Sagres – the complete guide (2019)
Sagres is the most southwestern point of the Algarve and continental Europe. For centuries, it was believed to be the most western part of the world. As such, Sagres was also known as the end of the world. Sagres is without a doubt very closely associated with the Portuguese overseas discoveries. Nowadays, this tranquil town that offers stunning views is relatively untouched by tourism, compared to some other parts of the Algarve. Sagres is surrounded by beautiful beaches that are especially popular among surfers and tourists with campervans. Moreover, tourists are attracted by the dramatic cliff views around the cape of St. Vincent. After reading this article you will be the tour guide when visiting Sagres.
Watch the highlights of Sagres in HD
Are you wondering how breathtaking the cliffs around Sagres are? Then watch the short video below.
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In the area of Sagres you can find several beaches. The beaches are less touristic than many other beaches in the Algarve. Below you can find an overview of our favourite beaches near Sagres.
Praia da Mareta. This is the biggest beach in the area of Sagres. It is also the beach closest to the town, making it quite popular during the summer months.
Praia do Martinhal. This is a relatively big beach in the area, but slightly smaller than Praia da Mareta. The beach is quite windy and popular for windsurfing. From the beach you can see several islets, which can be visited by boat.
Praia do Tonel. This beach has a remote feel and is quite popular among experienced surfers. Waves can be quite rough here. Beginners are better off surfing on another beach. In the sea you can find a big rock that kind of looks like a lion.
Praia do Beliche. This beautiful beach is a favourite among surfers. The beach is surrounded by high cliffs, forming a small bay. It feels very remote and wild. You can access the beach via a long stairway.
Praia da Baleeira. This beach is located near the harbour in Sagres. It overlooks the bay of Sagres. You can find small rocks on the beach and enjoy the view of boats going in and out of the harbour.
There are several good restaurants in the area. Most of them serve Portuguese food, but there are some restaurants with foreign cuisines as well. Our favourite restaurants in Sagres are:
- Retiro do Pescador. This restaurant is popular among locals. It serves delicious fresh fish and seafood. If you love fish, give this restaurant a try. Prices are very reasonable and friendly service as well.
- Adega dos Arcos. There is no menu in this restaurant. You can pick from the selection of very fresh fish. You will then see how they prepare your fish. The result is absolutely fabulous. Great fish restaurant.
- Vila Velha. This charming restaurant has a great ambience. You will feel like you are at home. The service is very good as well. They are friendly and know exactly which wine goes well with each dish.
- Three Little Birds. This place offers Mexican and American food. Great tacos, burgers and smoked ribs. The place has a surf vibe and is quite popular among Germans.
- Holi Diwali Indian Restaurant. This small Indian restaurant will surprise you. From the outside it doesn’t look like much, but the food is delicious. The food has many flavours and the service is very friendly.
- D’Italia. This Italian restaurant offers the best Pizza of Sagres. You can also have many other Italian dishes. Portions are very generous and the wine is good. Prices are also quite reasonable.
What to see
Cape of St. Vincent
The cape of St. Vincent (in Portuguese: Cabo de São Vincente) is the most southwestern tip of continental Europe. It lies approximately 6 kilometres from Sagres. The cliffs rise about 75 metres vertically above the Atlantic Ocean. The sea can be ferocious here. The Romans referred to this cape as the end of the world. During the Age of Discoveries, the cape of St. Vincent was the last piece of land that explorers would see before they would set sail for the unknown. Nowadays, this cape still serves as a landmark for many ships travelling to or from the Mediterranean Sea.
The views around this place are breathtaking. It is incredible to look around and just see water and cliffs. The magnitude of nature that you see here is impressive. Make sure to stay long enough to really take the dramatic views in. There are also plenty of photo opportunities. It is extremely windy here, so make sure to wear something warm (even in summer). Also be careful where you walk. Don’t go near the edge of the cliffs, as this can be quite dangerous. Especially watch out with kids here.
On the cape of St. Vincent you can find a lighthouse. It was built in 1846. The lighthouse is one of the most powerful lighthouses of Europe. Its 2000 watts beam can reach 60 km. Visiting the lighthouse gives a great view of the surrounding area. There is also a small museum, a gift shop and a cafe on-site. Toilet facilities are available as well.
The sunset can be especially beautiful around here. If you can, make sure to stay for the sunset.
Fortaleza de Sagres
About a 9 minute drive from the cape of St. Vincent, you can find a fortress called the Fortaleza de Sagres. This fortress was built to defend the village of Sagres and to protect the coast against raiding Moorish pirates. The Portuguese expansion started in 1415 and the fortress was built a couple of decades later, in 1453. The Fortaleza de Sagres was built on the orders of Henry the Navigator, who was a key figure during the Age of Discoveries. The fort was restored in the 20th century. Nowadays, it is one of the most popular attractions of Sagres. Entrance is € 3.
To visit the fortress, park your car outside and enter the gate. Inside, on the left side you see a circular pattern, divided into 48 segments. The average size of these segments is 7,5 degrees, which represents 30 minutes. It is believed that this circle is a kind of wind compass and that it was related with the navigations. The compass-rose is about 43 metres in diameter. This circle was discovered under the earth in the 18th century and was excavated in 1919.
