Lagoa is a small, quiet, and relatively non-touristy town that’s situated 10 minutes inland from more popular beach resort towns like Carvoeiro and Ferragudo. While it may not boast the beachfront allure of nearby destinations, Lagoa compensates with a tranquil atmosphere, making it an ideal locale for those seeking respite from the tourist-heavy zones.
Another big selling point is that because it isn’t situated directly on the coast, it is far less touristy than many of the nearby coastal towns — yet still a short drive from the beaches and nearby attractions. It is just 10-15 minutes drive from some of the best beaches on the Algarve including Praia da Marina, Praia de Benagil, and Praia de Albandeira. It’s also just a 5-minute drive from Slide & Splash, one of the Algarve’s most popular water parks.
Lagoa is a quiet town with a few cafés and restaurants – enough to keep most people entertained for a week or so. It also has plenty of big supermarkets, which is ideal for those that are self-catering.
Lagoa’s events calendar, highlighted by the annual Fatacil trade fair showcasing local crafts, products, and gastronomy, invites visitors to immerse themselves in the vibrant culture and traditions of the Algarve, making it a dynamic blend of the past and the present.
Where to Stay
- Lagoa Hotel – Popular hotel with outdoor swimming pool and onsite restaurant.
- Casa Azul Oasis – Guesthouse near Lagoa with outdoor swimming pool.
What to See & Do
There aren’t a huge number of attractions in Lagoa itself. However, the town is in a good location for exploring many of the nearby attractions.
Lagoa’s enviable position in the Algarve grants visitors access to some of the region’s most enchanting beaches, each distinguished by its unique character and beauty. Praia da Marinha, often touted as one of the most iconic coastlines in Europe, stands out with its dramatic limestone cliffs that plunge into azure waters, creating a mesmerising play of light and shadow. The beach, adorned with golden sands and interspersed with rocky outcrops, is a haven for sunbathers and nature enthusiasts alike.
Just a short drive away, the Benagil Caves, accessible only by water, is a testament to the power of nature’s artistry. This spectacular sea cave, with its famed dome-shaped opening, allows sunrays to pierce through, creating an ethereal glow within the cavern. It’s a sight that has captured the imagination of travellers worldwide. Further along the coastline, Praia de Albandeira and Praia de Nossa Senhora da Rocha offer more secluded spots, the latter marked by a historic chapel perched on the cliff edge, merging the region’s natural and cultural narratives.
These beaches, in close proximity to Lagoa, not only provide idyllic settings for relaxation but also cater to adventurous spirits, with opportunities for kayaking, paddleboarding, and boat tours. The diversity of the coastal landscapes around Lagoa ensures that every visitor finds a beach that resonates with their idea of paradise.
Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Luz
Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Luz, standing proudly in Lagoa’s historic heart, is an embodiment of the town’s rich ecclesiastical heritage. Dating back to the 16th century, the church displays elements of both Gothic and Manueline architectural styles. Its whitewashed exterior is punctuated by ornate stonework and an imposing bell tower, drawing the eyes of both locals and visitors as they meander through the town’s narrow streets.
Stepping inside, one is met with a serene ambiance, accentuated by the play of light filtering through the stained glass windows. The interior boasts a stunning main altar, replete with gilded woodwork and religious statuary. Notably, the church houses a revered image of Our Lady of Light, to whom many local devotees pay homage.
Convento de São José
Nestled in Lagoa’s urban fabric, the Convento de São José stands as a silent testament to the town’s historic significance and its religious inclinations. Established in the 17th century, this former convent has undergone several transformations over the years. Originally built to house nuns of the Carmelite order, its tranquil cloisters, charming chapel, and spartan cells evoke a sense of calm contemplation, reflective of the lives of those who once inhabited its walls.
Beyond its ecclesiastical past, Convento de São José has now embraced a cultural renaissance. It functions as a cultural centre for Lagoa, playing host to various art exhibitions, workshops, and performances throughout the year.
