The westernmost part of the Algarve offers nature, surf and a whole lot of emptiness. After spending a day there, Enjoy the Algarve is blown away by Sagres and surroundings. Literally.
See original article in Enjoy the Algarve magazine September 2015
Pictures by Kyle Rodriguez
Catching glimpses from sea on both sides, it indeed seems like you’re heading for the end of the world when you’re driving on the single road towards Sagres. There’s always wind here, blowing over the barren landscape. As there’s hardly any public transport in the area, it’s a good idea to bring your own car. The route is an easy one and there are plenty of parking spots in town.
Explore the town
Right, we can be short about this: spend 30 minutes max in the town centre (not pictured as it didn’t look nice, instead we opted for this palm tree which can also be found in Sagres). OK, this might seem a bit harsh, but Sagres isn’t the prettiest town in the Algarve (and no, it also doesn’t make it into the top 10). There’s no old town to discover and very little nice buildings or culture. Most people even do their grocery shopping at the Lidl in Vila do Bispo as the supermarkets in town are more expensive. Let’s put it this way: you come to Sagres for the region and the nature, not for the town itself.
Alternative – Spot the wrapped trees
You’ll find trees (and even some lamp posts) wrapped in colourful crocheted cloths all around town. Maybe this is done to protect them from the wind (who knows), but it certainly makes for a bright touch of colour.
Discover your inner surfer
In need of a rental board, a new leash, some wax or flip flops? You’ve come to the right place. Waves or no waves, Sagres is full of both surfers and surf shops. It doesn’t matter that there was absolutely zero swell at the time of visiting, the town still had the highest concentration of T3 busses of the whole Algarve. Let your hair grow, add some sentences like ‘I’m stoked, the swell was totally sick’ to your vocabulary (meaning: ‘I’m delighted, the waves were very impressive’) and you’ll fit right in.
Alternative – Leave your mark
No, we don’t know why they do it either, but loads of people stick their sticker onto this street sign. The local government doesn’t seem to mind (traffic directions in Sagres are pretty straightforward anyway), so probably it’s just part of the surfer culture.
Anyway, it looks cool. (We’re looking into having Enjoy the Algarve stickers made just for this.)
Shop & stroll
Artesanato A Mó is filled to the brim with traditional Portuguese pottery in all shades an styles you can think of. The inside is at least as varied and colourful as the outside, which has hundreds of plates hanging on the walls. Products range from tiles and cups to mugs and fridge magnets. You’ll find this funky shop directly after turning from Sagres towards Cabo de São Vicente, it’s on your right hand side.
Alternative 1 – Go for cork
t’s 100% natural, recyclable and reusable. It’s also rot resistant, light weight and compressible. Convinced that cork is cool? Visit the cork boutique in Sagres where this material has been turned into belts, shoes, placemats, and jewellery. Don’t forget to check out the cork umbrella hanging above the cash desk.
Rua Comandante Matosa, 8650-357 Sagres
Alternative 2 – Wrap up warm
Buying a warm wool sweater in the sunny Algarve? Yes, you can, even in the middle of summer!
Stalls right outside Cabo de São Vicente sell sweaters as well as hats and gloves. Guess what, you’ll be happy that they do as the everblowing winds make watching the sunset on the cape a chilly affair.
Make your way to the harbour
In Porto da Baleeira, Sagres’ fishing harbour, which is located at the eastern side of town, boats bob on the water and windsurfers can be seen speeding in front of the coast. There’s also a stretch of sand to watch the scenery, although this beach is unsupervised. Want to go diving, dolphin watching or cape cruising? The harbour is the take-off point for all these tours.
Alternative – Fix your wetsuit
Is your wetsuit broken? Take it to the neoprene doctor.
You can’t miss his zebra-giraffe painted van which is parked in the harbour.
It’s the go to place if you want your wetsuit, surf gloves or diving BCD sewn or glued back together.
Relax on the beach
Although the harbour has a beach as well, Praia da Mareta is more sheltered, closer to town and has some restaurants. The sand here is amongst the finest, softest sand in the whole of the Algarve and even when visiting in the high season, the beach wasn’t very crowded. Another plus: they rent out weird but cool looking pedalo cars with slides for in the water.
Take a hike
The wild and rough countryside surrounding Sagres is a hikers’ paradise. Plants range from coastal scrub and wild flowers to juniper and esparto grass. The cliffs towards the Ponta do Sagres offer panoramic views on the sea down below, but beware: there are no barriers or even signs to let you know the edge is nearby. Fierce winds can sweep you off your feet, cliffs can crumble and it’s a steep drop of dozens of meters into the sea, so don’t get too close.
Visit the fort
The remains of the 16th century Forte do Beliche (which you’ll find at your left hand side when you drive from Sagres to Cabo de São Vicente) look like they can crumble down any minute. They do, however, offer great views of the fortress of Sagres, located at the opposite headland. For those who feel like exploring: there’s a path leading down from the ruins towards the sea below.
Alternative – Head to the Fortaleza de Sagres
Do visit this place if you’re into history: legends claim Sagres’ fortress is the place where Prince Henry the Navigator prepared the early Portuguese explorers for their travels.
Apart from the historical importance, the main attractions here are the coastal walk and the large (43 diameters) wind compass, rosa dos ventos, on the ground.
Have no fear of heights
At least not if you’re planning on making a selfie or posing for pictures on the cliff tops. At the risk of sounding like a broken record or your worried mother: we at Enjoy the Algarve don’t think it’s worth risking your life for a nice-looking Facebook profile shot and thus advise against this. The few warning signs don’t lie: the sometimes 75m high walls do crumble (and people do fall down cliffs).
Feel like an explorer
Thought Sagres had a proper ‘end of the world’ feel to it? Think again. And visit Cabo de São Vicente, located 5km away from Sagres, which is Europe’s most southwest point and especially dramatic when it storms. This barren headland has a red lighthouse (one of the most powerful in Europe with a beam that can be seen from 60km away) and a small museum. It’s the last piece of land Portuguese explorers saw when they sailed away into the open ocean.
Stare out over sea
In the Sagres area, hanging out in style is done by parking your campervan somewhere relatively remote and looking out onto the seemingly endless blue ocean. Just sit and chill. Not only because there is little else to do in the evenings, but also because it’s a nice way of ending the day. Feeling zen already?
See original article in Enjoy the Algarve magazine September 2015