Not many people make it to the town of Sagres in Portugal. It is a sleepy town, accessed by only one road, in the southwestern-most point of mainland Europe. And yet it has all the makings for either an adventure-filled escape or a relaxing break from the tourist crowds of Europe. Previously known primarily as a surfing destination, Sagres is now also associated with hiking, cycling, and deep-sea fishing. The dramatic landscapes and sheer raw beauty of the immense cliffs in the area, paired with its sheltered pristine beaches make for a most magical location. Sagres will not appeal to all, however, because of its nonchalant, laid-back vibe. But if you don’t particularly care for a picture-perfect town, you will be rewarded with a stunning natural landscape unlike any other.
My family and I recently spent three nights in Sagres as part of our road trip through Europe. We debated whether or not to visit the area because it was definitely out of the way. And yet all of our doubts were quickly swept away the moment we walked into our room at the memmo Baleeira hotel. With its sweeping views of the Baleeira Harbor and Martinhal Beach, one could easily sit on the balcony all day, enjoying one of the delicious caipirinhas served at the hotel bar.
memmo Baleeira is a contemporary, four-star hotel situated in the Costa Vicentina Natural Park. It has 144 rooms and family-friendly suites, many with amazing ocean views. We stayed in a 1-bedroom suite with ocean views, which worked well for our family. It had one main bedroom, a living room with a sofa bed, and a kitchenette. One of our favorite aspects, besides the view, of course, was the room service. We loved having the option to stay in and dine on our balcony. Even though room service menu is limited, you can also order some items from the main restaurant, which serves up beautifully presented, delicious dishes with locally sourced ingredients.
If you decide to head downstairs and eat in the dining room—and I highly recommend that you do—rest assured that the views are just as spectacular as those from your guestroom balcony. But don’t forget to make a reservation, as it does fill up rather quickly, and for good reason. You can’t go wrong with any of the dishes. The seafood skewers are to die for, and the black linguini with seafood is just heavenly. For lunch, try the chicken sandwich; it has a garlic aioli sauce that will make you want to ask for the recipe.
Other than comfortable accommodations and delicious food, the memmo Baleeira also offers some very nice facilities for the entire family. There is an indoor pool as well as an outdoor heated pool—the outdoor pool was a favorite for our family. It has a shallow area for the little ones to play in safely, a poolside bar that serves food and drinks, and again…amazing ocean views! The hotel also has a gym and sauna for the health-conscious traveler, and they offer spa treatments as well. During our stay, the spa was under renovation, so I cannot speak for the spa’s particulars, as the treatments were being rendered in a one of the resort guestrooms. My husband and I had a massage and a body scrub, respectively, and we both thoroughly enjoyed our treatments, despite the “not-so-picturesque” temporary location. For the children, they have a decent-sized playroom filled with a variety of different games and toys. It is not a kid’s club, as it is not supervised, but it is still a nice amenity, and our children were happy to have it.
In terms of offsite activities, this hotel in Portugal has a surf center just adjacent to it, and they can happily organize surf lessons or surf board rental and guidance. They can also arrange bicycle rentals, jeep tours, and watersports. However, our favorite off-site activity was visiting Martinhal Beach.
Martinhal Beach is a beautiful stretch of powdery soft sand, in a small cove across from Baleeira Harbor. When we visited in May, the water was clear and refreshing, and our children enjoyed hunting for unique shells that can be found along the water’s edge. There are two different restaurants at the beach that serve snacks and lunch, so you can easily spend a full day there. And that is just one of several beaches within an easy 10-minute drive from the hotel.
In all honesty, we were quite surprised at how easy it was to fill our days in such a small and quiet town, and in the end we felt we could have easily stayed for another day or two.
So if you’re planning a Portugal itinerary and a have a few extra nights unaccounted for, or if you like to steer clear of the crowds, Sagres is a great place to take in the raw beauty of nature and more specifically to enjoy the Algarve in a more serene setting.