Seven Hanging Valleys Walk
One of the Algarve’s most picturesque trekking routes, the Seven Hanging Valleys Walk (or “Sete Vales Suspensos” in Portuguese) offers a harmonious blend of dramatic coastal cliffs, azure waters, and verdant landscapes. Beginning at Praia de Marinha and stretching up to Praia de Vale Centeanes, this 5.7-kilometre trail promises breathtaking panoramic views that encapsulate the raw beauty of the Algarve coastline.
As hikers navigate this moderately challenging path, they’re treated to a series of natural wonders, including secluded golden beaches, majestic limestone cliffs, and naturally formed archways. Every twist and turn of the trail presents an Instagram-worthy vista, making it a beloved choice for photographers and nature enthusiasts alike. The sound of waves crashing against the rocks below and the scent of the sea serve as constant companions on this unforgettable journey through one of Portugal’s most scenic landscapes.
Slide & Splash
Slide & Splash, located near Lagoa, is one of the Algarve’s premier water parks, offering a refreshing retreat from the sun-soaked beaches and a haven of exhilarating fun for families and thrill-seekers alike. Spread across a vast expanse, the park boasts a myriad of water slides, ranging from adrenaline-pumping drops to more leisurely rides, ensuring entertainment for both the brave-hearted and those seeking a gentler pace.
Beyond the slides, guests can relax in the expansive wave pool or let the currents take them on a calming journey along the lazy river. For the younger visitors, there’s a dedicated children’s area with smaller slides and splash zones.
Quinta dos Vales Wine Estate
Nestled in the heart of the Algarve, just a short drive from Lagoa, is the renowned Quinta dos Vales Wine Estate, a testament to the region’s flourishing wine culture. This estate is not just famed for its award-winning wines, but also for its role as a centre for arts and culture. Visitors are treated to a delightful fusion of fine wine and art, making it a unique Algarvian experience.
Tours of the vineyard provide an in-depth understanding of the wine-making process, from the cultivation of the grapes to the magic that unfolds within the barrels. After exploring the verdant rows of vines, guests are invited to the tasting room, where the estate’s finest wines can be savoured. Complementing this wine journey are the stunning sculptures and artworks that dot the estate, embodying the owner’s passion for both wine and art.
Should I rent a car?
Renting a car will definitely make it easier to get around but, because Lagoa has both a bus and a train station (although the train station is almost 4 km outside) it is possible to get from Lagoa to other parts of the Algarve by public transport. You can even get to nearby beaches, Praia da Marinha, by bus, as well as towns with beaches like Carvoeiro and Armação de Pêra.
Buses also go to a number of local Algarve towns and cities like Faro and Lagos, as well as to destinations further afield like Lisbon, Huelva (Spain), and Sevilla (Spain).
- Flying: The nearest airport to Lagoa is Faro Airport, and the journey time is usually around 40 minutes. It’s recommended that you rent a car but of you decide not to rent one, the easiest and fastest way to get from Faro Airport to Lagoa is to book an airport transfer. Several companies, like Welcome Pickups, operate at Faro Airport
- Train: There is a train from Faro to Estômbar-Lagoa, which is located in Parchal, roughly 3.7 km from Lagoa. You’ll then need to take a taxi from Parchal to Lagoa. Train tickets can be purchased on cp.pt, and discounts are available if you book in advance. However, it may be easier to take the bus directly to Lagoa.
- Bus: Long distance coaches are available to Lagoa from Lisbon, Porto, and other destinations in Portugal. Tickets can be purchased from rede-expressos.pt or Flixbus.pt. For local bus tickets to other Algarve towns see Vamus.pt.
- Driving: Lagoa is easily accessible by road; from Faro, it’s a straightforward 45-minute drive via the A22, while from Lisbon, you can reach Lagoa in approximately 2.5 hours, taking the A2 and A22 motorways through the picturesque landscapes of the Alentejo and Algarve regions.