Lagos is a charming Algarve coastal town that has retained its traditional Portuguese character whilst developing into a cosmopolitan holiday destination that welcomes thousands of visitors every year.
Historically, Lagos’ greatest allure has been its geographical position. Lying opposite the north African coast in the Bensafrim estuary, it attracted settlers, foreign invaders and became a focal point for discovery voyages at the time of Portugal’s Golden Age of Discoveries. Prince Henry the Navigator brought fame to the region by founding his navigation school in nearby Sagres, by residing in Lagos and building his famous caravels in the town. Lagos soon became a hub of maritime activity as explorers such as Gil Eanes, the first to round Africa’s Cape Bojador in 1434, departed from the town in search of new land and fortune. Vessels returning laden with riches and slaves transformed Lagos into a base for African trade and brought increased wealth and prosperity to the area.
Nowadays, the allure is all to do with the region’s abundance and variety of beautiful beaches. Visitors are spoilt for choice with the long stretches of sand dunes of beaches such as Meia Praia or the smaller, sheltered coves of the likes of Praia da Boneca or Praia Dona Ana. Both alternatives are equally appealing: the size of Meia Praia makes it a favourite for the practice of water sports while the cliffs of the smaller beaches provide grottoes, rock pools and enchanting nooks and crannies that delight all the family. The coastline in the area is particularly attractive and can be explored from the sea on one of the scenic boat trips that regularly depart from the marina. It is also a favourite place for snorkelling and scuba diving.
The town itself is best explored on foot. Despite the destruction caused by the 1755 earthquake, many of the houses in the historic city centre still retain the traditional stonework, the quaint wrought iron balconies and the shaded inner patios. Shops, bars and restaurants line the cobbled streets, making it a very pleasant spot for a stroll and a taste of the local gastronomy. Marinated horse mackerel, whelks and beans, razor clam stews and stuffed squid are some of the delicacies on offer. The area also has a very lively nightlife.
Lagos marina has a more contemporary feel to it. Lined with shops, cafés and restaurants, it is a great place to sit back with a drink and watch the world go by.
Avid golfers can choose from two nearby golf courses, both of which provide breathtaking views of the surroundings. Palmarés Golf is situated to the east of Lagos on the hills overlooking Meia Praia beach and Boavista Golf Resort lies to the west above the coast leading to Praia da Luz.