If you’re looking for holiday inspiration about southern sunny Portugal or if you’ve already booked your trip to Lagos, Algarve, this article about tours in Lagos is for you.
We, the SeaBookings.com team, are from Lagos. We grew up there and some of us still live in this beautiful idyllic Portuguese fishermen’s town.
We’d like to share, from our own experience, some of the best tours in our home town to enjoy a day or few around the city, some inside tips and of course the best water sports and boat tours.
We definitely recommend you to check out the city itself. Grab your friends and family and go wandering to the city centre, the beautiful and lively old town.
Due to its history (Lagos is an ancient maritime town with more than 2000 years of history), it has a great abundance of historical sites and intricate Moorish architecture.
In the main street and around the city centre you will find many restaurants with friendly terraces and coffee shops, and of course the boutique shops where you can buy bikinis and souvenirs.
To assure you get the most out of the several tips & tours in Lagos, we recommend you to check Cultural Centre (Centro Cultural). From our experience and especially during the summer season, there is nearly always an act worth seeing.
Maps, which also may include information about the activities in Lagos, are available at the several tourist information points. Also, “Free Maps” are available at several hotels, shops, restaurants and real estate agencies.
Logistically, Lagos is rather small and public transport works fine but don’t forget that Lagos is a hilly town, so bring your comfy walking shoes to avoid unnecessary pain.
Please don’t forget that parking can be difficult in Lagos centre during the summer. The best parking places in Lagos are paid (very cheap if compared to other European countries, though).
If you want to go out for dinner or walk around the city, try finding space along the paid parking places along the main avenue “Avenida dos Descobrimentos”.
When the Avenida has no free space to park, you can also check the paid parking garage that is situated on the main avenue, next to the “Infante Dom Henrique” statue.
If you’re planning to park for the full day or longer, we suggest you to park for free, on a considerable good and safe place at the back of the Lagos Marina.
Historical attractions – things to do for culture lovers
Museu Regional de Lagos – Town Museum
Lagos has got a few small but worth to visit museums if you like to get a better taste of the local history.
The Town Museum of Lagos presents some local archeological findings, religious costumes, international coins dating back to 300 AD and unique currencies for each municipality of the region.
Also, you will find historical attributes related to the city’s link to the ocean and the Discoveries like fishing (and farming) equipment, sea shells and minerals and assorted weapons.
The entrance fee is a symbolical 2€. The opening times of the museum are from 9:30 to 12:30 and 14:00 to 17:00; Tuesday to Sunday.
Don’t forget that, like most museum in Portugal, the Town Museum is closed on Mondays.
Museu da Cera dos Descobrimentos – Wax Museum of Portuguese Discoveries
Lagos hosts a Wax Museum of the Portuguese Discoveries where you and your family can get to know a bit more about this era by meeting the main individuals that represent Portugal’s Discoveries around the world.
We think this museum is a must-do activity for families with kids who are eager to learn about history.
Entrance fees are 5€ per adult and 3€ for children. The wax museum of Portuguese Discoveries is opened from 10:00 to 19:00 all days of the week.
Igreja de Santo António – Saint Anthony Church
The Church of Santo António should surely be on your list of things to do in Lagos. Originally constructed in 1707, and rebuilt in 1769, this church, named after Saint Anthony, is rather simple and plain on the outside and astonishingly impressive inside.
It’s a true surprise, don’t forget to walk in the church to appreciate the brilliance of the ornate wood carvings that contrast with the intense colorful dome ceilings.
The interior church walls are covered with typical local 18th century “azulejos” (tiles) of blue and white. A statue of the patron saint, Santo António holding Baby Jesus is located on the throne within the altar. The church is located on Rua General Alberto da Silveira, in the city centre.
Mercado de Escravos – Slave Market
This historical city once housed Europe’s first black slave market. The market was built in 1444 and during the 15th century, here the first slaves, captured and transported from Africa, were sold.
