Why Sagres, Portugal Is a Hotspot for Backpackers

Portugal is a favorite vacation and holiday spot for many, so what does the remote and quiet south-western town of Sagres offer backpackers? An unconventional and unique experience, which can be adapted for relaxation to intensive sports, depending on your preference. And you’ll get a local culture infusion, too.  

Why Portugal Is Great for Backpackers

Yachts in Portugal

Yachts in Sagres Harbor: Photo by Mel Candea

  It’s fairly easy to reach, either by bus or a rental car. It also avoids the thick, messy crowds that have become the norm lately in Algarve. Its location means it’s mild year round, with the water being more temperate than other locations. And it’s less expensive than most of the region, making it affordable for backpackers.  

When to Visit

  The off-season is a favorite for backpackers, since it’s more budget-friendly and the weather is still warm, especially in September and mid-May. It’s also a lot drier than other regions in the Algarve, though you might have some windy days.  

Things to Do and See in Sagres

Cape St. Vincent Lighthouse

Cape St. Vincent Lighthouse: Photo by Mel Candea

The town is pretty small and intimate. It has supermarkets and a fresh market; local shops (clothing, surf stuff, beach gear); restaurants that typically serve the ‘catch of the day’ or regional cuisine; and a few news kiosks. Luckily, the Portuguese don’t really do siestas, so most are open all day.  

Relax on the Beaches

Portugal’s famous for its stunning beaches, and Sagres offers several. Praia da Mareta is the main one that many of the bars and restaurants face and is good for sunbathing. If you’d like even less of a crowd and more privacy, try Praia do Martinhal, which is a short walk from the town.  


Surfers worldwide visit Portugal, which is best in the winter months because of the stronger winds. If you’re backpacking, you can find surf rental shops; if you’re a beginner, you can take surf lessons from one of the schools. The lightest waves are at Tonel Beach and the sturdiest at Praia da Mareta.
Man surfing in Algarve

Surfing in Sagres: Photo by Paolo Simao


There are two major hiking trails that start from the Cabo de Sao Vicente lighthouse. For passionate hikers, the trek to the Spanish border ‘Via Algarvian’ (GR13) takes several days. Another hiking option in the area is the ‘Rota Vicentina,’ towards the north. Of course, both can be broken up into shorter day hikes.  

History: Check out the Fortress and the End of the World Lighthouse

  The fortress, Fortaleza de Sagres, was built in the 15th century by Prince Henry the Navigator to ward off pirate ships. There are structural parts still standing and it offers a great vista view.   Cape St. Vincent lighthouse is roughly 4 miles from the town and you can reach it via bus, taxi or rental car. It’s also called ‘the end of the world,’ because in ancient times mariners believed it was.  

A Few Extra Activity Ideas in the South of Portugal

Natural Beach Umbrellas in Portugal

Relaxing at Tonel Beach: Photo by Glen Bowman

If we haven’t already covered your interests, there are more. You can go deep-sea fishing with a local guide; kitesurfing (not for amateurs because of strong winds); and golfing.  

Unwinding at the End of the Day

  There are cafes and pubs to relax in after a long day of activity, with Three Little Birds café and Dromedario Sagres bar as personal favorites.   We hope you’ve enjoyed our short list of reasons why Sagres, Portugal is a hotspot for backpackers. What about you? Are there any tips or places you’d like to add? Let us know in the comments below!          

Mel Candea

I’m an American who has slow traveled Europe for 6+ years. I’m an established travel writer and blogger and I’ve been lucky enough to explore 25 countries.