- HOTELS (BEST RATED)
- HOTELS (BEST VALUE)
- COFFEE & DRINK
- SIGHTS & LANDMARKS
- THINGS TO DO
Lagos (, literally lakes, from the Latin lacobrica) is a municipality at the mouth of Bensafrim River and along the Atlantic Ocean, in the Barlavento region of the Algarve, in southern Portugal.The population in 2011 was 31,049, in an area of 212.99 km². The main town of Lagos (which includes only the parish of São Sebastião e Santa Maria) has a population of approximately 22,000. Typically, these numbers increase during the summer months, with the influx of visiting tourists and seasonal residents. While the majority of the population lives along the coast and works in tourism and services, the inland region is sparsely inhabited, with the majority of the people working in agriculture and forestry.
Lagos is one of the most visited cities in the Algarve and Portugal, due to its variety of tourist-friendly beaches, rock formations (Ponta da Piedade), bars, restaurants and hotels, renowned for its vibrant summer nightlife and parties. Yet, Lagos is also an historic centre of the Portuguese Age of Discovery, frequent home of Henry the Navigator, historical shipyard and, at one time, centre of the European slave trade.
Lagos is an ancient maritime town with more than 2000 years of history. The name Lagos comes from a Celtic settlement, derived from the Latin Lacobriga, the name of the settlement was established during the pre-Punic civilizations. It became an early settlement of the Carthaginians, who recruited Celtic tribesmen in their war against the Romans (the Punic Wars). Owing to its already important harbour, it was colonized by the Romans and integrated into the Roman province of Lusitania, becoming known as Lacobriga. Quintus Sertorius, a rebellious Roman general, helped by the Lusitanians of Lacobriga (who had been oppressed under Roman Generals and members of Lucius Cornelius Sulla party), successfully defeated the Roman army of Caecilius Metellus Pius probably at nearby Monte Molião.
With the fall of Rome, the town of Lagos was occupied in the 6th century by the Visigoths from the Kingdom of Toledo and later by the Byzantines.
The Moors arrived in the 8th century from North Africa, renaming the settlement Zawaia (meaning lago, or lake). It became part of the much larger coastal region of al-Gharb, which eventually became known as the algarve. The Moors fortified the town with Lagos Castle and established important trade links to Northern Africa from their bases in the Iberian peninsula. In 1174, the local Wāli gave permission for the Christian peoples to construct a church dedicated to São João Baptista, which was built outside the town's walls (becoming the oldest church in the Algarve).
Even as King Afonso Henriques advanced to the south, the Christian Reconquista never made it into Algarve and Alentejo, and remained under Moorish control. King Sancho I, with the support of Crusader forces used Lagos as a stepping stone to attack the fortress of Alvôr. Zawaia was eventually captured by King Afonso III of Portugal in 1241, but was only taken definitively in 1249. From this period on the King began self-styling himself as the "King of Portugal and the Algarve", stressing the fact that the Algarve (which had for so long been ruled by the Moors as a foreign country) had been annexed into the dominion of the Portuguese. Lagos became an independent jurisdiction under the rule of King Peter I in 1361.
King John I assembled his fleet in the harbour of Lagos, before setting sail for the siege and conquest of the city of Ceuta in 1415. This was the first step in opening the Muslim world to medieval Europe, which in fact led to the Age of Discovery with Portuguese explorers sailing across the whole world. By the 15th century, Lagos became the centre of Portuguese maritime exploration, with ships ordered south to trace the shoreline of Africa in order to find routes to India. Infante Henry the Navigator, third son of King John, lived most of the time in Lagos. From here he directed expeditions to Morocco and to the western coast of Africa with caravels, lateen-rigged ships with excellent seafaring capabilities. Lagos was also the home port for Gil Eanes who was the first to sail beyond Cape Bojador in 1434, after a failed attempt in 1433 that put him out of favour with the, then considered the end of the world. The act of rounding the Cape, much like the later rounding of the Cape of Good Hope, permitted Eanes (and the navigators that followed) to advance into the African subcontinent. When, by 1443, Lançarote (then fiscal officer of the crown) had sailed as far as Arguim and brought back 275 Africans, the Portuguese had sufficient slaves to relieve the perpetual handicap of agricultural labour.