The trade of slaves brought a considerable income to the Portuguese monarchy and merchant classes.
The major sponsor of these expeditions was Infante Dom Henrique (Prince Henry the Navigator), who’s statue appears on the square where the market is located. The Navigator received 20% of the selling price of all the slaves.
Nowadays, the Slave Market holds a museum with ancient findings. On one of the walls of the building there is a stone dating from the 17th century.
Beside the ancient findings, the building now serves as an art gallery presenting a rotation of local artists from across the Algarve. António Alonso is a local artist that we highly appreciate, for example.
The Slave Market has no entrance fee and is open from 9:30 to 12:30 and 14:00 to 17:00, Monday to Saturday.
Castelo dos Governadores – Governors Castle
As we mentioned before, the town of Lagos played a decisive role in the Portuguese Discoveries. It was from Lagos where the caravels left in 1419 to discover the Madeira archipelago and in 1427 the Azores archipelago.
This city was also the point of departure of the ships that conquered Alcácer-Ceguer, Arzila and Tânger in Africa.
The castle of the Governors has its origin during this epoch. Around 1642, during the Portuguese Restoration War from Spain, the Castle’s walls were reinforced for the use of artillery. With the big earthquake of 1755, many of the castle’s walls were destroyed again.
Nowadays the Castle of Lagos does not maintain much of its initial construction, but it is an important heritage, classified as National Monument.
If you walk from the city centre in direction of Praia da Batata, you will pass by its very well preserved walls which are still is one of the main references.
Lagos City walls
The old part of the town is circled by the old stone city walls. The Lagos city walls were constructed in the 16th century to protect the city.
Once this city was the capital of the Algarve, when the territory needed to be protected by city walls.
A fun way to experience the old city is to enter from the back of town, through a beautifully arched entry hole in the wall.
You can park your car near the old walls. From there you can wander around the typical narrow back streets of Lagos and feel like a local.
Many of the old street walls are draped with the vibrant color of bougainvillaea.
Also, street art is becoming more and more common in Lagos and you encounter some walls covered by artistic graffiti paintings, sometimes with a political touch.
Statue of São Gonçalo
Situated on the main Avenida dos Descobrimentos, right on top of Praia da Batata beach, you can find the statue of São Gonçalo de Lagos. The statue illustrates the Algarve’s only Saint, São Gonçalo.
The statue is in a spectacular position overlooking east of Lagos the Meia Praia and Praia da Batata, Alvor and beyond. São Gonçalo is the protector of the local fishermen.
Sculpture of Dom Sebastião
Dom Sebastião is a statue in Lagos, right in the city centre. Dom Sebastião I was King of Portugal and the Algarves from 11 June 1557 to 4 August 1578. As such, he was the penultimate Portuguese monarch of the House of Aviz.
He disappeared in the battle of Alcácer Quibir in Africa. Sebastian I is often referred to as “O Desejado” (The Desired) because the Portuguese people longed for his return. The decline of Portugal occurred because of his death.
Statue of Infante Dom Henrique
The statue of Infante Dom Henrique may be found on the square next to the Slave Market we mentioned before. Infante Henrique of Portugal, Duke of Viseu was born on 4 March 1394 and died 13 November 1460.
He is better known as Henry the Navigator, or “O Navegador” in Portuguese. He was an important figure in the 15th-century Portuguese politics and the beginning of the Portuguese Empire.
In fact, he is regarded as the main initiator of the Age of Discoveries as he was responsible for the start of the Portuguese exploration and maritime trade with other continents through the exploration of Western Africa, the islands of the Atlantic Ocean while searching for new routes.
Tours in Lagos
The famous Grotto boat tours
Lagos is worldwide known for its particular coastline. In fact, the region around Lagos, in particular from Praia da Batata to Ponta da Piedade is characterized by distinctive and magnificent cliffs with rock formations and grottos.
That’s why, one of the most popular tours are the so-called “grotto tours”. The famous Ponta da Piedade is a place to visit.
