One of the most popular places in the Algarve is the mesmerizing Sagres cliff display on the westernmost point of the region. Tourists flock to this spot throughout the summer season and beyond, so is it really worth visiting?
Find out in this post, including the best things to do in Sagres.
While the jaw-dropping cliffs are popular, the town of Sagres itself is a quiet and relaxed surf spot where you can regenerate energy, eat heaps of local food, and easily get to the best surf beaches in the Algarve. Even during winter in Algarve, you can enjoy the surf in Sagres.
There is a lot to see and do in Sagres and you’ll have a great base for seeing other places during your Algarve itinerary.
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How to get to Sagres
The closest airport is Faro Airport, which is about an hour and 20 minutes away by car. If you’re going to Sagres, I do suggest you get a rental car so that you are free to discover all the surrounding areas without being dependent on the extremely poor public transport there.
Be aware that there are automatic tolls throughout the Algarve, so you’ll have to check with your rental company if they’ve got it included in the car hire or if you need to pay it. In that case, or if you come from Spain, you’ll have to drop by a petrol station on the motorway and ask for a card to connect your credit card with the number plates for when you drive through them.
From Lagos, it takes 35 minutes to drive to Sagres. There is also a bus between Lagos and Sagres, number 47. You can see timetables here. It’s easy to reach Lagos by bus from most places in the Algarve.
Where to stay in Sagres
Though most travelers visit Sagres on a day trip from Lagos, there are loads of great places to stay in Sagres for those who prefer staying a few days. Here are some of my top picks.
Wavesensations – Sagres Surf House – A wonderful home away from home. Situated right by the beach, this cozy hotel offers surf lessons and other activities. There is free parking, but if you don’t drive they also offer a paid airport shuttle.
Pousada de Sagres – Close to the beach, this is a lovely hotel with an outdoor swimming pool with views. You can indulge in a drink in the bar or order room service from the tasty restaurant. This hotel has free parking and you can bring your furry friend!
Casa Azul Sagres – Rooms & Apartments – This is another fantastic hotel only a 5-minute walk from the beach and you can book your surf lessons or bodyboard lessons right at the hotel. You get free parking or can book an airport shuttle if needed.
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Things to do in Sagres
Walk the cliffs at the end of the world
Situated in the far west of Portugal, the mightly cliffs of Sagres make you feel like you’re at the end of the world. The 70-meter tall cliffs have stood the test of time in crashing waves and blizzards. There’s no wonder they make for a breathtaking walking scene.
There are walking trails all over and you can see birds nesting off the steep cliffs. But be cautious and stay off the cliff edges as the rock can be loose and break off.
This is truly one of the most memorable things to do in Sagres.
At the far southern tip of Sagres, you find Sagres Fortress, once built to protect Portugal against the Moors. However, the original structure was severely damaged by the 1755 earthquake as a giant wave swept over the cliffs and the fortress. This became the end of the previous importance of the fort.
Inside, you can see a giant wind compass and there’s the tiny chapel of Nossa Senhora da Graça.
Chill at Praia da Mareta beach
When in Sagres, things to do surprisingly include chilling at the beach even though the area is mostly famous for its surf. Praia da Mareta is the closest beach to the town and is wrapped in cliffs protecting it from the notorious sea that this part of the coast sees.
This makes Praia da Mareta beach a wonderful place to take a day off from exploring all the other Sagres attractions.
Lighthouse at Cabo de São Vicente
On what was believed to be the end of the world up until the 14th century, you can marvel at the Cabo de São Vicente Lighthouse. Originally, the lighthouse was constructed in the mid-1800s and lit up by an olive oil lamp.
After being abandoned and close to falling into ruins, restoration work took place and up until the end of the 1900s, it has been improved gradually to be one of the best illuminating lighthouses in Europe.
Today, it lights up to 60 meters away guiding vessels to safety in the most notorious weather conditions. There’s a museum and visitor center you can visit to learn more about the history.
Explore the coast by kayak
One of the top things to do in Sagres Algarve is to rent a kayak and explore the coast. There are many places offering kayak rentals in Sagres and it’s a great way to enjoy the water on a hot day while exploring the area.
If you prefer trying paddleboard, you have the option for that too.
Watch the sunset from the top of the cliffs
If you for one moment wonder what to do in Sagres in the evening, don’t miss out on a breathtaking sunset from the cliffs. Any place is a good place, but I particularly love the sunsets from the top of Praia do Tunel by Sagres Fortress.
Bring a drink and some snacks and soak in the golden colors before the sun sinks into the horizon leaving a colorful painting in the sky.
Make sure to leave no trace if you bring food, that includes bringing all your fruit rests with you. This way we can keep these wonderful cliffs beautiful for others to enjoy and look after Mother Nature.
Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Graça
Inside Sagres Fortress you find the modest Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Graça gazing over the Atlantic Ocean. It’s thought that the church was built on the same place as the 15th century Church of Santa Maria which in its time was ordered by Infante D. Henrique, also known as Henry the Navigator.
The tiny church is a fusion or Renaissance and Baroque styles. The pilgimage dedicated to the Church of Our Lady Grace takes place every year on the 15th of August.
Ride the waves at Praia do Tonel
Praia do Tonel is situated right below the steep cliffs surrounding Sagres Fortress and is one of the top surf spots in the Algarve. With the wild Atlantic Ocean crashing into the beach, it creates the perfect waves and you can always see a myriad of surfers dipping in the water.
There is a multitude of surf schools and surf shops renting gear if you need it. In the summer months, there’s a lifeguard patrolling the beach, but this is still not ideal for a relaxing beach day out.
Bring your board and have fun!
Explore the Fort of Santo António de Belixe
One of the Sagres must see attractions is the 16th-century fortress of Santo António de Belixe. There’s not much left of the fortress these days, but the remains are well worth the visit and the views of the deep blue ocean are a real treat.
From the fortress, you can walk down the fisherman’s path to the sheltered bay below. Back in the days, there was a hotel and restaurant there, but the erosion from the ocean forced it to close down.
Today, the fortress is closed for safety reasons.
Head out on a long-distance hike
the area of Sagres is the perfect place for hiking enthusiasts and heading out on a long-distance hike is one of the coolest things to do. Sagres is one of the most popular starting points for hiking the Fisherman’s Trail though it can be done from Lagos.
You can also do the Historical Way from Cabo de São Vicente, both part of the famous Rota Vicentina.
Wild camping is illegal in Portugal, so you’ll have to book in at hostels or hotels in the villages along the way. However, there are campsites where you can pitch your tent for a more affordable price.
Reflections on what to do in Sagres
There’s no doubt there are a lot of wonderful things to see in Sagres and a lot of fun activities for outdoor lovers. Though it’s the wildest area in the Algarve, with steep cliffs and a raging ocean, you can enjoy things to do in Sagres Portugal all year round.
If you’re looking for more things to do near Sagres, make sure you take a few day trips to nearby towns like Lagos, explore the astounding cliff formations in Ponta da Piedade, or discover the breathtaking Benagil Cave.