A guide to Sagres, Algarve, Portugal

The Algarve’s long-standing reputation as a popular sunshine and nightlife destination often excludes it from the wish-lists of those seeking something more wild and unspoilt. But take a closer look at Sagres holidays on the Algarve’s westernmost point, where Europe ends and the ocean begins, and you will find a feeling of true escape from the tourist traps amidst some of the most breathtaking scenery in Europe.

Introduction to Sagres
Sagres is the final town on the western stretch of the Algarve and the closest settlement to the most south-westerly point in Europe, the Cape of St Vincent. Sagres holidays are a chance to discover a landscape of majestic cliffs, sometimes bleak and windswept but always breathtaking. Over the centuries the forces of nature have combined to mould this awesome coastal terrain, where shapes and silhouettes change with the light throughout the day and into sunset.

Up on the cliff tops, tiny crevices in the rocks are home to rare flowers including wild orchids, whilst the air, always fresh, clean and exhilarating, is rich in bird life, with gannets, jackdaws and Peregrine falcons a frequent sight. Down below, the sea is unforgiving in exposed parts, and the surf cascades upon wild and beautiful shorelines. Elsewhere within sheltered inlets it is possible to find gentle deserted coves only accessible via unmarked dirt tracks.

This is the backdrop to the town of Sagres, a very modest Portuguese town where life still revolves around the daily arrival of the fish in the harbour. What sets Sagres apart is how its fishermen risk their lives here to land the daily catch, with strong currents pounding the rocks where they perch with their nets. Bars and restaurants line the picturesque main square here and a soft sandy beach completes the picture. A visit to Sagres will certainly give the independent traveller peace and tranquillity and a rare insight into life on the Algarve as it used to be before the spoils of mass tourism.

A brief history
The very nature of the land and seascape here evokes a feeling of somewhere that has played a key part in world maritime history and the role that Sagres has played makes it well worth a visit for the sheer wonder of its past. In ancient times this little town on the edge of the world was considered sacred, and later during the 15th century the area played an important role in the Age of Discovery, when new world explorers set sail across the oceans.

It was during this time that Prince Henry the Navigator played a prominent role in the history of the area and Sagres fortress was built for him to train pioneering Portuguese explorers for their hazardous voyages around the world. At Cape St Vincent, whose name originated from the Spanish priest martyred here in the 4th century, the majestic lighthouse extends its beams into the darkness guiding today’s ships as it has done for hundreds of years.

Things to do in and around Sagres
Sagres holidays may be very much about history and culture but the rugged coastline and exhilarating wind and waves also make it a magnet for watersports enthusiasts, with windsurfing, bodyboarding and water skiing scoring high on visitors’ holiday agendas. The area’s popularity amongst surfers gives it a youthful appeal and the area is a favourite amongst backpackers taking advantage of cheap holidays in Sagres. The town may be remote and secluded, but it is certainly not too far away from an array of attractions at neighbouring resorts. The closest town to Sagres is Vila do Bispo to the north, with its quaint old houses and wide selection of authentic restaurants.

Golf is available at the Parque da Floresta golf course, and horse-riding is available nearby and is a fabulous way of touring the rugged countryside. The neighbouring town of Lagos hides a dark past for its role in the transatlantic slave trade, a practice established by the area’s very own Prince Henry the Navigator. Today the ancient slave market still stands here, but the town is better known for its colourful shops, lively cafe bars and some of the most beautiful beaches on the Algarve, whilst the town’s zoo offers a fun day out for the whole family.

Accommodation in Sagres
There is a wide variety of accommodation available in Sagres, ranging from budget hotels to five star luxury, basic holiday apartments to smart rental villas in fabulous locations. Sagres holidays are all about relaxation and choosing an idyllic place to stay in the area will not be a problem. Cheap holidays in Sagres are certainly accessible if you are prepared to shop around for good deals and be flexible with regards to accommodation and flight times.