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Lagos, Portugal is Your Next Unforgettable Adventure

Lagos, Portugal is one of my Heaven on Earth destinations. Apart from its natural beauty, it is a spot that holds special significance for me. It’s a place where I’ve escaped to during times of heartbreak and stress, and have left at peace and as a more confident version of myself. You could easily spend your days in Lagos relaxing on the beach and snacking on juicy Algarve oranges. Still, if you’re looking to bulk out your itinerary, I’ve got you covered with my favorite spots in this southern Portugal dream destination. Let’s dive in!

When Is the Best Time to Visit Lagos, Portugal?

I escaped to Lagos in February, arguably one of the least popular times to visit southern Portugal. However, even in the depths of the off-season, it was still stunning. Pleasantly warm and sunny, not laying out in a bikini type of weather, but still enjoyable to wander through the charming streets of the town. However, if you want some proper beach time, May through September will be the ideal months to visit. Keep in mind though that June through August will be exceptionally tourist packed. You won’t likely get a ton of seclusion as you escape to the sun. 

How Many Days Is Enough in Lagos, Portugal?

If you’re looking to travel around various towns in the Algarve or are planning a quick escape after visiting Lisbon or Porto, you can easily see the best spots in Lagos in two or three days. However, one of the best parts of Lagos is the relaxing way of life. Fresh squeezed orange juice and pastel de nata in the morning and crisp rosé and seafood with views of fiery sunsets over the ocean at night. 

✈️ Pro Tip: Looking for another perfect Portuguese destination? Check out my guide on What To See and Do in Madeira.

Jessi's Journey hiking Ponta da Piedade 

Tips For Visiting Lagos, Portugal

While I was used to the Portuguese way of life after living in Porto during my master’s program, there were a few things about life in Lagos that I wish I had known before I went. While planning your perfect vacation to Lagos, keep the following things in mind.

  • Carry cash - I was shocked by how few cafés and restaurants accepted cards. Many small stores also had signs in their windows noting they were cash only. As someone who primarily uses credit cards while traveling to earn extra points, I was glad I had taken out extra cash to tide me over during my visit.

  • Take advantage of the trains - The Algarve is well-connected and easy to navigate by train. The train station in Lagos is easy to walk to and tickets to neighboring towns are just a few euros, making it ideal for taking fun day trips.

  • Make reservations in advance - Many of the best restaurants in Lagos are on the smaller side and are also highly acclaimed. To ensure you get to dine on some of the most mouth-watering meals, make reservations in advance.

Jessi's Journey hiking Lagos, Portugal coast

What To See and Do in Lagos, Portugal

Lagos is teeming with natural beauty. My favorite activity during my time in Lagos was to spend my mornings searching for sea glass and shells while walking along the multiple connected beaches that make up the coast. However, if you’re not as easily wowed as I am by ocean-battered glass, here are a few other activities you’re sure to love.

Hike Along The Coast to Ponta da Piedade 

I’m one of those people that can never save the best for last. Ponta da Piedade was undoubtedly one of the top highlights of my adventure in Lagos, and possibly one of the best hikes and views I have experienced over my last decade of full-time travel. Ponta da Piedade is a stunning coastal rock formation in the Algarve region of Portugal, characterized by towering limestone cliffs, sea caves, and turquoise waters. 

While you can book a boat tour that will drive you along the coast to this spot and take you into the caves carved into the limestone by waves, I would highly recommend hiking the Ponta da Piedade trail that starts from Lagos Old Town and winds along the coastal cliffs. The trail is beginner-friendly and full of stunning views.


Relax On One of These Beaches

There are multiple beaches in Lagos, Portugal perfect for some fun in the sun. Each beach is stunning and has its pros, so I’ll leave you with a one-sentence summary of my thoughts on each beach. (And y’all know keeping it brief isn’t easy for me!) 

  • Praia do Camilo - My personal favorite secluded cove that requires you to walk down 200 wooden stairs to get to the perfect picnic spot 

  • Praia Batata - The closest beach to the Old Town where most tourists go

  • Praia dos Estudantes - A more secluded beach with a rock tunnel you can walk through

  • Praia do Pinhão - A beach with plenty of space to lay out while surrounded by picturesque cliffs

  • Praia de Dona Ana - A quite popular beach spot close to many hotels

Lagos, Portugal beaches

Feast on Cataplana 

I have a running list in my phone of the best foods I’ve ever eaten in my travels. I’ve been lucky to try many unique cuisines around the world, but only a few still stand out in my mind and make my mouth water just thinking about them. Cataplana from Casinha do Petisco is easily in my top five best meals I’ve ever had.

