A Day Trip to Lagos, Portugal By Train

On our latest visit to Portugal, my husband and I decided to visit a few new places we hadn’t seen before. While we made Portimao our home base for a few days, we managed to squeeze in a day trip to Lagos. And we were very glad we did!

How to get to Lagos

Lagos is located in the Barlavento region in the Algarve, along the Atlantic ocean. If you’re coming to Lagos via Lisbon, you have a few options:

  • Direct by bus (Rede Expressos or EVA Transportes) leaving from Lisbon Sete Rios Station or Oriente Station – approximately 4 hours
  • By train from Entrecampos station in Lisbon, with a transfer in Tunes – approximately 3.5 hours and up (some journeys may require an overnight stay in Tunes, depending on your departure time)
  • Drive – approximately 3 hours

The nearest airport for Lagos is in Faro. So if you prefer to fly, you’ll need to take a bus or taxi from the airport to Faro city first. Then you can reach Lagos either by bus or train. The Lagos Portugal Guide website has great information on all the transportation options.

If you’re staying in Portimao, as we did, getting to Lagos is super easy. It’s about 35 minutes by car, bus or taxi. Or, you can go by train, which was the option we chose.

Portimao train station

Portimao train station

This was the timetable at the Portimao train station. As you can see, the Algarve regional railway services all the major hubs along the Algarve region of Portugal. This is especially great if you want to spend some extended time in the Algarve. You can town-hop all along the coast, from Lagos in the west to Vila Real de Santo Antonio in the east!

Portimao to Lagos timetable

The train fare is very reasonable, too. It was only €2.05 one way to get to Lagos from Portimao. We decided to get a return ticket, which cost us a whopping €4.10 each!

Portimao to Lagos train ticket

Don’t let the rough-looking exterior of the train deter you from using it as a mode of transportation in the Algarve. The inside was clean and comfortable.

Algarve regional railway train covered in graffiti

The train is a great way to travel through the Algarve. It even goes along the sandy beach heading into Lagos for a portion of the journey. Check the official Comboios de Portugal website for times and fares.

Arriving in Lagos

The train station in Lagos is fairly new. But across the street you’ll see the old, now-abandoned train station, decorated in beautiful green Portuguese tiles:

old train station in Lagos, Portugal

Once we got off the train, we had to cross a footbridge past the marina in order to get into the town proper.

Lagos Portugal marina

Lagos Portugal bridge

The footbridge takes you to the Avenidas dos Descobrimentos. This is the main street extending from the marina to the mouth of the river.

The first thing that caught my attention was a long line of outdoor vendors along the promenade.

Lagos Portugal outdoor market

I love shopping in markets around the world. I don’t know if this street market is open daily or not, but it did appear when I looked Lagos up in Google Maps. So it must be held frequently enough that the Google Maps people caught it! This market was all merchandise; no food or produce. But look at these adorable and colourful bags! The fish bags are the cutest!

colourful fish bags at market

There were so many things I wanted to buy, it was hard to restrain myself. They had cork purses and wallets, shoes, hand painted ceramic tiles, coasters, paintings, clothing and more. I ended up buying a pretty sage-coloured summer dress for €20.

Lagos Portugal street

What to See and Do in Lagos

Boa Esperança

Across the way from the market is a replica of caravel Boa Esperança. Bartolomé Díaz, a Portuguese explorer, sailed a ship like this around the Cape of Good Hope in 1488. (Boa Esperança means “Good Hope” in Portuguese. You can read about our own visit to the Cape of Good Hope here!) The replica, built in 1990, is a floating museum and training vessel. But it’s not just for show – it’s used in races and other nautical events!

replica of the Boa Esperanca ship

Forte da Ponta da Bandeira

After we did a bit of retail therapy, we headed to the Forte da Ponta da Bandeira. This fortress dates back to the 17th Century. Throughout the 1600s, pirates were a real threat along the coast. The Spanish also attacked the Algarve during the Portuguese Restoration War (1640–1668).

This fort was built between 1679 and 1690, and has a small drawbridge leading to the door. It’s now a museum showcasing the Portuguese Discoveries. But unfortunately, even though we arrived during regular operating hours, the building was closed so we couldn’t go inside.

Forte da Ponta da Bandeira

One big difference we observed between Portimao and Lagos was the size of the waves. The ocean was much more aggressive here. I wouldn’t want to go wading in these rough waters. Still beautiful though!

Lagos fortress with ocean waves

Castle of Lagos

Although we didn’t have time to visit, Lagos even has its very own castle. It’s across the street from the fortress. It’s called the Castelo dos Governadores, or Governor’s Castle, and includes the remains of the old city walls. The walls date as far back as the Roman era, with modifications throughout the centuries. The walls had nine towers for defence.

Castle of Lagos

St. Goncalo of Lagos Statue

Heading a little further south, we passed the statue to St. Goncalo of Lagos. He was born to a wealthy fisherman in Lagos in 1360, and he dedicated his life to pastoral work. Goncalo studied in Lisbon where he entered the Order of the Augustinians. He died in 1422; however, the story goes that Goncalo appeared to a relative after his ship sank, and guided him safely to shore. Due to this miracle, Pope Pius VI beatified Goncalo in 1778. He’s been the patron saint of fishermen in Lagos since 1972.