Over the following decades, news of discoveries and achievements, and ships loaded with spices and goods would flow into the port of Lagos. It was also the gateway for the first African slaves into post-medieval Europe. Even before Africa was opened-up to the Portuguese, the seamen of Lagos were already enthusiastic slave-catchers. From the first slave markets in Lagos (the Mercado de Escravos, which opened in 1444), many Africans were dispersed throughout Europe, bringing a considerable income to the Portuguese monarchy and merchant classes, as well as cheap labour force. As the major sponsor of these expeditions, Prince Henry received one-fifth of the selling price of every slave. The demand for the indentured labour force was so high that, by 1450, profit on Mauritanian slaves was 700 percent. The discovery of gold by Alfonso Gonçales also increased activities in Lagos, whose residents petitioned the Infante Henry to establish a trading company to pursue gold deposits in the region. This included Juan Dias (ancestor of Bartolomeu Dias who rounded the Cape of Good Hope), Gil Eanes, Lançarote de Freitas, Estevan Alfonso and Rodrigo Alvarez, who provisioned a squadron of six caravels to travel to isle of Garças in 1444, but returned with 150 Africans.
Following the death of Prince Henry, and the expansion into the Atlantic and New World, the port of Lagos continued to receive shipments of goods and slaves, but its role began to decrease. Lisbon, began to prosper, with ships returning directly from the colonies of the Azores, Madeira and Brazil, while trading houses began to relocate to the capital. But, even as the wealth arrived in Lisbon and Lagos, the ostentation was widely on display in the royal residences.
King Sebastian, obsessed with his plans for a great crusade against the Kingdom of Fez, assembled a huge fleet in Lagos in 1578. During this ill-fated attempt he and most of Portugal's nobility were killed in the Battle of Ksar El Kebir in Morocco, eventually causing a succession crisis, that eventually resulted in the Iberian Union.
When Portugal came under Spanish rule, the Portuguese coast became a target for the English fleet. Lagos, close to the Spanish naval base of Cádiz, was attacked by Sir Francis Drake in the late 1580s, but was defended by its inhabitants, resulting in Drakes sack of Faro. But, the coast was under regular attack of other pirates and corsairs, in addition to the Spanish who bombarded the Algarve during the Portuguese Restoration War (1640–1668), which led to the construction of a string of forts all along the coast. One of them was the late-17th-century Ponta da Bandeira Fort in Lagos, which was completed between 1679 and 1690 (according to the stone inscription over the main door).
From 1576 to 1755, Lagos was a high-profile capital of the Algarve, until the old Portuguese town was destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami of 1755. Although some walls from the 16th century still remain, as well as the governor's castle, many of the buildings are from the 17th century.
Two well-known naval battles took place off Lagos, reflecting its strategic location: in the Battle of Lagos (1693) a French flotilla defeated a combined Anglo-Dutch force, while in the Battle of Lagos (1759) a British force defeated a French force.
Climate data for Lagos, Portugal
|Average high °C (°F)||15|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||11|
|Average low °C (°F)||6|
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||100|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||124||168||217||210||310||270||341||310||270||279||150||124||2,773|
By its geographical position (east-northeast to west-southwest orientation) and lithological diversity, the Algarve stands out as a unique stratigraphic and morpho-tectonic region. A peripheral Carboniferous unit of the Variscan orogeny, it constitutes the Mesozoic and Cenozoic sedimentary layers, deposited onto two totally distinct superimposed basins. Between the Middle-Upper Triassic to Hettangian, sediments evolved from continental (fluvial red sandstone) to shallow marine over the entire region, which included instances of evaporates, tholeiite fissural magmas, lava flows, volcanic ash and pyroclasts.
