Beautiful Lagos is a highlight on the Algarve. You'd be hard pushed to find something that does not please here, crammed as Lagos is with a stunning choice of beach bays and a host of historic buildings and monuments. Lagos was a central trading and launchpad during the boom Portuguese Century of Discovery from the early 15th century - Henry the Navigator used Lagos as headquarters for his many exploring expeditions, and locally born Gill Eanes, another of Portugal's famous explorers left Lagos on numerous trips. Lagos has a superb selection of lazy cafe bars and chic shops to die for, a bustling fish market, boat trips from its busy harbour, a stroll along the waterfront promenade and a range of stylish low rise accommodation to boot! It's a jewel on the Algarve. You've a bohemian edge here in Lagos, as from here west to Sagres and up the coast to stunning Carrapateira you're in surfer territory.
Other delights awaiting in Lagos (pronouced la-goosh) are a selection of lazy cafe bars and chic shops to die for, a bustling fish market, boat trips from its busy harbour, a stroll along the waterfront promenade and a range of stylish low rise accommodation to boot! It's a jewel on the Algarve. You've a bohemian edge here in Lagos, as from here west to Sagres and up the coast to stunning Carrapateira you're in surfer territory. Backpackers and surfers head to Lagos and the Windward Coast in their droves - the nightlife in Lagos is second to none! Plenty to please both families and couples here in Lagos too (Luz just outside of Lagos is a popular Algarve West family base).
You can easily wander on foot around Lagos taking in its churches, historic squares, remaining old town walls, museums and its 17th century fortress. Lagos suffered badly during the 1755 earthquake, much of the town was destroyed, so many historic sites are post 1755. Parking is a nightmare in Lagos, so it's best to walk in if you're based here, or park on the outskirts and walk in. All central Lagos parking is metered.
The narrow exquisite shopping streets of Lagos are mostly pedestrianised, making it easy to stroll about at your leisure. The Romans favoured the port area of Lagos (Roman Lacobriga), although their base is thought to have been neighbouring Monte Moliao. Lagos was in Moorish hands up until 1241, after which in the Discovery Age boom century (early 15th to early 16th century) Henry the Navigator, one of Portugal's most renowned explorers and related to royalty used Lagos as headquarters for his jaunts. Henry's ships were built here in Lagos. His seated statue dominates Praca do Infante square. Lagos was also the main port of assembly from which Dom Sebastiao departed for his doomed Morocco campaigns. Lagos then became the capital of the Algarve, but dipped after almost total destruction by the earthquake.
Gold, ivory and slaves arrived here in Lagos from Africa. Indeed in Lagos just below the Customs House on the main square of Praca da Republica, the first European slave market was held in 1444. There's no plaque in the square, just a statue of Henry the Navigator. If there was a plaque denoting this, it might also read that Portugal was the first European nation to abolish slavery in the 1750s. This, together with other reforms like state funded free education for all came largely from a list of reforms instigated by the Marques de Pombal. Visit the Fortaleza Da Ponta Da Bandeira at Lagos' southern edge - inside here is a museum all about the Portugese discoveries and explorers. (open 9.30am to 12.30pm & 2pm to 5pm Tuesdays to Sundays).
Along with Lagos' 17th century Fort, other historic buildings and museums include the Igreja De Santo Antonio and Municipal Museum. The church is baroque and its glitzy insides are well worth a look. The Municipal museum on Rua General Alberto da Silveira is a mix of Roman and more contemporary artefacts, as well as baroque paintings and a collection of Portuguese chimney pots! Tel: 282 762 301, open Tuesdays to Sundays 9.30am to 12.30pm, 2-5pm.