getaway.
There is much to do here apart from the diving as well, with activities and sights that should appeal to a broad range of interests. For people who like to mix in a bit of going out into their diving holiday, Lagos is famed for its vibrant summer nightlife. There is not just one strip of bars that act as a horrible tourist trap, instead there are lively and friendly bars dotted right across the town that are all open up until 2 or 4am; giving you plenty of time to explore the winding streets trying to find as many as you can. For the more gastronomically minded, the town has literally hundreds of restaurants to choose from, and although the Portuguese cuisine is excellent, there are also lots of other options available; from Thai and Japanese to Indian and Mexican, or Italian, or Chinese... the list goes on and on, making eating out a great part of the culture of Lagos.
For days not spent underwater, here is a selection of the long list of things to do and see her in Lagos:
Things to do when not diving
The Beaches: Lagos is famous for its beaches. The options range from Meia Praia, one of the longest beaches in Europe, to the many little beaches hidden amongst the mile of cliffs that run from the mouth of the river to the lighthouse. There are about 20 of them, depending on the tide, so have fun exploring.
Wakeboarding and Kiteboarding: In the early morning there tends to be no wind around Lagos. This makes for ideal wakeboarding conditions in the surrounding bay. Later on the wind tends to pick up, so you can swap wakeboarding boat for a kite.
Boat trips: There are several types of boat trips you can take. From short grotto boat trips that take you around the caves and grottos between the river mouth and lighthouse, to fishing and dolphin trips which can take you miles out to sea on whale and dolphin watching trips. There are also BBQ boat coastal cruises as well as booze cruises throughout the summer months.
Surfing: The surfing on the south and west coasts of Portugal are regarded as some of the best in the world. With the world record wave having been recently surfed in Nazare on the west coast. Due to Lagos' proximity to these surfing spots, there are several surf schools, camps and safaris that operate in the town. They provide daily surf trips and lessons throughout the year.
Mountain Biking: The downhill mountain biking industry in the Algarve is steadily growing, and looking at the surrounding landscape, it's easy to see why. There a several mountain biking companies operating in Lagos that can take you to the best trails and spots in the area, catering for all experience levels, from beginner to pro.
Kayaking: If you prefer a more sporty and eco-friendly way to see the grottos and explore the hidden beaches, this is for you. There are daily guided kayaking trips that take you right along the coast, much like the grotto boats, but with the option to stop at these beaches along the way.
Water parks: For a day spent sliding down giant water slides, there are two water parks near Lagos. There are excellent rail and road links to both.
The Autodrome: Opened in 2008, this FIA certified race track also has a world class karting track, available for use every day throughout the year. Regular Moto GP races, track days and FIA touring car races are a must see for motor racing enthusiasts.
Things to see
Museums: There are several museums around Lagos, such as the science museum above the fish market to the Lagos history museum attached to the golden church, where you can see artifacts excavated from the Lagos area that date back to the Neolithic era. Lagos was also the location of Europe's African first slave market, which is also now a museum. There are several more hidden around the town such as the rail museum, so those looking to soak in the culture, both new and old, of this ancient town will not be disappointed.
Bird watching trips: There are several bird sanctuaries around Lagos, which are home to a wide range of species. The most famous of which being the White Stork, which has enjoyed a population boom since becoming a protected bird in Portugal a few decades back. Contact the local tour companies for regular sightseeing trips.
Lagos Zoo: The Lagos zoo, situated in the surrounding countryside, has been a favourite attraction for all ages for many years now. A lot of thought and planning has gone into its construction; the wide open enclosures for the animals are well furnished to suit the needs of their inhabitants. It certainly isn't a case of animals locked in small bare cages, which is always good to see and is what has made the Lagos zoo so popular.
Historic buildings: Considering the history behind the town, (it has been around for more than 2000 years), it is unsurprising to learn that there are many, many historic buildings and structures around the town. In fact you can see a perfect example as soon as you arrive in Lagos in the old Moorish fortress wall that circles the town. There are many more such as the fort near the river mouth, or the old fish market, and as many of these old buildings have been made into museums or opened up to the public there is plenty to explore.
Nature trails and safaris: There are many national parks in the area surrounding Lagos and on the West coast with truly breathtaking scenery. There are companies that offer regular walking trips as well as jeep and motorbike safaris to go and see some of the best landscapes Portugal has to offer.
Art Galleries: As well as its many museums and other cultural attractions, Lagos is also home to several art galleries that regularly exhibit artists work; both from the local area and from a more international market.
There are, of course, many more things to see and do in and around Lagos; a quick visit to Google and you can find many local attractions not listed above. So, it is safe to say that should the sea conditions be rough, there will still be plenty to do during your stay.
Please visit our "Links" section to learn more about things to do during your stay and to find the websites for local businesses. Of course, feel free to email us if you have any questions about the local area and we will do our best to help.