To get to Lagos from Faro – to where many fly in from all over Europe - you take the A22 and it's about 1 hour drive (rather fast). You also can take the 125 west, the older road, that takes you through about half of the western Algarve. The 125 brings you closer to some of the interesting towns and villages of the Western Algarve. These include Albufeira, Carvoeiro, Ferragudo, Porches – with the famous Porches Pottery -, Alvor,Praia da Rocha, and then Lagos.
From Sagres (pronounced Sagresh) almost the most Western point in the Algarve you take the the 125 east and drive through Salema, Burgau and Luz (pronounced Loosh). These small towns are beach communities the are undergoing massive construction to house retirees from the UK and Germany and to a lesser extent from the rest of Europe. English is very common although the number of Americans is small. The drive takes about 30 minutes at reasonable speed.
To get to Lagos by train from Lisboa, take the train to Faro and get off in Tunes, a few stops before Faro. Then take the train to Lagos. The schedules are timed so that you only have to wait a few minutes.
Lagos is a small city;you can pretty much walk everywhere. There is a bus and a train station to take you to other cities(Silves,Faro) and taxis are abundant. Walk to the beautiful sandy golden beaches.
There is a great variety of things to see:
Beaches vary in shape and style from long sandy beaches to almost private ones hidden by cliffs.
The beaches are great for exploration. Beaches outside of town are long desolate stretches of sand with tall cliffs that are excellent for privacy. Many sea caves can be explored during low tide.
Walking along Estr. da Ponta da Piedade a few hundred meters before the lighthouse, (after passing a café and Camila beach on your left), find a concrete fencepost on your right decorated with a spray painted eye, mouth, and two teeth. Enter the path it marks, which will take you to the edge of the cliff. A bit north (to your right) there is a cove accessible only by boat or by a rather narrow hidden mud slope with a rope pegged to the top. There are a number of beautiful, although perhaps dangerous, walks along the top of the cliffs.
Rent sea kayaks - may only be available in the summer
Boat tours of the grottos - leave from the harbor for 10 Euros / person
There is also the Praia da Batata in Lagos (right across the main road) which is absolutely beautiful.
You can go on a motorbike and sidecar tour with Sidecar Experience; a breathtaking way to take in the wonderful scenery of South West Portugal.
Southern Portugal is famous for its ceramics, and Lagos won't let you down. Ceramic dishes and tiles of all price ranges, styles, and colors are available. Some stores don't provide boxes for your goods, only newspaper wrapping, so ask before you buy, if it matters to you.
There is sometimes a small fair in front of the church near the harbor where unique clothing can be bought.
There are some wonderful family run operations in Lagos. Many of the restaurants are starving for business in the off peak time and will go way out of their way to make your visit to their restaurant a pleasurable experience.
Lagos bars are quite fun, catering to the young back-packing crowds. Often one can find a Brit or American helping to serve drinks (for a little under the table wage).
There is a large youth hostel in the centre of the city. However if you arrive in Lagos by bus there will usually be people there asking if you need accommodation. These are generally cheap and small, and a great option.
There is a campsite near where the N125 crosses Estr. da Ponta da Piedade