Sagres is a place with a host of different identities. You can visit the historic Sagres fort and nearby Cape St Vincent without ever realising that behind the cliffs hides the port of Sagres one of the busiest fishing ports on the Algarve.
Cape St Vincent near to Sagres with its lighthouse standing in an ancient castle is a good place to start your visit. This is literally the furthest corner of Europe. A narrow path leads round behind the lighthouse tower to the very cliff edge. From here one of Europes most powerfull lights shines out to tell ships that they have reached this important cornerstone in their voyage.
Closer to the village of Sagres stands the fort of Sagres where an impressive fortress wall divides off a whole headland. The massive fortifications contain little of interest and are not worth the entrance fee.
Today Sagres village has grown from a single street to a cliff top sprawl of houses and shops.Sagres is worth exploring if only for the breathtaking view out across Sagres harbour and bay.
This sheltered anchorage is called Whale bay and owes its name to the age when fishermen set out from here to hunt the migrating mammoths of the Atlantic Ocean. Today Sagres is a busy fishing port and a popular venue for Algarve anglers.
Sagres’s greatest claim to fame is that here the medieval king, Henry the Navigator, established his school of navigation in Sagres fort . He could hardly have chosen a worse place. A band of volcanic rock produces a magnetic anomaly that makes compasses point in the wrong direction.
After Sagres the cliffs climb to be sheer precipices rising from the foaming blue sea which washes the rocks below. The coast is no longer sheltered and tucked away from the force of atlantic storms as it is further east.
From Cape St Vincente the coast turns north. The high cliffs are interrupted by beaches of golden sand favoured by surfers and those who like to let the sun touch more skin than others. Villages no longer crowd down to the beach but shelter inland. Carrapateira, occupied since Roman times has a beach of devastating beauty backed by endless golden sand dunes. Here is a true natures childs dream come true.
Back from Sagres the road leads past Vila do Bispo. The romantically named “town of the Bishop” has little of interest except in its unspoilt sleepy character.
A stark contrast are the white techno blades of the wind farm a couple of miles to the north. Portugal imports all of its power but still controversy rages at the construction of these modern day windmills.
Along the coast sand filled bays shelter between rocky headlands. Ingrina and Zavial are well worth the diversion from the road but access to the beauty of Figueira beach has been made difficult by the not untypical selfishness of a local land owner.
The ancient chapel of Guadeloupe stands back from the modern road from Vila do Bispo to Lagos. The place appears interesting from the car but closer inspection reveals the buildings to be in poor repair and the chapel invariably locked.
Along the old road there are picnic places which enjoy pleasant shade from the midday sun. The place has an atmosphere of calm which typifies so much of the Western Algarve.