Lagos is a fantastic town in the western Algarve Portugal, that can certainly be enjoyed by all age groups. It has a superb collection of holiday rental accommodation on offer, whether it is Villas , town homes or apartments. A lot of them from the owners direct. In the past two years the Lagos area has been among the strongest performers in the Algarve holiday rental market.
It is full of historical interest with it's origins dating as far back as 2000 years BC when it was known as Lacobriga. Lagos has always had a seafaring connection, originally visited by Phoenicians and Carthaginians and then, during the 15th century, was the base for the 'voyages of the Discoveries' instigated by Henry the Navigator when trade between Africa and Portugal brought a great deal of wealth into the town.
The older part of Lagos is still circled by the city walls that were constructed during the 16th century when it was the residence of the governors of the Algarve and the fort, Ponta da Bandeira, by Batata beach is part of the 17th century fortifications that were added to protect the town. Behind it (on the opposite side of the road) is the Porta de São Gonçalo (St.Gonçalo’s gate) with a watchtower on either side and just to the right of this is the Governors' Castle ( of Arab construction).
The square next to the Governors' castle is the Praça Infante Dom Henrique with a statue of Prince Henry looking out to sea. To the left of the square at the back is Igreja da Santa Maria. The facade of this church is 15/16th century but it was rebuilt in the 18/19th centuries.
Walk along the cobbled street at the back of the square just past Santa Maria church and you will come to the famous Lagos 'golden church' of St. Anthony which was rebuilt in 1769 - entrance to this church is through the museum at the side and both the museum and the church are well worth visiting. On the opposite side to the churches is the 'Slave Market' from the 15th century, where slaves brought back from the discovery voyages were sold. There is another church, St. Sebastian, dating from 14th to 16th century, which is on a hill just behind the fish market with fantastic views over Lagos bay.
Lagos is certainly full of history, but it is also a vibrant town with lots going on - Praça de Gil Eanes and this is often the setting for evening entertainment throughout the year -
There are several streets leading off Praça de Gil Eanes, with restaurants to suit all tastes! The centre of Lagos really isn't very big, but it can be a bit confusing! There are so many little streets criss-crossing that it is quite easy to loose your bearings, but to be honest, as long as you head down hill you are sure to get back to the centre! There are loads of bars that stay open until the early hours and in the summer time the centre of town is alive with people of all ages enjoying themselves. There are always touts from the different bars offering a free drink or 'shot' at 'their' bar, but it can be a useful way to find them as they are often tucked away down one of the many little side streets.
The Avenida dos Descobrimentos (avenue of the Discoveries) which runs along the water front and you will come to the very modern, Lagos Marina. There is a footbridge over the Bensafrim river to the marina which, on one of Lagos' windy days, can be a very blowy walk, but you do get a lovely view of the town and the 'boats' in the marina!
The 450+ berth marina, which has both the Euromarina Anchor Award and the Blue Flag award, has a variety of shops, bars and restaurants to enjoy, all with a great view of the 'boats'!
There is normally some music in the bars and if you want to watch your favourite football team, they screen the big matches and various sports events!
Lagos train station is behind the marina and the road that runs past the station takes you to the beginning of Meia Praia beach - a 4km stretch of golden sand with several beach bars along it's length (some of which stay open all year round).
On the right hand side, just over the marina bridge, is the dock area for the fishing boats and several places selling the freshly caught fish( some also have small restaurants upstairs ).
If you ask for directions in Lagos you will almost certainly be directed by way of the various roundabouts! The first one at the entrance to Lagos is very obviously the 'Ship' roundabout (the tourist office is nearby). The 'Ball' roundabout (a very large black ball) is at the top of the hill at the far end of the Avenida dos Descobrimentos, past the fire station - on the way to Dona Ana, Ponta da Piedade and Porto de Mos. The third 'landmark' is 'The Chairs' (7 large perspex chairs that light up at night!), this is up the hill past the Lidl supermarket at the opposite side of town to the 'Ball'.
There is a local Lagos market on Saturday mornings in a building near the bus station (opposite the marina footbridge) - it has all the fresh fruits and vegetables, olives, honey, figs, almonds and much more. It's quite a small market, but very popular and cheap! If you decide to go, try and get there early and take 'small change' with you (euros and 50cents should do!).
There is also a daily market in the recently renovated fish market nearer to town - all the fresh fish and seafood is downstairs and upstairs are market stalls full of fruit, vegetables, dried fruits and preserves and also fresh bread. The top floor has a restaurant and a fantastic view across Lagos bay.