S Goncalo statue

Beaches

Lagos is well known for its many beaches, and you’d be doing yourself a disservice not to check out at least one or two.

Praia de Batata is the first beach on your left, just after you pass the Ponta da Bandeira fort.

Praia de Batata beach Portugal

It’s also one of the busiest beaches in Lagos, since it’s the closest to the town centre and main attractions. By the way, batata is Portuguese for potato!

beach in Lagos, Portugal

If you continue along this same path past the statue of St. Goncalo, you’ll see a Romanesque bridge overlooking a small but lovely beach, called Praia dos Estudantes (Student’s Beach). This bridge was once part of the Pinhão Fortress. An earthquake in 1755 triggered a tsunami, which almost completely destroyed the fortress:

Roman bridge overlooking the beach, Lagos Portugal

Praia do Pinhão is the next beach you’ll come across, which is really beautiful. The mustard-yellow and rust-hued cliffs surrounding it are quite dramatic. It doesn’t offer any amenities though, so bring your own water, snacks, towels, etc.

Praia do Pinhão beach Portugal

Praia da Dona Ana is a larger stretch of sandy beach, and has all the amenities you could want, including a restaurant, boardwalks, etc.

Praia da Dona Ana beach, Portugal

The rocky outcroppings all along the coast here are just stunning. I especially loved the natural archways and grottos cut into the rock here and there along the beaches.

Praia da Dona Ana beach

My husband and I aren’t really “beach people,” but Portugal made us re-think our stance:

beach in Lagos, Portugal

Ponta da Piedade

We then headed to the Ponta da Piedade, or Mercy Point. Ponta da Piedade is surrounded by dramatic cliff faces. There’s a restaurant and old lighthouse here, but really the main attraction is the view.

Ponta da Piedade, Lagos

The route we took meant walking along a busy road, but I’m sure there are easier pedestrian-friendly paths to follow. But, along the way we came across many small shrines like this one:

small shrine in Lagos, Portugal

Many of the paths here are just sandy trails. So I would recommend good footwear.

Ponta da Piedade view, Lagos

This is the lighthouse, built in 1913. I don’t believe it’s open to visitors.

Ponta de Piedade lighthouse

This archway is called the Catedral. It does remind one of a cathedral arch, doesn’t it? You can explore this area by boat as well, which will take you to some of the grottos and cool rocky caves carved into the rock faces.

Ponta da Piedade Catedral view, Lagos

This was just such a beautiful area. I could have stayed here all day!

Ponta da Piedade view, Lagos

You can walk to the Ponta da Piedade from Lagos, or you can take the mini train during high tourist season.

Clifftop Boardwalk

It was at this point that we decided to walk a bit of the clifftop boardwalk, which connects to the Ponta da Piedade. The boardwalk is quite extensive, but we only had so much time to explore!

clifftop boardwalk. Lagos Portugal

You can see a bit of Lagos in the distance. The clifftop walk is great for getting out of town and seeing a bit of nature.

clifftop boardwalk. Lagos Portugal

And of course, these views can’t be beat:

clifftop boardwalk view, Lagos Portugal

It’s important to stay on the designated paths, as the cliffs are unstable. We saw several people climbing over the railings to get that perfect selfie.

Slave Market Museum

On our walk back to Lagos, we stopped in at the Slave Market museum (Mercado de Escravos).

Lagos Slave Market museum exterior

This was the first slave market in Europe. Some of this building dates to 1444, though most of it was rebuilt in 1691. African slaves came into Europe through markets such as this one.

Lagos Slave Market museum

The museum itself is quite small, and doesn’t have very many artifacts from those dark days in history. But they did recently implement augmented reality exhibits, which you access via tablets they hand out. So if you held up the tablet to the wall map below, for example, you could click on different areas to learn more about it.

Lagos Slave Market museum interior

They’re still working out the bugs, but I think it’s a nice addition to the museum.

We didn’t stay in Lagos long enough to explore the town center, as I wanted to get back into Portimao before their museum closed. But the day trip to Lagos was definitely worth our time!

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7 Replies to “A Day Trip to Lagos, Portugal By Train”

  1. Darlene Post author

    Trains are such a great way to see a country, and much more relaxing than going by road. I highly recommend visiting the Algarve, there’s so much to see and do, you could easily spend weeks there and not get bored!

  2. johnrieber

    This is a GREAT post – I was unaware of this town, and it looks great! Reminds me of Cabo San Lucas a bit in the best way…and I have become a HUGE fan of train travel…so easy, convenient and no airport hassles! Nice job!

  3. Darlene Post author

    Hi Aimsy! Lagos is very pretty, especially the clifftop walk and beaches! Their transportation system is quite good and inexpensive compared to some other European countries too. I found their bus system to be quite good as well, so travellers have options when they need to get from point A to point B!

  4. aimsysantics

    Lagos looks like a beautiful place to visit, as well as spend a few days there. I love it when you can have the best of both in a holiday, a bit of beach, as well as exploring the history.
    Train travel is so easy in Portugal isn’t it? We did a day trip from Lisbon to Sintra, and the trains look very similar to the one you took to Lagos.

    Thanks for sharing, will have to add Lagos onto my list of places to visit!

    Aimsy xoxo
    https://www.aimsysantics.co.uk

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