When you’re at the Cabo de São Vicente or the Cape of Saint Vincent, you are gazing out into the Atlantic from the most southwestern point of Europe. The sea here can be wild and the winds untamed. The cliffs streak up to a height of 60 meters and there you find one of Europe’s most well-known lighthouses.
It is easy to understand why this area was once considered to be the end of the world. It presented and still presents a desolate picture where the forces of nature brook no defiance.
A visit to this spot is a must if you’re in Algarve.
The headland of the Cabo de Sao Vicente can be reached from Sagres by traveling 6 km to the west. It is 40 km from Lagos. Follow the N125 and N268 to reach the lighthouse from Lagos. You can take a bus from Lagos, board the same bus from Sagres and reach Cape Vincent.
If you’re planning a day out at the Cape, then check the bus departure timings to and from here. You don’t want to miss the last bus back.
The lighthouse was built in 1846 and rests on the remains of an old settlement of monks.
Once there, you can catch some really awesome sunsets. In the summer, arrive well before sunset to grab a nice vantage point from where you can watch the sun dip over the horizon.
Wear a cardigan because by sundown, the spot can become a little chilly…even during the summer months. Looking at the sun through binoculars or telescopes is not recommended. It can lead to eye damage.
Just before sunset, if you’re lucky, you may catch the fabled green flashes that last for a second or two.
If you wish to catch the sunset without the crowds that are present at Cape St. Vincent then you can head to the Sagres Fortress. It’s quieter there and the sunset is just as beautiful.
If you’re a birder, then the cape offers opportunities to spot and photograph migrating birds from August to December. You can see honey buzzards and griffon vulture among the many species. Early morning is a good time for birdwatching.
You’ll need a good pair of binoculars or a telescope to really enjoy the experience.
The place has special significance in Europe’s maritime history. Prince Henry, better known as Henry the Navigator established a maritime school for sailors in this area and the hardy seamen that sallied forth braving the rough seas at the “end of the world”, as the spot was known, went on to discover new lands.
Magellan, Columbus, Vasco da Gama…they studied at the university that once existed on a granite cliff here.
You can plan a day trip to the Cabo de Sao Vicente and also take in the sights in the vicinity. These include the first slave market of Europe in Lagos, the beautiful beach of Ponta de Piedade, and the Sagres Fortress.