Lagos has some stunning views, it has to be said! From the Ponte da Piedade (in front of the lighthouse) you get a fantastic view of the sweeping sands of Lagos bay with the Monchique hills as a backdrop, and you can see all the way to Sagres to the west and past Albufeira to the east
Lagos - Algarve - Portugal
Lagos - History
The Romans gave the name of “Lacobriga” to the town but its natural river port would indicate very much earlier occupation. The Moors then gave the town the name of "Zawaia" It was captured from the Moors in 1189 but it was not until 1249 that it was finally conquered by Dom Afonso III and integrated into the kingdom of Portugal with the name of "Lagus". This historic town has played an important part in the story of discovery of many parts of the world. It was from the harbour that Vasco da Gama sailed in 1499 on his historic and epic voyage of discovery. Lagos was the capital of the Algarve from 1578 until 1756 and there remain several ancient buildings to testify to its historic glory. From its Port maritime expeditions were embarked upon to discover the world at the orders of Prince Henry the Navigator. Also, the Armada of 800 vessels led by the ill-fated heir to the throne Dom Sebastião embarked from Lagos in 1578 to capture the town of Ceuta in Morocco.
It is written that the very first time the famous explorer Columbus from Genoa set foot in the Iberian Peninsular, was when the inhabitants of Lagos saved him and other sailors from the shipwreck of a vessel in which he was sailing. Another interesting fact is that Francis Drake in 1587 failed in his attempt to raid Lagos and then sailed on to Sagres to sack the occasional historic home of Henry the Navigator"
Lagos - Description
Essentially now an important tourist town there are still many architectural signs of its ancient past, even a building dating originally back to around 1445 which is recorded as being Europe’s first building used as a slave market. The walls of the town in the most part remain after sections were restored. Attached to the famous 17th Century "gold" church of Santo António there is a small museum of regional items, some of which are quite odd!
There are several interesting statues erected to the famous figures of the past that are associated with the history of this town. None more controversial that the sculpture of Dom Sebastião standing in the main square in front of the Town Hall. A more recent statue commemorates the Algarve’s only Saint, São Gonçalo de Lagos, who was born in 1360 and died in 1422 in Torres Vedras. Pope Pio VI raised him to Sainthood in 1778. The town’s more recently constructed Marina presents a lovely picture and this harbour is practically the first sight a visitor has of Lagos. Besides the boats that find it convenient as a permanent mooring it is usually full of yachts passing on the way or returning from the Mediterranean and the Americas. At the entrance to the harbour is the "Forte da Bandeira" which was constructed in the 17th Century.
The municipal council has constructed near to the centre of the town there is a reasonably modern Cultural Centre in which various exhibitions and culturally related events are held during the year. In the Marina visitors will find different boat tours, yacht hire, and deep sea-fishing outings that can be booked.
Lagos - Nearby Locations
To the east and across the river from Lagos is Meia Praia, a very long sandy beach sheltered to the north by a gentle slope dotted with comfortable villas. To the west of Lagos the once upon a time fishing village of Praia da Luz is now devoted to the quieter side of the tourist trade and is the home of many residents from the colder northern climates. Further to the west is a another small fishermen's beach village of Burgau. Moving even further west is the coastal village of Salema. Here will be found some small Roman ruins proving the existence of its past importance.
The furthest west town is Vila do Bispo and is a very small administrative town for the Sagres area, the later being the most south-west corner of Europe! This area is a must for every visitor to the Algarve as it presents a very impressive and dramatic sight of towering sheer cliffs being beaten by the weight of the vast Atlantic Ocean. It is from here that Prince Henry sat and planned the several epic voyages of discovery that enlarged the known world of that time. Cape Santo Vicente is the name given to this promontory as it was here that fable has it that the Saint supposedly landed and decided to reside here for a period.
To the north of Lagos on the road to Lisbon is the small town country town of Aljezur with some fine nearby west coast beaches. Originally a hamlet, the Moors constructed a castle in the 10th Century whose ruin still stands today overlooking this town.
Map of Lagos and area.
Information courtesy of general internet research and algarveuncovered.com, portugal-info.net, tripadvisor.com, algarve-guides.com and many more sources
Villa Rentals in Lagos and holiday rentals in the Algarve Portugal in general are big business so you should expect to be treated with professionalism and with courtesy