Lagos Car Hire

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Lagos is a beautiful town in the Portuguese Algarve. In 2012 it was voted by TripAdvisor as the number one holiday destination worldwide. Lagos is more relaxed than other larger resorts like Albufeira or Praia da Rocha, is very safe and tends to be less hectic during the evening. The sheltered beaches are clean and supervised by lifeguards during the summer. Lagos comfortably combines traditional Portuguese culture with pristine beaches and modern tourist facilities, has not succumbed to mass tourism, and still retains its distinctive character and charm. Humming with history and culture, this is a proud Portuguese city of cobbled streets, authentic restaurants, and a relaxed and welcoming ambience.

The Algarve region has been inhabited since the Stone Age, with megalithic standing stones and millennia of history. Like much of Europe, Portugal was under Roman occupation followed by Visigoths, Moors, and many others. There are extensive Roman structures scattered throughout the region, and because the Algarve is relatively small it’s tailor-made for great day trips from the comfort of your car. Portugal is a safe country with good public services and therefore is popular among expats from the UK and elsewhere, as well as with holidaymakers. After you’ve explored the town on foot, venture further afield into the Algarve by car.

Portugal is generally cheaper than the UK, and so is car hire. Hiring a Fiat Panda or similar mini-size car starts at €14 per day in off-peak season. Even a compact Citroën C5 Cactus (which seats 5) is only €22 a day, while a roomy Vauxhall/Opel Insignia (standard-size saloon) is just €32 a day. Book your hire car with Enjoy to explore Lagos and the stunning Algarve by air-conditioned, independent travel – but first, here’s a bit more on this holiday haven.

Airports and Access: Lagos is served by Faro Airport (FAO), also known as Algarve Airport, situated just west of the city of Faro and 91 km from Lagos. It became a hub airport in 2010 and nine million passengers use it annually. Access from Algarve/Faro Airport to Lagos is by the A22, taking around 50 minutes along Portugal’s sublime Southern Atlantic coast.

Famous Lagos: Portugal has produced many famous people over the years: Ronaldo, Vasco De Gama, Magellan, and Lagos resident Prince Henry the Navigator to name just a few, while the town’s famous children include a saint and several global explorers. The Algarve has always been popular with foreign footballers too, and you might spot some of your favourite Premiership stars strolling around during their downtime.

A simple overview of Lagos

Camilo Beach
Lagos walls and city gate

About Lagos

Thanks to its continuing popularity, the population of the Algarve, normally 450,000 people, becomes a million in high season. The main city is Faro, which with Lagos and Albufeira comprises the most populous Algarve section, along the southern coast. Lagos is one of the most visited cities in the Algarve and Portugal due to its safe and idyllic beaches, stunning rock formations like Ponta da Piedade, its bars, restaurants and hotels. While it does have a vibrant summer nightlife, it’s not recommended for serious partying (for that you need to go to Praia da Rocha or Albufeira). Lagos is also a historic centre of the Portuguese Renaissance, sometime home of Prince Henry the Navigator and a historical shipyard. Historically and culturally fascinating, there’s nevertheless the selection of charming cafes and super-fresh seafood we all expect in Portugal. The inland of the Algarve is less developed but no less beautiful, as are the rockier cliffs and coastal areas on the wild north-western Atlantic coast (which is popular with surfers).

There have been humans in the Algarve and Lagos for millennia ̶ waves of conquerors, religions and immigration have shaped the culture, people, cuisine and rocky landscape of this coastal haven throughout that period. In pre-Roman Algarve, Celtic tribes inhabited the area and the Carthaginians established a base here because of its strategic harbour. The Romans renamed Algarve ‘Lusitania’ and Lagos became ‘Lacobriga’. After the Roman Empire collapsed in 410 AD, the Visigoths and then Byzantines occupied the area until its Moorish conquest in 711 AD and until their own eventual expulsion from the area in 1249. Renaissance Portugal became a global maritime Empire with Lagos as one of its strategic ports, fortified by Lagos Castle. Between 1595 and 1808 the Algarve was a semi-autonomous region, until unification into Portugal proper in 1910.

Beaches, Caves, Coves

Within walking distance of the historic centre of Lagos are four wonderful beaches ̶ Meia Praia, Praia Dona Ana, Praia do Camilo and Praia da Batata, and it’s a short drive to the glorious beaches at Praia da Luz (8 km) – a relaxed and friendly resort town set around the beautiful beach, Burgau (14 km) – a lovely fishing village and beach that are relatively undiscovered by tourists, Alvor (20 km) – a favourite with expats and families on the opposite side of Meia Praia beach, and Sagres (55 km) which is close to steep cliffs and roiling seas, offering some of the best surfing in Portugal. The Cabo Sao Vincente nearby is the most south-westerly point of mainland Europe.

