11 Best Beaches in Lagos, Portugal to Visit
Having spent five glorious years in Lagos, Portugal, I’ve come to appreciate the diverse and stunning beaches that this region has to offer. Whether you’re seeking a tranquil spot for sunbathing or adventurous waves for surfing, Lagos has a beach for everyone.
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In this guide, I’ll share insights into some of Lagos’s top beaches, considering factors like accessibility, swimming conditions, and breathtaking scenery.
Nestled along Portugal’s captivating Algarve coast, Lagos proves to be an ideal base for a beach holiday. Whether you’re planning a romantic getaway or a family vacation, the town of Lagos has it all.
The allure extends beyond golden sands and azure waters to the fascinating geological formations that define this coastal stretch, offering myriad experiences from caving and kayaking to snorkeling and diving.
1. Praia de Dona Ana – A Tranquil Haven for Swimming
Among the gems of the Algarve, Praia de Dona Ana stands out as one of the most picturesque beaches, just a 10-minute drive from the town center. The orange cliffs create a natural bay, providing a sheltered swimming area with calm tides and crystal-clear waters.
This beach, with its serene ambiance and excellent facilities, is perfect for families with small children. However, the access via a series of steps makes it unsuitable for those with mobility challenges. Praia de Dona Ana’s popularity has led to an extension of the beach, but be warned, parking fills up quickly in the summer, so consider arriving by bus or taxi.
Where to Stay Near Praia de Dona Ana
Experience the essence of Lagos life in a spacious apartment with a beautiful terrace overlooking the cliffs around Praia Dona Ana. This accommodation offers one of the best views in the Algarve, and the Old Town is just a short stroll away.
2. Praia do Canavial
Situated between Praia de Porto de Mós and Praia do Barranco do Martinho, Canavial Beach faces south and experiences rougher seas than its east-facing counterparts. If surfing is on your agenda, this beach is worth exploring.
With a longer shoreline than nearby beaches, Praia do Canavial offers a spacious retreat, albeit with fewer visitors due to the challenging hike required to reach the water. The exposed nature of the beach makes it windy, so plan your visit in the morning around low tide. While lacking iconic arches or rock formations, the vast sculpted cliffs possess their own unique beauty.
Despite some online misconceptions, Praia do Canavial is not a designated nudist beach. However, naturists may frequent the far end. If that’s not your preference and you find yourself overdressed, stick to the entrance area for a more conventional beach experience.
Where to Stay Near Praia do Canavial
This delightful suite for two offers a comfortable setting with access to a shared pool and garden. Situated in the heart of the peninsula, both Praia do Canavial and Praia do Camilo are just a leisurely stroll away.
3. Ponta da Piedade – Unveiling the Beauty of Lagos
Perched on the far-eastern tip of the headland, overlooking the vast Atlantic Ocean, Ponta da Piedade (‘Piety Point’) unveils a rugged and captivating coastline. The honey-colored sandstone cliffs, natural sea arches, and caves create a dramatic panorama, with rock formations emerging from shallow emerald-green waters.
This area stands out as one of the most enchanting beaches in The Algarve, offering spectacular views from the scenic boardwalk atop the cliffs that line the lower bay.
If you plan to visit during the summer, it’s advisable to avoid the middle of the day when swimming is restricted due to heavy boat and kayak traffic. Opt for an early morning visit or explore the area by kayak from nearby Praia da Balança to experience the scenery from a different perspective.
Situated 3km south of Lagos, Ponta da Piedade features souvenir outlets and a restaurant at the headland where you can purchase food and drinks. For breathtaking views, make your way to the Farol da Ponta da Piedade lighthouse and the well-marked Ponta de Piedade miradouro (viewpoint).
Where to Stay Near Ponta da Piedade
Discover modern comfort in a two-bedroom apartment at Villa Ancora, within walking distance from Ponta da Piedade and the renowned Dona Ana, recognized as one of Europe’s finest white-sand beaches.
This apartment accommodates up to six guests and features an open-plan living area, a fully equipped kitchen for convenient self-catering, a spacious terrace, and an inviting outdoor pool.
4. Praia dos Estudantes
Praia dos Estudantes, known as the ‘Students’ Beach,’ stands out as one of the most visually captivating beaches in Lagos. Its distinctive feature is the Roman-style bridge, a remnant of a fortress, extending between two rock formations over the ocean.
