Lagos, Portugal

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Lagos, Portugal: Everything You Need To Know

Reviewed by Kathleen Peddicord

Kathleen is the Live and Invest Overseas Founding Publisher. She has more than 30 years of hands-on experience traveling, living, and buying property around the world.

Typical portuguese architecture on old town in Lagos , Algarve , Portugal
Adobe Stock/lukaszimilena

Lagos, Portugal, is a historical city situated on the picturesque coast of the Western Algarve region. It boasts a vibrant nightlife, a rich history and culture, amazing restaurants, and beautiful Mediterranean architecture.

Lagos is an old seafaring town, which means plenty of fresh fish caught from the many boats that you can see from the pristine beaches.

Most importantly, if you are looking for a beach destination with the charm of cobble-stone streets, fun bars, and restaurants, as well as a relaxing Portuguese lifestyle, then Lagos is the place for you.

With only a little less than 20,000 people, a great expat community, and a bustling, yet unencumbering, tourist trade, Lagos is the perfect small town feel with large city qualities.

So, here is everything you need to know about Lagos, Portugal…

Cost Of Living In Lagos, Portugal

Bay view of Lagos, Portugal

The cost of living in Lagos, Portugal, is relatively cheap compared to most European cities and is a great destination to live on a budget.

However, it is not the cheapest destination in Portugal or the Algarve region, and you should be prepared to have a bit of a larger monthly budget.

A family of four can expect to pay US$2,800 per month (excluding rent), and a single person can pay US$800 per month (excluding rent).

Most of that budget comes from groceries, utilities, transportation, monthly subscriptions, or necessities, clothing, etc.

The base monthly budget can be altered or made less based on your individual needs and personal lifestyle.

For rent in Lagos, it is cheaper to live outside of the city center since most of the nightlife, restaurants, and cultural sites are in the city center and near the beaches.

You can find a one-bedroom apartment outside of the city center for as cheap as US$500 per month, and three-bedroom apartments within or near the city center for up to US$2,500 per month. Typically, the apartments within the city center or near the beaches are condos or small villa type houses.

But, if you are looking to buy property in Lagos, Portugal, then you can have a wide variety of options at your disposal.

You can find large villas with pools, plenty of room, and a bit of space to walk around for two or three million dollars, as well as smaller two-bedroom villas starting from US$500,000. You can also find smaller, more affordable options for around US$200,000.

No matter your price range or budget, you can find a place to live (whether you rent or buy) in Lagos, Portugal.

When it comes to groceries and food, you can shop for bargain prices. If you opt for the local markets and get up early enough to go to the fish market to get the best price on your favorite seafood, then you can vastly diminish your monthly food budget.

On average, you can expect to pay around US$200 to US$300 per month for groceries (for two people). Although, if you shop locally, you could easily cut that in half.

If you plan on eating out, then a nice three course meal for two people with wine and the works costs up to US$60.

When you live in Lagos, Portugal, it is easy to get carried away and eat out in the plenty of wonderful and eclectic restaurants that are offered or spend a night or two a week drinking with local expats in the bars.

This can easily eat into your budget. So, if you are planning on moving to Lagos, Portugal, but have a tighter budget, it is a great opportunity to get acquainted with the local markets and grocers, as well as learn to cook local Algarvian delicacies from the comfort of your new home.

The last thing that needs mentioning is transportation.

Once you are in the city center or near the beaches of Lagos, Portugal, you can walk everywhere. But there are the usual ride-share apps (such as Uber), and you’ll find reliable taxi and shuttle services.

There are plenty of great things to do in Lagos, Portugal, but there are also places to visit in Algarve and the nearby region, so looking into car options is recommended.

Transportation In Lagos, Portugal

Transportation in Lagos, Portugal, is easy to find, reliable, and inexpensive.

Buses, taxis, and walking are great options to get around. Depending on what you choose to do on a given day, renting a car might also be a good idea.