City and Culture

While the Algarve region is surrounded by historical sites, Lagos is also steeped in history as reflected by the range of historical monuments and buildings. Must-see buildings include the beautiful Santo Antonio church and the imposing 17th Century Bandeira Fort. Explore the historic centre on foot, with its narrow cobbled streets, traditional houses and pretty harbour front. Very few towns in the Algarve can claim the variety of historic buildings you’ll find in Lagos, and this is why it’s a popular day trip destination from within the surrounding region.

Sports and Pastimes

Lagos has more than enough to entertain active visitors. Onyria Palmares Golf Resort is one of the highlights (in an area renowned for golf) and is ranked in the top 50 golf courses in Europe. A mixture of parkland and links golf, it’s consistently rated among golfers. For the younger travellers, Slide and Splash in Lagoa (25 km from Lagos) is an amazing waterpark packed with gravity-defying flumes, near-vertical slides and huge rubber ring rides. The waterpark will delight children, teenagers, and adults alike and the facilities are clean, safe and well-maintained. It’s not cheap, at €27/€19 for adult/child entrance, but in terms of guaranteed fun, it’s certainly value for money.

What to do in Lagos?

Lagos is a beautiful holiday destination, whether you’re staying around the town or getting out and about. And the Algarve is compact, so most places are reachable in a few hours.

Lagos town
popular Lagos beach

Historical attractions

The Lagos Cultural Centre has art exhibitions, concerts, dance performances, film showings and a lovely courtyard café with free Wi-Fi. Forte Ponta da Bandeira was built in the 17th century to defend Lagos harbour, and this square-shaped, mini fortress is in excellent condition considering its age. Situated over a wedge of sand overlooking a shallow bay, four turrets shaped like spinning tops on each corner help define the fort's squat profile. A narrow moat gives the fort an impregnable quality, and visitors have to cross a drawbridge to reach the inner courtyard. From the ramparts visitors can enjoy uninterrupted views over the water and back towards the castle walls.


This is the Algarve and therefore there are loads of beaches and every kind of watersport you can imagine (and then some). The westerly areas of Sagres, Carrapateira, and Aljezur draw surfers from around the world, while Lagos itself has good access to both the wilder north-western coast and the more sedate southern Atlantic coast. There’s something for everyone in the Lagos coastal regions, from paddle boarding and scuba diving to whale-watching and jet skiing.

Party time and family fun

Lagos is not really known as a party town, although there is a vibrant enough nightlife. For families there’s a zoo, adventure parks with high rope walkways, mini golf, go karting and more ̶ the list is endless!

Eating out in Lagos

Lagos has eateries to suit any palette or budget, and there is plenty of seafood on offer literally everywhere. Here’s just a handful of Lagos’s best restaurants and cafes:

Lagos Tapas

First on our list is housed in a quaint old building on Praça Infante Dom Henrique ̶ 2 Irmãos has lovely outdoor seating overlooking the Igreja de Santa Maria and the statue of Prince Henry the Navigator. The superb selection of petiscos (tapas) has everything from pipis to pig ears. Try the regional favourite dish Cataplanas (seafood stew) for two.

Atlântico is a worthy alternative, with a beautiful beachside terrace and cozy wood-panelled interior with crafted timber bar. Portuguese and international dishes feature on the menu, including sizzling steaks, poultry and flambéed crepes, while the wine cellar has vintages as old as 1856!

Sublime Seafood

Casinha do Petisco is a tiny, traditional Portuguese restaurant that’s easy to miss ̶ simply decorated, the focus here is on seafood grills and shellfish dishes, including camarão e amêijoas (one-pot clam and prawn dish), lulas fritas com alho (garlic-sautéed squid) and two-person cataplanas. It’s often packed in high summer, but has a strong local following out of season too.

Beach Bar

Right on the sand, Bar Quim is one of the best eateries on Meia Praia. It's a decent stroll along the beach to get there, but it's well worth it for the friendly service, and dishes like the fish soup, or the house speciality ̶ spicy prawns cooked in a single pot with olive oil, garlic, coriander and chilli.

Transport in Lagos


Lagos is served by Faro Airport (FAO), also known as Algarve Airport, which is situated just west of the city of Faro, 51 km from Lagos. Enjoy partners not only with global brands like Avis, Hertz, Sixt, Enterprise, Thrifty and Dollar at the airport (and others), but we also work with established local providers who have the local expertise to deliver hassle-free car hire.

