A Visitor's Guide to Sagres

If you head toward the most southwestern point in mainland Europe, you will inevitably pass through the town of Sagres.

With an incredible link to Portuguese history, glorious beaches, cliffs, and ocean views, Sagres is a must-see location during your Algarve holiday.

Like Tavira in the east, Sagres and the Algarve’s west coast aren’t as popular with tourists as more central locations like Portimao or Faro. But at less than a four-hour drive from Lisbon and just over an hour from the Faro airport, it is an easy and accessible location with plenty of things to explore.

Here, we’ve created a visitor’s guide to Sagres so you can make the most of your visit to the area!

Things to Do in Sagres

You might think that a city not known as a tourist hotspot would be a little light on things to do, but you would be wrong. Here are our top picks for things to do in Sagres:

Go to the Beach

Sagres has some of the best beaches in Portugal! Whether you want to ride a wave or relax on the shore and ponder the vastness of the Atlantic ocean, these beaches have you covered.

Praia da Mareta

Praia da Mareta is the beach located most closely to Sagres. It tends to get busy, but with 800 meters of golden sands, it is likely you will be able to find a little space to relax.

This region of the Algarve tends to be battered by strong winds and large waves but Praia da Mareta is in a bay and protected by a large, rocky headland that keeps things a little calmer. You will see lots of windsurfing, kayaking, and diving.

If you don’t want to get in the water, you can take advantage of the fact that the beach is south facing, giving you sun all day long!

There are three restaurants located near the beach and ample parking so it is easy to make a full day of it!

Praia do Martinhal

Located to the east of Sagres, Praia do Martinhal is another relatively large beach. It has several islets located offshore that can be visited by boat. These limestone islets are known for their caves and underwater grottos. It is possible to arrange a diving trip or to catch a boat from the beach or from Sagres harbor.

While fairly sheltered, there is still a strong wind along the water so it is actually quite perfect for windsurfing. The water here can be cold, even in the summer, so you may want to consider wearing a wetsuit if venturing out.

The sand at Praia do Martinhal is soft and fine, making it ideal for building sandcastles. Rarely does this beach get crowded so feel free to let your inner architect get to work!

Winds from the north can sometimes make the beach feel chilly so if that’s the case, take shelter in one of the nearby restaurants and simply enjoy the spectacular view while dining on some fresh seafood. Restaurante Martinhal is located on the east end of the beach and there are a few other places not too far away.

Praia do Tonel

If surfing is your thing, Praia do Tonel is the place to be. This uncrowded, relatively small beach offers some of the best waves in Europe! If you are a beginner surfer and looking to give it a try, there is a surf school located right on the beach.

At high tide, the beach is rather small with few places to sit out and relax but at low tide, there is plenty of space. The waters are cold here, especially in the winter, and the currents can be quite strong. Swimming at Praia do Tonel is not recommended unless you are an experienced, strong swimmer.

The beach itself is surrounded by high cliffs that give it a secluded and sheltered feel. There are several amazing rock formations that line the beach and just offshore you will see the massive “lion rock.” Depending on your angle, this formation looks like a lion lying in the water or a submarine. But be careful near the cliffs as falling rocks can present a safety hazard.

Even if you don’t want to surf, the views here are incredible. To the left of the beach, you can see the Fortaleza de Sagres or Fortress of Sagres. And in the evening, the sunsets are truly spectacular.

Go Surfing

The western Algarve, and the Sagres area specifically, is known for its great surfing conditions.

As mentioned above, Praia do Tonel has the biggest and best waves, serving as a bit of a surfing mecca. But there are other beaches in the area like Praia do Beliche and Praia do Zavial that also draw a large number of surfers.

Even if you don’t want to ride the waves, it is easy to spend hours sitting on the beach, or the cliffs above it, watching the many surfers who flock to these locations every day.

The best time of year for new or inexperienced surfers is in the summer months when waves are relatively small. In the winter, waves are large, rough, and better suited to advanced or experienced surfers. If you are visiting in the winter, you can take surfing lessons at Praia da Mareta.

Should you need to take surf lessons, Sagres is home to several schools that offer both single lessons and surfing bootcamps that will cover all the basics over the course of several days.

Visit Cabo de Sao Vincente

About 6km outside of Sagres is Cabo de Sao Vincente or Cape Saint Vincent. This location is the most southwesterly point in continental Europe and the Romans once believed it to be the literal end of the world. And with cliffs that rise 75 meters above the sea, it isn’t hard to see why!

The views from the cape are unbelievable. You can get a real sense of magnitude and vastness of the ocean. It is truly awe-inspiring.

Cabo de Sao Vincente is home to one of the most powerful lighthouses in Europe. It was first constructed in 1846 and has a beam that can be seen from 60km away. Because the lighthouse is still in operation, you cannot tour it but there is a museum, gift shop, and cafe onsite.

