Portugal City Travel Guide: Lagos & The Algarve
- Beautiful natural harbour.
- Town dates back to the Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans.
- Starting point for many historic voyages of discovery.
- Major Algarve resort.
- Superb sandy beaches and coves.
- Many traditional buildings left intact.
- Pleasant cobbled streets.
- South Portgal's surf central.
- Local population 25,000.
Lagos, (prounounced la-goosh) on the western side of the Algarve has a long history as a sea port and ship-building centre going back to the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Moors. Henry the Navigator launched many of the ships that set sail during Portugal's golden "Age of Discoveries" in the 15th and 16th centuries from Lagos.
The main beaches near Lagos are Meia Praia a long 4km stretch of sand to the east of town reached by bus from the Avenida dos Descobrimentos. On a promontory to the south of Lagos there are a number of small, idyllic cove beaches: Praia do Pinhão, Praia de Dona, Praia do Camilo (pictured) and Ponta da Piedade - all reached on the Toy Train from the town centre.
Back in town, historic sites include remnants of Lagos' slave market (now an art gallery) and the old Customs House in the Praça da República adjacent to the sea front. The Castelo dos Governadores (Governors Castle) was originally built by the Arabs.
Beach at Luz, Algarve, Portugal
The nearby church of Santa Maria dates from the 15th century. Much of the rest of the old town was destroyed in the 1755 earthquake but the fine Igreja de Santo António predates that disaster.
Next door is the Museu Municipal (Tel: 282 762 301) with an odd assortment of exhibits - weapons from Mozambique, archaeological items and antique cannonballs. Parts of the city walls survive along with the waterfront Forte Ponta da Bandeira on Avenida dos Descobrimentos - a small, square fort built in the late 17th century to protect the entrance to the harbour.
Lagos Zoo (Tel: 206 680 100) 8km to the north west of the town off the N120 to Aljezur is worth a visit for its collection of exotic birds and wild animals.
Farther north still is the Barragem de Bravura a picturesque reservoir set in delightful woodland.
Other things to do in and around Lagos are boat trips and dolphin viewing bookable at Lagos marina, diving and snorkelling. Horse-riding and cycling trips can also be booked. Lagos is also a good base to explore the nearby National Park - Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alenttejano e Costa Vicentina and the usually more tranquil (especially off-season) resorts of Luz and Burgau (accessible by bus) - to the west of the town towards Sagres.
Praia da Luz, 10km west of Lagos, is an attractive, tranquil resort centered around the crescent-shaped beach backed by villa complexes, holiday villages, apartments and hotels.
A number of sports are on offer: diving, sailing, water-skiing, windsurfing. It was here at Luz that Madeleine McCann was tragically abducted in 2007.
Burgau, 18km west of Lagos, is a mix of traditional Algarve fishing village and growing resort complete with British-style pubs. West of Bergau is the pleasant beach of Cabanas Velha. The British-run Burgau Sports Center (Tel: 282 697 350) has tennis, squash, futsal and a swimming pool.
A picturesque street in Lagos, Algarve, Portugal
The historic harbour in Lagos, Algarve, Portugal
Lagos Turismo, Sitio de São João (tel. 282 763 031) - not in the city centre is the tourist office in Lagos.
Posto de Informacão, Largo Marques de Pombal (tel. 282 764 111) - centrally located.
Lagos connects with the motorway IC4 near Portimao for journeys north to Lisbon and east to Faro and Spain on the E1/IP1.
Lagos Fort illuminated at night, Algarve, Portugal
There are fairly regular buses to Portimao, Sagres, Albufeira, Lisbon, and also to Seville (via Huelva) in Spain from Lagos bus station (tel: 282 762 944) on Rua Vasco da Gama.
From the Airport
The nearest airport is at Faro.
A tiled balcony and window in Lagos, Algarve, Portugal
Igreja Santa Maria Lagos, Algarve, Portugal
Dom Pedro Meia Praia Hotel
Located in landscaped gardens near to the beach, 65 well-furnished rooms in this 3-star hotel. All major credit cards accepted. Cable TV, private bathroom & saltwater swimming pool.
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Lagos is blessed with many fine restaurants, many on the Rua Afonso D'Almeida and the Rua 25 de Abril.
There are many ex-pat and local bars to choose from which all stay open late in season. Rua 25 de Abril has many bars.
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Lagos Zoo, Algarve, Portugal
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The average high June temperatures for Portugal is between 22 degrees Centigrade and 26 degrees Centigrade.
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