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Day trip to Sagres from Lagos
Sagres is the most westerly town of the Algarve and is a destination for visitors who appreciate nature’s raw beauty. The huge Atlantic Ocean waves that pound the cliffs and beaches have drawn experienced surfers to Sagres and this has allowed the town to gain an unobtrusive cool vibe.
The lighthouse and "endless sea" of Cabo Sao Vicente
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. This article will provide a detailed guided to visiting Sagres as a day trip from Lagos and this excursion is suitable for visitors reliant on public transport.
What are the main sights of Sagres for a day trip?
There are three main areas to visit in a day trip to Sagres; the Cabo Sao Vicente, the fishing harbour/town/beach and the Fortaleza de Sagres fort.
The wind compass of Sagres fort
The Cabo Sao Vicente is the most westerly tip of mainland Europe and is a wind blasted headland, with huge cliffs that fall away to raging seas. Generally, most people come to admire the dramatic scenery and unless an extended hike is planned no visit to Cabo Sao Vicente will be longer than 30 minutes, which aligns with the time the bus waits at the bus stop (see later in the article for details). The high vantage point of the lighthouse combined with the bright beam means that the light can be seen up to 50km away.
The massive cliffs of Cabo Sao Vicente
The fishing harbour is situated on the sheltered eastern side of Sagres and throughout the day fishing boats returning to unload their cargos of fresh fish. Over the headland from the harbour is the glorious beach of Praia da Mareta, a popular surfing beach or place to bask under the hot sun of southern Portugal. In the town centre there are laid back cafes or more traditional restaurants, ideal for lunch.
The popular surfing beach of Praia da Mareta
The main tourist attraction of Sagres is the Fortaleza de Sagres (Sagres Fort). This fort is a unique defensive structure as there is only a single wall, with the other three sides protected by the sheer cliffs. The fort is vast but comparatively sparse, with a small chapel, a wind compass and spectacular views over the massive cliffs.
Practicalities of visiting Sagres from Lagos
The Sagres and Cabo Sao Vicente is not a destination for all, certain visitors may consider the region barren and devoid of sights, while other tourists will be captivated by the stunning and dramatic scenery.
Sagres fishing harbour is sheltered from the power of the sea
There is a lot of walking for a day trip to Sagres. It is a 1km walk from the town to the fort and inside the fort the coastal perimeter route is around 1.5km. From the harbour to the Praia da Mareta beach is again a 1km walk or the same rote via the coastal path is 2km.
The beaches of Sagres are fantastic
The region is buffeted by some very strong winds, be prepared for it to feel significantly cooler than in Lagos. Bring a good pair of walking shoes as there are numerous rocky outcrops especially at Cabo Sao Vicente. Portugal has a “if you’re stupid enough to do it, then live with the consequences” attitude; there are no safety barriers at the edge of dangerous over-hanging cliffs and there are precarious cliff top paths which visitors should be wary of.
Stay away from the edge as you don't want to be blown off the 75m high cliffs of Cabo Sao Vicente
A day trip to Sagres will be possibly one of the least expensive days in the Algarve. The only expenses will be the bus fare and the entrance fee to Sagres fort (€3.00). Food and drink in Sagres is cheaper than Lagos as it is more tailored to surfers or locals. Car parking is free in both Sagres and Cabo Sao Vicente. If traveling by public transport it is advisable to visit Sagres between Monday to Friday as the bus to Cabo Sao Vicente does not operate at the weekend (or on public holidays).
Sagres is pounded by massive waves; the cliffs in the background are 40m high!
The length of the day trip to Sagres will depend on the amount of time spent walking or relaxing on the beaches. Cabo Sao Vicente can be fully seen in 30 minutes and the fort takes about 40 minutes to explore.
Buses between Sagres, Lagos and Cabo Sao Vicente for a day trip
Sagres is 30km to the west of Lagos and, depending on the bus service, takes between 40-60 minutes. A single bus ticket from Lagos to Sagres costs €2.85, a ticket from Lagos to Cabo Sao Vicente costs €4.20 and a ticket from Cabo Sao Vicente to Sagres is €2.00. There are no return tickets and the ticket is purchased from the bus driver, expect in Lagos where the ticket must be purchased from the ticket office.
The Eva bus waiting at Cabo Sao Vicente
In Sagres the bus stops outside the tourist information and at the fishing harbour. The return bus to Lagos departs from the opposite side to the tourist information centre. While at Cabo Sao Vicente be aware of the time, as the bus gives no indication that it is about to depart (eg no toot of the horn). Also if the bus is delayed reaching Cabo Sao Vicente it will spend less time there and it will depart on time.
The interior of Sagres fort is a little sparse
As of Spring 2016 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 terminating in 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. These buses only operate Monday to Friday – for the latest timetable pick up a timetable from Lagos bus station.