Lagos Coastline Walk (Self Guided), Lagos

Characterful and charming as it is, the historic city of Lagos on the Algarve coast of Southern Portugal has not succumbed to mass tourism, fortunately, retaining much of its distinctive centuries-old heritage. Lagos’s extensive history is reflected in the varied attractions found throughout the city, such as the ancient Moorish city walls, 17th-century Forte da Ponta da Bandeira and cobbled streets, all contributing to the relaxed and welcoming atmosphere.

Indeed, there is a lot to see in Lagos, if only on a day trip. Henry the Navigator Statue, made by the famous national artist Leopoldo de Alemeida in 1960, and Castelo dos Governadores (Governors Castle), the ancient structure heavily damaged during the 1755 earthquake but still impressive, are to mention but a few.

Still, the focal point of modern Lagos is its unique, almost 6.5-mile long coastline with little bays, four beautiful beaches, and impressive sand-colored cliffs. Just a leisurely walk away from the city center, this seafront area gives visitors an agony of choice between the multiple places to enjoy.

Prime among the fine beaches Lagos is blessed with is the vast sandy Meia Praia extending for 4 kilometers, neighboring the picturesque cove Praia Dona Ana and Praia do Camilo beaches secluded by golden-hued rock formations and lapped by crystal clear sea waters. Praia da Batata, although the closest beach from the town, is also one of its most crowded.

Further south of Lagos is the Ponta da Piedade headland, a paleontological treasure trove, with the hermitage of Nossa Senhora da Piedade dating from the 16th century.

To experience firsthand the scenic coastline and historic heritage of Lagos, take this self-guided walking tour and enjoy yourself.
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Lagos Coastline Walk Map

Guide Name: Lagos Coastline Walk
Guide Location: Portugal » Lagos (See other walking tours in Lagos)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.6 Km or 2.2 Miles
Author: AudreyB
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Henry the Navigator Statue
  • Castelo dos Governadores (Governors Castle)
  • Forte da Ponta da Bandeira (Flag's Mast Fort)
  • Praia da Batata (Batata Beach)
  • Praia do Pinhão (Pinhão Beach)
  • Praia Dona Ana (Dona Ana Beach)
  • Praia do Camilo (Camilo Beach)
  • Ponta da Piedade (Piety Point)
1
Henry the Navigator Statue

1) Henry the Navigator Statue

Starting with the nickname "The Navigator", much of the story of Infante Dom Henrique was myth and legend. Henry did have a strong interest on cosmography and he supported and launched maritime explorations of Africa but he stayed in Portugal.

Henrique is still in Portugal. He is celebrated with statues in several places in Portugal and in other countries. In Lagos, he sits in the main square of the town. He shares the square with the Old Slave Market (there is no new one) and with the Church of Santa Maria. The pedestal is inscribed "Infante D. Enrique", not "Navigator."

The statue was made by Leopoldo de Alemeida, a famous national artist, in 1960. Henrique is sitting. He stares rather vacantly into space. Perhaps, like Antonio in "The Merchant of Venice", he is worried about his rich argosies, dodging pirates on the high seas and crashing on a lee shore. Or perhaps he's planning his next venture abroad.
2
Castelo dos Governadores (Governors Castle)

2) Castelo dos Governadores (Governors Castle)

It is said the most interesting feature of the ancient walls of Lagos is the so-called Governors Castle. The Romans installed the first wall around the town. These walls were improved and strengthened by the successive Arab and Christian occupations. The walls were the primary defense against Barbary pirates and attacks by sea from Spain.

At the entrance of the Castle there are two free standing Arbello towers flanking the gateway to the town. They are connected to the wall but they stand forward a bit. This toughens the defenses at the gate and provides for flanking fire along the wall in conjunction with the nearby Flag's Mast Fort.

The castle was heavily damaged during the devastating earthquake of 1755 but it is still impressive. It is well known for its military style construction and the Manueline style window. It was at this window that King Sebastian said his final prayers before setting out for his disastrous defeat in the battle of Alcacer-Quibir.
3
Forte da Ponta da Bandeira (Flag's Mast Fort)

3) Forte da Ponta da Bandeira (Flag's Mast Fort) (must see)

This is a fort with many names. It has been called (in Portuguese), Flag's Mast Fort, Our Lady of the Stone in France Fort, Registry Fort or the Fort of Lagos. We shall call it Flag's Mast Fort. It is a simple but effective fort with a lot of names.