A one-way bus ticket will cost you about US$1.75. A monthly bus ticket costs about US$43. Taxi fares start at US$3.25. On the other hand, rentals rates start at US$40 and go up depending on the model of the vehicle and how many hours or days you intend to rent the car for.

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Retail Shopping In Lagos, Portugal

As for retail, it really depends on what you’re thinking of buying and what brand.

Generally speaking, brands like Zara, Givenchy, Nike, Adidas, Columbia, etc. tend to keep similar prices anywhere you go on the planet. For example, a pair of blue Levi’s jeans will cost about US$66, a Zara or H&M summer dress costs about US$30, and a pair of Nike running shoes comes close to US$70.

If you’re looking for something on the cheaper side but in good condition, thrift stores are generally a good place to go.

Groceries In Lagos, Portugal

Your budget for grocery shopping in Lagos will vary significantly depending on the items you choose to buy. The more imported brands and imported produce you choose to buy; the more expensive grocery shopping will be for you. We recommend you look for alternatives.

There are certain things such as Maple Syrup, imported grass-fed beef, and certain imported fruits that are better quality than local brands, so it’s understandable that you’ll likely want to stick to those. However, Portugal grows produce like rice, potatoes, corn, barley, wheat, olives, tomatoes, etc. Use this to your advantage to bring down your groceries budget for the month.

On weekends, usually every Saturday, residents of Lagos sell their produce at the local Live Market (farmers market). This is a great place to trade in some of your imported goods for locally grown produce. Swing by weekly to buy fresh fruits and veggies, homemade jams, and sweets.

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Apartment or House Ownership Budget (for a couple)

ExpenseMonthly CostsNotes
HOA Fees€100
Property Taxes€50
Transportation€325For private car ownership, including insurance.
Gas€50For cooking and hot water
Electricity€100Including air conditioning.
Water€25Not including a swimming pool.
Cell Phone€20For a basic cell phone plan
Internet€35Includes TV channels.
Cable TV
Household Help€90For a two-hour cleaning per week at €11.25 per hour.
Entertainment€510Monthly cost for eating out twice a week: €420 (€45 to €60 per meal for two).

Monthly cost for drinks twice a week: €60 (€1.50 per beer; €5.50 per bottle of wine).

Movie theatre trip twice a month: €30 (€7.50 per ticket).

Groceries€450Monthly grocery haul for a couple.
Gym Membership€80Basic membership two people.
Medical Appointment€70For an appointment at a private clinic.

Apartment Or House Rental Budget (For A Couple)

ExpenseMonthly CostsNotes
Rent€850Cost of an apartment (70 square meters, two-bed/two-bath roughly) in a desirable location.
Transportation€325For private car ownership, including insurance.
Gas€50For heating and cooking.
Electricity€100Including air conditioning.
Water€25Not including a swimming pool.
Cell Phone€20For a basic cell phone plan.
Internet€35Includes TV channels.
Cable TV
Household Help€90For a two-hour cleaning per week at €11.25 per hour.
Entertainment€510Monthly cost for eating out twice a week: €420 (€45 to €60 per meal for two).

Monthly cost for drinks twice a week: €60 (€1.50 per beer; €5.50 per bottle of wine).

Movie theatre trip twice a month: €30 (€7.50 per ticket).

Groceries€450Monthly grocery haul for a couple.
Gym Membership€80Basic membership two people.
Medical Appointment€70For an appointment at a private clinic.

Penny-Pincher’s Budgets (for a couple, bare minimum costs)

Rent€500For a one-bedroom apartment in the cheapest part of town.
Transportation€80Monthly bus ticket.
Cable TV
Entertainment€200Monthly cost for eating out twice a week: €200 (€25 per meal for two).
Groceries€325All local-brand items only, shopping at markets and grocery stores.
Medical Appointment€5.50For an appointment at a public health center.

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Things To Do And Places To Visit In Lagos

Things to do in Lagos, PortugalLagos, Portugal, is one of the most popular destinations among tourists in the Algarve region due to its stunning beaches and cliffs, the architecture you can find in the old town, and more.