The area of Lagos, conforms to the Middle Miocene Lagos-Portimão formation (a band that extends along the coast from Lagos to Albufeira, abutting the Serra do Caldeirão to the north) and which corresponds to marine sedimentation over relatively stable, but a minorly deformed limestone shelf platform. A period of calm during the intra-Miocene (of approximately 2.4 Ma) led to generalized exposure and development of karst, that influences the present day coastline. The conspicuous horizontal bending of this profile in the cliffs of Lagos, much like the remainder of the Lagos-Portimão formation, is formed by alternating bands of siliciclastic and calcareous lithologies. The low degree of cementation in the layers causes a high degree of instability of the cliffs. The littoral and cliff sands are dominated by various bivalve organisms, bryozoans, larger benthicforaminifers and Coralline algaewith minor additions of echinoids and balanids implying a shallow-water depositional system of a warm-temperate climatic regime. The locality of Cerro das Mós, from where a large crocodilian (Tomistoma schlegelii) tooth was collected long ago, has also produced some Odontoceti teeth. These may be dated from the Serravallian, which, constitute the oldest marine mammal occurrence in Algarve.
Lagos' economy, like many coastal towns in Portugal, has always been closely linked to the sea, and fishing has been an important activity since very ancient times. Since 1960, the city has embraced tourism, which has become its most important economic activity. It has beautiful beaches, good climate, the sea, a scenic coastline, and historical patrimony.
The Marina de Lagos has 460 berths and has become an important centre for long-distance cruisers, and it is also known for its modern drawbridge.
Lagos also has numerous cultural and night-life entertainment venues.
Lagos Station is the western terminus of the railway line from Vila Real de Santo António (via Tavira and Faro). The passenger train service is operated by Comboios de Portugal (CP). Connections are available at Faro for trains to Lisbon and Porto.
Transportation - Get In
To get to Lagos from Faro – to where many fly in from all over Europe - you take the A22 and it's about 1 hour drive (rather fast). You also can take the 125 west, the older road, that takes you through about half of the western Algarve. The 125 brings you closer to some of the interesting towns and villages of the Western Algarve. These include Albufeira, Carvoeiro, Ferragudo, Porches – with the famous Porches Pottery -, Alvor, Praia da Rocha, and then Lagos.
From Sagres (pronounced Sagresh) almost the most Western point in the Algarve you take the 125 east and drive through Salema, Burgau and Luz (pronounced Loosh). These small towns are beach communities that are undergoing massive construction to house retirees from the UK and Germany and to a lesser extent from the rest of Europe. English is very common although the number of Americans is small. The drive takes about 30 minutes at reasonable speed.
The nearest Airport is Faro (FAO) [www], about 75km from Lagos.
To get to Lagos by train from Lisboa, take the train to Faro and get off in Tunes, a few stops before Faro. Then take the train to Lagos. The schedules are timed so that you only have to wait a few minutes.
Transportation - Get Around
Lagos is a small city; you can pretty much walk everywhere. There is a bus and a train station to take you to other cities(Silves, Faro) and taxis are abundant. Walk to the beautiful sandy golden beaches.
- BEST RATED -
- BEST VALUE -
- Meia Praia (Half Beach) —the most popular tourist beach, consisting of soft, white sand, Meia Praia is one of the largest open bays in Europe, resulting in calm seas, permitting conditions for many nautical sports, while cliffs provide sheltered coves from strong windy conditions;
- Praia Solaria (Sunny Beach);
- Praia da Batata (Potato Beach) — a small beach tucked between two small cliffs (where the river meets the Atlantic Ocean), it is known for the small music festivals that take place there during summer;
- Praia dos Estudantes (Students' Beach);
- Praia da Dona Ana (Dona Ana Beach) -its areal is slightly thicker than the beaches in the surrounding area and it is surrounded by striking rock formations. At high tide the beach is split by the geomorphology of the cliffs;
- Praia do Canavial (Canavial Beach);
- Praia de Camilo (Camilo Beach);
- Praia da Luz (Beach of Light) - located in the parish of Luz, the beach is bounded in the east by Rocha Negra (English: Black Rock), providing summer vactioners with a popular escape during the summer.