If you are in the city for the first time, you need to do this! Step into a small typical fishing boat and let your local fisherman be your guide.
Your guide will navigate around and under the breathtaking rock formations and take you into the caves including the “Elefante”, “gruta do amor”, “A capela” and more.
It’s also a great way to decide which beaches you want to go during your holidays as your guide will point out the many beaches that surround the town.
Our favorite grotto tour is the two-hour grotto boat tour to the Ponta da Piedade caves. This tour is a two in one as you’ll depart on a beautiful sailing boat and later step over to a smaller boat to enter the caves. It’s a real taste of Portugal.
We also provide many boat tours, including day tours, boat trips with lunch, boat cruises to the famous Benagil caves,
If you are staying in Praia da Luz, you don’t need to come to Lagos to enjoy a grotto tour. We recommend you to go with the local provider that departs from Praia da Luz.
We’re sure you will enjoy these boat tours that depart from Praia da Luz. On this tour, you’ll also get to know the cliffs from Praia da Luz, like the famous “Rocha Negra”, Black Rock, with a volcanic origin.
If you’re in Lagos for only one day and you’re short on time, don’t worry, because there are many one-hour grotto tours that depart from the Marina of Lagos. These tours are all very similar, they differ a bit in the type of boat.
We always recommend the smaller boats, because those are the ones that can easily manoeuvre inside the grottoes. Usually, these tours will take you to the direction of Ponta da Piedade, close to the cliffs and in the caves, and on the way back, speed up a bit to reach the Marina one hour later.
Jet ski in Luz
In Portugal, you need a boat licence to take a Jet ski to open waters. Don’t you have a boat licence but really want to enjoy the adrenaline of speeding on a Jet ski? Good news! On Meia Praia, you can ride a Jet ski without any licence as long as you stay within the limits set by the operator.
Prices start at 40€ for 15 minutes.
Sailing boat tour
This sailing boat has become an icon of the city. The boat appears on the Lagos postcard and everybody loves it. These boat tours have been operating in the Algarve for many years. They are one the most popular things to do.
We recommend booking in advance because the boats can become fully booked for several days in a row during the high season. The tour will take you on a lovely cruise along the Meia Praia beach.
The staff will serve a typical Portuguese BBQ of grilled chicken and salad and there is plenty of time to relax, swim and make stunning pictures of the coastline.
Dolphin watching tours
Dolphins are animals that fascinate everybody, no matter the age. The waters from the Algarve are very popular for local and migrating dolphin species.
It’s a truly unforgettable experience to see these charming animals in their natural habitat. That’s why the dolphin watching boat tours should also be on your top things to do. Your children or friends will love the adventure!
There are three dolphin tours in Lagos that we highly recommend.
- Do you dare to come aboard of “Tornado”, Europe’s biggest rigid inflatable passenger boat? Feel the boost of its twin-engine while speeding over the Atlantic on a very safe way. We’re sure your family will love this boat tours in Lagos. Your husband will love the boat and your kids will remember this as the best things to do in Lagos, Portugal.
- The other tour we highly recommend is on the Prince of Whales, a smaller boat. On this boat tour, your guide is actually a marine biologist. The biologist will be happy to share all the interesting facts about the creatures you’ll find during this boat tours in Lagos.
- Also from Praia da Luz there are daily departures for a dolphin watching adventure during the summer. These dolphin watching boat tours in Lagos are excellent for families with kids from 4 years old.
All operators mentioned above have a very high chance of seeing dolphins because they are specialized in this kind of tour.
Finding wild dolphins is not guaranteed because the animals are totally wild and are not fed. Don’t forget to book in advance. These tours are very popular during the summer and may become fully booked for several days in a row!
Lagos is a windsurf paradise. Given the privileged location of Lagos, there’s always a spot where the wind is just right. The bay of Meia Praia is one of the most common places to practice windsurf in Lagos. If you’d like to learn to windsurf, there are amazing windsurf lessons on Meia Praia.