Here are a few things to do and places to visit in Lagos:

Benagil Caves

The Benagil Caves are one of the most stunning sea caves in all of Portugal.

The cave has a natural opening right at the top which allows the natural light to sneak in highlighting the emerald green shades of the water.

Ponta Da Piedade

Ponta da Piedad is an impressive collection of rocky formations that cover the coast of the Algarve region. Some of these structures are about 20 meters high.

The area surrounding the Ponta da Piedad has caves, marine arcs, and rocky walls which are perfect to climb if you’re an avid rock climber.

This is a great place to visit if you’re an adventure enthusiast. Better yet, it’s a mere 7 minutes by car from the center of Lagos. You could also walk here. It’ll be a 40-minute walk with spectacular sights.

Igreja De Santo António

The Igreja de Santo António, Church of Santo António, is considered to have the finest woodwork decorations in all of Portugal. The walls are decorated in blue and white tiles from the 18th century and has golden carvings.

It was built sometime in 1707 offering the visitor an amazing opportunity to get a glimpse of architecture from that period.

Dr. José Formosinho Museum

In a building attached to the Igreja de Santo António (Saint Anthony Church) you’ll find the Dr. José Formosinho Museum. It’s a great place to visit if you’re interested in archaeology and history.

The museum exhibits findings such as pottery, European weapons, Roman mosaics, and more.

Marina De Lagos

If you’re looking for something more relaxing to do on one of your days during your Lagos trip, consider heading over to the Marina. There are several restaurants, bars, and cafés here where you can sit and people watch for a while.

Aside from simply sitting someplace and having a meal or sipping on some coffee or a drink, you could book a boat tour to some local attractions including Ponta da Piedade and the Benagil Caves.

You could also walk along the Passeio dos Descobrimientos, which literally translates to Walk of Discoveries, and take in the views of the harbor.

Sunsets are a favorite among visitors and locals to visit the Marina.

Being Safe in Lagos, Portugal

No matter where you are traveling to, it is always important to keep your head and common sense about you when it comes to safety.

While Lagos is an extremely safe destination (after all, Portugal is the 6th safest country in the world), there are still a few things to keep in mind so that you can have the safest stay and best trip possible in Lagos, Portugal.

It is important to always use reliable, licensed, and reputable taxi services (VATravel Transfers or Southeast Taxi Transfers are well known). Uber is also widely available in Lagos and the Algarve region.

Be sure to never get in a taxi that already has passengers, make sure the meter is running or the price has been negotiated beforehand, and never travel alone at night.

Other good safety tips include keeping an eye on your belongings, traveling in groups, and familiarizing yourself with the local emergency services (dial 112 for the police and medical services).

When you are at the beach, swim only in designated areas, be aware of the currents, and pay attention to the lifeguards and their safety tips.

Retiring In Lagos, Portugal

Lagos historical town centre with colorful multicolored buildings houses, fountain and benches in sunny summer day
iStock/Aliaksandr Antanovich

Portugal is one of the increasingly popular retirement destinations in Europe among expats.

Lagos, although more expensive than less popular destinations in Portugal, is still considerably more affordable than other destinations in Europe.

Lagos is a particularly appealing destination to retire in Portugal. Here you can enjoy medieval towns and fishing villages. Or open-air markets… local wine and some of Europe’s best sandy beaches.

Southern Portugal enjoys one of the most stable climates in the world… with 3,300 hours of sunshine per year. There are more sunny days each year in Lagos, Portugal, than anywhere else in Europe.

This is why it is one of the top destinations on the continent for Europeans seeking summer sun. Or looking to escape the cold, dark days of winter up north.

Portugal has a strong historic and cultural links with England. This is why English is commonly heard in the country. And even more so in Lagos.

Retirees here are able to get by without speaking much Portuguese. But the experience is far better if you try to learn to communicate with the locals.

Most expats already living in Portugalhave smart advice about cars as they do about many household appliances — don’t even think about bringing a car with you.