Southern Portugal is famous for its ceramics, and Lagos won't let you down. Ceramic dishes and tiles of all price ranges, styles, and colors are available. Some stores don't provide boxes for your goods, only newspaper wrapping, so ask before you buy, if it matters to you.
Portugal is also famous for its cork, in fact it's one of the largest cork producing countries on Earth. A short walk through almost any section of the town will reveal shops selling all kinds of cork products, from the usual coasters and placemats, right up to shoes, hats and handbags. Just as a note though, cork can be very expensive.
There is sometimes a small fair in front of the church near the harbor where unique clothing can be bought.
There are some wonderful family run operations in Lagos. Many of the restaurants are starving for business in the off peak time and will go way out of their way to make your visit to their restaurant a pleasurable experience. A regional speciality is chicken piri piri, barbecued chicken with the now famous piri piri sauce, truly delicious! Another local dish is the salted cod, which allegedly had 365 ways of being served, one for each day of the year.. The sardines in the Algarve are of the best in the world and local people cook them on small barbecues on their doorsteps, creating a delicious smell which wafts through the streets!
Some restaurants get really busy that reservations are required several days in advance to get in when you want to. However, this generally applies to THE best restaurants in Lagos and is a good sign of the restaurant's popularity, plus it ensures that you avoid disappointment.
- Don Toro Angus Steak House, Rua Lancarote de Freitas, 12 8600-605, . Steak house that serves excellent cuts of meat, available in various sizes to suit all appetites. Perhaps the best place in Lagos for a steak.
The restaurant is by no means big, so as a result it does get full, therefore it is recommended that you either book a table in advance or eat early on.
- No Patio, Rua Lancarote de Freitas 46 8600-605 Lagos, . Thu-Sat: From 6pm, Sun: From 1pm. Perhaps one of the best restaurants, if not the best, in Lagos. Diners sit in a romantic courtyard to the rear of the building and served fine food freshly cooked on the premises, with the menus changing on a regular basis. The owner is also on hand and talks to the customers to ensure everybody is having a good meal. A reservation in advance is recommended, and is pretty much essential in the high season, which highlights just how popular this place is - you will not be disappointed!
- Nah Nah Bah, Travessa do Forno 11, . 6pm - Late. Fresh produce, bold flavors, comfy couches and an island atmosphere has made Nah Nah Bah a local & international favorite. Voted Top 50 Burger Joints in the world. Kitchen open from 6pm til 11pm
Coffe & Drink
Lagos bars are quite fun, catering to the young back-packing crowds. Often one can find a Brit or American helping to serve drinks (for a little under the table wage). For a drink what packs a punch, try the traditional Algarve drink, Medronho, better known as fire water, another Algarve drink is the almond liqueur, delicious after a big meal!
Sights & Landmarks
There is a great variety of things to see; The city center is sculped with traditional architecture and colors from the region. Beaches vary in shape and style from long sandy beaches to almost private ones hidden by cliffs. Ponta da Piedade is a beautiful spot with a nice lighthouse from where you can make boat tours to the natural caves. The harbour in the morning is full of activity, if you like to wake up early don't miss it. Also the fish market is an interesting spot.
- Capela dos Ossos (Bone Chapel), Igreja do Sao Sebastiano. There is a small bone chapel on the side of this church, and one of several in the Algarve region (others at Faro and Alcantarilha). You may have to pay 2 Euros to enter the chapel, the bell tower and the church, but the view from the bell tower is worth the price.
Things to do
Lagos has things to do for just about anyone, from the relaxing beaches to the exciting dolphin tours.