Cataplana is a traditional Portuguese seafood dish, typically prepared in a clam-shaped copper pot called a "cataplana.” It is almost like a stew of flavorful fish, shellfish, vegetables, and aromatic herbs that is poured over rice, and will often come with a side of fries for dipping. (The Portuguese know how to do carbs well!!) There are also some non-seafood options as well. 

Casinha do Petisco is a small family-owned restaurant where you will feel like one of the family while you dine on your cataplana. I loved how I could watch the cataplana be made by the family from my table in the dining room. However, the restaurant is very small and has only a few tables available each night. Make your reservation as far in advance as possible! You can go on the day of and get your name on the “late-night list.” If a table is available in the short window between reservations leaving and the restaurant closing, you may get lucky and be squeezed in. However, there is no guarantee and if you do get in you will be eating very late!

Wander Through The Old Town

I could easily spend hours wandering through the stone streets of the Old Town looking at all the cute shops and charming buildings. During your wander, make sure to check out Igreja Matriz de Santa Maria (Saint Mary’s Church) and Forte da Ponta da Bandeira Fort. Along the port is a pedestrian area where you can walk as well which was one of my favorite ways to wind down at the end of the evening.

Lagos, Portugal Old Town

Explore the Stunning Benagil Cave

The Benagil Cave in Lagos is a stunning sea cave located along the Algarve coast of Portugal, known for its iconic dome-shaped ceiling and picturesque surroundings. It's worth visiting for its breathtaking natural beauty, turquoise waters, and the unique experience of exploring a cave accessible only by boat. This spot is seriously Instagram-worthy. You will either need to book a boat tour from Lagos to get to the cave, or you can rent kayaks to visit independently.

Take a Surfing Lesson

Lagos is one of the best spots to learn how to surf. The waves are tame enough for beginners to tackle, and there are many amazing companies that offer surfing lessons. I would highly recommend booking with Tiny Whale Surf Lodge. Not only are the instructors knowledgeable and experts at helping even the newest surfers, but they’re also affordable for all they offer. A one-day surf experience which includes two lessons is 60 euros in peak season and 55 euros in the off-season. Lessons include all the gear you will need to shred some waves.

Coastal view of Lagos, Portugal

Kayak Along the Coastline

The coast of Lagos is stunning not just on land via the hiking trails that weave along the cliffs, but also by water. Paddle Fun offers both kayak and stand-up paddle boards you can rent to explore the clear blue waters independently. I preferred this business because it was a small family-run company that was easy to work with and offered affordable rentals. 

✈️ Pro Tip: Exploring Porto, Portugal, but don't like port wine? Check out these craft breweries instead!

Best Day Trips From Lagos

As I mentioned earlier, the Algarve region is well connected by train which makes it a great home base for taking day trips to neighboring towns. These were my favorite nearby options I visited.

Green buildings in Lagos, Portugal


If you’re a beer drinker, you likely will see Sagres available on tap throughout Portugal. It’s the second most popular Portuguese beer after Super Bock. However, Sagres isn’t just known for its beer, though you should definitely drink a Sagres in Sagres. Before the exploration of the Americas, Sagres was believed to be the end of the world. And with its sweeping cliffs and dramatic coastline, it’s no wonder people thought it was the boundary for the Earth’s land.

It takes approximately one hour on the train from Lagos to Sagres. After arriving early in the morning, I grabbed breakfast at Three Little Birds, a cute coffee shop with mouth-watering cinnamon rolls. The highlight of my day trip to Sagres was exploring the Sagres Fort. When I visited, it was so windy I thought I would blow away, but it was still worth the exploration.


Portimão is a short 30-minute train ride from Lagos and is a charming little town well worth wandering through. While in Portugal, you will see a plethora of tinned sardines in grocery stores and at the market, which are a staple in Portuguese homes. The Museu de Portimão is a unique spot that walks through the history of the sardine industry in the south of Portugal and was a unique immersive experience. I know, I know, a museum about sardines?! I thought the same thing at first too, but actually really enjoyed my visit.


The capital of the Algarve, Faro is conveniently accessible from Lagos by train, located about a 1.5-hour train ride away. This historic town boasts a beautifully preserved old town, a scenic waterfront, and cultural attractions, making it a must-visit destination for those interested in history and authentic Portuguese charm. I highly recommend doing this free walking tour while in Faro.

Is Lagos, Portugal Worth Visiting?

I know I’m biased, but to me, Lagos, Portugal is pure magic. It’s a peaceful escape, rich in history and charm. It’s the perfect spot for an affordable beach vacation and has plenty of outdoor adventure activities for those who do not want to lay on the beach all day. A trip to Lagos, Portugal is well worth the visit.

Is Lagos on your bucket list? Let me know in the comments!


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