Located on a rocky offshore outcrop, Ponte Romana de Lagos, the Lagos Roman Bridge, offers excellent views from the shore of Praia dos Estudantes and the water. Once part of Pinhão Fortress, the bridge is a picturesque sight and can be admired from a distance or, for a unique perspective, rent a kayak and view it from below.
A popular choice among young visitors due to its proximity to Lagos’ bars and restaurants, Praia dos Estudantes is just a 10-minute walk along the main street of Avenida dos Descobrimentos. Despite its small size, the beach offers a pocket of sandy shore and calm, sheltered waters, making it an ideal spot for swimming.
Adding to its charm, Praia dos Estudantes features two man-made tunnels – the southern tunnel connects the two halves of the beach, while the northern tunnel leads directly to Praia da Batata.
Where to Stay Near Praia dos Estudantes
This compact yet efficient suite is a perfect choice for a couple or budget traveler looking to experience Lagos’ vibrant student beach scene. The central location ensures easy access to the food and nightlife scene, with both Praia dos Estudantes and Praia do Pinhão just steps away from the front door.
5. Praia do Camilo – Embracing the Beauty of Sheltered Swimming
Embarking on the descent of about 200 wooden steps to reach Praia do Camilo reveals the true reward for the effort – a hidden gem in the heart of Lagos.
This small yet stunning Lagos beach is surrounded by jagged rocks, creating an intimate and picturesque setting. With limited space for umbrellas and towels, it tends to fill up quickly, especially during the summer, so an early arrival is recommended.
Ponta da Piedade’s rock formations act as a natural shield, ensuring calm waters with a transparent green hue, making Praia do Camilo ideal for swimming and snorkeling. Nearby rental shops offer kayaks, allowing you to glide down to Ponta da Piedade and marvel at the surreal sandstone rock formations along the way.
Where to Stay Near Praia do Camilo
This brand-new apartment at Villa Ancora accommodates up to four people in two separate bedrooms, offering a ground floor position and pool access, making it an ideal choice for young families.
Praia do Camilo and Ponta da Piedade are both within easy walking distance, enhancing the convenience of your stay.
6. Praia de Porto de Mos – Ideal for Surfing Enthusiasts
Nestled beneath towering cliffs along Portugal’s southern shoreline, Praia de Porto de Mós, situated 4km from the center of Lagos, offers the second-largest beach in the region. With its expansive golden sands, this beach provides ample space for visitors to unwind.
Favored by surfers when conditions align, the south-facing shore attracts some of the area’s significant waves.
While the surf may seem gentle, beginners should be cautious of rip tides, making it more suitable for sunbathing, enjoying the beach bar, and engaging in water sports like kayaking and pedal boating, leading to Ponta da Piedade beach.
Where to Stay Near Praia de Porto de Mós
Experience the charm of a typical Algarve villa that accommodates four, featuring a spacious private pool. Modern finishes extend from sunny terraces to twin bedrooms and a fully equipped kitchen.
7. Praia de Sao Roque
A brief walk from Lagos Marina and the town center, São Roque Beach may not be the most picturesque, but its ultra-soft sand, shallow waters, and gentle waves make it perfect for a leisurely paddle.
The expansive crescent-shaped sandy stretch, along with well-maintained amenities and vigilant lifeguards, caters to families, those with accessibility needs, and less confident swimmers.
Due to its length and exposure, the beach can get windy, so be cautious of gusts that may stir up sand.
Where to Stay Near Praia de Sao Roque
Indulge in panoramic views from the top floor of this stunning apartment, offering a 360-degree perspective of central Lagos and the ocean from the roof terrace. The sleek and functional interior accommodates up to six people in two bedrooms, and guests have access to a jacuzzi, indoor, and outdoor pools.
8. Meia Praia
Stretching parallel to the Atlantic Ocean, Meia Praia beach, located 5km east of central Lagos, is an immense expanse of sand, ensuring plenty of space for visitors. The beach, extending over 4km, offers a vast and remote experience with convenient amenities near the marina for food, drink, and accommodation.
While the southwest border thrives with bars and restaurants, the beach becomes quieter as you explore further. The sinuous curve of the beach provides breathtaking views of the sand-colored cliffs, making the upper southwest-facing part an ideal spot to witness the sunset.
Noteworthy attractions in the area include the Clubhouse Onyria golf course and the Parque Aventura Lagos amusement park.