It was built in the 17th century and positioned at the mouth of the Bensafirm River in full view of the sea. It was able to cover the docks and quays on the river banks and establish cross-fire with the redoubts of Lagos Castle and the city gates. When it was built it was considered to be one of the most effective defenses in the area.

It was planned with artillery in mind. It is square shaped with a moat and drawbridge. The walls are thick with sentry turrets at each corner. The Algarve coast was frequently the target of pirates and corsairs. Lagos at the time was the seat of the military government of the Algarve region. It was completed in 1690.

Inside there is a small chapel devoted to Santa Barbara, patron saint of armor makers, artillery soldiers and miners. The walls of the chapel are covered with blue azulejo tiles. The fort also holds a small museum with paintings and photographs on exhibit.
4
Praia da Batata (Batata Beach)

4) Praia da Batata (Batata Beach)

Situated just a short walk from the main tourist area of Lagos, along the Avenida dos Descobrimentos and the scenic estuary promenade, Praia da Batata is the most popular beach in the city, particularly with families. In part, this is due to its proximity to the city center and its amenities, but also because of its still and safe waters, supervised by lifeguards. Most locals allow their children to swim here unattended.

Indeed, Praia da Batata is considered a sheltered beach; the eastward direction means that it is protected from the powerful Atlantic Ocean by the huge headland, so there are almost no waves; while the cliffs offer shelter from strong sea breezes on blustery days.

Batata is where most visitors head to for their first beach trip, and it does not disappoint. There are lots of attractions here: the northern edge of the beach is divided by a long concrete pier, which formed the Cais da Solaria (Solaria docks), but today this area is used for launching kayaks and small sailing boats. On the cliffs above the Praia da Batata is the Mar restaurant, which is a good option for a lunchtime meal in addition to small tasty offerings from the locals.

The vivacious atmosphere is complemented by soft sands, clean and calm waters, and the beautiful setting of golden colored cliffs. The only issue is that the beach gets too busy in summer.
5
Praia do Pinhão (Pinhão Beach)

5) Praia do Pinhão (Pinhão Beach)

Praia do Pinhão is a relatively small beach, quite calm and cozy, compared to Praia da Batata. Pinhão is also very cute – some reckon it is one of the most beautiful beaches in Lagos. Surrounded by picturesque rock formations extending into the sea, the bay is well protected from strong winds.

There are relatively few facilities on Pinhão, which also adds to its charm. The sand is a bit hard and coarse, but the water is clear and suitable for swimming, although a bit cold at times. Overall, the conditions here are excellent for diving and snorkeling, hence the number of divers gathering often. During high tide there is a spot on the left side where you can go cliff jumping. Otherwise, it is ideal to get tan in a tranquil setting.

Praia do Pinhão consists of two parts. The first part is a small strip of sand, underneath the staircase, which is completely swallowed by sea during high tide. The second part, on the other side of the rock formation, is larger and has a lot of stones in the water – placed there since the Praia da Dona Ana reconstruction in 2015. There is a tunnel in the rocks connecting both sides of Praia do Pinhão, which can be used only in low tide.

You can access Praia do Pinhão via a long staircase with a series of terraces built into the cliffs. During high tide, you can jump from the staircase straight into the sea, but beware of shallow water. Above the staircase, there is a viewpoint affording tremendous view.
6
Praia Dona Ana (Dona Ana Beach)

6) Praia Dona Ana (Dona Ana Beach)

Praia de Dona Ana is one of the most picturesque beaches of the Algarve. Situated some 20 minutes walk from the historic center of Lagos, this beach is tucked away amid the massive limestone cliff formations of the Ponta da Piedade headland, which are much thicker than on any other beach in Lagos. The beautiful natural setting – highly eroded cliffs revealing layers of golden strata, calm sea waters in an idyllic turquoise color, and the sands soft and inviting – prove an irresistible lure for many tourists visiting the area.

Along with its stunning scenery, there are all the expected facilities of a popular beach, including restaurants, shops and showers. As a destination, Praia de Dona Ana is ideal for those in favor of sunbathing with some cooling breaks in the ocean (which is always cold).

