At the south-western-most point of Europe lies Sagres, the launching pad of explorations during the time of Prince Henry the Navigator. It was here that the Infante Dom Henrique (Prince Henry) is said to have built a school dedicated to the nautical sciences. Today Sagres plays its own special role in the tourism industry of the Algarve region of Portugal. Its generally rugged coastline dotted by beaches attracts the more adventurous of Algarve visitors while its historical relevance draw the interest of tourists as well. The destination seems to charm backpackers in particular and the plaza in front of the CaTh’ Conchina has become a sort of meeting place for these travellers as it is where buses arrive and depart.
Most of Sagres stand on high ground on top of ancient rock faces that have withstood the timeless waves of the Atlantic. Vegetation is limited but exotic on these towering cliffs that rise grandly against the ocean. Several beaches at the bottom of the cliffs provide for sheltered bathing such as the Praia do Martinhal, which is the biggest beach in the vicinity.
Another long beach is Beliche just below the famous lighthouse of Cabo de São Vicente (Cape St. Vincent). A much smaller beach is Tonel and on the opposite side of the protruding Sagres Point is Praia da Mareta. Diving, surfing and windsurfing are just a few activities that can be enjoyed from these beaches while fishing can also be done from Cape St. Vincent and the Baleeira fishing port. Many other beaches can be easily visited from Sagres.
An excursion to Sagres would typically include a visit to Sagres Point on which stand the remains of a fort that is believed to have been from the 15th century. Other surviving parts of the old structure are the Nossa Senhora da Graça chapel and a giant pebble wind compass called Rosa dos Ventos. But perhaps a more renowned landmark is the lighthouse of Cape St. Vincent built in the 1800s where a Franciscan convent from the 16th century used to be. It is considered the second most powerful lighthouse on the continent, with two 1,000-watt lamps whose beams are magnified to cast a 3 metre tall light 60 kilometres out to sea. It serves as a sentinel to major shipping activity that passes through this side of the world.
While a daytrip may be enough for an excursion around Sagres or for some fun at the beach a lot of tourists also opt to stay for the night. There is a selection of accommodation available including Pousada do Infante and Hotel Memmo Baleeira.
Dining out can also be an adventure with the best options being regional cuisine served in restaurants like the Fortaleza do Beliche and Vila Velha. Fish and seafood are the usual specialties. A number of establishments are also open in the evenings including the Last Chance Saloon and the A Rosa dos Ventos bar. For those who want to enjoy some music Arcadas disco, O Forno da Telha and Bubble Lounge are the places to be.