From the tip of the spectacular Ponta da Piedade to streets replete with history, Lagos is unlike any of Portugal's numerous coastal resort towns. As you wander the fortified coastal walls of the Old Town, you'll feel like you've been transported to the sixteenth century. The walls were enlarged by both Manuel I and Joao III to encompass the growing trading base that formed the city. Today you'll find the cobbled streets of this sunny stunner heaving with superb restaurants and pretty piazzas, where you can look out over white beaches and the turquoise ocean.
It's easy to find flights to and hotels in Lagos, with plenty of flights from London and Manchester. From Faro Airport (FAO), it's a short train journey to Lagos, and the city is also within easy reach of Lisbon by train. UK citizens will likely not need visas, and euros are the currency. There's no time difference between the UK and Portugal, facilitating relaxed flights to this sunny destination. While you may have the opportunity to practise your Portuguese, many locals speak excellent English.
Package holidays in Lagos let you experience Portugal's balmy climate, which remains comfortable throughout winter. In the cooler (though still warm and sunny) months, you'll find the Algarve less busy and less expensive. Summer is the high season, with travellers thronging the city's beaches and historic attractions. Wake up to the sound of cannons and watch the fireworks fizz into the night on Liberation Day in August.
Alternatively, celebrate Mardis Gras Lagos style in February, when colourful floats, dancers and music fill the streets of the city. The spectacles and accompanying party atmosphere will take your holiday to life-altering levels. The calendar is also punctuated with Christian festivals and the weekly market, which is worth a visit on your city break in Lagos, for fresh olives, figs and mouthwatering traditional foods.
Head south from the city to Ponta da Piedade, which juts into the water for three whole kilometres. This natural platform, lighthouse and cove complete with nesting egrets might have been designed for Instagram. Split your time between the historical city and Lagos's glittering beaches.
Blues fans will feel at home at Stevie Ray's, an atmospheric venue that regularly witnesses gripping performances that are often the star attraction on weekend city breaks in Lagos. Your weekend in Lagos will also likely involve some hours whiled at Bon Vivant, a longstanding central haunt of locals. This popular bar has retained its reputation as the classiest joint in town over the years – with its R&B acoustics and friendly staff, its renown is understandable.
A city that combines throbbing contemporary culture with enough ancient history to keep you enthralled for weeks, Lagos offers plenty during package holidays. Start with:
Start your gastronomic journey at Café Gomba, a bakery-café serving the best baked goods and coffee around at equally appealing prices. Later in the day, venture off the beaten track to Dom Vinho II, which serves unusual dishes and vintage wines. Nestled among quiet side streets, you'll find frenetic yet fun A Forja, which attracts crowds with its authentic Italian classics, including plates of fresh fish. Speaking of seafood, Casinha do Petisco is a contender for the title of Lagos's best fish restaurant. The scent of grilled fish alone makes this small but perfectly formed gem worth the visit.
There's even more to unwrap on package holidays in Lagos. Treasure your city break to Lagos forever with traditional souvenirs such as cataplana, clam-shaped pans you can use to recreate the recipes you discover on your trip. Smaller takeaways include jewellery purveyed on the beach, and the local firewater, Medronho, which is made from locally grown berries. Olive oil is also a popular choice. Azulejo tiles, adorning street signs and public buildings, evince Portuguese culture. Take these bright ceramic fragments home with you and retain a little of the warmth of your city break in Lagos.