Algarve. The beautiful and popular southern coast of Portugal. There is nothing quite like it! Algarve has everything, beautiful beaches, great food, little fishing towns, diving and surfing, rich culture, and beautiful architecture… (I can go on and on) If you are looking for a hassle-free vacation that has to do with beautiful beaches and lots of exploring, then Algarve should be on your list!
Despite having a handful of big names like Conrad Algarve, Pine Cliffs Hotel, Anantara Vilamoura Algarve Resort, and Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotel, (to name a few) Algarve is still considered a little untouched and unexplored by many, giving travel lovers the opportunity to embrace the magic it has before it becomes another overcrowded touristic destination.
The Algarve has long summers (Sunset can start at 9:30pm), pleasant springs/autumns, and winters that are mild but unpredictable with an equal number of bright days as wet days. The height of the tourist season is from July through to August and this is when the beaches are packed and hotels are sold out. June and September tend to be popular months with couples, being outside of the school holidays and without the hordes of children, but there is still fantastic weather and a buzz about the region.
The Algarve is made up of many towns, some more major than others and some more popular than others such as (again, name a few) Sagres, Lagos, Praia de Rocha, Albufeira, and Faro (Both very popular). In this particular article, we chose to write on Sagres. The first-stop town in Algarve, an underrated fishing village. Reason being? We wanted to be somewhere a little further from the hustle and bustle and wanted to explore the town that was once called, the end of the world. Why? Because the end of the world was as the Europeans thought it was before the 15th Century.
For thousands of years, it was believed that this was the end of the world – that as the sea stretched away the sea monsters lived out of sight, just beyond the horizon before the earth dropped off into a terrible black hole.
Despite being called the sleepy town of the Algarve because of the least amount of things to see here compared to the other towns, we spent 7 days in Sagres exploring every beach and joining a surf camp. The beautiful landscapes in Sagres where time stands still are a perfect getaway to get grounded and relax.
WHERE TO STAY
There are a dozen places to stay in Algarve, but one place to stay in Sagres which is Memmo Baleeira Hotel. A boutique hotel that has everything you need and a surf camp on the property! Its wide open garden space allows it to be kids friendly including a kid's area on the 2nd floor. The apartment we booked was a 1 bedroom apartment that had a great living room space and an open kitchen. The apartment is serviced but not like hotels. You can bring in your own food, cook your dinner and have a fridge that is a good size. Yoga classes are averrable in the mornings and you are a stone's throw away from the port. The Hotel has its own surf center and also offers many outdoor activities: the Guests can rent a bicycle to tour the region, arrange jeep trips, and do water sports like surfing lessons, windsurfing, or diving. You can reserve a round at one of the nearby golf courses.
Rates start from 120 Euros and you have free parking.
Two things I need to highlight is that we almost had dinner there every night because the food at Memmo Baleeira was one of the best we ever had in Portugal! Don’t miss out on sitting on the lounge as well facing the sea while drinking sangrias! Memo Baleeira is a great place to stay if you are looking for diving packages or surf camp packages as well!
THINGS TO DO IN SAGRES
1. SURF THE WINDS
YES, the first thing on the list is surfing in Sagres! One of the best schools and surf camps in Memmo ballerina. Located on Cordoama Beach, the surf school offers courses for beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. Ask the hotel which is the week’s special offer. Activities: surf lessons (courses or private lessons), surf & yoga retreats.
Marta and João Mealha are known local surfers and one of the first to have a surf school in Sagres. Classes for all levels and for all ages.
“Surf Day – group class” Package: 3 hours of surf lessons + surfboard + wetsuit + transfer from the hotel to the beach and return + sports insurance.
T: +351 916 089 005
2. BOAT TRIPS
Sagres is a top-class spot for observing marine life and for unforgettable boat tours. Activities: dolphin watching, tours to St. Vincent’s Cape, inshore fishing, and deep-sea fishing. Spending the day out at sea fills your heart! Get your diving or snorkeling gear and get sun-kissed!
Carla and João are from Sagres and are among the first to start the boat trips here. As passionate specialists on the sea and this coast, in particular, they are the best guides for a boat tour or a fishing trip.
T: +351 919 751 175
3. DIVING AT VICENTINA COAST
Sagres is considered a sanctuary for diving. If you are already a diver, go and discover this marine paradise. For those who have never dived before this is an excellent opportunity for your first try dive or to start a course! We spent days diving and surfing and being on boats exploring the waters!
The Romans called Cape St Vincent Promontorium Sacrum (or Holy Promontory) and believed the sun sank here – they would come to listen to it hissing into the ocean as it was extinguished and watch it bleeding into the water. They considered it a magical place where the sunset was much larger than anywhere else.
Anabela and Daniel are responsible for the day-by-day of the most experienced Dive Center in Sagres. Here you can discover underwater marine life or learn scuba diving. PADI courses are also available.
