So our trip to the Sagres in the Algarve finally came and went in a flash. Now I’m back to a miserable Manchester base, eager to get this content written up – hoping it will encourage me to do more summer trips next year.
Memmo Baleeira Hotel, Sagres
This was our base for the week, we opted for something on the coast as opposed to further inland. For a tiny town on the coast, this hotel was a pretty sweet home for the week. Minimal design, buffet breakfast, swimming pool and sunbathing cubes. The staff were what made this place, super friendly and helpful. Having seen mixed reviews on Tripadvisor, we felt like we had pretty good experience – perhaps this helped due to us staying close to off-peak or ‘shoulder’ season.
Having a car hire for the week definitely was the best choice as there’s little public transport in Sagres with only a bus getting you in and out of the town.
Sagres has a real surf-culture and that’s down to it’s location. A coastal town lining the Atlantic Ocean, hence it’s nick-name, edge of the world. Of the 7 days here during September, we experienced two windy days and the rest fairly still with temperatures around 26-30 degrees, making it a good time to go if large crowds and overbearing heat isn’t your thing. As for the town itself, I loved how small and laid-back it all is, again everyone we met – super friendly.
The main road from the bottom of our hotel had a line of bars, cafes and restaurants – enough to have you discovering new places every day!
I didn’t go wanting on this trip – from the most amazing veggie burgers at Dromedario Sagres, to food and drinks at a little surf-inspired hangout, Three Little Birds (so good we were here every couple of days). Recommend: any of the burgers and goats cheese salad!
For local and fresh seafood at good value, we headed to Carlos, one of the oldest restaurants in Sagres town – but the tastiest sea-bass I’ve had hand’s down. Bar the service being a little off, you can’t fault the food.
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Sagres is home to some great beaches, a favorite of ours was Praia do Beliche. A few hundred steps and you descend into this little piece of heaven backed by high cliffs and small caves. It’s a great spot with clean sand and a little food spot perched just on the foot of the beach – which also does a mean bbq! On the other hand, it’s easy enough to have a shop-bought picnic out here with the beach stretching a fair distance and caves to cool you off in the midday heat.
Sunsets at the lighthouse.
Lighthouse of Cabo de São Vicente is a famous spot which brings in a lot of tourists but for good reason. The views from the lighthouse are amazing with crowds usually gathering here for sunset. I didn’t take my camera out for that evening but down the road from our hotel was this smaller lighthouse, which I found as equally appealing. This one stands alone with nothing around it but being the only ones here made it that tad more special. Also, how aesthetically pleasing are the colors in this shot?
Hang out at the end-of-the-world.
Sagres, known as the ‘end-of the-world’. Again, this place gathers large crowds but the views are worth it. You can miss the majority of the tour buses if you come early. Best for dramatic views of the cliff edges, crashing waves and fearless fisherman who you can spot cliff fishing from meters down. Tip: maybe carry a few extra layers when you’re out here on a windy day – it’s pretty ferocious and wear sunscreen (it’s stronger out here than you think). Safety first kids.
Walk the Fortress.
Just across from the viewpoint is the Fortress. It gets a lot of crowds but personally if you’re not interested in this history, the views are just as good from the outside. None the less, I’m a fan of historic buildings and it’s next to nothing for a ticket (if you flash your student card!).
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Cave-man around Ponta da Piedade.
Lagos. A town about half an hour East from Sagres and more of the Algarve weather you’d expect. We drove to Lagos on a slightly overcast day in Sagres and was welcomed with blissful sunshine and zero winds. Lagos was saved for cave exploring and first stop was Ponta da Piedade. Famous caves and rock formations across the Algarve that are just amazing to look at and boat around. There’s paths where you can walk around or walk down to a point where you can get into a water taxi or small boats that tour in and out of the caves. Both options you’d get the views and the drama of it all. Both, I’d recommend.
After walking around Ponta da Piedade, we knew we wanted to view the caves up close – so there was only one option for us. A boat day.
Sail the Algarve.
We found a couple of options online but a tour group called ‘Bom Dia’ looked to offer the best. 4.5 hours sailing around the Ponta da Piedade area, a full bbq lunch and a speed boat of the caves. For me that get’s motion sick, even I survived. We got lucky with the forecast as the water wasn’t too choppy. The sail boat was great, but the highlight was taking the speed boat through all the caves.
Get snap happy in the Old Town.
Old Town, Lagos – busier and more built up the little old Sagres, but full of charming buildings. We even enjoyed a few aperitif’s in Mar d’Estorias right in centre of town. Great views and staff, even if they were a little slow bringing out the olives!
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Sea kayak the greats.
From Portimao, we set off on a speed boat whizzing around the coast, taking in the extent of the Algarve before jumping into our sea kayaks for getting up close and personal through the caves. Then we kayaked up to the showstopper, Benagil. Only accessible by small boats or kayaks, it felt pretty special pulling up to it. I’d definitely add this to my to-do list if I was you.
Ah, the Algarve – I’d go back in a heartbeat. Let me know if there’s any other things you’d recommend to see and do! For all other European content, check here.