Everything you need to know about staying in this little seaside town on the southern tip of Portugal. It’s not an intrepid destination by any means, but it’s damn easy on the eyes!
From Lisbon, you can catch a train or bus to Lagos. Personally, we would recommend the bus from Lisbon – quick, painless, and no changes. Pick up your tickets online and then save them in iBooks to present to the bus driver. If travelling by air is your style, the closest airport is Faro, from which you can then jump on a bus or train to reach your final destination.
Staying in Lagos
If you’re there to party, then it’s probably best to stay in the Old Town, where backpackers rocking tans and tattoos congregate around bars like flies on roadkill. There’s a heap of hostels to choose from, but please note this isn’t a cheap town, especially in high season. A bed in a dorm will set you back €20 – €30 at the very least throughout summer, known as high season in Europe.
To give you a very clear idea, we stayed in a small guesthouse (if you’re curious, Azelinda’s Guesthouse) for around €50 per night for two, which included a private room, bathroom (shared – the guesthouse has three rooms available, which were frequented by other travelling pairs/couples), lounge room, kitchen and washing machine (sadly broken during our stay) and patchy wi-fi. This was just beyond the town’s castle walls, about a ten minute walk uphill from Lagos’ main strip. It was super convenient as we like to cook to save money and opted to watch the alcohol intake so we could make the most of our days in the Algarve… but possibly not the best location if you’re there to paint the town red. More on this later.
Weather in Lagos
Lagos in August is hot hot hot baby! With long days that start around 7.00 am and wind up at about 9.00 pm this is serious tanning weather. With 300 days of sunshine a year, it’s the perfect time and place for a traditional beach holiday comprising of swimming, drinking and siestas – just be aware you are going to be swimming and drinking with thousands of other tourists who descend on this small town for exactly the same reasons as you. If you hate people, perhaps consider going there in another season – here’s a guide for what sort of weather you can expect year-round.
For us, the weather in August was absolutely glorious, and the water temperature was gorgeous – refreshing and cold but not icy like the water we found further north in Nazare. However, the days were very warm, so if you don’t like very hot weather or aren’t used to it, Lagos in July and August (and even June and September) might not be for you.
The Best Beaches in Lagos
Um… sorry, what kind of question is this? They’re all amazing.
The beauty of Lagos is basically all the beaches are in walking distance, making this a very lazy holiday indeed. Our favourites were Praia do Pinhao, Praia de Dona Ana and Praia do Camilo, but to be honest they’re all stunning. What are you waiting for – get beach hopping!
Lagos Beach Essentials – Insider Tips
Get yourself down to these beaches for sunrise. This is seriously a sight not to be missed. Whether you totter to the water half-cut in your Saturday night kit with mascara flaking down your cheeks or set your alarms and go to bed early, it is the best way to appreciate Lagos’s unique landscape, without people are crawling all over it. If you’re a keen photographer get excited – the sun rises over the ocean.
The sun is really strong in Lagos – sunscreen is not optional. Make like the Europeans and bring your beach umbrella or you can pick one up for around €15. Inflatable li-lows and boats are also supremely popular.
Random beach fact – Praia da Piedade is not in fact a beach, but a launching pad for a boat tour. We raced down the steps here with a truckload of other sun seekers for a glimpse of some very beautiful grottos, only to realise in the absence of a beach there was a man asking for €20 each to hop on a boat tour. Time to struggle back. Oh goodie. On this note, it might be a bit of a no-brainer but most of Lagos’s beaches are accessible only from clifftops and wheeze-inducing sets of stairs – those with impaired mobility may not be able to fully enjoy this destination.
Getting around Lagos
Lagos’s beaches are all very close to its city centre and a car could be considered more of an inconvenience than advantage as parking is very limited – I’d probably only recommend one for a day or two if you’re thinking of exploring the entire Algarve coastline. If you hate walking and want a little more flexibility, push bikes, scooters and motor bikes are easy to hire – just make sure you check availability the day before with the vendor and arrive at opening time as they are hot property.
To give you an idea, we hired a 145cc scooter for €64 for two days, which included insurance reducing our liability.
Getting around Lagos – Insider tips
If you’re planning on hiring any form of transport, always check with the vendor what ID and/or deposit they will require from you they prior. We learnt this in Barcelona when we made the wise choice of trying to hire bikes at the beach with no ID #nobikesforyou.
We hired a scooter from Sidecar 32 in Lagos (who were awesome BTWO) and they told us only International Drivers licenses are accepted in Portugal. This policy may not be consistently applied but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. You can get them locally in your home country. In Australia, NRMA, RACV and RACQ all provide them.
We would only recommend hiring a motorbike or scooter if you are an experienced rider as the roads are slippery and crowded. We met a couple who had a scooter accident and whilst it was only minor and they escaped with just a few knocks and scrapes, it totally wrecked their time in Lagos. If you are experienced – be careful!
Water sports in Lagos
Lagos is a haven for SUP’ers and kayakers, and there are plenty of tour operators allowing you to get a piece of the action as well. The grottos, sea stacks and cliffs connecting the beaches are what Lagos is famous for and there are a number of tours you can take, ranging from SUP and kayak tours of Lagos or nearby Sagres (transport included) which will set you back €50 and upwards.
If you’d prefer to take it easier, you can also jump on a boat tour from €15 – €20. These will take you on a slightly less adventurous, but nevertheless very scenic tour of the coastline.
Water sports in Lagos – Insider Tips
We’re not going to lie, we were probably a bit naive – and therefore a little disappointed – all the fun stuff in Lagos cost a fair amount of money. You can’t actually just hire a stand-up paddle board or a kayak (we were told for safety reasons) so unless you have the equipment yourself, or can find someone to hire it to you on the sly, you will find yourself on a tour. We’ve heard these are amazing, but they’re also a little out of budget for backpackers. If you’re on holiday with cash to flash, these tours are obviously an amazing way to spend your time in Lagos and came highly recommended to us by other travellers.
Eating and Drinking in Lagos
We did the boring thing and saved money in Lagos by cooking most of our meals, but there’s a plethora of places to choose from for breakfast, lunch, dinner and later (for our fellow budgeters, here’s where you can find groceries). Lagos is only a small town, so you won’t find any super clubs, but what you will find Monday – Sunday is a bunch of very, very loose people having a very, very good time.
Amongst these revellers you might even find our dishevelled waitress from Beats and Burritos (PS – quesadillas for the win) whom we overheard telling another table, “I’ve been here all summer, and on any given night, there’s a 95% chance I’ll go out”. Something tells us this was the truth – it was 10.00 pm and it was entirely possible she’d just rolled out of bed, thrown on some booty shorts and shuffled to work still nursing last night’s hangover. We reckon her excellent attendance record is indicative of the Lagos nightlife clientele – best suited to the truly dedicated.
That’s why there’s no-one better than better than George Ramin from A Wild Away to sort out your Saturday night hit list, whilst Good Times Lagos has some great recommendations for cheap eats. Casa do Prego and Nah Nah Bar also came highly recommended for good times and good value.
So What Else is There to Say?
Simply that Lagos can’t help but grow on you. If on first impression you find yourself wincing at the crowds and its unashamed touristy-ness, give yourself a couple of days. It mayn’t exactly be an up-and-coming destination, but by the end of your Lagos sojourn, you’ll be wishing you had another week to spend tanning, drinking and exploring. Trust us.