The Algarve is a bustling summertime hot spot, especially for ocean lovers and night owls, and the town of Lagos is among the most sought-after destinations in the region. Characterized by rich maritime history and stunning natural treasures, Lagos attracts tourists and expats from many walks of life. For anyone planning on spending any amount of time in one of the Algarve’s most beautiful towns, here is a list of activities and landmarks that should top to-see lists.
Schedule a grotto tour by boat
Arguably, one of the best experiences to have in Lagos is a tour of the seaside caves around Ponta da Piedade. Although a scheduled tour isn’t necessary to visit this natural landmark, it will provide visitors with an insider’s view and a chance to speak with a local guide. Boat tours last a bit longer than an hour and may include a stop to a private beach or two, in addition to cruising through the caves. Make sure to ask about visiting Elefante, or Elephant Cave, one of the most beautiful caves in the Algarve.
Since the coast is still Lagos’s most attractive feature, spending time exploring every corner is something most visitors will want to do. Despite the boat tours being an excellent way to navigate the caves, kayaking is the best way for adventurers to get some extra exercise. Either book a kayak tour or rent one and take your time to move at your own pace. Kayak Adventures Lagos is just one company that specializes in these special tours.
Spending a day outside doesn’t mean you have to do it seaside, and the Lagos Zoo is a great way to enjoy the Algarve’s sun while experiencing something different. This conservation and educational landmark is 17 years old, inaugurated on November 16, 2000. Open all year round, it also provides families and nature lovers with something to do during the winter, and the zoo even gets “dressed” extra special for the holidays. From birds to mammals to reptiles and fishes, the Lagos Zoo lets visitors get up close to a number of native and exotic species.
This stunning Baroque church is certainly a must-see whether you’re a history buff, architecture lover, photographer, or simply someone who loves beautiful landmarks. The structure, built in the early 18th century, is listed today as a National Monument. From the painted, vaulted ceiling to the ornate walls with intricate woodwork details and traditional azulejo tiles, this church is no doubt a feast for the eyes.
The European slave trade was one somber event in history that happened as a result of the Age of Discoveries, and Europe’s first slave market was built in Lagos during the mid-15th century. Today, the location is a museum with exhibits that show the history of slavery in Portugal, including what happened in the market and how slaves were treated after being sold. Despite reflecting on a sad moment in Portuguese history, the museum is educational and may be particularly appreciated by history fans.
A unique Portuguese experience is walking through a local fish market with the fresh catches of the morning for sale. The Lagos market is extra incredible, situated across from the marina and boasting three floors filled with stalls selling products such as fish and seafood, along with unexpected items, including land-based meats, fruits, vegetables, olive oil, cheese, and homemade Portuguese sauces.
In Portugal, indulging in the national cuisine is a must, and Lagos is a great town to enjoy a variety of meals from the best seafood dishes to chicken piri-piri and even non-Portuguese and/or vegetarian cuisine. Those who like seafood and don’t mind paying a bit more should try the cataplana dish, a traditional recipe from the Algarve.
Go on a cliff walk
Like the caves, Lagos is known for stunning multi-hued cliffs that fringe the local beaches. Be careful because many cliffs lack protective barriers, but wandering among them is one favorite pastime for locals and tourists, especially photographers. Among the best spots are Camilo Beach, Ponta da Piedade, and Praia Dona Ana.
Surfing is perhaps the most popular water sport in Portugal, and the entire 1,800 kilometers (1,118.5 miles) of coastline offers plenty of opportunities to get in the water. While in Lagos, why not take part is this favorite activity? Not only is the weather (and the water) warmer than in other parts of continental Portugal, but the scenery will also add to the experience.