The reason? Many large American vehicles (especially SUVs and trucks) are not suitable for Europe, where roads and streets are often narrower than in North America.

Getting to Lagos, Portugal, is extremely simple, however, it can take a little bit of effort.

You can choose to land in the international airports in Lisbon or Faro. The closest one is Faro Airport and is about an hour to an hour and a half away. The drive from Lisbon to Lagos is about three to three and a half hours.

Other than renting a car and driving yourself, you can also get a taxi, take the train, or ride the bus. Be sure to use a reliable taxi, bus, or shuttle service (for buses there is Rede Expressos or Eva Bus).

You can travel to Portugal on a tourist visa for up to 90 days within a 180-day period (you can travel to other countries within the Schengen Area during that 180-day period).

For instance, if you are looking to retire in Lagos or move to Portugal, there are residency and visa options in Portugal to choose from, be sure to do some research into the best one for you.

Other than keeping logistics in mind, retiring in Lagos, Portugal, could be the best decision and move of your life. Portugal has a strong historic and cultural links with England. This is why English is commonly heard in the country. And even more so in Lagos.

The quality of life in Lagos is amazing, charming, and quaint, the cost of living is affordable, the community is extremely welcoming, the safety, infrastructure and amenities are top notch.

In short, Lagos, Portugal, is truly a retirement haven for the modern expat.

Visa And Residency

Portuguese passport
Adobe Stock/sergojpg

Obtaining a visa or residency for Portugal is a straightforward affair. However, you must make sure to start the process to obtain your visa with enough time before traveling.

The process will differ for EU citizens than it will for non-EU citizens. Let’s focus on the latter.

Residency Permits For Non-EU-Citizens

Start by applying for a Type 1 Resident Visa. Go to the Portugal Embassy in your home country and get the process started. Apply for this visa three months prior to your scheduled move to Portugal.

Once you’ve arrived at Portugal with the Type 1 Resident Visa, you have six months to apply for a Resident Permit. First, you need to apply for a Schengen Visa.

You can do this online or at a Portuguese consulate. We recommend that you have several copies of the documents needed as it’s likely you’ll need the same documents for the rest of the application processes.

For more information, visit SEF or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Weather In Lagos, Portugal

Average min and max temperatures in Lagos, Portugal
Graph by Weather & Climate

Lagos, like most of Portugal, enjoys sunny days almost all year.

The weather in Lagos, Portugal, is the same as in most of the Algarve region: a wonderful Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot summers. In the summer, the temperatures can range from 77°F to 86°F (25°C to 30°C), while in the winter, it goes from 50°F to 59°F (10°C to 15°C).

If you are looking for a place to be warm in the summers so that you can cool down in the water, but cool in the fall and winters without being too cold or having to bundle up too much, then the climate in Lagos, Portugal, is what you are looking for.

The summers are very dry, and the ocean water is at its warmest, around 71°F (21.5°C). This is probably why most tourists are attracted to Lagos, especially since it rains during the fall and picks up a bit in the winter.

Although it does rain during the colder months, it only ends up coming down about 50 days in the year.

Overall, the weather in Lagos, Portugal, is perfect for vacations, retreats, or retirement.

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Cost Of Living In Lagos, Portugal, Makes Panama Bite The Dust
By Kathleen Peddicord

With the low cost of living in Lagos, Portugal, you can afford this best of sunny, coastal Europe.

Central America is the place to shop for a top retirement or new-life option if your budget is modest… right?

Indeed, a limited nest egg can stretch far in this accessible, sunny, and affordable region.

But here’s news: That same nest egg can stretch just as far right now in Portugal.

In fact, having done the sums based on recent firsthand experience hanging out in the Algarve, Lief and I have concluded that that coastal region of Portugal can be more affordable than Panama City, where we normally hang our hats, and as affordable as other heralded low-cost Central American destinations.

