Lagos: an ancient maritime town

camilo beach lagos with rock formations

Lagos, located on the coast in the barlavento region of the Algarve, has a rich history, a vibrant culture and incredible natural beauty.

A glimpse of history

Lagos boasts a history that dates to ancient times. Lagos, meaning lakes and is built on the ancient town of Celtic origin known as Lacobriga.

There is evidence of Phoenician presence from around the 7th century and Carthaginians, Romans along with the Moors have all left their mark on this coastal town, making it an historical treasure trove.

One of the most significant historical sites in Lagos is the small fort Ponta da Bandeira, a 17th-century fortress built on the Bensafrim river estuary.

Another historical landmark is the Church of St. Anthony (Igreja de Santo António), a beautiful baroque-style church adorned with ornate tiles and intricate woodwork.

Behind the church is the Lagos municipal museum, Museu Municipal Doutor José Formosinho and across the Praça Infante Dom Henrique, is a small museum called Mercado de Escravos.

Lagos is the historic centre of the Portuguese Age of Discovery. It was the frequent home of Henry the Navigator who directed expeditions to Africa and beyond.

Stood on the hill behind the fish market with an amazing view across Lagos bay, Igreja de São Sebastião dates from the 14th century. Its chapel of bones is considered one of the most important elements in the church due to its rarity in Portugal, especially in the Algarve, where only three examples exist.

For more information and suggestions of where to visit search here.

Natural beauty at every turn

Lagos is renowned for its stunning coastline, which features dramatic cliffs, hidden coves, and golden sandy beaches.

Praia Dona Ana and Praia do Camilo are two of the most famous beaches in Lagos, offering crystal-clear waters and the perfect backdrop for a day of sunbathing, swimming, and water sports. You will need to be full of energy though to climb the steps back up to your car.

Ponta da Piedade, a series of towering rock formations, is a must-visit spot for its awe-inspiring beauty and the lighthouse on the promontory.

Adventure seekers can also explore the rugged beauty of the nearby Costa Vicentina, a protected natural park offering hiking trails, birdwatching opportunities, and a chance to immerse oneself in Portugal’s unspoiled wilderness.

And of course there are many opportunities to enjoy the beauty of the coast from the sea – tours are available from Lagos’ marina.

For families, Lagos Zoo is the perfect place to visit. Offering a safe and enjoyable environment for children to learn about wildlife and conservation, Lagos Zoo provides the opportunity to get close to a wide range of animals.

Cultural riches

Lagos is not just a feast for the eyes; it also offers a vibrant cultural scene. The historic old town, with its winding cobblestone streets, is filled with charming cafes, shops, and restaurants.

You can savour traditional Portuguese dishes including grilled sardines, Algarvean salads, a Dom Rodrigo (Lagos currently holds the world record for the largest Dom Rodrigo) plus so much more (including pastéis de nata of course).

The local markets are an excellent place to discover regional products and crafts. Check out the local press or online for more information.

Lagos also celebrates its cultural heritage with various festivals and events throughout the year, including São Gonçalo, its patron saint, on October 27.

Lagos offers an unforgettable experience that will leave you longing to return. So, if you’re seeking a coastal paradise with a rich cultural tapestry, make Lagos your next destination and discover the magic of this charming Portuguese town.

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