T: +351 965 559 073
4. GO ON AN ECO-TOUR
Sagres is a beautiful place to feel the wind in your hair, especially at the end of the world! You can take a kayak and learn about marine life and understand what St. Vincent Cape stands for, you can also go on bike tours or Jeep Safaris! Cris and his team will guide you on their unforgettable Eco-tours. From Pura Vida Outdoor Center you can set off in a kayak to discover secret spots, explore the underwater world scuba diving or snorkeling or just ride at your leisure on a guided bicycle tour along the Vicentina coast.
T: +351 913 210 716
5. GO WINDSURFING
The Algarve is known as one of Europe’s best destinations for windsurfing, even more in Sagres! Here you rent windsurfing equipment as well as take beginner and improvement courses so you take full advantage of the winds in Sagres!
T: +351 913 293 784
6. DINE IN DIFFERENT RESTAURANTS EVERY DAY
7. VISIT SAGRES FORTRESS
More than two and a half thousand years ago as the “town of Illyria” the Old Town of Budva appears in the literature, today it is a place that must be visited during your stay, and surrounding beaches such as Slovenska and Mogren as the popular ones. Budva is the “touristic capital” of Montenegro. It unites the two sides of Montenegrian life: the modern dynamic aspect and the ancient spirit
8. WATCH THE SUNSET AT ST. VINCENT CAPE
With an area of around 530 square KM, depending on the water level, Skadar lake is the biggest lake in the Balkans. Due to its geographic position, and sub-Mediterranean climate, it is one of the most important habitats of 280 bird species of swamp birds in Europe. It is incredibly beautiful while taking a tour by a wooden boat on the lake and having lunch nearby. Marko from 360 Monte would organize this for you for your tour. It is important to get a guide with you in order to understand the history.
9. EXPLORE VILA DO BISPO, THE CHURCH CORDOBA AND, CASTELEJO BELVEDERE
Island stone houses were built more than 5 centuries ago for the families of nearby villages. Today, island houses are restored and transformed into one of the most exclusive summer resorts in the Mediterranean visited by many celebrities from all over the world. You can visit the beaches nearby and enjoy the view of the island. You have a choice of only visiting the island free of cost, parking is available at a rate or you can park your car outside and visit the nearby beaches and restaurants. Part of the other side of the island, there is an entrance fee of 100 euros per person. Booking at the hotel for any restaurants should be made in advance.
10. EXPLORE BEACHES IN SAGRES
One of the most beautiful beaches is in Sagres. Algarve has a beautiful coastline, and staying in Sagres has the beautiful advantage of not being crowded over peak season and is just perfect. You also have the greatest winds, meaning surfer’s paradise! Here are a few of our favorite beaches.
Praia De Beliche
The beach is situated by the main road that heads to Cape of Saint Vincent with stairs (a lot) that leads to the glorious sandy beach. A café, restaurant, and hotel are located at the top of the beach, along with lots of parking. The beach is supervised by lifeguards in the summer, although only experienced swimmers should go there due to the strong currents, waves, and tides. The main drawback with Beliche beach is the 100 steps that head down the side of the cliff, which is a complete pain when carrying surfboards etc. (and back up if you want to go to the toilet) You can find sun beds and umbrellas for rent for around 5 euros. This beach has less strong winds and so is a very popular one amongst beach lovers!
Praia da Mareta
The beautiful beach of Mareta is the closest beach to the town and is busier than the other beaches in Sagres. Ponta de Sagres provides protection against westerly winds. It is ideal for anyone who enjoys sunbathing because it is protected from westerly breezes.
If you want to eat lunch or a snack while you are at Praia do Mareta, there are three eateries on the beach. Parking is available at both the top of the road and the bottom of the beach entry. One of the restaurants has some parking for its customers by the beach.
Praia da Baleeira
Walking distance from Memmo Baleeira, Praia de Baleeira is a small beach next to Porto da Baleeira, the working fishing harbor in Sagres (it is at the left end of the Port’s car park). Praia da Baleeira is a lovely sandy beach, with some rocks speckled across the sand. The beach overlooks Sagres bay and the fishing harbor so you can sit and watch the boats go by as you enjoy a day on the beach.
One restaurant and a large number of restaurants and pubs are located behind the beach. Parking is plentiful near Porto da Baleeira, however, access for people with disabilities may be a little challenging even if you can drive right up to the entrances. The entrances to the beach are relatively small; you can access them either by stepping down through the rocks at one end of the wall or by walking behind the boats at the other end. This is not a supervised beach.
Praia da Martinhal
Praia da Martinhal has a marshy lagoon at the back and an island out to sea, with views of the fishing harbor and a little lighthouse, Praia da Martinhal is a beautiful beach to spend time on.
Praia da Martinhal is a firm favorite amongst windsurfers, surfers, and bodyboarders. If you want to try windsurfing while you're there, it has a club of its own. The club also does snorkeling and kayaking.
There are two restaurants on the beach and there are plenty of restaurants and bars in the town. There is a large car park behind the beach, the car park is flat and runs straight onto the sand making it easier for disabled access, although it is not classed as an accessible beach. It is supervised during the beach season.