The winds can be really strong here so be sure to bring an extra layer to keep yourself warm. And be sure to stay a safe distance from the edges of the cliffs. Between the winds and loose rocks, it can be dangerous to get too close.

If you can time it properly, stay to watch the sunset. You’ll be glad you did! 

Visit Fortaleza de Sagres

Fortaleza de Sagres is a fortification that dates back to the Portuguese expansion in the 15th century. By order of Prince Henry the Navigator, the fortress was constructed in 1453 to protect Sagres from Moorish pirates.

The fort has some incredible views of the coastline and on a clear day, you can see all the way to the headlands of Cabo de Sao Vincente.

Once you enter the fort, you can see a large, 43 meters wide, circular pattern on the ground. This is believed to have been a wind compass, once used as a navigation tool. Interestingly enough, this compass wasn’t discovered until the 18th century and wasn’t fully excavated until 1919.

Inside the fort, you can see the cannons that would have been used as protection and a chapel known as Nossa Senhora da Graca. The chapel was erected in 1579 and inside you can see depictions of St. Vincent, the martyred 4th-century deacon whom the cape is named for.

There is a path that goes from the fort to the cape and back. A leisurely walk along the path is a great way to take in your surroundings!

Reserva Biogenetica de Sagres

Between Fortaleza de Sagres and the Cabo Sao Vicente is the Reserva Biogenetica de Sagres, a protected nature reserve that is home to a number of unique and biodiverse species.

The area has a range of coastal habitats like marshes, cliffs, dunes, and lagoons. These habitats promote rare plant life including the biscutella vicentina, diplotaxis vicentina, and hyacinthoides vicentina.

Birdwatchers from all over the world “flock” here to catch a glimpse of the 25 bird species that nest in the reserve. In fact, the Reserva Biogenetica de Sagres is one of the only places in the world where the white stork builds its nest on rocky sea cliffs. 

In the fall, this is a great place to view the migration of several glider birds, or birds of prey, including booted eagles, short-toed eagles, sparrow hawks, honey buzzards, griffon vultures and Egyptian vultures.

During your visit, if you’re lucky, you’ll see the local raft of otters playing in the sea and hunting for food!

Where to Eat in Sagres

Given its prime location on the coast, Sagres has plenty of fresh seafood and traditional Portuguese food available to try! Here’s a list of some of our favorite places to eat in Sagres:

Restaurante Carlos

Restaurante Carols is one of the places where you can taste some truly incredible seafood. Try the goose barnacles as a starter and anywhere you go from there is just a bonus. Try some octopus rice and cuttlefish or a nice tuna steak. The prawns here are spectacular!

Service is welcoming and friendly in a cozy atmosphere. It can get a little busy here so do call ahead and try to book a table.

A Casinha

Built on the site of the owner’s grandparent’s house, this restaurant provides beautiful sea views and a comfortable atmosphere.

Whether you have a cataplana of seafood, try the barbecue fish, order tapas, or tuck into the Portuguese sausage, your taste buds will be thrilled! Try your dishes with the house wine for the complete experience.

Where to Stay in Sagres

Because Sagres is so close to other locations in the Algarve, many people choose to visit as a day trip. But, if you’d like to stay in the area a little longer, here are some places to stay:

Memmo Baleeira Hotel

Memmo Baleeira has everything you’d want for a perfect stay. On the hotel grounds you will find a restaurant, bar, lounge, spa, gym, outdoor swimming pool, and a heated indoor pool.

The rooms are bright and clean. Try to book one with a balcony so you can take advantage of the views.

There are a number of activities available for guests to enjoy. Take classes at the Memmo Baleeira surf school, rent a bicycle, book a Jeep trip, or schedule a round at one of the nearby golf courses.

With the cliffs of the coast within walking distance, you can pack a lunch and set off to explore the area! This is a great region to explore.

Martinhal Sagres Beach Family Resort Hotel

For a little bit of luxury, look no further than Martinhal Sagres. Set within a protected natural park and overlooking Martinhal Beach, expect comfortable, relaxing rooms and spacious villas.

There are a number of restaurants on the resort grounds that will appeal to everyone as well as a shop available to those who want to do some meal prep on their own.

With a spa, gym, tennis court, sightseeing tours, and 5 swimming pools available, it would be hard to get bored. If you are traveling with children, Martinhal Sagres also has a number of activities catered to little ones.

Once believed to be the mystical place, Sagres still holds much of its magic. Whether you’re planning a surf trip, looking for an historic destination, or both, you will find it here.

To fully explore the region, you can book a spot on our 6-night vacation package that will take you from Lagos or Carvoeiro to Sagres. If you have something else in mind, reach out to us and we’ll help you plan the perfect Sagres holiday!