THE ALGARVE

LIVE IT UP IN LAGOS PORTUGAL

A PICTURESQUE COASTAL MECCA FOR PARTY LOVERS & SUN-SEEKERS; LAGOS PORTUGAL TELLS A SWEET TALE OF GOLDEN BEACHES, SUN-DRENCHED SUMMERS, GOOD FOOD, GOOD WINE AND GREAT NIGHTLIFE. 

As one of the Algarve’s most popular coastal resorts, if you’re headed to Lagos Portugal, chances are you’ve got the beach on your mind. Beckoning backpackers and sun-seekers from all over Europe, Lagos is the perfect place to soak up the sun on the beach by day, eat like a king by night and party like it’s 1999 ’til dawn. 

Basking in the Algarve’s world famous sunshine, on the southern coast of Portugal, Lagos (pronounced lah-goosh) actually has it all. Small enough you can walk almost everywhere and still punchy enough to be one of Europe’s premier party destinations for backpackers, Lagos Portugal boasts stunning sandy beaches, rugged cliffs, clear blue water, an atmospheric old town, great restaurants and some pretty lively nightlife. Throw in lots of wine, a few fishbowls, a pinch of Portuguese charm and plenty of affordable price tags, and it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to see Lagos makes for rather an enticing holiday spot.

The charming streetscape of the town of Lagos

Boat on the shore in Lagos Portugal

Beach umbrellas aplenty in Lagos Portugal

The charming town square in Lagos Portugal

WHAT TO DO

In Lagos Portugal you’ll never be short of activities or entertainment. If you’re up for action and adventure, try diving in wrecks, mountain biking the coast, surfing great breaks or kayaking through caves and grottos. If you’d rather relax a little, take an amazing trip to discover the west coast, dolphin watch or go shopping. Aside from its natural beauty and hedonistic appeal to sun-lovers, surfers and sex-crazed backpackers, Lagos was founded on centuries of seafaring, that have actually left it with historical clout worth exploring – if you’re a bit of a history buff.

Learn about the slave market, the discoveries of Infante dom Henrique or the town’s general history in the Main Museum. Stroll the cobblestone streets towards the fish market and check out the cultural agenda of exhibitions, music and concerts at the cultural centre, if you’re keen for a day, sans beach. There really is something for everyone in Lagos; good surfing and relaxed beaches cater for the laid-back outdoor sun lounge loving crew, while cultural activities, the 16th-century town walls, picturesque plazas and Arab-built castle cover off the culture vultures and architecture-buffs.

Cobblestone walkway along Marina.

Town Square Lagos Portugal

THE BEACHES

Some of the best in the Algarve, the pristine golden beaches with clear water and dramatic jagged cliffs surrounding Lagos will take your breath away. With a view of the Lagos Fortress, sheltered Praia da Batata is a great place for a quick dip, just across the road from the town centre. Although it is a fairly small beach, there is a beach bar, kayak hire/tours to explore the grottos, toilets and change rooms.

The Beach Bar

Stretching east of the marina you’ll find four wonderful kilometres of golden sand at Meia Praia. A lively beach, there’s going to be children paddling in the shallow waters and paragliders cutting up the waves – you’ve been told. If you’re actually after something small and sheltered, Camino Beach is an option. Now you won’t miss the spectacular rock formations nestled beneath the cliffs at Dona Ana Beach so don’t worry about that, but keep an eye out for Praia do Pinhão or “Pinion Beach”. Hidden beneath tall orange cliffs that create a secluded cove, this ones almost too good to tell anyone about! If you do manage to discover it, you’ll find one of the most wonderful places in the Algarve waiting for you – no shops, umbrellas or deck chairs. Peace. Go early for the chance to swim in the glistening ocean alone, it’s definitely the most peaceful place to take a swim around these parts.

You can’t leave Lagos without experiencing its number one attraction: the breathtakingly beautiful Ponta da Piedade. Rocky cliffs tower 20 metres over the sea giving way to glistening caves, sea arches and a blowhole that have been sculpted by nature over thousands of years. You can take a boat trip to discover the area but I’d highly recommend jumping in a kayak. Departing from Praia da Batata, Kayak Tours Lagos host 3 hour guided trips to the grottos and know where all the hidden treasure are.  For those less keen to try their sea legs you can also take a cliff walk from Lagos town to the lighthouse, Farol da Ponta da Piedade. Behind the lighthouse you’ll find a stairway and some paths down to Ponta da Piedade.

