Things to do in Lagos
Distance from Quinta do Rosal: 31 km (35 minute's drive)
Lagos has always had a seafaring connection, originally visited by Phoenicians and Carthaginians and then, during the 15th century, was the base for the 'Voayages of the Discoveries' instigated by Henry the Navigator when trade between Africa and Portugal brought a great deal of wealth into the town. The older part of Lagos is still circled by the city walls that were constructed during the 16th century when it was the residence of the governors of the Algarve and the fort, Ponta da Bandeira, by Batata beach is part of the 17th century fortifications that were added to protect the town. Behind it (on the opposite side of the road) is the Porta de São Gonçalo (St. Gonçalo's gate) with a watchtower on either side and just to the right of this is the Governors' Castle (of Arab construction).
The square next to the Governors' castle is the Praça Infante Dom Henrique with a statue of Prince Henry looking out to sea. To the left of the square at the back is Igreja da Santa Maria. The facade of this church is 15/16th century but it was rebuilt in the 18/19th centuries.
Walk along the cobbled street at the back of the square just past Santa Maria church and you will come to the famous Lagos "golden church" of St. Anthony which was rebuilt in 1769 - entrance to this church is through the museum at the side and both the museum and the church are well worth visiting. On the opposite side to the churches is the "Slave Market" from the 15th century, where slaves brought back from the discovery voyages were sold. There is another church, St. Sebastian, dating from 14th to 16th century, which is on a hill just behind the fish market with fantastic views over Lagos bay.
Lagos is certainly full of history, but it is also a vibrant town with lots going on - the next square along, in the middle of town, is Praça de Gil Eanes and this is often the setting for evening entertainment throughout the year - a comical unicyclist, live music or a medieval fair are just some of the events we have enjoyed.
To explore a litter further, carry on along the Avenida dos Descobrimentos (avenue of the Discoveries) which runs along the water front and you will come to the very modern, Lagos Marina. There is a footbridge over the Bensafrim River to the marina which, on one of Lagos' windy days, can be a very blowy walk, but you do get a lovely view of the town and the "Boats" in the marina!
Not to be missed - Santo António Golden chapel, Santa Maria Church, Slave Market, Ponta da Bandeira Fort and the marina.
Meia Praia is Lagos's main beach. The beach is long and wide, meaning there is always plenty of space for everyone. It is nice and accessible for pushchairs and wheelchairs and there is a good amount of water sports available. In the summer months it is possible to rent awnings and shades, and the presence of a life guard makes this a safe one for youngsters.
Slightly further round the coast is the Praia do Camilo (the Beach of the Camilo), Praia da Dona Ana (the Beach of Dona Ana), Praia da Batata (the Beach of Batata) and Praia de Porto de Mós (the Beach of Porto de Mós). You could easily spend a day here as there are a couple of beach bars, sun beds for hire and extra facilities.
The beaches are incredible, but if that's not quite enough adventure for you why not get your sea legs on and explore the coastline by boat? The Algarve is famed for its rocky coastal formations, high cliffs and picturesque scenery; by venturing out in a boat you will have access to all the mystical caves, coves and hidden grottoes. It's an interesting experience and well worth it to see parts of Portugal you wouldn't usually have access to. There are a number of excursion companies that operate from Lagos including the cavern boat trip, which is highly recommended.