Located on the very southwestern edge of mainland Europe, Portugal’s Algarve region has long been one of the continent’s favourite destinations for a sunny getaway. With low prices and warm weather that lasts longer than in other popular European travel spots, it’s no surprise that the Algarve has also started to attract remote workers. Read on for our Lagos digital nomad guide to find all about one of its most popular towns.
Nomad Cities – Lagos Guide
- Population – 30,000
- Country – Portugal
- Language – Portuguese
- Currency – Euro
- EU & Schengen Area
Lagos is the final terminal on the bus and train routes that serve Portugal’s southern Algarve region. While not quite the final frontier, there isn’t much further west before you hit the choppy seas of the Atlantic with nearly 6,000 kilometres of ocean separating Europe’s westernmost country from the East Coast of the USA.
As our bus rolls into Lagos’ unremarkable Terminal Rodoviário in mid October, thirty minutes late due to some rare wet weather and heavy traffic, there’s little to suggest that you are arriving at one of the continent’s top digital nomad destinations. On first impressions, it feels no more or less appealing than half a dozen other coastal Algarve towns but it doesn’t take long to get a feel for what it is that draws people from far and wide to Lagos.
Its quirky old town is just a short walk from the bus terminal and seems to strike the right balance by offering a fun, international atmosphere without losing its own character or Portuguese identity. Outside of the medieval walls that encircle the historic centre, modern districts separate the heart of the city from the main attraction – dozens of small golden beaches, spectacularly set beneath giant cliffs and separated by a maze of caves, sea pillars and fragile arches, carved out of limestone.
Best Neighbourhoods in Lagos
Lagos is only a very small place with a population that drops considerably during the winter months when tourists, part-time residents and remote workers tend to head elsewhere. No matter where you are located, most things will be within walking distance, however it’s perhaps helpful to think of it in two parts as the town is split in two by the Bensafrim River which runs through the heart of Lagos and feeds into the sea. There are only two obvious and convenient crossing points, so consider whether you want to be based west or east of the river.
For most people, the answer will be the former. Lagos Old Town is where most of the action is, particularly in the evening, with by far the best range of options when it comes to restaurants, bars and nightlife. Being based there is certainly convenient and there are a range of accommodation options from hostels and budget hotels to Airbnb’s. However you will most likely find more modern and better quality accommodation slightly away from the rustic centre in a district like Ameijeira or Torralta. These are also better situated for easy beach access.
On the eastern banks of the river, you can find the Marina which is also a good spot for evening entertainment. Advantages of being located close to here include being well placed to take advantage of the many boat trips that run from the harbour while the train station is also on this side of the Bensafrim. There isn’t as much accommodation but there are a few modern apartment complexes with swimming pools and you can easily get to the vast Praia de São Roque which offers calmer and shallower waters, and usually less people, than you tend to find on the other side of Lagos.
- Spectacular beaches
The Algarve is popular with travellers and digital nomads alike, largely because of its warm climate and sunny beaches. Lagos is home to some of the most spectacular and its many bays and little coves have a more rugged and wild feel than you find in other places. The region’s distinctive limestone cliffs are regularly battered by the elements on the wetter and windier days. While you can find calmer beaches too that are fine for swimming and sunbathing, this is a location that is best defined by its dramatic coastline. Coastal walks and getting up and down between the various beaches can be a challenge if you’re not physically fit, but you’ll be rewarded with some spectacular views.
- An Old Town with character
If you’re looking to base yourself in the Algarve for a while, you may be considering Lagos or Albufeira, or perhaps Faro. The latter is by far the biggest city and is home to the region’s airport while Albufeira is the most popular with tourists. That does bring some advantages but Lagos’ Old Town has a more authentic feel with some beautiful old buildings and squares and many traditional Portuguese cafes and restaurants, as well as some livelier bars and nightlife that is more obviously geared to an international crowd. For now at least, it strikes the balance quite well and Lagos nightlife is certainly a lot less commercial than boisterous Albufeira which is overrun by party-seeking visitors from other parts of Europe for much of the year.