From the fortress you also have amazing views over the ocean. On the left side of the entrance, you can see some cannons. Fortaleza de Sagres also contains a small chapel, called Nossa Senhora da Graça. The chapel was built in 1579 and contains some depictions of Saint Vincent. It is located on the right side of the entrance. There is also a walking path from the fortress to the end of the cape and back. The walk takes about 45 minutes. At the end of the walk you will see a small lighthouse. The walk gives you spectacular views of the coastline. During the walk you can see the waves pounding on the cliffs, which is quite impressive.
Fort of Santo António de Belixe
Not far from the cape of St. Vincent, there is a fortress called Fort of Santo António de Belixe, also known as Fortaleza do Beliche. This fortress defended the coast against pirates. It was built in 1632 on the site of an older fort. However, the cliff on which the fort is built is unstable due to erosion. As such, it is not really safe to visit this fortress from the inside. That is why this fort is usually closed for the public. However, from a distance it is still pretty to see from the outside.
Porto da Baleeira (harbour)
The village of Sagres has a small fishing harbour, called Porto da Baleeira. Every afternoon, the fish catch of the day is unloaded by local fishing boats and carried to the building of the auction to be sold. It is great to see the fishing boats come and go. Make sure to check out the actual fish auction as well. The harbour is definitely worth a quick visit. You can also take a walk in the area, for example after lunch. The view from the harbour over the bay and the rocky coast is quite impressive as well. Next to the harbour you can find Baleeira beach.
From Sagres you could explore the west coast of the Algarve, also known as Costa Vicentina. It stretches for about 100 kilometres along the west coast of Portugal, up to the city of Sines. This part has some of the most beautiful nature of the Algarve. The Costa Vicentina feels quite wild and has some of the most remote beaches in Portugal. Moreover, there are relatively few tourists.
Vila do Bispo
The name of this village means Bishop’s village, because in the 16th century it belonged to the bishop of Silves. Here you can visit the parish church. In the church you can see beautiful glazed tiles and gilt carved wood. It is worth a visit.
If you wish to spend the night in Sagres, you have several options. Below you can find our favourite hotels near Sagres.
- Martinhal Sagres Beach Family Resort Hotel. This five star hotel near Praia do Martinhal offers rooms and villas with private balconies and terraces. The attention to detail is amazing and you have plenty of options to enjoy yourself. There are five different swimming pools, a tennis court and three fabulous restaurants. The hotel also offers surf lessons. If you are looking for a true experience, go here.
- Memmo Baleeira – Design Hotels. This four star hotel is located in the centre of Sagres, near the harbour. The hotel is quite luxurious and offers an outdoor pool facing the Atlantic Ocean. There are also several wellness facilities on-site. The beds are very comfortable and the breakfast is quite good as well.
- Cercas Velhas. This guest house offers studio apartments in small beach cabins. This gives the place a unique character. It is quite charming. The service is good and the owner is also really friendly. Very good value for money.
After the busy summer season of last year, we recommend to book your hotel now, as it will probably sell out. Below you can find a map with the location of hotels in Sagres. By changing the date of your holiday, the map will show you the current prices.
Every year, many people come to the area of Sagres for surfing. Surfing around Sagres has seen a big increase in popularity in recent years. Popular Sagres beaches for surfing are Praia do Beliche, Praia do Martinhal and Praia do Tonel. You can also find several surf schools around these beaches. If you are a beginner, make sure to check whether the surf conditions are right for you. The beaches around Sagres are known for their ferocious waves, especially in the winter and on stormy days.
While visiting Sagres is an excursions in itself, there are plenty of other excursions you can take in the area. What about exploring small towns in the west coast of the Algarve? Or you could visit the cape of St. Vincent and the fortress with a guide, who can tell you all about the background of the place. Below you can find our favourite excursions in the area of Sagres.
Sagres – general information
Sagres is a small town in the southwest of the Algarve. The town of Sagres is part of the municipality of Vila do Bispo. The whole municipality has around 5600 inhabitants, of which around 2000 people live in Sagres. Sagres is famous for its impressive high cliffs, looking over the Atlantic Ocean. Due to the proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, it can be quite windy in Sagres. Therefore, it usually feels much colder in Sagres than in other parts of the Algarve. When visiting Sagres, make sure to bring warm clothes with you.
During the Age of Discoveries, Sagres was often the starting point for boat journeys to explore the world. Henry the Navigator founded Sagres in 1443, which he called Vila do Infante, Prince’s Village. Henry wanted to provide supply of fresh food and water for sailing vessels dropping anchor near the cape, while waiting for favourable wind. But the lack of natural resources and fertile land were a hindrance for its development during many centuries. The local economy nowadays is dependent on agriculture, fishing and tourism.
The best way to visit Sagres is by car. There is no train station in the town. Sagres is quite remote from the touristic hotspots of the Algarve. As a result, there are relatively few tourists in Sagres. Many people that do visit come for surfing. Also fishing, biking or hiking in remote nature areas is popular. In summer, the town is more crowded than in the winter. Outside she summer season, Sagres feels very quiet and in a way deserted. But this also adds to the charm of the town. There are less bars and restaurants than in other towns of the Algarve, but Sagres has all the facilities to make your stay memorable.
The municipality of Vila do Bispo can be divided in the following civil parishes (freguesias):
- Barão de São Miguel
- Vila do Bispo e Raposeira