Most Google searches for things to do in Lagos will garner the same results: visit the beaches. Now don’t get me wrong, Lagos beaches are some of the most beautiful in Portugal (and in the world). Don’t just take my word for it; here’s proof that Condé Nast said it first.
To come to the Algarve and not visit any beaches would be doing this area a major disservice. In fact, Lagos beaches are so incredible that I dedicated a post to three of my favorites in the area.
That said, after spending three days in this Western Algarve town, I discovered plenty of things to do here outside of beach hopping. If you’re looking to enjoy what Lagos has to offer beyond the sand and surf, here are five alternative activities.
When I shared photos of Lagos Old Town on Instagram, it seemed that many people didn’t know it existed.
Since the internet is already inundated with Algarve beach pictures, I wanted to shed light on this charming area.
As I said earlier, Lagos is much more than beaches and I believe the Old Town is proof of that. In fact, I think it has some of the most special sights in Lagos.
The show-stopper is arguably this green tile building, which is now Loja Obrigado, a Portuguese gift basket shop.
You’ll find this beauty in the center square of Old Town. The exact address is Luís de Camões Square 3-4, 8600-315 Lagos, Portugal.
If you come at night, prepare to get your dance on. If you’re lucky, you’ll run into a musician who is full-out jamming in the center of the square. I witnessed a wonderful singer/guitarist myself while I was here one night!
If you want to experience Old Town Lagos without crowds, you’ll need to do an early wake-up (i.e. crack-of-dawn early). I took this shot at about 6:30 AM, right before crazy shadows started creeping in.
Although the shop was closed when I came by, I took a peek inside and saw a lot of pretty handmade gifts.
There’s something about the streets in the Old Town that make you feel like you’re on a vintage movie set.
You can find this pretty spot right next to the aforementioned green goddess, Loja Obrigado.
There are tons of cute shops in the Old Town where you can find souvenirs and other Portuguese gems.
I actually ended up with a really cute coral skirt from a little boutique shop. It was located on a side street off of the main square.
Unfortunately, the name of the shop escapes me, but if you wander around this area I’m sure you’ll find it! They have clearance clothing outside the store, so that will be a clue.
After getting your shop on, I suggest grabbing an outdoor table at one of the cute restaurants in this area.
There’s a whole row of them along Rua Doutor Joaquim Tello. I ended up at Sal & Companhia and ordered the crispy almond chicken with rosemary.
Let’s just say there was no need for a doggie bag.
One of Portugal’s calling cards is the beautiful tile (azulejos). To be honest, I really wasn’t expecting to find it here in Lagos. I was under the impression it was only in northern cities like Lisbon and Porto (both are on my list).
Boy, was I wrong about that! You’ll find tile on virtually every corner of this beautiful town, from churches, to shops, to train stations, to houses.
If you’re looking for off-the-beaten path things to do in Lagos, I recommend grabbing your camera and hunting for tile. I promise you won’t have to go far to find it!
I happened upon one of my favorite tile spots of the trip heading into the Old Town.
You’ll find this gem on Rua Conselheiro Joaquim Machado, right next to a dental laboratory. The exact address for the dental lab is Rua Conselheiro Joaquim Machado 42, 8600-682 Lagos, Portugal.
If you go to Portugal and you don’t try the pastel de nata, did you even go to Portugal?
I’d been dying to try this Portuguese custard tart for years and I finally had my chance on this trip!
This egg tart is dusted with cinnamon and nestled in a crisp pastry. The best comparison I can make for this treat is crème brûlée inside of a crunchy phyllo dough.
You can pretty much get pastel de nata at every café you come across. After eating my first one, I knew it would be a life-long love affair. (I ended up having another one the next day because it was my last day. Honestly, I still regret not taking some back home with me.)
Many people will eat these at breakfast. However, if you find them too sweet for morning, you could enjoy them as a dessert (provided places are open).
I didn’t plan to see a sunrise in Lagos, but I got a real treat while heading out for an early shoot one morning.
After going to Santorini, I’ll admit my sunrise/sunset bar is pretty high, but the one in Lagos was really beautiful.
In fact, as it was coming up, I formed a new life goal. I plan to see as many sunrises in beautiful places around the world as possible.
If an early sunrise wake-up doesn’t bother you, cut through the Old Town to catch one over Marina de Lagos. You’ll see the light glittering across the water and the boats (you can thank me later).
I stopped for a photo in front of Posto de Turismo de Lagos (just by the marina) as the sun came up.
This is now the Old Town Hall and Tourist Information Office. The address is Praça Gil Eanes 17, 8600-657 Lagos, Portugal.
While we’re on the topic of Marina de Lagos, if you like shopping, you’ll want to check out the street vendors. After shooting pictures one morning, I was excited to find these outdoor vendors selling their wares.
They start setting up as early as about 8:00 AM and sell everything from handbags, to scarves, to jewelry. I was tempted to pick up a handbag, but I knew it wasn’t fitting into my already stuffed carry-on!
Sadly, I don’t have a photo of the vendors since I was hurrying to catch a flight. However, if you’re a fan of flea markets, I definitely recommend checking this out.
If you’re planning to visit Lagos, I hope I’ve convinced you to explore beyond the beautiful beaches. Although it’s undoubtedly a touristy area, if you look beneath the surface, you can find the heart of Portuguese life.
Have you been to this part of Portugal yet? What were some of your favorite things to do in Lagos? Let me know in the comments!