Lagos and Portugal in general still offers great value when compared to almost all of Western Europe. You can find some excellent deals on Airbnb’s away from the peak summer months while eating and drinking out is also very good value. It may not be the absolute cheapest place in the Algarve but if you’re looking for a good, affordable base in somewhere large enough to have a bus and train station connected to the national network, Lagos is tough to beat.
Things to Consider
- Accommodation prices soar in the peak of summer
The Algarve’s economy is highly reliant on tourism and for many businesses, the summer holidays in Europe are the time when they really have to cash in and make ends meet. Visitors flock from countries like Britain and Germany during late July and throughout the month of August, so you will need to book early to find any kind of affordable accommodation during this period and you may struggle to get a good deal on a Lagos Airbnb. Outside of that peak time and a few other major holidays, you can usually find excellent value short to mid-term options here. Winter is very cheap but there’s not a great deal going on in Lagos at that time and it’s rarely warm enough to hit the beach.
- Lagos is small!
This may be obvious for many, but if you’re coming from further afield and don’t know much about Portugal, it’s perhaps worth pointing out. While it is arguably the best Algarve digital nomad destination, it’s almost impossible to compare Lagos with Lisbon for example and if you’re looking for a genuine city experience and all the options that brings, Lagos is probably not the place for you, at least not for a long period. The historic centre is very compact and it would only take around five minutes to walk from one end to the other. There are still lots of fantastic things to do in Lagos and around the town, but if you spend several months here, you may start to get a bit restless for somewhere larger.
Lagos Guide – Costs
|Private room in Airbnb||From €30/night / €650/month|
|Private room for long-term rent||€400-450/month|
|1-2 bedroom flat on Airbnb||From €60/night / €1100/month|
|1-2 bedroom flat for long-term rent||From €850/month|
|Meal in an an affordable restaurant||€8-12|
|Beer in a bar||€2-3|
|Coffee in a cafe/restaurant||€1.50-2|
|Bus to Faro (1 hour 45 minutes)||€8|
|Train to Albufeira (1 hour)||€4.90|
There shouldn’t be significant changes in the cost of transport or food/drinks at other times in the year, although as in most European countries, living costs are rising in Portugal. Accommodation though is far more variant according to when you visit. You can expect to pay significantly more than the above rates in late July or August, but should be able to find better value between November and March. Indeed many people look to rent out their holiday homes during this period and you can sometimes find very good deals.
Coworking Space Lagos
|Popular Coworking Spaces||Google Rating|
|The Office – Lagos Cowork||5.0|
|Noma Village Lagos||4.3|
|Lagos Digital Nomads Coworking||4.2|
Lagos has several coworking spaces to choose from. Unlike in some larger places, you tend to find a higher percentage of digital nomads from abroad as opposed to locally based businesses and remote workers. That helps create a real international nomad community feel and there are even coliving options available at Noma Village with monthly rates starting at 890 Euros at what is a very nice facility with two pools.
Verdict: Is Lagos, Portugal good for digital nomads?
As featured in our Portugal nomad guide, Lagos is certainly an excellent option for digital nomads. With low costs and one of the best climates in mainland Europe, the Algarve is just such a natural and obvious destination for remote workers to flock to, and Lagos is one of the few places where you shouldn’t struggle to find a digital nomad community to engage and socialise with.
That being said, your experience will still depend greatly on when you visit. While not quite to the levels of nearby Albufeira, Lagos does get very busy with tourists in the peak of summer, particularly in August, and it’s perhaps best avoided at that point. Meanwhile, unlike Madeira or the Canary Islands, its beach season doesn’t truly extend into the winter months. Therefore for a nice balance of warm weather and affordable accommodation, consider coming between late April and early July, or in the months of September or October.
We visited in October 2022 and the info in this Lagos nomad guide is accurate as of them.