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. With the wind
hitting from the south and west, it is also a prime spot for surfing,
and there are plenty of surf schools dotted along the coast.
Tavira in the east, Sagres and the Algarve’s west coast aren’t as
popular with tourists as more central locations like Portimão 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!
Located to the east of Sagres, Praia do Martinhal
is a 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.
da Mareta is the beach located most closely to Sagres. It tends to get
busy, but with 800 metres 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!
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.
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 São
Vicente. Once you enter the fort, you can see a large, 43 metres 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 Graça. 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
About 6km outside of Sagres is Cabo
de São Vicente 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
metres 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 São Vicente 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!
Surfing: 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.
Birdwatching: Between Fortaleza de
Sagres and the Cabo São Vicente is the Reserva Biogenética 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 Biogenética 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!
Lagos: A 40-minute drive from Sagres is the much bigger town of Lagos.
Its cobblestone streets are full of lively bars and cafés. There are a
handful of monuments in the centre. However, the main attractions are
the paradisiacal beaches like Praia Dona Ana and the caves and rock
formations such as Ponta da Piedade and the Benagil cave.
Aljezur: If you drive north along the coast, you’ll soon reach Aljezur.
This small town sits within the Costa Vicentina National Park. It's
known for its stunning natural surroundings and laid-back atmosphere.
It’s worth visiting the Aljezur Castle and touring the museums and
churches in the old town. Nature lovers will also enjoy hiking along the
Rota Vicentina coastal trails that cross Aljezur.
Portimão: About an hour east from Sagres is the vibrant city of Portimão. It’s a popular resort town, with most hotels based around the large beach of Praia da Rocha. It’s worth spending some time in the historic centre before venturing to the beach. With a bit more time, you can extend your visit to the Ria de Alvor Nature Reserve.
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 favourite places to eat in Sagres:
Restaurante Carlos: This 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 cosy atmosphere. It can get a
little busy here, so do call ahead and try to book a table.
Little Birds: Open since 2016, this quiet café was named after a Bob
Marley song and serves mostly burgers and salads. Try the Portobello
burger, which comes with tomato, caramelised onion, vegan cheese and
Vila Velha: If you’re looking for a bit more fine
dining, head to Vila Velha in the heart of town. This place has been
welcoming guests since 1995. It serves a mix of meat and seafood dishes
like lamb chops and curry shrimp.
Memmo Baleeira: 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
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 travelling with children,
Martinhal Sagres also has a number of activities catered to little ones.
Sagres Time Apartamentos: If you’re on a budget, this aparthotel is an
excellent choice. It offers spacious apartments for up to six people
with fully equipped kitchens, living areas, and private balconies. The
complex also includes an outdoor heated pool and private parking.
While there are no golf courses in Sagres itself, there are a few within
a short driving distance. The closest one is the Parque da Floresta in
Budens (15 minutes away), which has an 18-hole course set amidst the
countryside. Another option is the Espiche Golf, which features a few
water hazards and undulating fairways.
While you can visit Sagres any time of year, the busiest season is
in the summer, when temperatures range between 20ºC to 30ºC. This is the
ideal time for swimming and boat trips along the coast. If you’re
planning to hike, it’s best to come in early spring or autumn when the
temperatures are a bit milder. Be sure to keep an eye out for the birds,
as they tend to migrate here around this time. Surfers, on the other
hand, may prefer autumn or winter, since the swells tend to be a little
Festival de Observação de Aves: Every year in October, Sagres hosts the
Festival Mundial de Observação de Aves, a birdwatching festival, where
you can enjoy guided walks with experts and learn more about the birds
in the region.
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