Lagos is an ancient port, also used during the Arab occupation. The city became important in the fifteenth century thanks to the Prince of Portugal Henry the Navigator, who used it as a favorite base for the departures of Portuguese boats to explore the African coast. It was the capital of the Algarve between 1576 and 1756. The city was destroyed by the 1755 earthquake.
Today Lagos, which has about thirty thousand inhabitants, is an important tourist and seaside resort full of life and shops. Its historic center is still surrounded by ancient medieval walls. Along the coast there are some beautiful beaches such as those of Dona Ana and Camilo.
WHAT TO SEE: THE MAIN ATTRACTIONS OF LAGOS
The historic center of Lagos, despite the destruction suffered by the 1755 earthquake, is still interesting. The fort, the governor’s palace, the old slave market and the remains of the ancient walls are worth seeing. In recent years, a new modern marina for sailboats has been opened.
What you should not miss to see in Lagos is Ponta da Piedade. A promontory on the sea with huge, wonderful rock formations, caves and transparent water. The rocks are ocher, yellow and orange in color and in contrast to the blue of the sea they form a unique setting. Wonderful are the colors at sunset and sunrise.
Lagos is famous for its beaches, which are among the most beautiful in the Algarve. Among the best known are Praia de Dona Ana. This beach located just 25 minutes walk from the center of Lagos. It is surrounded by beautiful rock formations, and is the most popular with tourists. Also worth visiting is the nearby Praia do Camilo, which is located just beyond. While Meia Praia or São Roque, it is a 4 km long strip of sand located east of Lagos. On the isthmus at the end of the beach is the ancient fort of Meia Praia (17th century). Praia da Luz, a few kilometers west of Lagos, is famous for the Rocha Negra, a lava intrusion that is found to the east of the beach.
Among the excursions to do from Lagos is Odiáxere, a picturesque village of white houses with beautiful views of the bay of Lagos. The village of Sagres was the seat of the naval academy founded by Henry the Navigator, which led the Portuguese to circumnavigate Africa and reach India and the spice islands. Here is the famous Sagres Fortress. A few kilometers from Sagres, at the southwestern end of Portugal, characterized by a beautiful rocky coast is the Cabo Sao Vincente. To the north of cabo Sao Vicente, near the village of Bordeira, the Pontal promontory deserves a stop for the panorama of the Atlantic Ocean.
Other places to visit north-east of Lagos are Silves. This is the ancient Arab capital of the Algarve, with remains of the Arab castle and a beautiful Gothic cathedral. The Serra de Monchique with the spa town of Caldas de Monchique. The town of Portimão with the splendid mother church, the beaches of Alvor, Praia da Rocha and the ruins of the Roman villa of Abicada.