Fifteenth-century Lagos, a primary destination in the Algarve with a lively old town, is the place where we’ve chosen to base our Portugal adventures. We invested in an apartment here, on a winding cobblestoned street with a view of the harbor, and are actively searching for a second.

Why Lagos, Portugal?

It’s historic, charming, and quintessentially Old World. It draws a steady tourist crowd, meaning good rental prospects.

And it’s cheap.

How cheap?

One café in the heart of it all, on the main square, offers a hamburger for 2.80 euros, a small pizza for 3 euros, and sandwiches for not much more. Not fine fare, but this is tourist-central.

When we commented on the surprisingly low prices to our traveling companion, a native Portuguese, during our most recent visit, he was confused.

“These cafés and restaurants are much more expensive than others outside the center of the city,” he explained. “Other places elsewhere in the city would be cheaper.”

How could a hamburger be cheaper than 2.80 euros? I’ve been told about hamburgers for US$3 in Panama City, but I’ve never seen one.

In the restaurants frequented by tourists in Panama’s capital, a hamburger costs US$6 or US$7.

But there’s more to life than hamburgers, you may be thinking…

Fair enough.

Here’s how I’d compare the cost of living in Panama City, Panama, with the cost of living in Lagos, Portugal, overall:


In Panama City, Panama, a one-bedroom apartment not in one of the highest-rent districts (Avenida Balboa, Punta Pacifica, or Punta Paitilla) but suitable and comfortable for an expat or retiree, rents today for US$600 or US$700 per month.

In Lagos, Portugal, you could rent a one-bedroom apartment in the center of the city for 400 euros per month. At the current exchange rate, that’s US$444.


People live in Panama City without air conditioning, but I don’t understand how. That is, living in Panama City, your electric bill can be a not insignificant part of your budget, depending on the size of your apartment and how many hours a day you choose to cool it. Figure at least US$100 per month.

We’re living in a three-bedroom apartment with floor-to-ceiling windows in most rooms. We run the air conditioner whenever we’re home. I won’t tell you how much our monthly electric bill is (Lief doesn’t like to be reminded), but it’s more than US$100.

In Lagos, you’d need neither air conditioning nor heat. Even if you wanted to invest in these expenses, you couldn’t, as many places aren’t equipped with either heating or cooling (though some houses have small fireplaces). Living here, you could figure about 75 euros for electricity each month.

In Panama City, we pay US$80 per month for a package that includes Internet, cable, and telephone.

In Lagos, figure about 100 euros for these combined expenses, slightly more than in the Hub of the Americas.


I’ve told you about the hamburgers…

Considered more broadly, eating in Lagos is more affordable in general than eating in Panama City… and eating out in Lagos is a screaming bargain compared with eating out in Panama City today.

Panama City has been developing itself for the tourist and executive traveler for the past 10 years and today boasts many good restaurants, most of which are priced for the tourist and executive traveler. Prices at Ruth’s Chris, Hard Rock Café, and Hooters are slightly higher than at those establishments in Baltimore, Maryland (my frame of reference in the States… and, no, these are not the good restaurants I’m thinking of but make for easy points of comparison), and local Panamanian fine-dining experiences will set you back US$40 or US$50 per person or more.

In Lagos, Portugal, we’ve enjoyed some of the best meals I’ve ever eaten—menus feature prawns bigger than lobsters I’ve known and every other kind of sea creature you can imagine, all fresh from the ever-present sea—never for more than 20 euros per person. A glass of Prosecco can be as little as 4 euros.


This is where Lagos really comes out ahead, depending how you like to spend your time.

I like to walk. It’s my preferred pastime. You could enjoy many pleasant hours walking around historic, cobblestoned Lagos, window shopping, stopping at outdoor cafés for a coffee or a glass of wine, and wandering around the harbor, the old fort, and the fountains outside the city’s main church, for the cost of a few euros… or free if you skipped the coffee and the wine.

Keep a car, and this long and delightful coast is your oyster. Day trips to Sagres, Silves, Carvoeiro, Ferragudo, and beyond could fill many pleasant afternoons or long weekends.

