Standing On The Edge of Europe! Discovering Portugal’s Wild South West Coast
Whilst in Portugal we took a drive to explore the coast further west including the most south-westerly point of mainland Europe. We had loved the idyllic hidden coves, beaches and caves of the Algarve further east (check out that story here) but had heard that the coast further west was as beautiful but in a more rugged kind of way! It’s famed for having amazing surfing conditions and we were excited to be having a bit of an adventure.
Our first stop was Sagres Fortress, a fortress which has since been restored following heavy damage caused during an earthquake in the 18th century. It is built on top of a rocky outcrop which juts out bravely into the wild water here. Firstly…this is THE most windy place I have ever been to! The wind was so strong that at times it was difficult even for all 16 stone of me to keep my balance just standing there on top of the cliffs, I’ve never experienced anything like it, even out at sea! It kind of added to the adventure and the experience though.
We were taking in the view from the top of the cliffs outside of the fortress where we parked our hire car and couldn’t believe that there were people surfing in these conditions! The sea was really crashing into the rocky cliffs with some venom, but then out in the middle, in the surf were a group of people making the most of the conditions! After the shock wore off…I got slightly jealous! They did say it was famous for surfing!
Inside the fortress it was great fun climbing up onto the buttresses taking in the panoramic views of the coastline. Its an incredible place, in one of my past posts about St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall, I spoke about how there are some places you visit which really are an assault on the senses and make you feel alive. This is exactly one of those places.
Behind the fortress walls there is a path which takes you all the way around the top of the 60 metre high cliffs on this rocky outcrop, it was awesome, the wind hitting you, the waves crashing against the rocks, getting soaked by the spray, this really was wild! I tried to take videos of the coast, but the wind was so strong it proved almost impossible. whilst battling with the elements though you could really see the rugged beauty of the place.
Henry the Navigator kicked off his days of exploration, charting the coastline and creating maps from Sagres. It was Henry the Navigator who really jump started the great days of Portuguese exploration and discovery.
Once we had taken just about as much as we could of the wind knocking us off course as we wondered around the old fort we moved on further west and took in some views at another of the forts along the coastline, the Fortaleza do Beliche.
Fortaleza do Beliche was originally built in 1632 and it is a really pretty little spot to explore. It is in a poorer state of repair that Sagres and you can’t actually go inside but there is a path which takes you round the fort and down to the water, it is definitely worth a stop off to take in the views.
Standing on The Edge of Europe!
As we continued further west we found Cape St Vincent or Cabo de Sao Vincent, Europe’s south-westernmost point!
From the area around the lighthouse there really are some spectacular views, to me it really did have a frontier feeling, raw, rugged, natural beauty! The lifeboat named Templar gives a nod to the history of the area, a place which was the last view of land or home before so many adventures, voyages of discovery and even wars. There is a museum inside the grounds as well which is nice to explore along with a little shop.
Next time we head out to Portugal we will definitely be looking to explore north up along the west coast, continuing to explore this amazing stunning area.
Thanks for reading!