Given the calm ambiance, clean and placid waters, and the giant cliffs providing shelter from sea breezes on blustery days, this beach is quite comfortable for families. It is not suited for energetic activities (surfing, kite surfing, etc.) and does not attract rowdy visitors (groups, excessive drinking, loud music), subsequently being free from banana boats, jet skis and speed boats.

If you seek peace and quiet, then Dona Ana is your perfect location for a relaxing day out by the sea.
7
Praia do Camilo (Camilo Beach)

7) Praia do Camilo (Camilo Beach)

The Praia do Camilo is one of Lagos' true landmarks, located between the other two regional wonders – Praia da Dona Ana and Ponta da Piedade with its lighthouse. This is the last beach of Lagos and one of the smallest beaches of the Algarve. Secluded and characteristic, it is highly esteemed by locals, tourists and travel experts alike.

There's a path of rocks leading from the main road to the beach where immense cliffs expose ancient sea shells and stones. The beach is divided into two parts by the stone formations, but is easy to walk on through a hand-made tunnel between the rocks.

Praia do Camilo can be visited all year round and is a real paradise in winter. During summer it is particularly popular. But don't fool yourself into thinking that this is just a crowded beach surrounded by rocks.

From the top of the cliff you can overlook spectacular coastline, which makes for an incredible picture, with colorful rocks and caves (some small ones in between the sand areas are particularly breathtaking). The kids love to explore these and go on small adventures around it. Clear water makes it perfect for snorkeling and there are very nice places for cliff jumping too. A true must for nature lovers!

To get to Praia do Camilo you have to descend a long (seemingly endless from the top, but well-maintained) wooden staircase of 224 steps. But the effort is surely well worth it!
8
Ponta da Piedade (Piety Point)

8) Ponta da Piedade (Piety Point) (must see)

An accident happened. It happened millions of years ago in the Miocene period. The remains of that accident can be seen today near the city of Lagos. There is a cape called Piety Point (Ponta da Piedade) extending into the sea and surrounded by rocky cliffs up to 65 feet in height. Locals revere and respect it. Tourists love it.

These rocky cliffs have what every cliff should have -- caves. Caves can be explored by land from Piety Point Lighthouse via stairs carved into the cliff face. Or, they can be explored by sea. Lagos marina provides excursions to the Piety Point by sail and small boat.

While the accident went on, waters covering the area of the point receded. The promontory was exposed and the rocks eroded into huge fantastical shapes. The area is truly a paleontological treasure trove. There are fossils of corals and marine life long extinct, including formidable looking shark's teeth.

Ancient Mediterranean people always thought of the sea as a god. Piety Point has traditionally been considered a sacred place. Bronze Age artifacts continue to be collected from the cape on land. Underwater, bits of the Roman presence may be found in the form of ruins and coins.

The hermitage of Our Lady of Piety (Nossa Senhora da Piedade) was built on the cape in the 16th century. There is a ceremonial path from the city of Lagos to the point called the Via Sacra. Along the way marks of the stations of the Cross are still standing.

The importance of the cape did not escape the military. It was a point of surveillance and high ground overlooking approaches from the sea. The army installed a battery there in 1663 and it did not come down until 1821, after Napoleon's busy time had ended. The chapel was demolished in 1913 to make way for the lighthouse.

In 2015 the Huffington Post visited 10 beaches around the planet. Piety Point was chosen as the favorite, based on its natural beauty and rock formations. Lonely Planet cited it as one of the ten natural wonders of Portugal.

Why you should visit
Are there any romantic, exotic places like this out your way? Are there perfect beaches, crystal clear blue waters, mysterious caves? A seaside adventure you'll never forget? No? Que lastima! Exploring by boat is recommended.

Tips
From Lagos there are one hour boat tours. The Piety Point can also be reached by train (slow) from Lagos.

Walking Tours in Lagos, Portugal

Create Your Own Walk in Lagos

Create Your Own Walk in Lagos

Creating your own self-guided walk in Lagos is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Lagos Introduction Walking Tour

Lagos Introduction Walking Tour

Lagos, from captive to captivating.

The story of Lagos is over 2,000 years old. It was a Celtic settlement before the Punic Wars of Rome and Carthage. During the Second Punic War the people of Lagos sided with Hannibal and the Carthaginians. That didn't work out so well. The Romans came, then the Visigoths from Toledo, followed by the Byzantines. In the 8th century the Moors arrived.

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 Km or 1.6 Miles