The sun shines year-round in this part of the world, and temperatures are rarely too hot or too cold to keep you from setting out to explore the many old-town squares or the great outdoors.

Castles, fortresses, museums, and small theaters charge 3 euros per person entrance fee on average. Cliff walks, beach combing, and bicycling are no charge.

Comparison Between Lagos And Panama City

Now, here’s where a comparison of Lagos, Portugal, to Panama City, Panama, begins to fall apart. These are very different places.

In Panama City, you’re not spending your days climbing rocky cliffs, exploring medieval fortifications, browsing museums showcasing the Age of Exploration, or even beach bathing. Pastimes in Panama City are more to do with shopping, discos, karaoke, and spinning roulette wheels in the casinos. Yes, Panama City has a beach, but I wouldn’t bathe on (or in) it.

Panama boasts dramatically beautiful and appealing beaches, but they’re to be found beyond Panama City.

As well, costs for things like rent and dining out elsewhere in Panama can be much less (half as much or less) than in the capital. But to enjoy that level of affordability in this country today, you need to be ready to live a little more off the beaten path and to embrace a more local, rather than imported, lifestyle.

My point in the context of Lagos is that it’s a center-of-the-Old World destination, not an off-the-beaten-path one, that is offering a bona-fide affordable cost of living right now.

Some Disclaimers…

First, no, I’m not dissing Panama. I’m making the point that neither Panama nor Central America in general has the monopoly on affordable living these days.

Second, no, I’m not dissing on Panama City. I’m making the point that Panama City is no longer a super-affordable lifestyle choice, not relative to the rest of Central America and not even relative to some spots in Europe. Still, Panama City remains our base and happily so.

Third, I’m not saying Portugal is better than Panama. I’m saying the cost of living in Lagos, Portugal is today a reasonable option for a retiree or expat on a budget. If you prefer the Old World to the New and want developed Europe, not developing-world Central America, this is your chance.

Fourth, I’ll remind you of the disclaimer I offer often—which is that your cost of living anywhere can be controllable within parameters. Housing is your biggest expense no matter where you’re living. Your monthly nut otherwise depends largely on how you choose to live.

This leads to another important point.

What If The Euro Rebounds?

That is, what if you move to Portugal to take advantage of today’s exchange rate of US$1 equals 1.14 euros, but the euro gains 20%, 30%, 40%, or more on the dollar in time? If you’re living on a fixed retirement income, aren’t you in trouble?

If you’re on a fixed retirement income and like the idea of what Portugal (or anywhere in euro-land) has to offer, here’s what I’d suggest. Buy a place of your own at today’s favorable exchange rate. You could buy on Portugal’s Algarve for the equivalent of US$150,000 or less. That locks in your housing cost.

Given today’s overall very low cost of living in Lagos, Portugal, even with a modest nest egg, you likely could set a little aside each month. If the exchange rate moves against you, your cost of living would increase in dollar terms, but you’d probably be able to handle it, given the savings you’ve accumulated and the fact that you’re living in your own digs and therefore rent free.

Do the math. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Lagos FAQs

Is Lagos Worth Visiting?

Absolutely. Sunny days, a historic city, and beautiful beaches make this corner of Portugal very attractive to travelers from all over the world.

What Is Lagos Known For?

The beaches are what Lagos is known for. Golden sand beaches, clear water, and rocky cliff formations along the coast make this area breathtaking.

Is Lagos A Good Place To Retire?

Yes. Lagos, like the rest of Portugal, offers retirees an opportunity to upgrade their lifestyle at a budget. A couple can retire very well in Lagos for about US$2,000.

Why Should Americans Move To Lagos?

Americans looking to retire (or relocate) someplace new where they don’t necessarily need to be fluent in the local language and where they can upgrade their lifestyle while staying in budget should consider Lagos, Portugal.

Is Lagos Cheap?

Lagos is a bit more pricey than other places in Portugal. However, it is cheaper than most other destinations in Europe.

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