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Faro or Lagos - which Portuguese city should you visit in 2023?

Reema Bharti

Reema Bharti

· 8 min read

You must visit Faro, if you prefer a city vibe with mix of modern and historical experiences but if a laid-back, scenic beach experience is more your style, you should visit Lagos.

In Faro you can explore the charming Old Town, enjoy the bustling marina, or relax on Faro Beach. Faro is also great for shopping, with a variety of stores and markets.

On the other hand, Lagos is known for its stunning beaches like Praia Dona Ana and Meia Praia, set against dramatic cliffs. The town itself is quaint and historic, ideal for leisurely strolls and soaking in the local culture and is a paradise for water sports enthusiasts.

Which place is easier to reach: Faro or Lagos?

Faro is easier to reach than Lagos. Faro Airport is just 7 km from the city and connects to over 30 countries. Whereas Faro has an international airport, there's no airport in Lagos. Visitors fly into Faro and then travel 90 km to reach Lagos.

How to reach Faro?

The best way to reach Faro is by air. Faro airport is located just 7 km from the city. Once at the airport, visitors can easily hop on a bus or grab a taxi to reach the city center in about 15 minutes.

For those traveling from within Portugal or other parts of Europe, Faro is well-connected by tourist train and bus routes. The train and bus stations in Faro are centrally located, making them convenient entry points to the city.

How to reach Lagos?

To reach Lagos, you must fly to Faro airport and take a 90-minute drive. Regular bus and train services run from Faro to Lagos. The train journey offers scenic views and is a comfortable way to travel, though it might take a bit longer than driving.

For those coming from Lisbon or other major cities in Portugal, direct bus services to Lagos are available, providing an easy and cost-effective way to reach the town.

Lagos has a laidback vibe

How's the vibe at Faro vis-à-vis Lagos?

The vibe at Faro is bustling and lively whereas the vibe in Lagos is more laidback and relaxed.

The vibe of Faro

The vibe of Faro is bustling and lively. The city never sleeps. Streets are always busy, filled with locals and tourists. The marina is a hub of activity, with boats coming and going. Cafes and restaurants around the marina are always full of people enjoying the sunshine and sea breeze.

Faro is a mix of old and new. The Old Town, with cobbled streets and historic buildings, feels like stepping back in time. But just a short walk away, you find modern shops and bustling markets.

The vibe of Lagos

The vibe of Lagos is laid-back and relaxed. The streets in Lagos are quieter, perfect for leisurely strolls. The town is known for its stunning beaches, like Praia Dona Ana and Meia Praia. People here take time to relax and soak in the beauty.

Lagos is also a bit artsy. You’ll find lots of little galleries and craft shops. The vibe in Lagos is more about chilling out, enjoying the natural beauty, and taking things slow.

What's the weather like at each of the cities?

Faro is a bit warmer than Lagos though both the cities enjoy a typical Mediterranean weather.

The weather at Faro

The weather at Faro is warm. Summers in Faro are hot, with temperatures often soaring above 30°C (86°F). Winter in Faro is mild and pleasant, with temperatures rarely dropping below 10°C (50°F). Even in December and January, Faro feels like spring in many other places.

The weather at Lagos

The weather at Lagos is cooler than Faro, thanks to the Atlantic breezes. Summers here are warm but not too hot, with temperatures hovering around 28°C (82°F). Winters in Lagos are similar to Faro, mild and gentle, but with a bit more rain. The rainy days are perfect for exploring the town's cozy cafes and historical sites.

What's the best time to visit Faro and Lagos?

The best time to visit Faro is between July to August, while the best time to visit Lagos is between April to May.

The best time to visit Faro

The best time to visit Faro is July and August. The sun is high and the beaches are buzzing with life. The days are long, perfect for exploring the city or lounging by the sea. However, it's also the busiest time. So, if you don't mind the crowd and love the heat, summer in Faro is ideal. But, for those who prefer a quieter visit, late spring (May and June) or early fall (September and October) are great.

