Capital of the region, until decimated by an earthquake in 1755, it was from here that Henry the Navigator set out to explore Africa in the fifteenth century. Lagos is steeped in history. Today it is a definitively charming tourist destination, its winding streets full of wrought iron balconies and delightful patios. Its beaches among the most beautiful in the Algarve, its seafood second to none; Lagos is a destination of delight for visitors of all ages.
The beaches of Lagos are probably the reason why most people first visit Lagos. There are four outstanding beaches within walking distance of the town, or you can take the tourist mini-train that leaves from the Marina. Praia da Batata is the closest of the four and its sheltered calm waters make it ideal for families, although it does become very crowded in the summer. No problem with overcrowding on the Meia Praia, although its five-kilometre length still gets busy. The most spectacular local beach is Praia don Ana where turquoise water and golden sand are encircled by high sandstone cliffs. The small beach of Praia do Pinao may not be as spectacular but has a charm and beauty all of its own.
The Water Sports
Flickr Credit: JJ Hall
The mild climate and consistent conditions make this an ideal location for a range of water sports. A variety of swell sizes are ideal for surfers of all abilities or you might prefer a variant such as windsurfing or kitesurfing. The offshore Nortada winds offer perfect sailing conditions and the reefs, wrecks and underwater canyons are a delight for divers of all abilities.
Flickr Credit: Shever
Established since Roman times, Lagos has a rich cultural history to enjoy. Great views of the town can be enjoyed from its ancient walls or the restored castle on the river. A visit to the Municipal Museum will give you an overview of the town’s development. It’s open every day except Monday and its entrance fee is a mere three euros. The eighteenth-century church of Santa Antonio has some of the finest baroque carving in the Algarve or for a glimpse of the darker side of Lagos’ history you can visit the old slave market. In a corner of the Praca da Republica, under the arches of the old Customs House, is the site of Europe’s first slave market. At its height, ten thousand slaves a year were shipped from Africa to satisfy the Portuguese demand.
Hostels start from as little as 9 euros a night and although most hotels raise their prices during the summer months, many locals will rent their homes for as little as 12 euros a night. Some of them are even located right by the beach.
Lagos nightlife is often described as ‘chilled’ and there’s no shortage of atmospheric bars and clubs. Backpackers head for ‘Inside Out’, which is guaranteed to be rammed during summer months. Centrally located and brightly painted the ‘Bon Vivant’ has a popular terrace, which is great place to watch the world go by. The chances are though that you’ll drift from bar to bar as the tide of your companions takes you.
Image flickr credit: Kotomi_
Make no mistake – Lagos is seafood heaven. Get up early and visit the Gustav Eiffel designed Fish Market to get you in the mood and then take your pick from the scores of seafood restaurants. With fish this fresh it’s almost impossible to go wrong.
Featured photo via Mckay Savage’s Flickr (Creative Commons)