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Sagres, Portugal: The End of the World

Updated on August 27, 2010

Sagres, Portugal is a town not easily stumbled upon by the aimless wanderer, but rather the thoughtful planner, certain of the destination. Sagres is located on the most Southwestern point of Europe, along the Algarve Coast of Portugal. It's a dead-end in the road for many travelers, for here, the road itself dead-ends into the great Atlantic Ocean. Today, about 2,000 people reside in this small seafaring town. A place rich in history that began at a time when exploring the great unknown was a life-long pursuit. A place in which Henry the Navigator (responsible for initiating European world explorations) spent the remaining years of his life. Before his death (1394-1460), the great explorer stood atop these cliffs, arm outstretched to the sea, and proclaimed Sagres "the end of the [Old] World." With its grandiose beaches, massive cliffs, important history, high winds, warm weather and 16th century fortress; Sagres, Portugal is a unique and awe-inspiring travel destination.

stone compass on the edge of the Sagres point
stone compass on the edge of the Sagres point

Getting to Sagres

Getting to Sagres can be easily done with some planning. While there are no trains that go to Sagres, there buses from nearby Lagos that leave several times a day. Check bus times beforehand, or just head to the station outside Lagos city center and hop on. If you are staying in Lagos, Sagres could be a perfect day trip. If you plan on staying overnight, you will have a few different options for accommodations once you arrive.

Accommodation in Sagres

Accommodations in a hotel can be arranged ahead of time online or through a travel agent. For those looking for a cheaper experience, there are several home-stays and hostel accommodations in town for cheap. Finding home-stays is relatively simple in this small town. Once you exit the bus, walk down the main street in either direction and keep your eyes open for any homes with a "room available" sign out front. These are friendly and passionate locals with an extra room and looking for extra cash (15-20E per night). Hostels can also be found along the same main street. These will be clearly marked 'hostel' and may be a bit more expensive.

Another option is camping. There is a large campsite with tent and RV spots, as well as cabins available for big groups, a 10 minute walk from the city center and fortress. The campground includes, among many things; a bar/restaurant, bicycle rentals and restroom/shower facilities. Reservations are not required but recommended (especially in the summer time). For the more adventurous and frugal traveler, sleeping on the beach is always an option. It may not be legal, but the funnest stuff is never legal, right?

Click thumbnail to view full-size
the entrance to the fortresslighthouse in the distance, on the edge of Sagres pointPorto da Balleeira
the entrance to the fortress
the entrance to the fortress
lighthouse in the distance, on the edge of Sagres point
lighthouse in the distance, on the edge of Sagres point
Porto da Balleeira
Porto da Balleeira

What to do in Sagres

Aside from simply lounging at the beach, eating and sleeping, there some activities you may want to do while visiting. As previously mentioned, you will not be disappointed with the surfing conditions in Sagres. With beaches around the point facing in either direction and high winds, there will always be waves somewhere. At Porto da Balleeira you will find your opportunity to go diving. If you prefer to stay above the water, there are many charter boats that will take you out fishing and/or dolphin watching.

There is also a fortress located on Sagres Point. The water surrounding the point was, and still is, a vital location to moor ships and provide sailors with some shelter from the rough Atlantic Ocean. The fortress atop the point, was incredibly useful for spotting incoming enemy ships from miles away, and subsequently sinking them with one of the many cannons lining the fortress walls. This is also the place where Prince Henry the Navigator established the first ever sailing school nearly five centuries ago.

While Sagres doesn't make the list of crazy hotspots in Portugal, it is still worth visiting. Whether you stay for a day at the beach, or a relaxing night, you will have no problem enjoying the fortress, the scenery and the beaches of this inspiring small town on the edge of the world.

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Praia do Tonelsurfing Praia de Baleeira
Praia do Tonel
Praia do Tonel
surfing Praia de Baleeira
surfing Praia de Baleeira

The beaches of Sagres

The beaches and cliffs that tower above them are pleasantly different from your typical crowded European beach. These massive cliffs have been carved out and shaped by Atlantic storms and onshore winds for centuries. These big winter storms have also pushed huge amounts of sand onshore, creating large, sandy and wind-swept beaches. These impressive beaches of Sagres are the kind that demand respect from their visitors; and there are four:

Praia da Mareta - The main beach in town. It is sheltered from the wind by the adjacent cliffs, which also provide for spectacular scenery.

Praia de Baleeira - Located just east of the harbor. This beach is much smaller and tranquil than the others.

Praia do Tonel- If you are looking to surf in Sagres, this is the spot. Waves break in either direction off a large rock in the water. Plus, there is a bar on the beach that serves cheap beer all day.

Praia do Martinhal - Just outside the city of Sagres to the east. It's worth the extra effort to experience this quiet sandy beach.

Travel guru Rick Steeves in Sagres, Portugal


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