Where to Stay Near Meia Praia Lagos Beach
This charming Airbnb, nestled inside a typical Algarvian farmhouse, exudes character with a built-in wood fireplace and hardwood floors. Ideal for families, it accommodates up to four people and offers a serene setting surrounded by a forest, just 300m from Meia Praia. The center of Lagos is easily accessible by foot or a short drive.
9. Praia da Batata
Praia da Batata, close to the center of Lagos, attracts many first-time visitors due to its convenience. While it can get crowded in the summer, the southern end toward Praia dos Estudantes offers a quieter escape. The beach provides excellent infrastructure, lifeguard services, and wheelchair accessibility. The calm waters and sheltered cliffs make it a family-friendly destination.
Explore the 1690-built Forte da Ponta da Bandeira and enjoy a meal at the popular Mar restaurant overlooking the beach. If the crowds become overwhelming, hire a SUP or kayak to find tranquility around the mouth of the Rio Bensafrim river.
Where to Stay Near Praia da Batata
Similar to Praia da Batata itself, this centrally located two-bedroom apartment in Lagos offers a genuine experience. Tucked away down a narrow alley, it features a private enclosed balcony, allowing you to witness stunning sunsets over the rooftops. The all-white interior provides a cool and breezy atmosphere, perfect for summer stays.
10. Praia do Barranco do Martinho
Situated on the western side of the peninsula near Ponta da Piedade, Praia do Barranco do Martinho is a secluded gem requiring a bit of climbing.
The beach offers breathtaking scenery, with calm and clear waters perfect for swimming once you overcome the climb. Green patches atop rocky cliffs add a unique touch to the coastline. Exercise caution, as there are no lifeguards, and parking is informal.
Where to Stay Near Praia do Barranco do Martinho
Nestled near the tip of the peninsula, this two-person villa with access to a shared pool and garden offers a cool retreat with tiled floors throughout. Ideal for the summer months.
11. Praia do Pinhao
Praia do Pinhão, nestled between Praia dos Estudantes and Praia Dona Ana, is a hidden haven beneath steep ochre cliffs. Offering partial shade in the afternoon, it’s a refreshing spot to cool off. While less crowded than other Lagos beaches, it lacks infrastructure, so come prepared. A cliff-top trail connects Pinhão to Praia da Batata, and at low tide, a tunnel links the two beaches. Access the shore via a steep cliffside staircase for a peaceful and solitary experience.
Where to Stay Near Praia do Pinhao
This clifftop condo for six offers stunning views above Praia do Pinhão. With a swimming pool on the premises, it’s an ideal retreat, just a short stroll away from both the beach and the town of Lagos.
Essential Information for Exploring Lagos
ARRIVAL: Lagos is conveniently accessible through Faro International Airport, approximately 1.5 hours away by road. Opt for budget-friendly TUI airlines for direct flights from the UK, offering flexibility in case of plan changes. Familiarize yourself with the TUI cancellation policy. Find flights to Faro on Skyscanner.
TRANSPORTATION: To maximize your exploration of these stunning Portuguese beaches, consider renting a car. I recommend using the Discover Cars website for convenient comparison and booking, with pickup available at Faro Airport.
ACCOMMODATION: Lagos offers diverse accommodation options, from seaside guest houses to luxurious resorts. Optimal choices include private rental apartments and holiday houses, detailed recommendations provided for each beach below.
EXCLUSIVE TOUR: Enhance your experience by booking a catamaran cruise in Lagos, offering visits to pristine beaches and breathtaking coastal views from the water. Explore prices on Viator.
Insider Tips for Lagos Beach Exploration
- Plan your beach visits during low tide, considering that high tide may flood caves and tunnels, limiting access.
- Some beaches require traversing rugged paths and steep staircases, so bring sturdy, enclosed footwear for comfort.
- Exercise caution along the cliffs, as many are unstable and lack safety rails. Be mindful when walking and taking photos.
- Accessibility varies, and I’ve provided specific details for each beach below.
- Prepare for the absence of facilities at remote beaches by bringing essentials such as towels, umbrellas, water, and food.
- Keep in mind that these are cold-water beaches, and even in the summer, the water can be chilly.
- Not all beaches have lifeguard stations, so if you have concerns or young kids, opt for busier beaches closer to town (detailed information below).