LAGOS is one of the Algarve’s most attractive and historic towns, its historic centre enclosed in largely fourteenth-century walls at the mouth of the Ribeira de Bensafrim. It was from here that many of Portugal’s great explorers set off for the New World, including Gil Eanes, who was born here.
In 1577, Lagos became the administrative capital of the Algarve, though much of the town was destroyed in the 1755 earthquake and Faro took over as capital in 1776. Lagos went into long decline, until tourism revived the town in the 1960s, since when it has developed into a major resort – though it also remains a working fishing port and local market centre.
For all its historical significance, Lagos’s main attraction is its proximity to some of the best beaches on the Algarve coast. To the east of the town is the long sweep of Meia Praia, while to the west – from Praia de Dona Ana to Porto do Mós – is an extraordinary network of coves, pierced by tunnels and grottoes and studded by extravagantly weathered outcrops of purple-tinted rock.
Popular boat trips run along the west coast all year round, while other popular side trips are inland to the Barragem de Bravura, a pretty hillside reservoir, or to Lagos Zoo.