“Travel makes you modest; you realize what a small place you hold in the world.”
Being in Sagres and seeing the sun dip down into the ocean that stretches on for miles and miles, I realized what this quote meant as I have never felt smaller in all my life.
Sagres sits at the very South-Western tip of Portugal boasting a stunning landscape of steep cliffs that drop off into the vast ocean below.
Up until the 15th century, it was believed that this was the end of the world – as the sea stretched away and the sea monsters lived out of sight, sailors believed that just beyond the horizon the earth dropped off into a terrible black hole.
Sagres is small enough that it can be easily explored within a day and the relative closeness to Lagos makes it a popular day trip.
It took about 40-minutes for us to drive to Sagres from Lagos in a rental car. I highly recommend getting a rental car if you’re going to be in the Algarve region because it makes exploring that much easier and almost anything can be turned into a day trip if you have a car. For those that don’t have a car, your options to get to Sagres are limited. The best bus to catch from Lagos is the 10:30 express bus which goes directly to Cabo Sao Vicente, it waits here for 30 minutes before returning to Sagres (ideal for a day trip). There is another service to Cabo Sao Vicente that departs from Sagres at 14:25 and is the express bus back to Lagos. (Be sure to always check the updated bus schedules and plan around that).
The two main sites to see at Sagres are Cabo Sao Vincente and Fortaleza de Sagres fort.
Cabo Sao Vincente is the most south-westernly tip of mainland Europe. Be sure to pack a jacket when visiting as the huge cliffs get wind blasted throughout the day, making it incredibly cold. At the top of the 75m high cliffs is one of Portugal’s most powerful lighthouses, which can be seen up to 50km out to sea. There isn’t much to do here except take in the scenery so a visit should take no more than 30-minutes. Many people recommend visiting for sunset so you can see the sun dip down into the ocean along the horizon – a rare sight you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere but the end of the world!
The other tourist attraction in Sagres is the Fortaleza de Sagres fort. The unique defensive structure of this fort is what attracts the most attention as there is only one single wall, with the other three sides being protected by the steep cliffs. The fort is large, with a small chapel, a wind compass and spectacular views over the massive cliffs. There is an entrance fee of 3€ to enter the fort.