The Maritime City of Lagos


Lagos, which means “lakes”, has many associations with water. The historic river port city was founded on the estuary of the River Bensafrim and expanded along the Atlantic coast. It was the starting point for many of the 15th century Voyages of Discovery when Henry the Navigator, among others, brought great prestige and wealth to the town. Today the beautiful cliffs, sandy beaches and clean waters of this Western Algarve draw many holidaymakers to the area.

The older parts of this gracious city are enclosed by the city walls and, along with the Ponta da Bandeira Fort, were part of the protective fortifications against such vagabonds as Francis Drake. St Goncalo’s Gate, flanked by its watchtowers and the Governor’s Castle are other important historic monuments in Lagos’s historic old town. The city’s historical interest goes back almost 2000 years, to when the Phoenicians and Carthaginians once traded in the port.

The new waterfront promenade nearby is lined with cafés and bars. The pleasant mix of ancient and modern in this compact city is part of its endearing charm. In typical Algarve fashion, the old homes around Lagos have whitewashed walls and terracotta roofs which contrast beautifully with the green palm trees, flowering plants and blue seas.

Things to Do in Lagos

There are many wonderful sights and great things to do in Lagos. Discover its charming churches, elegant statues and fascinating museums. Follow the cobbled street past the 15th century Santa Maria Church to a hidden gem – the “golden church” of St Anthony. The entrance to the church is via the museum which is also worth exploring. Too, consider checking out the fish market which has fantastic views across Lagos Bay. Downstairs visitors can purchase fresh fish and seafood whilst upstairs there are stalls selling fresh fruit, vegetables, preserves and delicious freshly baked bread.

In the evening the Praca de Gil Eanes is the place to seek out lively entertainment. The square is the gathering place of musicians and street performers and if there is an important football match (the national sport!) large screens will be erected here. Restaurants and bars line the square and touts often distribute vouchers for free drinks, which is a good way to discover small bars tucked down one of the side streets.

The well-named Avenue of Discoveries leads down to the modern marina, another great location for dining and shopping. Beyond the luxury yachts and local sailing boats is the Meia Praia Beach, a 4km stretch of golden sand awarded a Blue Flag for its clean waters. Sunbathing, swimming, surfing and all the usual water-sports can be enjoyed. Taking a trip along the sheltered coast in sea kayaks is a popular way to enjoy the wonderful coastal scenery. The best viewpoint of the sweeping bay is from the lighthouse on the Ponte da Piedade. Panoramic views can be enjoyed as far as the Monchique hills, Sagres to the west and Albufeira to the east.

Lagos is certainly very easy to explore on foot and directions will invariably refer to the landmark “Ship” roundabout, the “Ball” roundabout and the “Chairs” roundabout, a modern art stack of perspex chairs which are lit up at night.

Local Food and Drink

Local restaurants often display fresh fish in chilled cabinets for you to choose and have prepared to order. Sea bass, bream, prawns, razor clams and other fish are brought ashore in Lagos daily. Oysters, fish stew, squid stuffed with ham and sausage known as “lulas recheadas” and dried salt cod (bacalhau) are some of the local delicacies, along with “morgados”, a dessert made with figs and almonds.

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