Kayaking the caves around Lagos Portugal

 LIFE AFTER DARK

Lagos comes alive when the sun goes down. The main strip, Rua 25 de Abril, is in the old town and it’s a hub of pubs, bars and cafés. It’s about 2 minutes’ walk from the beachfront and home to nightclubs that usually spill out onto the sand with after-dark beach parties. Clubs suited to a younger crowd get going around 1am but there are laid-back bars and karaoke pubs, too. Three pieces of wisdom…
1) A small beer is called an Imperial. They are cheap and everyone else seems to find them irresistibly delicious. So much so, they could never have “Just one”.
2) If you’re out to get lucky, it appears your chances in Lagos are at least 10 times what they usually would be. You don’t even have to be Pharrell Williams. There must be something in the water.
3) Lastly but not leastly, the fishbowls are dangerous. But have one for a laugh. You’ll pay for it the next day though.

FOR FISHBOWLS & DANCING TILL 4AM GO TO… INSIDE OUT BAR

InsideOut bar puts the p in party with one hell of a crazy dance floor! Go early to enjoy the drink specials, a game of pool or one of their legendary fishbowl cocktails. Then watch as the place transforms into a late night dance party. By close, it’s a bit of a petting zoo this place, but I always did like to watch farm animals. NOTE: This is one of the few bars open until 4am.

FOR A NIGHT AT AN ICONIC INSTITUTION GO TO… THREE MONKEYS

Three Monkeys bar is an institution. You haven’t really experienced Lagos until you´ve been there. The bar is open all afternoon, offering pool, darts & battleshots. As night falls get ready to rock with the friendliest crew in Lagos… Be prepared for a crazy night, including but not restricted to, shots, beer bongs and dancing on the bar… You get the picture.

SPECIAL MENTION TO…  THIS TOWN’S LOVE OF A GOOD BOOZE CRUISE 

Forget waiting till after dark, join a boat party and head out to bask in the summer sun on the booze cruise of a lifetime. Lagos is the perfect place for lying on the beach all day. But we’re talking about the best party booze cruise in Portugal… Worth a try no? The 3 hour trip on a 70ft boat features all you can drink beer and sangria, drinking games, funnels, swimming, music, dancing and a whole lot of craziness. Even if you are not a big drinker, it’s a great day on the ocean, in Portugal, with a boat full of new friends.

The infamous Inside Out Bar

The legendary Rising Cock Hostel

No shirt – free drink. You get that girls?

WHO GOES THERE?

Of course the downside of having everything is that lovely Lagos has caught the fancy of more than a few travellers. With every activity under the sun (literally) on offer, it’s not surprising that people of all ages are drawn to this infamous backpacker enclave. You’ll meet the usual British and Aussie contingent spending their 20’s working their way around Europe and loving life. Book ahead for accommodation to avoid missing out and be prepared… On the off day in peak season, Lagos can feel like it is being overrun by tourists – all of whom seem to “drink until they can drink no more” then just pass out on the beaches to wait out the hangover. I think it’s a bit like washing your hair, only with drinking; Drink, Dry Out Repeat.

In front of the Marina.

Wandering the charming streets in town.

WHEN TO GO & HOW MUCH?

The Algarve boasts long sunny days and temperatures of around 30°C in summer. In spring and autumn, the thermometer lingers in the mid-20s, and even in winter you can expect highs that hit a comfortable 20°C. As for pinching your pennies, Lagos is a hell of alot cheaper than spots with similar scenery and nightlife in both France or Spain.

GETTING THERE

The nearest Airport is Faro, about 75km from Lagos. Trains and buses operate from Lisbon to Lagos

 

NOW IT’S OVER TO YOU!
HAVE YOU BEEN TO LAGOS?

WHAT DID YOU THINK? SUN-DRENCHED SUMMER HAVEN OR TOURISTY TOWN OVERRUN BY INTOXICATED AUSSIES?

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Jess Harding is the frequent flying, freelance writer and travel blogger behind the scenes at Back to Buckley, the travel blog. Subscribe to the mailing list or follow her on all your favourite to social media networks to keep track of the fun 24/7.

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