Cliffs and coves

On the town’s southern side, ochre cliffs ravaged by wind and water form clusters of protected coves and caves, with distinctive arched ‘doors’ providing a thoroughfare between beaches.

Follow the Avenida dos Descobrimentos (main road through town) up the hill and edge your way along the cliffs towards Sagres or take a boat tour from Dona Ana beach.

Fortified remains

Although much of Lagos was toppled by an earthquake in 1755, the ruins of its fortification remain, including some walls from the 16th century, a governor’s castle and an ancient slave market.

Most prominent is Forte Ponta da Bandiera, which guards the entrance to the town’s harbour, and the military chapel of Santo Antonio.

The Marina

While Lagos is far enough west to have escaped the frantic development of the central coast, the newly constructed marina stands in marked contrast to the narrow, cobbled lanes of the Old Town.

Accessed via a footbridge from the promenade, you’ll find a string of modern bars, cafés and restaurants, many of which are run by British expats, overlooking rows of yachts and boats finding port from the Atlantic.

The beaches

Blessed with some of Europe’s best beaches and year-round sunshine, the Algarve is a favourite among beach bums and serious surfers alike. For the latter, the south-west corner — west of Lagos on the south coast and north to Arrifana on the west coast — offers the better choice of breaks.

The mixture of sandy beaches, point breaks and small, protected bays dotted along the adjacent coastlines means you’ve a good chance of finding surfable waves in most conditions.

With some of the best beaches found at the end of unsigned dirt tracks, it’s worth hooking up with a local surf camp or hiring a 4WD and grilling the locals for directions.