LivingTravelThe best places to visit in Sagres

The best places to visit in Sagres

The southern coast of Portugal is known for its warm climate and long sandy beaches, and as a result, the Algarve has become one of the most popular summer vacation destinations in Europe. Head there between the end of June and the beginning of September, and you will find most of the cities and towns packed with tourists. Prices skyrocket, service levels drop, and it’s hard to find a square inch of sand for you.

Unless you’re heading to Sagres, that is. This somewhat ramshackle little town is located near the southwestern tip of Portugal, its remote location makes it a very different proposition to the popular resorts in the center of the Algarve.

Even in high season, the beaches are quieter and the streets are less crowded than along the coast. With a laid-back surfing vibe and mostly simple lodging and dining options, Sagres won’t appeal to everyone. However, if you are looking for a local experience or a good base to explore the nearby rugged countryside, it is well worth a visit. Day trips to Sagres are possible, ideally by car, although there is also a reasonable bus service to and from Lagos.

Wondering what to do while in town? These are the best things to do in Sagres.

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Relax on the beach

Praia da Mareta, Portugal

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As with the rest of the Algarve, the beaches of Sagres are one of the biggest draw cards in the city.

The most popular is Praia da Mareta, its long stretch of golden sand, somewhat sheltered from the strong breeze. This is where you’ll find most of the popular bars and restaurants, great places to relax with a drink after working on your tan for a while.

If the wind is really blowing and you need as much protection as possible, head to the small Praia da Baleeira, next to the port used by local fishermen.

For those rare occasions when the main beaches get a bit crowded, walking a little out of town towards Praia do Martinhal will almost certainly yield a stretch of sand to call your own.

Praia do Tonel faces west, directly into the prevailing wind, so it’s best left to surfers unless you like huge waves and lots of sand on your face.

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Fall ten

The relentless waves of the Atlantic draw surfers to Sagres like moths to a flame. The angle of the headlands means that some beaches are much more sheltered than others, making surfing suitable for a wide range of skill levels.

If the surf is not very good at one of the four main beaches in Sagres, it is worth taking a look at the others, the conditions vary significantly between them, depending on the wind and the tides. You can also head a bit northwest of the city to Praia do Beliche, another popular surf spot.

There are several surf shops in Sagres, and the lessons are relatively cheap. It is also possible to hire any equipment you need from the stores, avoiding the hassle of transporting it.

If being tossed by the waves all day is not your idea of a good time, kitesurfing is another good option. However, it is probably best left to those with prior experience, as the wind can be strong and very gusty.

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See the end of the world in Cabo de Sao Vicente

Cabo de São Vicente, 8650 Sagres , Portugal

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In medieval times, Cabo de San Vicente (Cabo de San Vicente) was believed to be the end of the world. We know better these days, of course, but when you’re standing on top of a steep cliff, being whipped by the Atlantic winds and staring only at the ocean, it’s easy to understand why.

The westernmost point of continental Europe, Cabo São Vicente, is located about four miles from Sagres. A desolate and desolate place, there is little in the way of man-made structures atop the 250-foot cliffs except for the lighthouse, whose beam can be seen 35 miles out to sea.

It is also the starting point for at least two long-distance hikes, the Via Algarviana GR13 route to the east across the country and the Rota Vicentina, which heads north for 280 miles to Santiago do Cacém.

If you are planning a visit, bring good shoes and warm clothing, as the ever-present wind usually means a large drop in temperature compared to even a short distance inland.

Visiting Cabo São Vicente is best done by taxi or rental car, but you can also take the bus that leaves twice a day from Sagres (although not on weekends or holidays). A single ticket costs two euros, and the bus waits half an hour at the lighthouse before returning to the city. Don’t miss out, unless you want a long wait or a long way back!

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Visit fortress of Sagres

Fortress of Sagres , 8650-360 Sagres , Portugal

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+351 282 620 140


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The city’s only real tourist attraction, Fortaleza de Sagres, sits on a steep headland south of Praia da Mareta. This fort dates from the 15th century and is unique in that it only contains one outer wall. The rest of the fortress’s defenses were provided by the towering 200-foot cliffs that the attackers deemed impossible to scale.

Built to deter pirate attacks from North Africa, the fortress was improved over time, but was significantly damaged by the tidal wave of the great 1755 earthquake that swept through Lisbon and much of the Algarve.

These days, the setting is the biggest draw card, rather than the remains of the fort itself. The three-euro entrance fee gives access to a lighthouse, a small church, and a huge stone maritime compass that is over 100 feet in diameter, probably from the 16th century.

There is also a mile long clifftop walking trail with great views. Allow up to an hour for your visit.

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Enjoy a slice of local life

Once you’re done with the small number of attractions in and around Sagres, it’s time to kick back and enjoy the laid-back atmosphere and low prices that make the city so appealing to certain types of visitors.

Rather than expensive resorts and high-end restaurants, you are more likely to find simple hotels and small family restaurants specializing in local food, which, in this case, usually means what the fishermen have caught that day.

Speaking of fishermen, it is worth spending a few minutes visiting the working port to the east of the city. It’s definitely not neat for tourists, but rather gives visitors a glimpse of what it’s really like to make a living from the ocean in this part of the world.

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