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What to Do in Sagres

Sagres beckons with its captivating sights and natural wonders, offering a blend of enriching experiences. Let's delve into the key destinations that define Sagres' unique charm.

Discover the historic Sagres Fortress, a time-honored symbol of the town's maritime legacy. Stroll along the picturesque Baleeira Harbour, where fishing boats sway everyday to the sea. At Cape São Vicent, witness the majesty of the Lighthouse, standing tall as a sentinel overlooking the Atlantic, on the so called "end of the world".

Sagres boasts some of the most pristine beaches in Portugal, where sun, sand, and surf meet in perfect harmony. And don't forget to mark your calendar for October's Birdwatch & Nature Festival, a celebration of wildlife that's both smart and inspiring.

Join us in Sagres for a journey that promises not only to enrich your mind but also to fill your heart.

Cape Saint Vincent

Standing as Europe's most southwestern point, this rugged peninsula, located 6km northwest of Sagres' town center, holds profound historical significance. It was the last familiar sight for Portuguese sailors as they embarked on their journeys into the unknown.

The view from here is nothing short of spectacular, especially at sunset, when the sun kisses the sea, casting a mesmerizing spell. An iconic red lighthouse stands proudly, housing a small yet excellent museum that delves into Sagres' pivotal role in Portugal's maritime history.

Known to the Romans as 'Promontorium Sacrum,' this cape has been revered since ancient times, even during the Phoenician era. Its modern name honors a Spanish priest who met martyrdom at the hands of the Romans. The old fortifications, once ravaged by Francis Drake in 1587, later succumbed to the mighty 1755 earthquake."

Image by Niklas Jonasson
Image by Dennis van Dalen

Sagres Fortress

Blank, hulking and forbidding, Sagres’ fortress offers breathtaking views over the sheer cliffs, and all along the coast to Cabo de São Vicente. Legend has it that this is where Prince Henry the Navigator established his navigation school. It's quite a large site, so allow at least an hour to see everything.

Inside the gate is a huge, curious stone pattern that measures 43m in diameter. Named the" rosa dos ventos" (literally, a pictorial representation of a compass), this strange configuration is believed to be a mariner’s compass or a sundial of sorts. Excavated in 1921, the paving may date from Prince Henry’s time but is more likely to be from the 16th century.


The precinct’s oldest buildings include a cistern tower to the east, a house and the small, whitewashed, 16th-century Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Graça, a simple barrel-vaulted structure with a gilded 17th-century altarpiece. Take a closer look at the tiled altar panels, which feature elephants and antelopes.


Many of the gaps you see between buildings are the result of a 1960s spring clean of 17th- and 18th-century ruins that was organised to make way for a reconstruction (later aborted) that was to coincide with the 500th anniversary of Henry’s death.


Its visitors centre contains a gift shop, an exhibition centre and a cafe.


It's a great walk around the perimeter of the promontory; information boards (in English and Portuguese) shed light on the rich flora and fauna of the area. Don't miss the limestone crevices descending to the sea, or the labyrinth art installation by Portugal's famous sculptor-architect Pancho Guedes.


Near the southern end of the promontory is a lighthouse. Death-defying anglers balance on the cliffs below the walls, hoping to land bream or sea bass.

The Lighthouse / Farol de São Vicente

The lighthouse complex at Cabo de São Vicente contains a small but excellent museum that gives a good overview of Portugal’s maritime-navigation history, displays replica folios of a 1561 atlas and gives information on the history of the lighthouse.

Image by Ethan Bucher

Beliche Fortress

Built in 1632 on the site of an older fortress, Fortaleza do Beliche is 4.8km northwest of the town centre, and 1.2km southeast of the lighthouse at Cabo de São Vicente. Although it once housed a hotel, erosion has made the ground unstable and the interior is off-limits to visitors, but you can go through the walls to the seaward side and descend a pretty pathway down to near the water.

The sheltering walls here protect picnickers from the wind.

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Church Nossa

Senhora da Graça

Within the Fortaleza de Sagres, this small whitewashed church dating from 1570 is a simple barrel-vaulted structure with a gilded 17th-century altarpiece. Elephants and antelopes feature on its tiled altar panels.

Image by Elli Hoppe
Image by Karina Skrypnik

More to come

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