The best time to visit Lagos

The best time to visit Lagos is between April and May. The town is lively with outdoor dining and late-night strolls. Spring (April and May) and fall (September and October) in Lagos are beautiful. The temperatures are mild, perfect for hiking and exploring the cliffs and coves without the heat beating down on you.

Old Town Faro

What are the top things to do in Faro vs. Lagos?

The top things to do in Faro are exploring the historic Old Town, relaxing at Faro Beach. In Lagos, you can enjoy the beautiful beaches Praia Dona Ana, and discover the Ponta da Piedade.

Top things to do in Faro

The top things to do in Faro are listed below.

  • Visiting Faro Cathedral: Visiting Faro Cathedral is a journey into history, with its stunning blend of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture offering a mesmerizing sight.

  • Bird watching in Ria Formosa Natural Park: This is a delightful experience for nature lovers, as the park is a haven for diverse bird species, including the flamboyant flamingos.

  • Faro Beach: Located on a picturesque barrier island, Faro beach offers a tranquil escape with its long stretches of sandy shores and calming sea waves. It's a perfect spot for sunbathing, leisurely walks, and enjoying the serene beauty of the Algarve coast.

  • Shopping in downtown Faro: Shopping in downtown Faro is a delightful experience, offering a mix of traditional Portuguese products, local crafts, and modern boutiques.

Top things to do in Lagos

The top things to do in Lagos are listed below.

  • Visiting beaches of Praia Dona Ana and Meia Praia: With their stunning cliffs and crystal-clear waters providing a picturesque backdrop for beachgoers, Praia Dona Ana, known for its dramatic rock formations, and the expansive sandy stretch of Meia Praia.

  • Lagos Old Town: Exploring Lagos Old Town is a walk through history, with its cobbled streets, colorful buildings, and historic landmarks like the ancient Lagos Castle.

  • Ponta da Piedade: Ponta da Piedade is a breathtaking natural wonder near Lagos, known for its stunning rock formations, sea arches, and hidden grottoes, best explored by boat or kayak.

  • Try out Water Sports: Lagos offers an exhilarating Water Sport experience, with a variety of activities like surfing, paddleboarding, and kayaking available for all skill levels.

What are the outdoor adventures offered at each of the cities?

The best outdoor activities in Faro are exploring the Ria Formosa Natural Park, kayaking while in Lagos, the outdoor adventures are surfing at Meia Praia or Praia do Camilo and boat tour to Ponta da Piedade.

Outdoor adventures in Faro

The best outdoor adventures in Faro are listed below.

  • Exploring the Ria Formosa Natural Park: The Ria Formosa National Park is a paradise for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. You can take a boat tour and see diverse bird species, like flamingos. For those who love cycling, there are excellent bike paths around the park.

  • Kayaking: You can kayak through the lagoons and channels of Ria Formosa. It's a peaceful way to see the area’s natural beauty.

Outdoor adventures in Lagos

The best outdoor adventures in Lagos are listed below.

Surfing: Beginners can take lessons at Meia Praia, known for its gentle waves. For more experienced surfers, the waves at Praia do Camilo offer a bit more challenge.

Boat tour to Ponta da Piedade: This area, with its stunning cliffs and sea caves, is breathtaking from the water. Hiking along the cliffs of Lagos is also popular. The trails offer spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Both Faro and Lagos are great for leisurely walks and enjoying the outdoors. The marinas in both cities are perfect for evening strolls. You can watch the boats, enjoy the sunset, and feel the cool sea breeze.

Cliffs of Lagos

Which one has better beaches? Faro or Lagos?

Lagos has better beaches than Faro.

Lagos has several beaches. They are famous for stunning coastline, marked by picturesque cliffs and clear, azure waters. One of the most beautiful beaches in Lagos is Praia Dona Ana. The water here is crystal clear, perfect for swimming and snorkeling. They are some of the best beaches.

