Lagos is one of the most popular towns on the Algarve, and it’s no surprise that it’s one of the first choices for anyone moving to the Algarve. Living in Lagos has both its pros and cons, but there are definitely a lot of pros to be had.
Firstly, it has a fantastic, long beach — meia praia — and you can walk here from the town centre. There are also plenty of other beaches nearby, although you’ll need a car to get to most of them.
Like any coastal town on the Algarve, Lagos is touristy in the summer. But, even though it gets busy, and even though it attracts a young crowd, it’s a slightly different crowd to those that head to Albufeira and Praia da Rocha.
In Lagos, the clientele prefer hostels, burgers and smoothie restaurants, and surf shops. You’ll see very few stag and hen parties, and you’ll also see a good mixture of all ages – including families and older travellers.
Lagos is one of the few Algarve towns to have both a train station in the town centre and a beach that you can walk to without a car. It also has good bus connections.
Another big selling point for Lagos is its proximity to the West Coast, which is one of the most beautiful parts of the Algarve. If you like walking or surfing, but don’t want to be too isolated, it’s a good place to base yourself.
Like anywhere on the coast, a lot of Lagos’ downsides come from its reliance on tourism. Although this is changing, this means that it can be crowded in the summer and dead in the winter with many businesses shutting down between November and March.
The accommodation is also geared towards tourists as its always potentially more profitable to rent to tourists rather than long term. This means that it can be difficult to find an affordable long-term rental sometimes, particularly if you start your search near the summer.
By Algarve standards, Lagos has very good public transport facilities.
Firstly, it has a train station and that train station is in the town centre. In many Algarve towns, the trains stations are several kilometres outside.
You can get the train from Lagos to Vila Real de Santo António next to the Spanish border, and you can also connect to another line and go North to Lisbon and beyond. The Algarve train stops at both Portimao and Faro, the two biggest cities on the Algarve, as well as several small towns on the way. It doesn’t go west however: Lagos is the last stop on this side of the Algarve.
Lagos also has good bus connections, both to local towns and cities and also to other parts of the country. However, there are usually only a small number of services to towns in the Western Algarve and the buses don’t stop at beaches or scenic areas.
Because you can walk to the beach from the town centre, and because it has good public transport connections, it would be possible to live in Lagos without a car. However, you wouldn’t be able to get to lots of places in the West Coast and one of the main reasons to live in Lagos is its access to the West Coast.
Lagos is situated in the Western Algarve, and is around 30 minutes drive from the West Coast. It offers easy access to the Western Algarve, including the great walking and surfing available here, but in a large town with lots of bars, restaurants, and other facilities.
30 minutes in the other direction is Portimao, which is the second biggest city on the Algarve after Faro. It’s not much bigger than Lagos in reality, but it is good to have it nearby.
If you want to compare the two, you can read more about living in Portimao here.
While Lagos is quite unique, the most similar town is probably Faro.