With just a few hours explore this self-guided walking tour of Lagos (56 miles or 90 km from Faro) and discover the main monuments and places of interest
What you’ll see in the walking tour of Lagos
Located next to a wide bay, Lagos is a city full of life, especially at night. So, here you can enjoy the various pedestrian streets, many restaurants and cafes, craft shops and urban art, that invites for a walk. Lagos is also famous for the beautiful surrounding beaches with cliffs and caves.
Lagos is a city in the Algarve with a lot of history. Romans called it Lacobriga (fortress), the Arabs Zawaya (mosque) and the Lusitanians Lagos, since it is generally thought that here there was several lakes. Lagos was an important logistics base for the Portuguese Maritime Expansion, which began in the 15th century. After the conquest of Ceuta in 1415, it was the starting point for the supply of Portuguese troops in the forts in Morocco. Later, it was from where the Portuguese navigators departed, for their world expeditions, promoted by the Infante Dom Henrique. Here also returned the ships loaded with spices, gold and many other treasures.
- Walking time (estimated): 3 hours (20 minutes linear path)
- Course length: 0.8 miles (1.4 km)
Map OF TOUR IN LAGOS
The numbers (#) in the Map and in the Text identify the places to visit.
walking tour of LAGOS
=> The walking tour of Lagos starts at Largo Gil Eanes, which is one of the most important squares in the city.
Largo Gil Eanes
(1) From Largo Gil Eanes (square), there are several pedestrian streets. In the square you will find the modern Statue of Dom Sebastião and the old building of the Paços do Concelho (City Hall), with the Tourist Office on the ground floor.
Statue of Dom Sebastião
The Statue of Dom Sebastião was created by the Portuguese sculptor João Cutileiro, in homage to the king who gave the status of city to Lagos, in the 16th century. When was placed there in 1972, the statue triggered some controversy. Mainly because, at that time, it was breaking with a more conservative type of sculpture, which had existed in Portugal till then.
The old building of the City Hall (Paços do Concelho), dated from the beginning of the 19th century, has a rectangular shape and 3 floors, bearing on the main entrance the city’s coat of arms. Additionally, it has a noble hall and several other halls that are used for temporary exhibitions. After the inauguration of the new Paços do Concelho in 2019, the building began to be used as the Lagos Municipal Assembly.
On the ground floor of the former City Hall building is the Tourist Office, where you can obtain further information about the Algarve Region.
=> Walk around the former building of the City Hall on its right side and go to Rua da Barroca. Follow the street under several arches of old houses and along the way you’ll see a interesting Portuguese traditional style pavement with pieces of black stones arranged in fish patterns. From there you can see the sea and the Meia Praia Beach.
=> Follow the street next to several esplanades and then Rua da Senhora da Graça. When you reach the Plaza Infante Dom Henrique (former Republic Square) you’ll have on the right side a building emblazoned with arches and railing. This is the site of the former Slave Market, now a museological nucleus.
Museological Nucleus – Slavery Route (Rota da Escravatura)
(2) The 15th century Slave Market building was the first slave trading post in modern-day Europe. In that time, a large number of slaves was arriving in Lagos every year. They were transported aboard ships and caravels, after being captured or purchased on the west coast of Africa. Reduced to the condition of commodities, the slaves were then sold mostly to the American continent. There they were used in heavy labor (mines and sugar cane, coffee and cotton plantations) or in domestic chores.
Detail of the Slave Market Building
On the ground floor of the building worked the Vedoria de Lagos (Inspection) and the military collection. Since the end of the 20th century was an art gallery. Currently, it is part of the museum nucleus Rota da Escravatura (Slavery Route) and has an exhibition on the theme.
On the first floor, with entrance on the side of the building, where used to be the Alfândega (customs) of Lagos you will find the other part of the Museum Nucleus Rota da Escravatura (Slavery Route). Throughout the exhibition, using augmented reality you can get additional information (videos and more). Therefore, just direct the tablet that is lent to the exposed images. Note that a visit to this building is an occasion to reflect!
=> Now go out to the Praça Infante Dom Henrique and on the left side you will see the Statue of the Infante Dom Henrique, the Portuguese discoveries promotor. In the distance, you can see the beach of Meia Praia. In front you have the Mother Church (or Santa Maria or Misericórdia). On the right side is a seventeenth century building with a richly crafted plasterwork in part of its facade (former Regimental Warehouse). In the meantime here you can buy pieces of craftsmen from the Algarve.
