At the far southwestern tip of the Algarve is the town of Sagres. This is where the western Algarve is at its wildest. For lovers of traditional towns and winding streets, Sagres might not be for you. Compared to other towns and villages in the region, Sagres is almost unremarkable. However, what it lacks in its town it more than makes up for in dramatic scenery, stunning beaches, and history. That said you’ll still find the town has all of your usual facilities for a visit to the region and a few standout attractions. Read on to find out more in our complete guide to Sagres!
The Town of Sagres
Today, the town has a population of nearly 2,000 but during the summer months this swells to many times that number. Despite the large numbers of visitors. It never really feels hectic and avoids the lively nature of the more typical Algarve in the evenings. Most visitors to Sagres are here to experience the outdoors or its historical landmarks. That means an eclectic mix of seasonal visitors, local tourists, and sports and adventure seekers. It’s a popular spot for pretty much any of the outdoor sports you’ll find in the Algarve.
The Best beaches in Sagres
One of the biggest features of the town itself are its impressive beaches. There are four within easy reach of the town, and they each offer something a little different.
Praia da Mareta
First up is the biggest and best beach you’ll find in Sagres – Praia da Mareta. It’s a glorious stretch of sand that’s directly accessible from the town. Sheltered from the east and west by steep cliffs, it offers a more gentle and less windy experience than many others nearby. This makes it an exceptionally popular beach for learning the basics of many popular water sports, including kayaking, paddle boarding, and surfing.
Along the 800m beach you’ll find three restaurants catering for most budgets and scenarios. Everything from light snacks and drinks to full meals offering the freshest of fish! The beach is life guarded during the summer, and with concessioned areas for parasol and sun bed rental, it’s one of the best family beaches in Sagres. A simple walk in either direction of the beach will find you plenty of space to place your own towel down if you want a quieter experience.
Praia da Martinhal
Praia da Martinhal is a located just a little bit further outside of Sagres than Mareta. It’s also slightly more exposed to the elements than Mareta, which means it’s fantastic for beach sports like wind surfing. Not only can you watch this happening, you can also give it a go with lessons and equipment hire available on the beach. This is the second of the large beaches that are perfect for beach days. You’ll find everything you’ll need, as well as a bar and restaurant. During the summer it’s also life guarded, and you can rent sun beds and parasols if you don’t have your own.
Praia da Baleeira
A small beach definitely worth checking out is Praia da Baleeira. This small beach is located to the east of Sagres’s small harbour. It’s not as popular for swimming, or sunbathing, but it does offer a nice opportunity to see some of the local life in the harbour. It’s also possible to witness the public fish auction here, if you’re interested in how the fish gets sold once it’s arrived in the harbour!
Praia da Tonal
The final beach in the area is Praia da Tonal. The beach faces west and is the least sheltered of all them. It’s very popular with surf schools and more experienced surfers due to the large swells that sometimes land here. The sometimes strong winds, and waves, make the beach less family friendly. You won’t find facilities here either, except for a small beach bar offering refreshments.
Places to Visit in Sagres
Fortress of Sagres – Fortaleza de Sagres
With the best beaches in the region out of the way, perhaps its time to take a look at some of the cultural attractions Sagres offers. The most imposing is the striking Fortress of Sagres – Fortaleza de Sagres. It’s a 15th century fort with immaculately preserved walls, you can see these walls rising on the cliffs from multiple directions in the town.
From the front, you might think the walls fully encompass the fortress, however once inside you’ll find they don’t. The sheer cliffs surrounding it provided all the protection that’s needed. Once inside, you’ll find a chapel, a large sun dial, a light house, and several viewing points. It does feel relatively empty, and considering the impressive approach, maybe even underwhelming. However, if you take the 2km walking trail, you should be impressed by the sheer cliffs, the waves and the wind. It’s here you can really feel the Atlantic compared to the sheltered beaches of the town.
Entry costs €3.00 for adults and €2.00 for children, students and the over 65s. It can be very windy, and even in the heat of the summer can feel cold, so remember a light jacket. Similarly, the wind can hide how hot it really is, so remember sun cream as well. The rocky cliff top of the walk has no shelter from the sun!
Lighthouse of São Vicente – Farol de São Vicente
Around 10 minutes, or approximately 8km outside of town is Farol do Cabo de São Vicente. The Lighthouse of São Vicente. The area was first occupied by Franciscan monks, and this is where the lighthouse and fortress take their name from – Cabo de São Vicente. It was rumoured to be the place where Saint Vincent of Saragossa remains were found and protected.
A lighthouse here was first documented in 1520, which was fortified around 1530. It would be destroyed by the English privateer Francis Drake in 1587 on his way along the coast. This was not the only time Drake would attack the Algarve. Several years later he would sack Faro, burn its cathedral, and pillage the bishop’s historic library. The lighthouse would only be rebuilt and refortified in 1606. The fortress known as Cape São Vicente Fortress would then be re-occupied by the monks, to this day it remains a holy site.
The lighthouse you can visit today was constructed in 1846, and it’s surrounded by the remains of the fortress constructed in the 17th century. It’s reported that the lighthouse can be seen from 60km away.
Fort of Santo António de Beliche – Fortaleza do Belixe
If you’re not quite full of this region’s history, as you head back to Sagres, you can stop at the ruins of the 16th century Fort of Santo António de Beliche – Fortaleza do Beliche. Not much remains except for the chapel and its outer walls. The views into the sheltered bay below are stunning and make a remarkable contrast to the views from Farol de São Vicente. For the adventurous, you can take the steep fishermen’s path all the way down the cliff to the waters edge.
The best restaurants in Sagres
With the main cultural attractions of the town covered, perhaps it’s time to seek out somewhere to eat, here’s our favourite restaurants in Sagres!
Situated on the hill over looking the harbour and Praia da Baleeira, you’ll find A Tasca. It’s a great place to experience some Portuguese cuisine and some incredible local seafood.
For the best beach experience, try Nortada Restaurant. With beach bar vibes they serve incredible seafood with incredible views right on to the beach.
If you’re looking for something outside of seafood, then perhaps Indian will take your fancy! Holi Diwali-Indian Restaurant serves incredible curries and offered one of the best Indian meals we’ve had in the Algarve!
Somewhere to stay in Sagres?
For the ultimate luxury experience you can stay in the impressive 5 star Pousada Sagres. It has an incredible cliff top location that overlooks Praia da Mareta. Aparthotel Navigator offers a modern apartment hotel experience for a more modest price, while still offering the full resort experience. You can find a full list of the available accommodation in Sagres here.
Should You Visit Sagres?
Sagres offers some of the best of the west Algarve. Incredible beaches, and all the facilities you need for a holiday. That said, for those wanting night life, or perhaps a more family-based experience. Some of the bigger towns or resorts might cater to the experience more. Saving Sagres for a great day trip or two!
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