If you’re based in Praia da Luz, there is no need to come over to Lagos to learn how to windsurf. The local watersports specialist, based on the beach of Praia da Luz, provides a five hour windsurf course for only 120€. These courses are suitable for all ages (as long as you can swim and feel comfortable in the ocean) and levels of experience.
To explore Lagos stunning coastline, nothing better than the Kayak tours in Lagos. Like that you’ll be environmentally friendly, you’ll exercise and have no noise while enjoying the fantastic sights!
Another great advantage of kayaking along the coast is that due to the fact they’re so small, you’re able to go inside all of the caves at Ponta da Piedade. Kayaking is a great activity in Lagos for the younger generation or for active families.
Surf Lessons day tours
Also for surfing on the waves, there are a great option! The location on the Southwest point of Europe guarantees there are good waves to surf either on the South or West Coast.
So, if you are looking for a surf safari for one day, you are at the right place.
We surely recommend this experience for young adventures people. The atmosphere of the surfing scene is really cool and you’ll definitely have a fun and sporty day.
Kitesurfing is, along with windsurfing, a very popular sport on the beaches around Lagos, and in particular on Meia Praia.
In Lagos, you can take kitesurf lessons, suitable for all levels of experience. Don’t forget that kitesurfing is way more complex than surfing and windsurfing and therefore it will take a bit longer before you can actually do it.
SUP tours in Lagos
Stand-up paddle is one of the sports in the world that grows fastest. Why? Because it can be done by all ages (as long as you can swim and feel comfortable in the ocean) and because it’s rather easy to learn.
You have several options to do SUP tours in Lagos. If you prefer, you can go to an area far away from all the tourists, in Sagres.
If you prefer to stay in the city, you can go SUPping at Ponta da Piedade. This region of the Algarve is known for its fantastic rock formations and caves and stand-up paddle is definitely a cool way to explore it.
Looking for a day excursion with the kids or youngsters and want something different than the sea? Aqualand is an all-inclusive waterpark about 45 minutes from Lagos. If you don’t have a rental car, you can go by bus, but it may take a bit longer.
Aqualand is a world of water attractions for the whole family or group of friends. Here you can experience a broad variety of water slides of all different shapes and sizes.
Aqualand is suitable for the whole family; while some relax on the lawn, others enjoy an adrenaline rush while the little ones enjoy themselves at their very own water playground.
During the summer months, be patient with the crowds as Aqualand draws locals and visitors from across Portugal.
In general, queues may appear big but are rather fast. For the girls: do not wear a strapless bikini top or you’ll lose it! Tickets are available at hotel receptions.
A nice tip for families with kids: the Zoo of Lagos. The Zoo is located near Barão de São João, a village about 20 mins from the city and you can either go by car or a bus.
The zoo is home to more than 120 animal species and about 200 botanical species from around the world in a natural environment. We consider this smallish zoo ideal for families with young children who look for activity out of the city.
There are no big animals like tigers and elephants, but you will encounter plenty of birds, monkeys and wallabies. Also, some regular farm animals that the children can pet. There is a restaurant on site. The zoo is opened daily and all year around.
Ponta da Piedade can be viewed by many perspectives. We prefer the perspective from the ocean by boat or kayak or SUP tour in Lagos, but you can also explore the top of the cliffs.
If you park your car near Ponta da Piedade you can find some nice signed walking trails. You may expect amazing views, so don’t forget your camera.
The most beautiful beaches can be explored, in many different ways. Like even the small hidden beaches like Praia de Estudantes.
Also, be careful, because rain and wind are constantly eroding the edges of the cliffs, so don’t get too close to the edge and stay on the trails.
Do not forget to bring your hat and sunscreen, because the sun is very intense next to the ocean.
For nature and animal lovers, there are several horse clubs in the neighborhood of Lagos where you can go for a ride.
