There’s a reason that the home base of Epic Portugal is in Lagos. It’s settled into one of the most photogenic areas in Europe. There are few places that have the type of photography variety that Lagos has. If you’re into street photography, there are countless alleys in old town full of interesting characters. If you’re into landscapes, the cliffs along Ponta de Piedade are epic. Or, if you’re an architecture lover, there are plenty of beautiful buildings in town. Of course, if the photo opportunities in and around the city aren’t enough, it’s a short hour or two drive from dozens of other locations.
For the ease and simplicity of this guide, though, I’m going to focus on Lagos specifically. In fact, all of the locations that I’m going to mention in this guide will be within walking distance of the old town.
Tips for Photography in Lagos
Before I get into the specific locations, I want to cover some of the logistical details behind planning a trip to Lagos for photography.
Time of Year
The thing about Lagos – and the Algarve in general – is that you can basically find great photos any time of year.
That said, there is – in my opinion – a best time to visit and that’s mid-September to mid-November. The summer is beautiful, but the skies are so clear that it can make photography difficult. The winter is fine as well, but sometimes the clouds get a bit too heavy. And the spring is a bit too sunny (although not as bad as summer) as well.
The other advantage of the shoulder seasons is that sunrise and sunset are at much more reasonable times. In the summer, sunrises can be around 530am-6am, with sunsets not until 9pm.
Where to Stay
There is plenty of accommodation in Lagos, so there’s generally no shortage. You also have lots of options in the type of accommodation you choose. And Lagos is small enough that you can walk almost anywhere, so there’s no too much stress on location. I would say, though, that my favourite area to stay is on the edge of old town to the south or west.
Below are my favourite places to stay in Lagos.
- Hotel: Carvi Beach Hotel is in the best location.
- Guesthouse: Lots on Airbnb! You’ll find good ones there.
- Hostel: Cloud 9 is the go-to hostel in Lagos.
- Camping: Camping Trindade has an awesome location right on the edge of old town.
The Photo Locations
It should be noted that the number of photo locations in Lagos is endless. Even though we’re based here, we haven’t photographed everything, and we’re still discovering new places for beautiful photos. In this guide, I’m going to cover our favourite 7 spots in and around town
Ponta de Piedade
When people say “Ponta de Piedade” in Lagos they’re referring to the very end of the point to the southwest of town. The entire point goes by that name though, and actually there are a dozen potential photo locations along the point itself. But, the location people are referring to is the one linked in the attached map – which is a grotto full of sea stacks, caves and arches.
This location is pretty awesome, and there are actually 3 different places and ways to photograph it – likely more.
The first photo is from up above it. Before heading down the stairs to the grotto, walk up to the left and you’ll get this angle down below.
The second photo is one I haven’t been able to make properly yet and that’s of the boat docking area. When the tides are really high, you can actually get swell flowing over the edge of the cement structure and it can look pretty impressive. There’s still a photo at lower tides, just not a great one.
The third photo is a bit of a mission. You can to climb down the boat docking area and scramble through the cave to the left and over the rocks. There you’ll find an angle towards the sea stacks. Only attempt this photo at low tide – ideally, a retreating tide.
Igreja de Santa Maria de Lagos
There’s a lot of history to the square where Santa Maria de Lagos sits. This was once a slave trading market as Lagos was the hub for slave arrivals in Europe during the 1400s.
These days, the church is sort of the entrance point from the waterfront to the old town of Lagos. The square in front of the church is rarely crazy busy, and it does make for a good photo. For me, the perfect angle on the church is at sunrise on a calm day. If you head to the fountains in front of the church, you can get some beautiful reflection photos.
Praia do Camilo
This might be the most picturesque beach in all of Portugal. Praia do Camilo is an absolute stunner and makes for a beautiful photograph.
I highly recommend you photograph Praia do Camilo at sunrise, though. Even by an hour after sunrise the beach can fill up. Since it’s a small beach, those wanting to spend time here during the day need to come early to get a space. Moreover, it can be hard to find parking towards sunset – at least in the summer.
There are photos directly down at the beach. But personally, I think the two better photos are done from just above it all. The first is taken from the boardwalk leading down to the beach. The lines kind of lead away from the scene, but it still works.
The second photo is essentially taken from the parking lot above the beach. Just hop over the cement barrier directly in front of the parking lot and there’s a small area to set up a tripod over it all. There are big wide photos, or more telephoto images as well.
In Lagos, the city is basically sectioned off into 3 “areas of attraction”. You have Ponta de Piedade, Old Town, and The Marina. The three couldn’t be more different. Nature, history, and modernity, respectively.
The marina is a lively place in the summer full of bars, restaurants, and, well, a lot of boats. It can make for some decent photos, although coming up with a composition can be tricky due to the sheer amount of boats that do dock here. During the summer, there’s a Ferris Wheel down the marina as well that makes a nice focal point of the images.
This Old Town Street
There are plenty of photogenic streets in the old town of Lagos. But, this particular street is definitely my favourite. It’s almost too perfect. The curving lines of the cobblestone lead directly to the tower of the church.
You can take this photo at either sunrise or sunset. Despite the beauty of this street, it doesn’t get too busy with people. From a light standpoint, I find that the blue hour works the best. You’ll find the spot on the corner of the square at Igreja de Santa Maria de Lagos. Look for the pharmacy. It’s that street.
This viewpoint is actually really close to Praia do Camilo. In fact, the best place to park is the Praia do Camilo parking place. If you’re on google maps, the photo location is actually geo-tagged as “Lagos Viewpoint”, so you can just search it.
Once you get to the parking lot, you go back down the road 5 meters and you’ll see a path that goes through the fence towards an old ruined building. Follow that, and it’ll lead you on a series of paths along the cliffs. There you’ll find plenty of spots to set up for a photo like the one below.
Sunrise tends to be the best time to photograph this view point. However, I’d advise to come early as the blue hour is often a better photograph than sunrise itself.
This is a totally new location to me, and honestly one you should be very careful photographing.
Perttu’s Cove itself is only accessible by boat. But, you can photograph it from above, along the cliffs. You do need to be extremely careful though. The cliffs above are very brittle and can’t support a lot of weight. Don’t get too close to the edge, check the places you stand before you go there, and be safe – please. Also, please be respectful of nature. We have to do our part not to destroy it.
The photo itself is pretty beautiful once you get to it safely. The arch rock makes for a beautiful anchor to the image, and the cliffs can create a perfect leading line towards the sunset.
Of course, this is just a snapshot of what there is available in Lagos and the area. We’ve put together a massive guide to where to take pictures in the Algarve here. And, if you have any special spots that aren’t listed in this post. Be sure to let us know about in the comments!
Come Visit Us!
If you’re in Lagos, come visit our photography gallery and cafe. We’re right in the heart of old town, and we’d love to see you. And, if you’d like to join us on a photo walk of Lagos, we can arrange that as well.
2 thoughts on “Lagos, Portugal: A Photography Guide”
I’m eager for the gallery/cafe opening. I’m planning to visit both at that time. I hope you continue to be happy here in Portugal.
Thanks Pedro! Hopefully in January we’ll have open doors 😀