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With sandstone cliffs, Atlantic views and an ancient walled city, Lagos is a colourful destination in which to soak up sunshine and some fascinating West African history.
While Portugal’s Algarve region tends to evoke memories of family-package holidays, Lagos offers a different experience. An important port in the 15th-century Portuguese Age of Discovery, Lagos is today famed for its old town, in which ancient brick walls thread between historic buildings and shaded cobbled streets bustling with local activity.
Explore the watchtowers and bastions of the medieval Castelo dos Governadores before descending the steep wooden steps to the cove of Praia do Camilo. Sunbathe on the golden sands of Meia Praia, or climb the sandstone cliffs of Ponta da Piedade for sweeping views across the bay.
Igreja de Santo António, a small baroque church filled with gilded wood and sculpted stone. Hand-painted tiles line the impressive dome, installed after an earthquake in 1755. Enter the church through the Museu Municipal, which showcases treasures and artefacts including Moorish pottery, Roman mosaics and the original 1504 town charter.
Who to take with you
History buffs – as well as the Museu Municipal, they’ll enjoy the Antigo Mercado de Escravos. Set in a building thought to once have been Europe’s first slave market, the museum exhibits the bleak history of slavery in the region. Alternatively, head to the Centro Ciência Viva de Lagos to learn about the Algarve’s seafaring history, or the Museu de Cera dos Descobrimentos for wax renderings of Portugal’s most important historical figures.
When to go
Where to stay
For a bohemian retreat, disappear into the white-walled, terracotta-tiled haven that is Casa Mae, located in the city centre. Alternatively, Quinta Bonita lies just outside of the city, offering a tranquil, secluded stay with panoramic ocean views and sprawling gardens.
Most likely to bump into…
Anyone looking for a sunny escape with a difference.
Essentials to bring with you
How to get there
Flights to Faro Airport are relatively cheap, and the drive to Lagos takes just over an hour.
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