Located along the Western Algarve coastline - Lagos is a wonderful city to spend a day exploring. As one of the best places to visit in the Algarve, Lagos offers everything from the quaint Old Town that dates back to the Age of Discovery when Henry the Explorer used to depart on explorations from here, to the rugged breathtaking cliff side beaches that surround Lagos. Endless activities abound including kayaking, scenic boat tours, strolling the Old Town or just relaxing at one of the many beaches. With just one day to explore, we spent the morning strolling thru the Old Town and then headed out to see the stunning beach views offered in the area.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CASTELO DE LAGOS & SAINT GONCALO'S GATE
Lagos has been home to the Phoenicians, Romans, Visigoths and Moors over the years and was even the capitol of the Algarve back in 1577. The castle walls we see today, dating back to the 16th century are known as Castelo dos Governadores or Castelo de Lagos and surround the historic Old Town of Lagos. As an area of strategic importance, it was the Romans who actually first built the walls, which were reinforced by the Arab and Christians occupations throughout the years. Eventually, the castle housed the Governor - resulting in the name - Castelo dos Governadores. Today, the interior of the castle is gone, but the castle walls remain intact as well as Saint Goncalo's Gate, providing for some stunning views as you explore the historic Old Town of Lagos. Take a step back into history as you enter through the arched tower entrance of Saint Goncalo's Gate. The gate is named for the patron saint of Lagos - São Gonçalo de Lagos (1360-1422) who is honored in numerous spots throughout Lagos.
IGREJA DE SANTO ANTONIO/SAINT ANTHONY CHURCH
Saint Anthony Church was first built in 1707, then rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake. This unassuming Portuguese church is listed as a Portuguese National Monument. The white-washed, two bell towered building hides an exquisite interior that is worth a quick visit. Inside, the entire interior is covered in beautifully detailed woodwork, paintings and Portuguese tiles, many of which depict the life of St. Anthony of Lisbon. In 1929 the building was handed over to the government and today hosts just one service a year in June to honor the patron saint.
FORTE DE PONTA DA BANDEIRA
Located on Lago's waterfront where the Bensafrim River and Atlantic Ocean meet is the Forte de Ponta da Bandeira. This defensive structure was built in 1690 during Lago's time as the capitol of the Algarve and was built to protect the harbor from pirate raids and the Spanish. Used until the 20th century by the military, today the fort houses a small museum about Portuguese discoveries and offers great views over the nearby city and out over the sea. Also of interest is the drawbridge that is used to enter into the fort - the fort is actually surrounded by a moat still and requires a drawbridge to visit the fort! Super fun!
PRAIA DONA ANA
Lagos is known for it's many beautiful beaches and Praia Dona Ana does not disappoint. Framed by colorful cliffs, this beach is absolutely breathtaking. Unfortunately for us, the day we visited the weather was not on our side - so we did not get a chance to actually swim here. Instead we just enjoyed the views and strolled along the beach.
PRAIA DO CAMILO
Continuing on to our next beach - Praia do Camilo just may be the most beautiful beach in Portugal. To reach the beach, there is a winding 200 step staircase that will take you down to this Portuguese paradise. Before heading down, spend some time taking in the amazing views from the top - the scenery over Lagos Bay is one of the most scenic along the Algarve coast! Due to it's popularity this beach can become quite crowed in the summer months, but can also be visited in the off-season. For us, we visited in April, just before the peak summer and enjoyed having the beach almost entirely to ourselves. While exploring along the soft sandy beach of Praia do Camillo, we came across a small tunnel in the rocks that connects to another small beach - super fun! Spend some time exploring both beaches of Praia do Camilo.
PONTE DA PIEDADE
Located just a few minutes south of Old Town Lagos on a windy, barren headland sits one of Portugal's most beautiful locations - the Ponte da Piedade. Ponte da Piedade is known for it's dramatic limestone cliffs, rock arches, grottoes and caves and is absolutely breathtaking! Over thousands of years, the wind and tides have eroded the sandstone cliff-side to create the beautiful area we now see today. From the cliff tops, enjoy the views out over the Atlantic Ocean or head down the 182 step staircase for an up close view of the seaside grottoes and rock formations. There is not an actual beach here at Ponte da Piedade but taking the stairs down to the bottom provides for some amazing views of this stunning area. Another option is to spend some time enjoying the area from the water - numerous sightseeing boats or kayak tours can be arranged to explore this stunning area.
Interested in planning your own trip to Lagos, Portugal? Below is our summarized itinerary for you to follow or adjust to your own preferences. ENJOY!
Day trip to Lagos: Explore the town of Lagos - Castelo de Lagos/Saint Goncalo’s Gate, Saint Anthony Church, Forte de Ponta da Bandeira Fort, Praia Dona Ana, Praia do Camilo and Ponta da Piedade.