Buses and Trains

Generally, public transport everywhere in Portugal is safe, clean, cheap, and efficient. Typically, bus routes in the Algarve run services between 7AM and 8PM year-round, seven days a week, with buses operating until later in summer (usually 10PM). Buses run every 30 minutes on weekdays and Saturdays until 2PM. On Saturday afternoons, and all day on Sundays/holidays, all services are reduced to one an hour. Algarve trains are similar – safe, cheap and reliable, and Lagos station has local, regional and national connections.

Driving Around Lagos

The Algarve’s size is ideal for laid-back summer drives! Here are a few choice drives around/from Lagos:

Silves is the ancient capital of the Algarve. A Moorish fortification between the 9th and 12th centuries, it was also a maritime trading hub, with boats travelling down the Arade River to the fishing port of Portimão and on to North Africa. There are magnificent historical sights here, including the majestic Castelo de Silves, from where the Moors governed Algarve, the Portas de Cidade de Silves, an amazingly intact remnant of the once impregnable city walls, and the Museu Municipal de Arqueologia, Sé Catedral de Silves and Igreja da Misericórdia de Silves. Try going by guided boat, embarking at the northern end of the Ribeirinha (harbour side).

Known as the ‘Monaco of Portugal’, Vilamoura is a sophisticated resort popular with celebrities, celebrity watchers, and anyone who wants a quality and exclusive holiday resort. Centred on its world-class marina and spreading outward you’ll find a modern resort-town, with excellent 3-star to 5-star hotels, gourmet cuisine, style bars, designer shops, golf courses, a casino and a beach, among others.

Vila Nova de Milfontes is in the Beja Region in the wild northwest Algarve 90 minutes north of Lagos via the N120. The lofty cliffs of Cape Sardão and the wild nature of Praia de Farol are the town’s most well-known natural features. There’s history and culture in spades in the town ̶ visit the Fort des Milfontes or take a leisurely stroll through the lovely public gardens.

Praia de Benagil (Benagil Beach) is just 30 minutes by car from Lagos east along the A22. It has a pristine petite beach, but its main attraction is the famous Benagil Sea Caves. Close to the world-famous Praia de Marinha (voted one of the best beaches in Europe in the Michelin Guide), these caves are simply awe-inspiring. Hire a boat, kayak, paddle board or guided boat from Lagos or Albufeira to fully experience the caves from the water.

Drive on the right-hand side of the road in Lagos. The speed limits are 120 km/h on the motorway, 100 km/h (60 mph) on expressways, 90 km/h (50mph) on other roads and 50 km/h (30 mph) in built-up areas. Also:

Drivers must carry an international driving licence, passport, insurance documents, MOT certificate if the car is more than three years old, and car hire documents.

Speed traps are the norm, so don’t be tempted to speed.

Using your phone while driving is illegal.

Be aware of the possibility of rock falls and other road hazards in rural areas.

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FAQs about car hire in Lagos

Most frequently asked questions about hiring a car in Lagos

Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, an economy car could be found be as cheap as £2 or £3 per but since the start of 2021, due to the coronavirus pandemic there has been a global shortage of cars, pushing prices up and you could be looking around £20 per day for a small economy car if you book well in advance.
You can hire a mini-size car for as little as €14 a day in Lagos when you book in advance.
The minimum age to hire a car in Portugal is 18, and the driver must have held their license for over one year.
There shouldn’t be – excess-free packages come as standard with most car hire companies, as do road-side assistance, theft protection, and collision damage waiver.
Yes – it’s typical to add extra drivers provided they have a valid license, and an additional daily fee is paid if required.
Because driving is the best way to get around the Algarve, you’ll probably need a cross-over vehicle (something with a bit of flexibility in terms of size, road surface etc.)
In the unlikely event you have a serious accident in Lagos, call 112 immediately for emergency services.
Being a very touristic coastal town in Southern Portugal, Lagos is not as expensive as most would expect. You’ll spend about €89 per day.
While the old town and most of the city can be explore on foot, driving along its coast is an experience on its own worth living.
The minimum age to hire a car in Portugal is 18, and the driver must have held their license for over one year.
Lagos is another of the most popular towns in the Algarve for its beautiful beaches and for the queen of the crown: Ponta da Piedade. In addition to these charms, in Lagos there are also the remains of an old castle and the church of San Antonio.
The summer months between July and September are the best time to see Lagos.
It’s €26 for a week, or €3.72 per day.
It’s €299.53 for a month, or €9.66 per day.
Price of fuel in Lagos is etween € 1.25 and € 1.45 per litre.

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