Cape St.Vincent, Portugal – how to visit?

Cape St.Vincent or Cabo de São Vicente in Portuguese is the southwesternmost point of Portugal and continental Europe. The dramatic landscape and breathtaking views make the cape one of the not-to-miss places in the Algarve. 

Where is Cape St.Vincent?

Cape St. Vincent is situated in the extreme southwest of continental Europe 6 km west of the small town of Sagres, Algarve province, Portugal. Cable de São Vicente is a southwesternmost point of the E9 European long-distance path or European Coastal Path that runs for 5200 km along the coast from Tarifa in Spain to Narva-Jõesuu in Estonia. 

The Algarve Family at Cabo de São Vicente in Sagres
Campbell and Summer at Cabo de São Vicente

What time can you visit Cape Saint Vincent?

Cape St.Vincent can be visited at any time. The lighthouse courtyard is open Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri, Sat, and Sun from 10 am to 6 pm. Outside these times you won’t be able to get inside, use toilets, or buy food but you still can walk around the cape and take photos. There is a parking lot at the lighthouse that is always open.

What are the facilities like at the cape?

In the lighthouse courtyard, you can find a restaurant, toilets (0,6 euros), and two souvenir shops. Outside the lighthouse, there are a couple of food trucks with plastic tables and chairs (including one selling fish & chips and one selling Bratwursts) and a few souvenir stalls. There is a free parking lot at the lighthouse.

The nearest supermarket is in Sagres 6 km away. The nearest restaurant is half way to Sagres at Beliche Beach, 3 km away.

 A small restaurant inside the lighthouse complex at Cabo de Sao Vicente in Portugal
The restaurant inside the lighthouse courtyard at Cape St.Vincent

Why is it called the end of the world?

Cape St. Vincent’s very location makes you believe it could be the end of the world. At least it seemed to be so for people inhabiting the area in Ancient times. In the Neolithic period, the cape was considered sacred ground. Ancient Greeks built here a temple dedicated to Hercules. The Ancient Romans called the cape Holy Promontory and considered it a magic place. 

The cape was named after Saint Vincent, an Iberian deacon who was martyred in the 4th century. According to the legend his body was brought here. Later a small stone shrine was built at the place of his burial. In the 12th century, the remains of the saint were transferred to Lisbon.

The cape is one of the three most famous “end-of-the-world” capes of the Iberian Peninsula. The other two are Cabo da Roca in Portugal and Cape Finisterre in Spain. 

The Old Lighthouse at Cabo de São Vicente near Sagres
Cabo de São Vicente Lighthouse

The Lighthouse of Cabo de São Vicente

Unfortunately in the 2022 season the lighthouse is under reconstruction you don’t get to see the tower it’s covered.

The first lighthouse at the cape was built at the beginning of the 16th century. Though it was quite basic it fulfilled the need to serve as a landfall for ships from Africa and the Americas. The current lighthouse was built at the beginning of the 20th century and started fully operating in 1908. Over the years the lighthouse has been fully automated.  

What is the best way to see Cape St.Vincent?

Observing the high rugged cliffs of Cape St.Vincent from the sea is a wonderful experience. Boat tours from Sagres to Cabo de Sao Vicente are not as popular as trips from Lagos to Ponta da Piedade. Even during the peak season, there won’t be many boats in the waters near the cape. 

Walking along the cliffs to faraway lookout points is another great way to see the cape. 

Dramatic scenery of the coast at Cabo de São Vicente
Rugged cliffs of Cape St.Vincent

When is the best time to visit the cape?

The best time to come to Cabo de Sao Vicente is at sunset on a clear day. You can watch the sun setting down into the Atlantic Ocean. It’s one of the best and most romantic places to watch the sunset in the Algarve. The only drawback is that the lighthouse and its courtyard will be closed you won’t be able to buy food and drinks, or use the toilets.

How to get to Cabo de São Vicente?

The easiest way of getting to the cape is by car. Renting a car is highly recommended for travelling around the Algarve. You can drive to Cape St.Vincent from anywhere in the region. It is 6 km away from Sagres, 40 km from Lagos, 90 km from Albufeira, and 120 km from Faro. 

If you don’t have a car you can get there by bus from Lagos or Sagres. Cape St.Vincent is the last stop on the route between Lagos and Sagres. There are three daily buses from Lagos to Sagres. Mon to Fri at 10.15, 13.45, and 15.15. Sat and Sun at 10.15, 12.30, and 15.15.

Return buses from Cabo de São Vicente to Lagos you can see in the photo below. Keep in mind that the timetable can change. For updated information check the Vamus website.

Departure times of buses from Cabo de São Vicente to Lagos
Departure times and days for buses from Cabo St.Vincent to Lagos

You can visit the cape with a mini group tour from Lagos. There are several tour options.

A view of Beliche Fortress from the bottom of the cliffs
A view of Beliche Fortress from the bottom of the cliffs

What to do at Cape St.Vincent?

Visit the lighthouse. The lighthouse at Cape St.Vincent is one of the oldest in Portugal. 

You can go hiking along the cliffs to faraway lookout points and hidden beaches. If you want to walk from the cape all the way to Sagres or to Vila do Bispo you can follow the Fishermen’s Trail, a part of the Rota Vicentina network that connects Cape St.Vincent with both towns. Sagres is 6 km away, Vila do Bispo is 10 km away. The trail is marked with blue and green stripes on wooden poles and rocks.

Visit Fortaleza de Beliche. This small fortress is situated 1,4 km away from the lighthouse. It sits on the edge of the steep cliffs offering breathtaking views. It’s often overlooked by visitors. At the fortress don’t miss the rocky staircase leading all the way down to the water. It’s a 40-meters descent. It’s the only place at the cape where you can actually go down the cliffs.

Beliche Fortress, Cape Saint Vincent
Beliche Fortress is a hidden gem of Cape St.Vincent

Visit one of the nearby beaches. Beliche Beach is the nearest one about 3 km away. You won’t miss it there are usually quite a few motorhomes parked. If you’re looking for a less crowded beach go to Telheiro Beach on the other side of Cape St.Vincent, 5 km away. In order to get there, you’ll have to drive on a gravel road. 

Surfing in Sagres is a popular activity. You can rent a surfboard and a wetsuit at one of the many surf shops in the town. Tonel Beach, a popular surf spot is just 6 km away from Cabo de São Vicente. 

Places to stay near Cape Saint Vincent

Sagres, the nearest town is just 6 km away of the cape.

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