Nestled on the sun-kissed Algarve coast against the vast Atlantic ocean, Lagos draws tourists‘ attention with breathtaking views and golden beaches. Giant cliffs hovering above the blue waters of the Atlantic, sea caves, stone arches and ancient fortress ruins. It is safe to say, Lagos has a lot to offer, regardless if you fancy a relaxed stay by the beach or an adventure filled vacation.
With its strategic location, Lagos has always been an object of interest. It has been inhabited by various tribes and peoples, including the Carthaginians, the Romans and the Moors. The city eventually became part of the Portuguese kingdom and a setting point for many exploration missions. During the Age of Discovery the port of Lagos continued to gain significance among both explorers and merchants. It was also a well-known and lucrative slave market. Although with the rise of Lisbon its importance went downhill, Lagos and its economy flourished again in the 19th and 20th century. Today, the city and its nearby beaches are a favourite spot for many tourists – and reasonably so.
Praia da Dona Ana
This the most popular beach in Lagos and one can easily see why. The beach is surrounded by stunning rock formations, some accessible by land only during low tide. If you go to the right end of the beach (towards Praia de Camilo), you will find a fascinating formation. It resembles a small open cave with an opening, through which you can reach a narrow beach, hidden between the rocks. Again, this is possible only at low tide, because when the water comes the ‘cave’, which is more of a hole, is flooded. The cliffs above Dona Ana, where the stairs to the beach itself are, offer a truly mesmerizing view. It is quite possibly one of the most photographed spots in Lagos and the whole Algarve region. You know how people say some places don’t have a bad angle? Well, Praia da Dona Ana sure doesn’t!
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Praia de Pinhao
Far more secluded and less crowded than Dona Ana, praia de Pinhao is probably my most favourite beach in Lagos. Consisting of two parts connected by a passageway through the rocks, the beach is the perfect spot if you want to reconnect with nature and have a peaceful day in the sun. To reach praia de Pinhao, one can simply follow the tunnels and passageways starting from Praia de Batata. The latter is the closest beach to the city center and often, the most crowded one. Alternatively, there are two staircases that lead straight to the beach. Similar to Dona Ana, the landscape here consists of ochre rock formations dotted in the blue-green crystal clear waters. However, the most striking feature of the beach is the giant staircase with viewpoints. To be honest, to me it resembles a fortress wall, giving mystique vibes to the beach.
Praia dos Estudantes
Again an iconic, but rather peaceful beach. The ‘Student beach’ is located between Praia de Batata and Pinhao. At high tide it can be accessed via a staircase. It is a rather small beach, but one with a stunning feature. An ancient Roman bridge extends between the mainland and a giant rock tucked in the ocean. How cool is that?! It was part of a fortress, which was destroyed by a tsunami in the 18th century. Today, only the bridge remains as a reminder of times long gone. And as the picture perfect spot for your Lagos postcard!
Praia de Camilo
This one is a rather remote beach, which my boyfriend and I paid a short visit on our way to Ponta de Piedade. It is equally beautiful as the other beaches, but very crowded. With its small size, praia de Camilo is a good idea if you are visiting early in the morning. Another drawback for some might be the stairs – 200 steps leading down to the golden sand. Nevertheless, praia de Camilo is still worth a visit, even if it is from the top of the staircase only. It is actually a pretty good viewpoint and perfect for watching the sun rise above the ocean.
Ponta de Piedade
A hotspot for kayak and sunset lovers! It’s a ‘collection’ of rocky pillars, stone arches and sea caves, which one can explore both from the water and the mainland. For the latter, wooden paths along the coastline reveal breathtaking views, especially at golden hour. In addition, there is a staircase winding down the cliffs and leading to a charming cove. It is where all the boats and kayaks go, and it gets pretty crowded. Especially at noon it may be hard to even get a photo of the stone arches, so consider visiting in the early morning hours.
Some practical tips
All the beaches between Praia de Batata and Dona Ana are interconnected, but keep in mind that some of the tunnels are accessible only at low tide. We explored in the morning, so we got to see all the little coves and beaches. However, at some places like Praia de Pinhao, the water reaches the very cliffs at high tide. Another thing to consider is that the beaches face towards the east. In the afternoon large portions of the beach areas are hidden in the shade of the giant cliffs.
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If you are a foodie, Lagos is just for you! There is a huge variety of restaurants, bars and cafes for everyone’s taste. Literally every street and every corner hide artsy bars, restaurants with local and international cuisine and places for a quick bite. My personal favourite is an open-air spot, called The Garden. Situated in a garden, duh, the bar-and-grill is jam packed, so you will have to make a reservation. Great deals, delicious food, reasonable prices, diverse menu and friendly staff – what more can I say? Just go and see – and taste – for yourself.
I spent 5 amazing days in Lagos and they were rather relaxed. I chose to sunbathe at the beach, so I did not experience first-hand any of the cool outdoor activities. However, there are plenty of these and I will definitely be going back to catch up on them! Kayaking along the orangy-yellow cliffs, visiting the stunning Benagil caves and snorkelling in the Atlantic – I am coming for you!
Have you ever been to Lagos or Portugal? Let me know what you think and share you thoughts down below! 🙂
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