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Sagres Fortress – a detailed visitors’ guide

Visiting Sagres Fortress or Fortaleza de Sagres is a not-to-miss thing to do in Sagres. Besides the historical importance of the fortified construction the fort offers spectacular views of the surrounding cliffs and beaches. 

It’s not a typical fortress protected by high walls from all sides. Sagres Fortress has only one wall that separates the large part of the cape. From the other three sides, the fort is protected by high and steep 60-meter cliffs that serve as natural walls. 

Where is Sagres Fortress?

Sagres Fortress is situated on a small peninsula 1 km outside the small town of Sagres, Western Algarve, Portugal. The peninsula occupied by the fort is called Sagres Point. It lies 7 km south of the famous Cape St.Vincent which is considered the southwesternmost tip of mainland Europe.

The entrance to the fortress in Sagres
The entrance gate to Sagres Fortress

The history of the fortress

Since Ancient times Sagres Point due to its location has played an important role in the region. The name comes from the Latin Sacrum Promontorium which means Holy Promontory or Holy Cape. 

The fortress on Sagres Point was built in the 15th century under the command of Infante Dom Henry the Navigator with the purpose to protect the area from attacks coming from Northern Africa. From here Henry the Navigator charted his expeditions around the coasts of Western Africa initiating the Portuguese Age of Discoveries. 

The fortress was severely damaged by the earthquake of 1755 and was completely restored only in the 20th century.

Sagres Lighthouse and the Voice of the Sea monument inside the fortress
Sagres Lighthouse and A Voz do Mar maze

The highlights of Sagres Fortress

  • The Wall of the Fortress
  • Church of Our Lady of Grace. It’s a small white church modest from the outside with a beautiful interior. The church was originally built in 1570 it was seriously damaged by an earthquake in 1755 and restored later.
  • Rosa dos Ventos (Eng. the Rose of the Winds) is a massive circular stone paving at the entrance of the fort
  • Sagres Lighthouse
  • Coves or grottos are hole-like formation in the cliffs typical for the Algarve region.
  • A Voz do Mar (Eng. the Voice of the Sea) is a chamber of sounds inside a concrete maze. The maze leads to a small chamber with a narrow deep cove. Inside the maze, you can hear the sound of the waves breaking against the rocks and the wind. The close to the chamber you get the louder it gets.
The Voice of the Sea maze inside Sagres Fortress
The entrance to A Voz do Mar maze inside Sagres Fortress

How much time do you need to visit?

I would recommend having at least 1 hour for visiting the fortress. The inside territory is big with several monuments and lookout points. If you want to walk along the cliffs, explore the walls, and visit the church and the museum you’ll need 2-3 hours. 

What to do inside the fortress?

Inside the fort, you will find several monuments and buildings as well as walking trails that take you to spectacular lookout points on the edge of the cliff.

Walking on the top of the walls is a not-to-miss thing here. From there you can see the layout of the fortress, the Rosa do Ventos (a paved the surrounding cliffs, and the town. 

Visiting the Church of Our Lady of Grace. 

The Church of Our Lady of Grace, Sagres Fortress
The interior of the Church of Our Lady of Grace inside the fortress

Walking along the cliffs. There is a route that goes all the way around the peninsula. It’s about 2,5 km – 3 km. Following the trail, you can get spectacular views of the surrounding area. From the cliffs of Sagres Fortress, you can see Cape St.Vincent, Beliche Beach and Fortress, Tonel Beach, Mareta Beach, and Ponta de Atalaia. From the walls of the fortress, you can see the town.

Tonel Beach and the cliffs from Sagres Fortress
A view of Tonel Beach and the cliffs from the fortress

Wandering through A Voz do Mar maze. It’s a very interesting experience to walk through the concrete maze following the sound of the sea and the wind.

Enjoying the view from Cape Sagres viewpoint. 

Watching local fishermen pulling up their catch all the way to the top of the cliffs. Sagres Fort is a popular place for fishing. On weekends you’ll see many locals fishing with rods from the high cliffs of Sagres Point. 

Cabo de Sao Vicente from Sagres Fortress
A view of Cape St.Vincent of the fortress of Sagres

When is the best time to visit?

During the summer months, between June and September, it’s better to visit the fortress in the morning before it gets too hot and crowded. Outside of the summer season, you can visit it at any time. It often gets very windy in Sagres which can spoil the experience. Usually, the wind picks up after midday. 

In December if you visit  Sagres Fortress in the evening you can watch the sunset there. The fortress is open till 5.30 pm, the ticket office is open till 5 pm and the sun sets is between 5.17 pm and 5.27 pm. If you visit it outside of December you can enjoy the sunset from the top of the cliffs of Tonel Beach, one of the best places for surfing in Sagres. The beach is less than 1 km from the fortress.

A view of Sagres from the fortress walls
A view of Mareta Beach from the walls of the fortress

How to buy entrance tickets?

You can buy tickets to Sagres Fort at the ticket office at the entrance. They accept cash and cards. During the summer months, there might be a queue of people but it goes quite quickly. The entrance fee is 3 euros.

When is it open?

The Fortress of Sagres is open daily except for 1st January, 22nd January, Easter, 1st May and 25th December.

  • From October to April from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm.
  • From May to September from 9.30 am to 8 pm. 

The ticket office closes 30 minutes earlier.

What are the facilities like inside the fortress?

Inside the complex, you can find s souvenir shop, and toilets. There are no restaurants or cafes inside. If you’re planning to spend some time exploring the fort it’s better to bring water and snacks with you. 

Rosa dos Ventos monument, Sagres
Rosa dos Ventos paving inside Sagres Fortress

How to get to Sagres Fortress?

The fortress is around 1,5 km from the centre of Sagres. It’s a short drive from the town. There is a spacious free parking lot at the fortress where you can leave your car. You can walk there following the main road or take the scenic route along the cliffs that starts at the top of Mareta Beach

You can get to Sagres from Lisbon. There are direct buses from Sete Rios bus station in Lisbon. The number of daily buses depends on the day of the week and the season. On weekends there are more departures. The journey takes 4 hours. The price is 23 euros. Check the up-to-date timetable on the website.

To get to Sagres from Lagos you can take a bus. Buses leave from the bus station in Lagos throughout the day. The journey takes between 50 minutes and 1 hour. The price is 2 euros. Paid on the bus. You can find the current timetable here.

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