Another gem in Lagos is Meia Praia, known for its vast stretch of golden sand. For those seeking a bit more adventure, the beaches in Lagos are great for water sports like surfing and paddleboarding.

Faro Beach, located on a barrier island of Ria Formosa, is a long sandy beach, perfect for those who want a quiet day by the sea. However, Faro’s beaches lack the dramatic cliffs and scenic beauty that Lagos offers.

Where can you find the best Food? Faro or Lagos?

Faro and Lagos both offer exceptional culinary experiences. However, Faro slightly edges out Lagos in terms of variety and culinary innovation.

Best street food in Faro

Faro is a food lover’s paradise. Unlike Lagos, it serves a variety of dishes. You'll find restaurants serving fresh fish and seafood dishes like cataplana (a seafood stew) and grilled sardines. There are also plenty of options for meat lovers, with dishes like piri-piri chicken being a local favorite. In the city’s market, Mercado Municipal, you can sample local cheeses, chorizo, and other Portuguese delicacies.

Best street food in Lagos

Lagos, excels in traditional Algarvian cuisine. The grilled seafood in Lagos is outstanding, with local catches like sea bass and dorado often featured on menus.

How's the nightlife of each of the cities?

Nightlife in Faro

Faro's nightlife is vibrant and diverse. The city comes alive at night, especially around the downtown area and the marina with its mix of bars, clubs, and pubs. The student population in Faro adds to the lively atmosphere, with many establishments hosting themed nights, live music, and DJ sets. Rooftop bars are a specialty of Faro. For a more local experience, there are traditional Portuguese taverns where one can enjoy live Fado music, a true taste of Portuguese culture.

Nightlife in Lagos

Lagos offers a more laid-back nightlife. The bars and pubs in Lagos are more about chilling out, often with live music, ranging from jazz to traditional Portuguese tunes. The Old Town in Lagos is the heart of its nightlife. Lagos beach bars provide a unique experience. Imagine sitting by the beach, listening to the waves, and enjoying a cool drink.

Which city is safer for travelers? Faro or Lagos?

Both lagos and faro are safe for travelers, but there are some nuances to consider.

Travel safety in Faro

Faro, being a large city and a regional capital, has are more people around, which is reassuring for safety. The city is well-lit, especially in tourist areas and around the marina. However, there have been occasional reports of pickpocketing, especially in crowded places. Tourists should keep an eye on their belongings and avoid less populated areas late at night.

The police presence in Faro is noticeable, and they are generally helpful to tourists.

Travel safety in Lagos

Lagos, on the other hand, is smaller. The streets in the tourist areas, like the Old Town and the marina, are well-lit and often busy with people. The crime rate in Lagos is low, and the local community is known for being friendly and welcoming to visitors. The town feels very safe, even at night.

Beach safety is an important concern in Lagos. The beaches, although stunning, can have strong currents. It’s important for visitors to be cautious when swimming and to follow any posted safety advice.

Which one is cheaper to live: Faro or Lagos?

Faro is definitely cheaper than Lagos to live. The cost of living in Faro and Lagos are broken down below.

  • Accommodation: A one-bedroom apartment in the city center of Faro would cost €600 per month whereas the same would be for €700 or more in Lagos.

  • Groceries: Everyday expenses like groceries cost around €250 in Faro whereas the same cost €300 in Lagos.

  • Eating Out: A meal in an inexpensive restaurant in Faro might cost around €8, while in Lagos, the same meal could be around €10 or more in Lagos.

  • Transportation: Transportation costs in Faro are lower as well. The city has an extensive public transportation network, and the prices for bus and train tickets are reasonable. In Lagos, while the cost of public transport is not significantly higher, the less frequent services and the need for taxis or car rentals can add to the overall transportation costs.

The monthly cost of living in Faro is around €920 whereas the same in Lagos is around €1090.

As a working town, Faro is the more budget-friendly option when it comes to living costs. Its accommodation, food, and transportation are generally cheaper compared to Lagos, making it an attractive option for those looking to live in the Algarve region on a budget.