In the winter, you can fulfil your dreams by booking a West coast ride. On this ride, you will gallop over an extensive beach and have a lovely ride through the countryside of Portugal guided by a local who knows the trails and the horses very well.
The beach ride can only be done during the winter because otherwise, the beaches would be too busy. So, during the summer months, you can book a pick-nick ride, and go swimming with the horses in a stunning lake.
These tours are highly recommended for nature lovers and are suitable for all levels of experience and ages. Lagos, Portugal.
Golf in the Algarve
The Algarve is home to some of the finest golf courses of Europe. Thanks to its slightly hilly terrain and pleasant weather conditions, the Algarve is renowned for its world-class golf courses, most of which are open all year round.
The town is a very popular destination for golf lovers because of its proximity to a multitude of great golf courses. Lagos is a good home base for a golf holiday, as great selection of luxury golf courses lies within less than a 15-minute drive from the city.
Penina Golf Course is one of the most popular golf courses, as it offers a selection of three courses, bordering the town.
Boavista Golf is another popular course which has scenic views over the bay of Lagos. Some of the courses are quite hilly, so we recommend you to take an electric cart.
The best beaches
One of the best things to do is to spend a warm day is to enjoy your time one of the many beaches along the town coastline. The beaches along the Lagos’ coastline are all stunning and all different.
During the high season, some of the most popular beaches can become quite crowded.
To find a more non-touristic quiet beach you need to hire a car and drive a few kilometres. Please don’t forget to protect yourself against the heat and bring a sunshade, hat, sunscreen and water.
Some of our favourite beaches around Lagos are Porto de Mós, Meia Praia, Praia do Camilo and Praia D. Ana.
Nightlife & parties
Lagos is not only known for its natural beauty and as a nice picturesque Portuguese town. Lagos is also known for its lively nightlife. The town has an abundance of pubs, bars and cafes with awesome atmosphere and for all tastes.
To have dinner, the city centre has many restaurants with lovely terraces to enjoy a local dish or foreign ones, like Italian, Japanese or Indian.
We really like Taberna de Lagos, a bit more chique than the average, with trendy music and a modern Portuguese / French menu. Adega da Marina, on the main avenue, is the best if we consider price/quality.
Typical Portuguese food, like fresh fish and meat. Here you can try some sardines if its sardine season. Come early or you risk a queue during the summer months.
For people who like a food-experience, we recommend Pizza Pazza. Pizza Pazza is a Pizzeria owned by a German-Italian family who makes the most amazing thin pizzas.
You have to drive a lot, about half an hour from Lagos, and it’s not easy to find. If you went to the west coast for the day, it’s an ideal way to finish your day. Located in the small surfer village Pedralva, it’s a lovely place to go on your holidays. Try to reserve because it might be very busy.
Another tip if you want to leave the citylife for a bit to escape from the tourists, is Atabai in the old “Hippy” village of Barão de São João. It is just 15 minutes from Lagos and also a true experience. They serve great dishes for a great price.
In terms of bars, we usually go to Red Eye bar for a nice night out with surfer music (indie-rock) and some beers to play pool or darts. Joe’s Garage is the craziest bar of Lagos. If you look for a “noite louca”, go here and feel the real summer nights! Great cocktails and popular music!
Stevie Rays is a bit more classy and are the place to hear some funky of jazz music. We think Stevie’s is the coolest place to go out in Lagos as they often have live music.
Black Cat Bar, right next to Stevie’s, is a bar that’s all year round frequented by the Portuguese locals.
Always a nice atmosphere for a beer on the street. For the after hours, Duna Beach Bar on Meia Praia is the place to be. Grab one of the transfers provided or a taxi and dance until the sunrise by a pool on the beach to the beat of local DJs.
The city is well accessible with public transport, such as bus and train. We recommend to hire a car or arrange your transport with a transfers provider.
I love the shrimps of Bar Quim! Good memories!
I do recommend the dolphin watching tour as it is an amazing experience!