Cities & Villages
Rural town in the hinterland of the western Algarve in the south of Portugal
- District: Faro > Municipality: Lagoa > Parish: Lagoa e Carvoeiro
- Population: 7.200
- Distances: Faro Airport 60 km Lisbon Airport 268 km
- Tourist Info: Posto de Turismo de Carvoeiro
Lagoa is a town (cidade) and municipality (concelho) in the district of Faro (Algarve), the southernmost region in Portugal. It is one of the agricultural centres of the western Algarve.
Lagoa location and access
Getting to Lagoa
Lagoa is situated in the fertile Barrocal landscape a few miles away from the coast. The tourist hot spots nearby are Carvoeiro and Ferragudo, surrounded by one of the most beautiful parts of the Algarvian coast. The lower course of the river Arade marks the border with neighbouring Portimão.
The national road EN125, the most important transport axis of the Algarve, goes directly through the town. The distance from the A22 motorway (exit 7) to the centre is only a few kilometres.
The next railway station of the one lane Linha do Algarve from Lagos to the Spanish border is situated in the neighbouring parish of Estômbar. More convenient are the bus lines of EVA Transportes.
Lagoa sports and leisure
Activities in and around Lagoa
The building of the former Convent of Saint Joseph of Carmelite nuns is the historical landmark of Lagoa. A menhir from the 4th or 5th millennium BC, found in the area of Porches, is exhibited in its front garden. Today the convent serves as cultural centre to the town. The cloistered courtyard and the chapel create a special ambiance, whereas the multipurpose auditorium, equipped with state-of-the-art technology is a stage for art exhibitions, concerts, theatre performances and much more.
On the coast near Carvoeiro you will find some of the most beautiful beaches of the entire Algarve, small sandy bays on both sides protected by steep limestone rocks. Many of them have excellent facilities, offering a wide variety of water sports options.
The rugged rock formations of yellow limestone and the grottos and caves shaped by the sea and the erosion over thousands of years can be explored by boat or walking on top of the cliffs. Grotto tours, dolphin watching excursions and big game fishing trips are on offer at many places.
Some of the best known golf courses are located between Lagoa and Carvoeiro: the Gramacho and Pinta courses of the Pestana Golf Resorts and the 9hole golf course of Vale do Milho. Several other excellent courses can be reached by car within half an hour.
One of the best and most popular leisure facilities in the region is the Slide & Splash water park. This is located between Lagoa and Estômbar.
What to buy in and near Lagoa
In the municipal market (Mercado municipal) you can buy local produce and - before noon - fresh fish and seafood. The building, situated in the centre of the historical old town of Lagoa, is a fine example of the architecture of the late 19th Century.
Lagoa is the Algarvian centre of viniculture. The building of the association of local wine makers on the EN125 is also now home to an art gallery, which organizes an interesting Christmas market in December
A large exhibition area, Fatacil-Feiras e Exposições do Sul, is situated at the eastern entry to Lagoa. Every year in the second half of August it is a venue for a well known fair of local handcraft, tourism, agriculture and other regional products. This popular event includes a recreational programme for young and old.
The neighbouring village of Porches is well known for its ceramic artworks. You will find there many shops and factories offering a large variety of handmade tiles (azulejos) and pottery. Some specialised places are also selling antique tiles and amphoras. (olharia).
Near the roundabout of the EN125 in Porches there is also a German butcher, selling Swabian specialties.
Surroundings of Lagoa
What to explore in the surroundings of Lagoa
The area around Lagoa is the most important winegrowing region of the Algarve. One of the best known places is Quinta dos Vales in Estômbar with an exhibition of modern sculptures.
Another place of interest is the picturesque village of Ferragudo, situated on the estuary of the river Arade opposite Portimão. We recommend a stroll through the narrow lanes to the parish church at the top of the hill, where you will enjoy marvellous views over the Arade and to the Serra de Monchique, and you can finish the trip with a nice lunch or dinner in one of the typical restaurants serving the catch of the day and traditional dishes.
The largest limestone springs in the Algarve are located on a branch of the river Arade north of Estômbar. At Sitio das Fontes visitors can see a water mill, learn more about the local flora and fauna while walking along an educational trail or enjoy various leisure facilities such as a barbecue area and an open air theatre.
A trip to Silves, the former Moorish capital of the Algarve located on the upper course of the river Arade is a must. The famous castle with its huge cistern, now open to the public, is a place not to be missed. The archaeological museum and the Cathedral, erected on the foundations of a former mosque are also places of great historic interest.
History of Lagoa
The name (lagoa is the Portuguese word for lagoon) indicates that the first settlements were located in a marshy landscape, most likely a branch of the river Arade, that was drained later on for agricultural purposes.
During the Moorish period Lagoa belonged to Silves, the capital of the Algarve at that time. In 1550 the area around Lagoa was given to the order of Carmelite nuns by Queen D. Catarina. Like most of the buildings their convent Convento de Nossa Senhora do Carmo was destroyed by the earthquake in 1755 and partially restored in the 19th Century. It is located at the eastern entrance of the town near the EN125.
After the earthquake Lagoa became an independent municipality. The fishing industry, vineyards, and the traditional agricultural produce were the principal sources of wealth for the area until the 1970s, when tourism became the main driver of the area’s development and the building of a modern infrastructure.
Municipality of Lagoa
The municipality (concelho) includes the parishes (freguesia) Lagoa e Carvoeiro, Estômbar, Ferragudo, Parchal and Porches. In Porches a well known International School is located. Almost 23 thousand people lived in the municipality in 2011, an increase of 10 % compared to the decade before.