What are some of the best hotels in both the cities?

The best hotels in Faro are Hotel Faro & Beach Club and Pousada Palácio de Estoi whereas the same in Lagos are the Lagos Avenida Hotel and The Belmar Spa & Beach Resort.

Best hotels in Faro

The best hotels in Faro are listed below.

  • Hotel Faro & Beach Club: One of the top hotels in Faro, it is the located right by the marina, it offers stunning views of the Ria Formosa. They offer rooftop terrace and wine bars, where one can enjoy meals with a panoramic view of the city and the sea.

  • Pousada Palácio de Estoi: This hotel is set in a beautifully restored 19th-century palace and offers a unique blend of historical charm and modern luxury. The hotel features an outdoor pool, lush gardens, and an exquisite interior.

Best hotels in Lagos

The best hotels for your stay lagos are listed below.

  • The Lagos Avenida Hotel: Moving to Lagos, the Lagos Avenida Hotel is a favorite among visitors. It's located right in the heart of the city, offering easy access to the marina and the beaches. The hotel has a contemporary design, with clean lines and an elegant atmosphere. The rooftop pool and bar are highlights, offering spectacular views of the city.

  • The Belmar Spa & Beach Resort: For those seeking a more resort-like experience in Lagos, the Belmar Spa & Beach Resort is an excellent choice. Located near the stunning Porto de Mós beach, this resort offers luxurious apartments and studios. The facilities include several pools, a spa, and fitness center. The resort is family friendly and is ideal for couples looking for a relaxing beach holiday.

Frequently Asked Questions about Faro or Lagos:

1. What are the main differences between Faro and Lagos?

Faro offers a more urban and culturally rich experience with convenient transportation, while Lagos is known for its stunning beaches and a laid-back, scenic atmosphere.

2. Which city is better for beach lovers, Faro or Lagos?

Lagos is the better choice for beach lovers, boasting some of the Algarve's most picturesque beaches like Praia Dona Ana and Meia Praia, known for their dramatic cliffs and clear waters.

3. How easy is it to travel around in Faro and Lagos?

Faro has a more extensive public transportation network, making it easier to navigate, whereas Lagos offers sufficient but less frequent public transport services.

4. Which city is more budget-friendly for tourists?

Generally, Faro is slightly more budget-friendly, offering lower accommodation and food prices compared to Lagos, especially outside of the peak tourist season.

5. Can I find good nightlife in both Faro and Lagos?

Yes, both cities offer vibrant nightlife; Faro has a lively scene with various bars and clubs, while Lagos offers a more relaxed vibe with cozy bars and live music.

6. What unique cultural experiences can I find in Faro and Lagos?

In Faro, you can explore the historic Old Town and Ria Formosa Natural Park, while Lagos offers a charming Old Town and the stunning Ponta da Piedade cliffs.

7. Are Faro and Lagos suitable for family vacations?

Yes, both cities are great for families, with Faro providing cultural and educational experiences and Lagos offering family-friendly beaches and water activities.

8. Which city has better options for foodies?

Both cities have excellent food options, but Faro offers a wider variety in dining, including traditional and modern Portuguese cuisine, while Lagos is known for its fresh seafood and traditional dishes.

9. Is it easy to find accommodation in both Faro and Lagos?

Yes, both cities have a range of accommodation options, from luxury resorts to budget-friendly hostels, catering to different preferences and budgets.

10. What is the best time to visit Faro and Lagos?

The best time to visit both cities is during the spring (April to June) and fall (September to October) for pleasant weather and fewer crowds, though summer is ideal for beach activities.

Reema Bharti

Reema Bharti

I am a globe-trotter with a passion for exploration. From the sun-kissed coasts of Portugal to the snow-capped peaks of Switzerland, my travels are as diverse as they are inspiring. My journeys through Spain, Finland, Austria, and Germany have fueled my soul and shaped my writing.