Portugal’s southern coast is a famous summer destination for both Portuguese and foreigners. The sunny weather, golden sheltered beaches, warm sea and delicious seafood are the highlights, which always attracted a huge amount of tourists. However, the rapid tourism growth changed the previously chilled atmosphere of this coastal region and some small towns lost their charm along the way… Somehow Sagres seems to be an exception to the rule, particularly after peak-season, and below we tell you why it should be on your bucket list.
Great historical value
Sagres is located right in the southwestern tip of the country, cornered against the immense Atlantic Ocean. Back in the days, during the Portuguese expansion overseas, this part of the territory was known as "the end of the world" (at least, as we knew it).
In 1443 Infante D. Henrique rebuilt the town of Sagres and turned its fort into a navigation school, from where only the very best explorers departed towards the great unknown. Oddly Ponta de Sagres resembles a giant finger pointing towards the ocean in a clear allusion to the brave navigators who set sail across the seas.
Around here there are a few of monuments with a long history that are worth a visit. Forte de Sagres, that served as a barrier against pirate attacks, and the lighthouse of Cabo de São Vicente, which guides the brave men who venture to the sea, are two good examples and they can both be visited. There it's possible to learn more about the country's history and maritime legacy. As a bonus they offer amazing ocean views and are incredible spots to watch the sunset.
Natural Heritage and Biodiversity
Sagres is located in the southwestern portion of the Algarve coast known as Costa Vicentina, which is part of a Natural Park. This means landscapes are beautiful and wild, with an incredible biodiversity. The natural scenery is mind-blowing, marked by tall daunting cliffs, a powerful ocean, wild dunes and green vegetation. These are inhabited by many mammals and marine birds, who complete the ecosystem and bring the landscapes to life. Find more about this Natural Park here.
A fantastic way to explore the natural heritage is hiking along Rota Vicentina trails, a networks of beautiful hiking paths spread across 740km with different lengths and difficulty levels. Read more about this sustainable project in this post.
Because the southwestern tip of the country is located inside a protected area, tourism has grown in a sustainable way and most villages in this area have kept its rustic charm and authenticity.
Despite being a sought for destination, Sagres has managed to preserve a fishermen town vibe and has many laidback spots perfect to chill down after a day at the beach.
These aspects make it a perfect holiday retreat for those looking for some peace and quiet, without compromising on the amount of activities on offer and the beautiful surrounding scenery.
Great beaches and surfing spots
There are gorgeous beaches wherever you decide to head to. On the southern coast they're smaller and sheltered by golden cliffs and on the western side they've wide stretches of sand and wild surroundings. Off-peak season is a great time to work on the tan away from the crowds and go for a peaceful walk along the sand.
For those looking for a more active break, Sagres is also a famous surfing destination with superb conditions all year round. It's also quite convenient as it's suitable for all kinds of surfers: on the south the sea is warmer and more gentle, which is great for surfing beginners, and on the western coast the rocky seas attract more experienced surfers and adrenaline seekers.
Rich local gastronomy
What comes to the sea ends at the table. Most typical dishes revolve around fish and seafood, which are served alongside vegetables grown in nearby agricultural fields.
There are many treats not to be missed, such as clams, mussels, squids, octopus, tuna and sargo. Shellfish is often cooked on a pan with local aromatic herbs and sauce, whereas fish is commonly chargrilled on the barbecue, which gives it a delicious smoky flavour. To end a meal there are a handful of finger-licking desserts, some of which are guilty-free as they're made with local carob.
We Portuguese are real foodies and you can find out why in this article we recently wrote.
All in all, Sagres is a fantastic and complete destination and late summer and autumn are perfect seasons to venture there. The town is also a great base to explore the south and the west coast of the country, taking advantage of the best of both worlds.
If you would like to have recommendations that suit your needs and preferences, drop us an e-mail and we'd be glad to help you plan an escape to the southwestern tip of Portugal.