Last fall, I spent some time traveling Portugal and Spain and one beach destination that is getting a lot of traction these days is Lagos, Portugal. Located in the Algarve region in the south of Portugal, Lagos is a great combination of relaxing beach days and vibing culture nights. This Lagos Portugal travel guide for couples will give you the best recommendations for your trip!
How to Get to Lagos from Lisbon
After researching the different options to get to Lagos from Lisbon, we decided to take the bus! It was a quick comfortable journey and the ticket price was 20 euros each. The bus ride takes about 3.5 hours. You can book directly on Rede Expressos. There are multiple bus stations in Lisbon so make sure you choose the right one. But there’s only one bus station in Lagos just north of Old Town. You’ll want to take a taxi or uber to your hotel.
Day 1 in Lagos Travel Guide – Old Town
We arrived in Lagos around 4pm and after relaxing and unpacking, we headed out right away to Old Town. A very scenic route is to take the boardwalk along Av. dos Descombrimentos. You’ll also want to check out Castelo de Lagos on the southern end of Old Town. Vehicles are limited in Old Town so you’ll find it’s very pedestrian friendly.
I highly suggested Casinha do Petisco for dinner! If you haven’t made a reservation, you need to show up RIGHT when they open in order to put your name on the list. Even then, your wait time will likely be an hour or two. We had their famous cataplana (36-39 Euros) which is an Algarve specialty, you need to try it!
Other dinner options include:
- Jukebox Tapas
- Casa do Prego
- A Petisqueira
Spend the time before dinner walking around old town! We started at Mar d’Estorias which is a gift shop on the bottom and a eatery on top. The souvenirs are really pretty here. Some other unique souvenir ideas around old town would be tea towels and Portuguese tiles!
Where to Stay in Lagos
The set up of Lagos is interesting as the main attraction in Lagos is the beach but the Old Town is about 20 mins away from the beaches. Most of the food and restaurants are in Old Town but there’s only a handful of hotels (plenty of AirBnbs though). You’ll need to decide what’s more important: proximity to Old Town or the beaches. We stayed at Agua Hotels Villa Branca towards the beaches as our main focus was enjoying the sand. The hotel was pretty basic but it had two pools, the room size was large, and the price was unbeatable (~$80 USD a night)
Day 2 in Lagos Travel Guide – Beach Hopping
You’ll want to get up nice and early the next day to go beach hopping. The transportation system isn’t very good in Lagos yet, but once you get to the edge of the water, there is a boardwalk that is currently being built that will link all the beaches! It reminded me of Sydney quite a bit actually for their famous Bondi to Coogee walk.
Praia do Camilo – Beach with the Best View
If you’ve seen photos of the Algarve region, Praia do Camilo is a prime example of the scenery. You need to descend a large set of stairs in order to reach the beach. The view from the boardwalk is absolutely stunning! The beach itself is actually relatively small with no amenities so I’d rate this more for the view than the beach. If you’re hungry, Restaurant Camilo is at the top of the stairs.
Praia de Dona Ana – Best Beach Vibes
Next up, we walked over to Praia de Dona Ana. In comparison, this beach is much busier with a snack bar and washrooms. I really enjoyed the European vibes at this beach! Just be warned that the water is still pretty cold!
If you’re hoping to visit a rooftop bar in Lagos, one of the top rated ones called Luca’s Rooftop Restaurant is right by this beach.
Praia do Pinhao
After a few hours at Praia de Dona Ana, we continued walking up north. There’s no details on Google Maps which shows the direction so you kind of have to make your own way. The boardwalk didn’t fully connect so there were times where we had to walk just over grass/rocks. But if you head in the general direction along the coast, it’ll eventually connect to the next beach! Praia do Pinhao was just an okay beach so I would skip it unless you’re trying to visit every beach.
After that, we had a late lunch at Pinhao just up the street! It wasn’t anything spectacular but it got the job as I was so hungry by then! It was more authentic and affordable than the snack bar at Praia de Dona Ana.
Praia dos Estudantes – Closest Beach to Lagos Old Town
To round out our beach hopping in Lagos, Portugal, we went to Praia dos Estudantes. What makes this beach special is the “bridge” structure made out of rocks. It was surprisingly scenic as I had low expectations since it was close to Old Town. This is a really pretty photo spot and a decent beach if you’re staying in Old Town.
By now, we were pretty tired and head back to our hotel to rest up and also to take a dip in the pool. There were still other dinner spots we wanted to try, so we headed back into Old Town! If you don’t want to walk, you can try Uber, although it may be a while to get picked up.
Best Wine Bar in Lagos – Travia
For dinner, we made a reservation the previous night at Travia. We are big natural wine lovers and when I saw that there was a restaurant dedicated to natural wines, we had to go. The food AND wine were both big hitters! To add to the ambiance, there was a guy performing on the corner of the street and we were eating outdoors! Big thumbs out if you’re looking for more of a modern take whereas Casinha do Petisco is a taste of traditional Algarve flavors.
Best Gelato in Lagos
Don’t forget to end your evening with gelato. I was obsessed with Gloosi by Artisani as the service was so friendly and the flavors are unique and intense. My second favorite gelato in Lagos was at Gelicia. Make sure you save room at some point during your 3 days in Lagos.
Day 3 in Lagos Travel Guide – Kayaking Trip
Before visiting Lagos, one of my must dos in Lagos was a kayaking tour through the Ponta da Piedade. If you’re unfamiliar with Ponta da Piedade, it is the formation of rocks at the south end of Lagos that you’ve seen on picturesque postcards. We went to the Marina in Old Town to meet up with the tour. While it was fun, now that I’ve done it, I would say the view is much more impressive on land than in the water. You get a sense of the grandiose when you’re looking at it from above and distance rather than when you’re in the rocks.
Our tour was with Days of Adventure and it was the 2 hour trip for about 35 Euros per person. If you’re planning on doing a tour, I would whole heartedly recommend them. Our guide was awesome and we also enjoyed a refreshing beer on the boat ride back.
Best Beach in Lagos? Praia do Porto Mos
In the afternoon, we visited Praia do Porto Mos. If you’re looking for an actual beach day, this is the place to go!! The day before, we went to very scenic beaches but they weren’t actually great for swimming or sunbathing. Praia do Porto Mos has beautiful soft sand and a shoreline that stretches on and on. Additionally, I like that there’s sunbeds with umbrellas for rent (About 15 euros for a few hours). We grabbed a sandwich at O Antonio (just above the beach) which was quite delicious and I’d definitely recommend.
We also circled back to Ponta da Piedade to see the views from on land. The arches created by water from the rocks are very spectacular!
On day 3 of our Lagos trip, we were tired of going into Old Town for dinner so we picked a restaurant near our hotel. Surprisingly, it was a huge hit! Don Gull is also a modern Portuguese restaurant with cheeky names and fun cocktails. The interior was stunning and you may think you’re in Lisbon rather than a small beach town.
Must Dos in Lagos Portugal
3 days was a wonderful amount of time to explore Lagos and get to enjoy the beaches. If you don’t have as much time, here are the must dos:
- Visit Ponta da Piedade on land
- See Praia do Camilo
- Spend a beach day at Praia do Porto Mos
- Eat a cataplana from a traditional restaurant in Old Town