There are plenty of pristine beaches in Lagos, all of which bring many holidaymakers back time and time again. Backed by the Atlantic Ocean, Lagos is clustered around a natural harbour and has had a long and fruitful relationship with the sea. The Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans and Moors recognised the importance of its location; Vasco da Gama sailed from here when he set off to explore what we now know as Brazil.

    Today, visitors flock to Lagos for similar reasons. Boat trips, deep-sea fishing excursions and yacht hire can all be arranged at the marina. Even so, its beautiful shoreline of Ponta da Piedade remains the main draw. If most of your holiday plans revolve around the sea and sand, check out our guide to the best beaches in Lagos.

    1

    Meia Praia

    The largest beach in Lagos

    Meia Praia, also called Praia de São Roque, is the largest beach in Lagos. Technically speaking, Praia de São Roque is separated from Meia Praia by a long-absent stream. The latter extends for around 5 km from Lagos to the Odiáxere River. 

    The wide bay of Meia Praia is lapped by a calm sea, making it ideal for families. Backed by dunes, this broad expanse of sand is a mecca for sun-seekers, kitesurfers and surfers alike. Paragliding, sailing and beach volleyball are also available, and there are plenty of snack bars and restaurants.

    Location: Largo da República 34, Central Lagos, Portugal

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    2

    Praia Dona Ana

    The coastal primadonna of Lagos

    Praia Dona Ana is often dubbed the best beach on the Algarve. This cove of golden sand nestled between sandstone cliffs is certainly a feast for the eyes. Sheltered from the breeze, it’s exposed just enough to stay in the sun throughout the day.

    You can get to Praia Dona Ana via a long wooden staircase. If that doesn’t appeal, the beach is visible from the sea if you take a boat trip from Lagos. However you look at it, the picture-perfect setting of sea stacks and glittering turquoise water makes this a good choice for a summer day out.

    Location: Santa Maria, 8600-315 Lagos, Portugal

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    3

    Praia da Batata

    A sunny beach near the town centre

    Praia da Batata is a suntrap of a spot, particularly in the morning. This is the closest beach to Lagos town centre. It’s convenient but crowded as a result. Accessible from the Avenida dos Descobrimentos, you can paddle out in the water, with the statue of São Gonçalo of Lagos watching over you. 

    Praia da Batata's easterly location offers protection from the prevailing westerly winds that barrel across the Atlantic, at times bringing fierce swells. You could say that renders the seasonal lifeguard almost redundant, though families will appreciate that extra level of security.

    Location: Av. dos Descobrimentos, 8600-315 Lagos, Portugal

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    4

    Praia de Porto de Mós

    A long stretch backed by ochre cliffs

    Praia de Porto de Mós is a 1-km-long beach backed by the ochre sandstone cliffs that characterise the region. Clear blue water laps the fine yellow sand, making this worth travelling for – it’s a little less central than some of the town’s other beaches, though still on a bus route.

    Despite its level access, not to mention the many beachfront cafés, restaurants and other facilities, Praia de Porto de Mós tends to be relatively quiet. Without headlands providing shelter, the beach can feel a little exposed on a breezy day. However, that makes it excellent for surfers and those seeking a little more space without the need to give up the convenience of beach amenities.

    Location: Largo da República, Estr. de Porto de Mós, 8600-513 Lagos, Portugal

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    5

    Praia dos Estudantes

    Enter through a beautiful natural arch

    Praia dos Estudantes is one of the best beaches in Lagos, especially in terms of natural beauty. The tiny stone bridge that spans a gap high in the adjacent headland is one of Praia dos Estudantes’ most recognisable features. To view it, you’ll have to duck through a tunnel leading to the southern end of the beach. At low tide, you can pass through a natural arch and continue along to Praia do Pinhão.

    The beach goes by 2 names: Praia dos Estudantes and Praia do Formosa. Its natural beauty is imposing, with classic rock formations and sandstone cliffs that are as pretty as any around Lagos.

