Lagos is one of the most beautiful cities in western Algarve. The best selection of restaurants is concentrated in the pedestrians-only Rua 25 de Abril.
There is a choice of camp-sites and of a number of beaches of various sizes on the edge and outskirts of town. Dona Ana is the most popular family beach, but there are smaller sandy coves to be explored both closer and farther away from the town centre. The headland of Ponta da Piedada with its lighthouse is best viewed from the sea on a short boat trip. The clifftop is a good place to take a stroll with your camera and marvel at cliff erosion.
Both Henry and Gil Eanes are commemorated with statues. Henry presides over the Praça da República. Gil Eanes is in front of the town walls a little farther along to the west. The town's third statue is of the boy-king, Sebastião, who precipitated the demise of the Aviz dynasty in the 16th century by sailing from Lagos to a disasterous defeat in Morocco. Although the subject of many a rude remark, Sebastian's statue in Largo Gil Eanes is by the highly-respected Portuguese sculptor, João Cutileiro.
Just before they set sail, Sebastian, then aged 21, is said to have given a final pep-talk to his troops from a small Manueline-style window, which you can see, fairly high up, in a corner of the town walls just to the left of Henry's statue.
Like the window, the first market in Europe to auction slaves brought back from Africa by Henry's explorers also looks rather forlorn and unexciting nowadays. You will find the slave market (mercado dos escravos), now a little art gallery, in the far corner of Praça da República.
The walls came tumbling down along with all the other buildings in Lagos with the great earthquake of 1755. Among those which were rebuilt and have since undergone renovation are the Church of Santa Maria with 16th-century traces, the 17th-century regimental storehouse next to it, and the mind-blowing "Golden" Church of Santo António which forms part of Lagos' rather eccentric museum.
The town's hey-day was undoubtedly from 1420 to 1460 when Henry the Navigator stalked its waterfront and prayed in its churches. It remained a busy place until Sebastian's debacle in Morocco. From then on it went into decline and was reduced to little more than a backwater fishing harbour. Because of its bayside location and its proximity to lovely bathing beaches, it was a natural attraction for tourists once the tourist boom got underway. The latest major addition is the big yacht marina at the most sheltered end of the harbour.
Lagos, with its relaxed atmosphere and quiet charm, make it one of the most appealing locations in the Algarve to visitors from abroad. The best places to sit and watch people go by are at the open-air cafés in Praça da República, next to the tourist information office.
Come and visit us in Lagos. Find why tourists all over the world love this western Algarve region.