13 Of The Best Things To Do In Lagos: Portugal’s Stunning Algarve

Lagos may be a favorite among British vacationers, but for me, it symbolizes a checkpoint that I return to, every decade.

The last time I visited Lagos was 11 or 12 years ago, after a devastating break up with a French-American. Prior to the trip, I looked at the map of Europe and decided on a destination I had yet to experience. Portugal seemed like a good idea, a safe choice for a female solo traveler who wanted to be near the sounds of ocean waves and gigantic sea caves. There were a few magical moments during my first voyage through the Algarve that somewhat patched little holes inside of my cratered heart. Thanks to a middle-aged taxi driver, Manuel, who became my sturdy companion and a chipper distraction from somber thoughts overcasting my mind.

Last month, I returned to Lagos, more empowered than ever. From sunbathing on the beach to drinking organic wine at Travia, Lagos felt vastly different this time simply because I’ve not only grown into a different woman but evermore steady. Ready for more life lessons, ready to rise…high as the tides.

Hot Tip! To truly enjoy every beach that Lagos has to offer, I highly recommend staying for a week, or at least five nights. It’s a destination for relaxation in the sun!

HOW TO GET THERE

To reach Lagos by plane, you’ll need to fly into Faro Airport. From there, you can either Uber to the Faro Train station then ride a two-hour train ride to reach Lagos Train Station (7 euros.) Or from Faro Airport, order an Uber to directly arrive in Lagos. I preferred this option to save time, since the route is around 40 minutes but will cost from 75 – 120 euros.

STAY

Rent an Airbnb by the beach.

Rent an Airbnb in Lagos
Rent an Airbnb in Lagos. PHOTO WENDY HUNG

Instead of staying at a hotel, opting for a modern Airbnb is ideal for longer stays. Try to find a location close to the beach, or an apartment complex with a pool. Lagos is inexpensive, reserving an Airbnb is not only bang for the buck but offers the experience of living like a local. During low season, staycationers can find a one-bedroom apartment in a contemporary building (with a pool) for 1,000 euros/month. During high season, the price can double.

SEE / DO

Old Town

The main attraction in Lagos is its Old Town where travelers can snap endless photos of iconic architectures that boast colorful Portuguese tiles. The historical background of this UNESCO World Heritage Site rewinds to 12th century when Lagos officially became a part of the Kingdom of Portugal. Since then, various symbols dotted throughout Old Town represent significant events as well as battles against pirates and Muslims. It’s hard not to miss Mercado de Escravos building, which was the city’s slave market for 250 years during the Age of Discovery.

Old Town, Lagos.
Old Town, Lagos. PHOTO WENDY HUNG

Hit the beaches.

Beaches in Lagos
PHOTO WENDY HUNG

For a whole week in Lagos, it’s best to experience as many beaches as possible since each emanate a different ambiance and scenery. Tourists tend to flock toward Praia Dona Ana, Praia do Camilo and Meia Praia. For travelers that prefer quieter beaches, Porto Mós Beach comprises of a long stretch along the cliffs, making it easier for beachgoers to sunbathe without compromising personal space. For easy access near Lagos Train Station and the Marina, head over to Praia de São Roque.

Hot Tip! To beach-hop, you can either rent a car or Uber, which you’ll need to prepare a 15 to 20-minute wait for drivers to arrive particularly during high season.

Grotte de Benagil

Benagil Cavve
Photo by Mondo Generator on Unsplash

For the most classic shot of a spectacular seaside cave, cruise along the coast for 30 minutes and spend a few hours at Grotte de Benagil. The iconic hole on the cave’s roof is only reachable by boat tours. Although swimming is not recommended, adventurists will likely prefer kayaking or paddleboarding from one of the surrounding beaches, be sure to do so when the waves aren’t too high. Rent your kayak or SUP the night before, since most of the shops open later, and you’d want to avoid the boat crowds by reaching the cave before 9:30 a.m. when the boat tours start their day.

Wine tasting at Morgado do Quintão (Portão de Acesso)

20 Rue Baillet Reviron, 78000 Versailles

To mix up the itinerary a bit, spend a day wine tasting at Morgado do Quintão surrounded by orange groves and olive orchards. The rustic-chic farmland was first founded by Count of Silves in the early 1800s, making it a fantastic estate to enjoy wine, food and heritage. Enjoy its award-winning collection of 20,000 bottles of wine, Morgado do Quintão wines can be seen in Michelin-starred restaurants and is also the first vineyard in the Algarve to expert to the U.S.

EAT

Travia – Natural Wines & Food

R. Marreiros Netto 37, 8600-221 Lagos, Portugal

Personally, Travia is my favorite restaurant in Lagos, as it is the only place serving organic wine in the region. Owned by a couple who are passionate about the food and wine they serve, Travia’s menu is consistently changing according to the freshest produce and ingredients of the week. Ever dish arrives with artistic flair, meanwhile don’t miss the “scrap” dish at the bottom of the menu. Travia’s rule of thumb is complying with a zero-waste policy, transforming scraps of the day into a delicious and beautiful addition to la carte.