    Location: 8600-315 Lagos, Portugal

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    6

    Praia dos Pinheiros

    A naturally secluded beach

    Praia dos Pinheiros is secluded and completely natural, devoid of facilities and amenities. It's one of several beaches that cluster behind Ponta da Piedade. The only way to reach it is by walking down the steep flight of stone steps cut into the surrounding sandstone cliffs. Rocks litter the shoreline, which also features a couple of wave-cut caves that flood on a high tide.

    Though the vertiginous rock faces of Praia dos Pinheiros increase the effort required to reach the beach, they also ensure that it remains sheltered from the wind. Unsurprisingly, this attracts nudists looking for a private stretch of sand to bare it all. 

    Location: Santa Maria, Lagos, Portugal

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    7

    Praia da Balança

    Arrive by boat or kayak

    Praia da Balança translates as the “Beach of the Scale”, taking its name from a nearby rock that some say has the appearance of a set of scales. Close to the Ponta da Piedade, it’s a beautiful unspoilt beach flanked by sandstone cliffs.

    Access from land is tricky and can be dangerous, so most people arrive by boat or kayak. That opens up a particularly scenic journey – this part of the Algarve coast is dotted with caves, arches, stacks and stumps, which are the result of centuries of wave action. 

    Location: Estr. da Ponta da Piedade, Lagos, Portugal

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    8

    Praia do Barranco do Martinho

    A calm coastal escape

    Barranco do Martinho Beach squeezes into a tiny gap-filling a cove close to Ponta da Piedade. The waters are calm, with sand dotted with rocks discarded by fierce waves or from cliffs behind the beach. A large sea stack perches by the shoreline as if stranded, while a natural arch can be seen from the east.

    There’s a certain charm about Barranco do Martinho Beach. Explorers will relish the effort it takes to reach here. Due to lack of tourist facilities, you'll probably have most of the beach to yourself. 

    Location: Estr. da Ponta da Piedade, Lagos, Portugal

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    9

    Praia do Canavial

    Best experienced at low tide

    Praia do Canavial is reachable via a rough staircase made with wood and sandy soil. You’ll find this beach just to the west of Ponta de Piedade, though it lacks the rock formations that adorn its famous neighbour. Instead, a broad sweep of rippled yellow cliffs extends across the bay.

    Exposed to the elements, breakers race in Praia do Canavial. They collapse on the yellow sand, their white tips an embellishment to its already impressive setting. Come at low tide, when the beach is revealed – you can sit far enough away from the precarious cliffs to be safe. 

    Location: Rua do Canavial 17, Lagos, Portugal

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    10

    Praia da Luz

    The Beach of Light

    Travel west along the coast in Faro and you'll reach Praia da Luz, also called the “Beach of Light”. This idyllic beach backs onto the paved esplanades and palm trees of its namesake resort village. The sand covers a rocky platform marked by anemone fossils, limpets, sea snails and barnacles.

    This wide stretch of sand is around 3.4 km east of Praia de Porto de Mós – a stroll between the 2 would be a popular activity if it weren't for Rocha Negra, a volcanic basalt headland that was exposed after the softer sandstone eroded.

    Location: R. José da Conceição Conde, Luz, Portugal

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    11

    Praia do Camilo

    Step down to green-blue sea waters

    Getting to Praia do Camilo involves a high plinth above a blue-green ocean. Then you're onto the zigzagging stairs that lead to the beach, hopping from rock stacks to huge sandstone boulders before reaching the yellow-dusted cove that sits under 2 miles south of Lagos' centre. 

    Along with most of the other inlets that thread their way along the wild Ponta da Piedade, this beach has all the precipitous cliffs and jutting headlands you might’ve seen in the Algarve brochures. The geography means that Praia do Camilo rarely gets windy, making it excellent for getting lost in a book, sunbathing, and snorkelling. 

    Location: Praia do Camilo, Lagos, Portugal

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    Julia Hammond | Contributing Writer

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