- The Mountain Bike Adventure, Rua Porta Da Vila. The Mountain Bike Adventure provides all types of guided mountain bike rides in the Algarve. All the guides are qualified mountain bike instructors and they have rides to suit every level and fitness. One of the most popular being a ride starting at the highest point of the Algarve (902m) and descending nearly to sea level. They also provide a shuttle service on the mountain for the brave. from 30 euros.
There is the Praia da Batata in Lagos (right across the main road) which is an absolutely beautiful location. Walking along Estr. da Ponta da Piedade a few hundred meters before the lighthouse, (after passing a café and Camila beach on your left), find a concrete fencepost on your right decorated with a spray painted eye, mouth, and two teeth. Enter the path it marks, which will take you to the edge of the cliff. A bit north (to your right) there is a cove accessible only by boat or by a rather narrow hidden mud slope with a rope pegged to the top. There are a number of beautiful, although perhaps dangerous, walks along the top of the cliffs. Another fantastic beach is Meia Praia, just the other side of the Marina, it's a huge beach with a variety of beach bars to cool off in, and widely renowned as on of the best beaches in the Algarve.
One of the more popular events in Lagos are the Dolphin Tours, with 3 different companies offering tours to see dolphins. Whilst you might be unlucky and not see a dolphin, it's still worth it if you've ever wanted a ride on a high powered boat. All 3 of the companies are based in the Lagos Marina.
- Sea kayaks can be rented during the summer from quite a few different locations.
- Boat tours of the grottos leave from the harbour, and cost €10 per person.
You can go on a motorbike and sidecar tour with Sidecar Experience ; a breathtaking way to take in the wonderful scenery of South West Portugal. Tours leave from just outside the Lagos Marina office, just in front of the footbridge.
There's also a company within Lagos which offers rentals of buggies, for a more exciting drive around town.
Lagos Nightlife is in full swing when the sun begins to set in Portugal. Many of the area's dance clubs, bars and restaurants offer happy hour promotions and no cover charges before certain times, so be sure to get out early if you're looking to enjoy a bit of dancing and entertainment. Most Lagos Nightlife establishments will start to get busy around 11:00 PM, and then stay open to anywhere from 4:00 to 6:00 AM.
There are several dance clubs in the Lagos area that are popular with locals and tourists. The most popular is most likely The Bom Vivant, a late night disco bar featuring three floors of dancing and a tropical roof garden. Whyte's Bar is also at the top of the list, infamous for its "nine deadly sins" shot challenge and basement dance floor open until 2:00 AM. Close to one another are the Three Monkeys bar, a favorite featuring a nightly DJ and dancing, and The Phoenix, another decent-sized club near Three Monkeys that has a dance floor in its basement.
If you'd rather go out and listen to live music, there are several clubs in Lagos that offer this type of entertainment as well. The Stones Bar features a wide variety of live rock and blues music on a nightly basis, as does Stevie Ray's; a live music lounge with a variety of upscale live musicians and bands. Another hot spot is Mullen's Bar, one of the older establishments in town, featuring a full bar and restaurant, plus live music nights with well known musicians.
Lastly, if you'd prefer the casual vibe of a Sports bar, where you can eat, drink and watch live televised sports events on big screen TVs, Lagos has a few establishments that fit the bill. The RedEye is one of the most popular bars in town, open nightly from 8pm to 2am. Play pool or darts, or watch sports on TV. Another favorite in town is The Old Tavern, which was recently renovated in 2010 and is also under new management. Their bar features live music, big screen HD TVs, Karaoke and a large gaming room with pool, darts, pinball and hockey. Rosko's bar is a more stylish bar that appeals to a wider variety of people. However, you don't pay more for this luxury bar, as it offers comparable prices to any others in the area. Dance to the tunes spun by live DJs, have a few drinks, or eat a quick meal. Rosko's is open from 5pm to 2am, and gets crowded fast.