=> Follow the Travessa do Mar (bypassing the old Regimental Warehouse on the right) until Rua Silva Lopes and then turn left. Here you will find the Cultural Center of Lagos (with the entrance on Rua Lançarote de Freitas).
Lagos Cultural Center / Centro Cultural de Lagos
(3) The Lagos Cultural Center is a multipurpose building. It serves as a show room (music, cinema, theater and dance) and space for temporary exhibitions, with national and foreign artists. The Center promotes cultural life to the inhabitants of Lagos and the many tourists who visit it. Once it has a cafeteria, you can take some time here to rest.
=> Continue along Rua Silva Lopes, between restaurants and cafes terraces, heading to the Church of Santo António.
Santo António Church
(4) The Santo António Church (Igreja de Santo António), of Baroque style, from the 18th century, is classified as a national monument and was used for worship by the military. The one-nave building was destroyed by the 1755 earthquake. Afterwards, it was rebuilt under the guidance of Hugo Beaty, Commander of the Lagos Infantry Regiment. In the interior there is an impressive coat of gilded woodcarvings (wood covered with gold leaf) and Portuguese blue and white tiles. Surprisingly, this together with the ceiling give a sense of optical illusion to visitors. Inside you can not take photos.
=> In this itinerary in Lagos, head to the Municipal Museum Dr. José Formosinho, which is annex to the church.
Municipal Museum Dr. José Formosinho
(5) The Municipal Museum Dr. José Formosinho (Museu Municipal Dr. José Formosinho) is a multidisciplinary museum. In fact, here are exposed various types of objects mainly linked to archeology and ethnography of the region, but also numismatics, mineralogy, painting and history of Lagos. Although, this museum is under maintenance work till the end of 2019.
=> Continue now the walking tour of Lagos through Rua General Alberto da Silveira until its end and then turn right into Rua Miguel Bombarda. At the end you will pass under an archway, entering the Porta de São Gonçalo, which is one of the Castle of Lagos old gates.
Lagos Castle (Walls)
(6) The Lagos Castle (Castelo de Lagos or Castelo dos Governadores), or rather what remains of the Walls, is a crowning jewel of Lagos and is classified as a national monument. The castle was built by the Moors in the 13th century and had the most extensive walls of the Algarve. Its location, near the river and the sea, was intended to serve as a defensive structure. Later it protected the population of corsairs attacks, as of Sir Francis Drake.
Within the walls was the residence of the Governors of Arms of the Algarve, having been built on an Arab fortress (fortified village). Today, however, it is mostly occupied by Lagos Hospital. In the walls there are two turrets under the Porta de São Gonçalo (former city gate). Shortly after, on the left side, there is the Janela de Dom Sebastião (a window), from where Dom Sebastião will have watched the troops embark for the Battle of Alcácer Quibir, in Morocco.
In the adjacent garden you can see the statue of the navigator Gil Eanes, born in Lagos. This navigator was the first to pass Cape Bojador, in Mauritania, in 1434. Indeed, this Cape was, until then, an insurmountable barrier to European shipping. In the meantime, notice the detail of Gil Eanes having a barrel of roses beside him. These represent the plants harvested at the time, in order to prove that there were fertile lands further south of the Sahara Desert.
=> Follow the right side of the beautiful garden and cross the Avenida dos Descobrimentos to the Forte da Ponta da Bandeira.
Ponta da Bandeira Fort
(7) The Ponta da Bandeira Fort (or Forte da Ponta da Bandeira), of 17th century, of quadrangular plan, is located at the entrance of the river mouth. This was mainly to help protect the port of Lagos from the pirate invasions. Then enter the fort through a wooden drawbridge over the moat. Inside, on the ground floor there are several temporary exhibition halls and a small chapel lined with tiles.
Meanwhile, go up to the top floor to have a panoramic view of the city, the extensive Meia Praia Beach and the boats as they enter and leave the Marina and the Fishing Port.
Next to the Fort, boats depart to visit the caves of Ponta da Piedade and because the waters here are generally calm it is a good place for kayaking.
=> As you leave the fort, follow the right side of the Avenida dos Descobrimentos, walking along the sidewalk along the river, feeling the sea breeze. Continue until at your right side you have the entrance of the Marina of Lagos and on the left side the modern building of the Municipal Market.
=> There is a pedestrian bridge, which allows you to cross the Ribeira to visit the area of Marina de Lagos, the Fishing Port and the beach.
Lagos Marina and Fishing Port
(8) The modern Lagos Marina is the first safe marina in the Algarve for the boats, after crossing the Cape of São Vicente, coming from the north. At the Marina you can enjoy the view of all those boats. Because there is a good variety of restaurants and bars there, you can enjoy a meal or a drink or simply relax! In addition, it is also possible to take the boat here to visit the caves of the beautiful Algarve coast.
