Lagos is the most historically interesting coastal town in the Algarve. Its fame derives from its association with Portugal's 14th- and 15th-century Age of Discovery. It was here that Henry the Navigator had his vessels built for the voyages of exploration down the coast of West Africa, which ultimately led to the sea route past the Cape of Good Hope to India.
The walls came tumbling down along with all the other buildings in Lagos with the great earthquake of 1755. Among those which were rebuilt and have since undergone renovation are the Church of Santa Maria with 16th-century traces, the 17th-century regimental storehouse next to it, and the stunning "golden" Church of Santo Antonio which forms part of Lagos' rather eccentric museum.
Because of its bay-side location and its proximity to lovely bathing beaches, it is a natural attraction for tourists. The latest major addition is the big yacht marina at the most sheltered end of the harbour. Dona Ana is the most popular family beach, but there are smaller sandy coves to be explored both closer and farther away from the town centre. The headland of Ponta da Piedada with its lighthouse is best viewed from the sea on a short boat trip. The cliff top is a good place to take a stroll with your camera and marvel at cliff erosion.
Lagos, with its relaxed atmosphere and quiet charm, make it one of the most appealing locations in the Algarve to visitors from abroad. The best places to sit and watch people go by are at the open-air cafe's in Praia da Republica, next to the tourist information office. The best selection of restaurants is concentrated in the pedestrians-only Rua 25 de Abril.