Next to the Marina you can visit the Wax Museum of the Discoveries. Here you can learn more about the history of the Portuguese Maritime Expansion and know the main characters linked to it. Nearby is the Fishing Port, near which is usually a replica of the Portuguese Caravel Boa Esperança, as well as the Railway Station. If you follow along the river you will arrive at Meia Praia Beach.
(9) In the renovated Municipal Market (Mercado Municipal) you can smell the freshness of vegetables, fruits and fish from the Algarve. The building is 3 stories high and has a huge tile panel along the staircase that links them. In the lower floors you have the stalls selling fruit, fish and butchers, craft shops, cafes. On the top floor there is a restaurant with a terrace, from where you have a superb view of the Marina and the beach.
=> Go out to the back of the Municipal Market to visit the Science Center of Lagos, which is housed in a pink building, in a beautiful, slightly hidden area.
Lagos Ciência Viva Science Centre
(10) The Lagos Ciência Viva Science Centre (Centro de Ciência Viva de Lagos) is a place to take children, especially when the weather doesn’t look good for the beach! But it is also suitable for the whole family! The Center is housed in a pink building with a beautiful garden, where various activities take place. From here you enjoy a great view of the Marina and the Bay of Lagos. Everyone can learn and have fun! In short, there are interactive modules, science and technology workshops and pedagogical games related to various topics. Of these, we highlight communications, navigation, water and environmental preservation.
=> Then, you go down Rua Dr. Faria e Silva until you find a pedestrian sidewalk street. Follow it and return to the Praça Gil Eanes (where is the old Town Hall).
=> You have reached the end of the walking tour of Lagos.
=> If you have time to visit two beautiful squares near here, follow Rua Garett. We will find on the way the small Largo Marquês de Pombal and at its the end, the Praça Luis de Camões. In this square in numbers 3 and 4 there is an interesting building with green tiles, which on the ground floor has a handcraft shop that sells also wooden toys.
What to see and do near Lagos?
Ponta da Piedade
After the walking tour of Lagos and not to be missed (for lovers of nature and landscapes!) South of this city you can visit Ponta da Piedade by car or on foot. From here you have a surprisingly superb view over the cliffs, the beaches and the sea. Through a set of wooden walkways you can visit on foot or by bike several very special places. These walkways start next to the beautiful Ponta da Piedade Lighthouse. This place is mainly for enjoying and taking pictures, especially at sunset.
Location: Ponta da Piedade (1.9 miles or 3 km, 7 min from the center of Lagos)
At Avenida dos Descobrimentos or at Lagos Marina, you can buy a ticket at one of the travel companies and make a boat trip to several beautiful caves. During the boat trip you can admire the fabulous cliffs, rock formations and beaches. We advise the boat trip (1 hour) to the Caves and Ponta da Piedade Beach, which is undeniably one of the most beautiful in the world!
The younger (but not only) have nearby the Lagos Zoo, a wildlife paradise. Therefore, it is a pleasant space with many animals, which may be very close to you. Of these we highlight the otters, great variety of birds, primates, penguins, turtles, kangaroos, flamingos, reptiles and more. The Zoo has several activities, such as feeding pelicans, otters, primates and penguins, as well as games and hobbies. In addition, there is a pedagogical farm, a playground and a free swimming pool. What’s more, to eat there is a restaurant, a snack bar and a picnic area.
Location: Quinta Figueiras, Sítio do Medronhal, Barão de São João (7.5 miles or 12 km, 15 min from the center of Lagos)
How to get to Lagos?
From Faro: A22 (Portimão) => Exit 2 Lagos East / Odiáxere (55.9 miles or 90 Km, 1h)
From Lisbon: A2 (Algarve) => A22 (Portimão) => Exit 2 Lagos East / Odiáxere (186.4 miles or 300 Km, 2h40)
From Lisbon: Gare do Oriente Station => Lagos Station (4h00, operator RENEX: Schedules)
From Faro: Faro Station => Lagos Station, next to the Marina (1h34, operator CP: Schedules)
Where to eat in Lagos? (restaurants)
Restaurante casa do prego
If you are hungry during your walking tour of Lagos, a very sought after place in this area is Casa do Prego. Located in the historical center of Lagos, in a pleasant and well decorated space, with music, indoor and outdoor tables (terrace). It has great food and lots of variety, with vegetarian options and for kids.
Location: Rua Lançarote de Freitas, 18, 1º andar, Lagos
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