Natural Park – Costa Vicentina
The Natural Park of Southwest Alentejo and Vicentina coast extends from Odeceixe to Burgau, a distance of approx. 80 km of coastline. It covers over 74,000 hectares of rolling hills, marshland, imposing cliffs, rocky coves and broad beaches.
Declared a protected area in 1995, the Costa Vicentina National Park has a very rich fauna and flora that changes depending on the proximity to the ocean. Here, numerous plants have adapted to life in an atmosphere laden with salt and scorched by the sun, and thrive in environments ranging front the soft sand of dunes to the rocky fissures and poor soils of limestone and schist areas. No fewer than 750 species of flora have been identified in the park – 12 of which are unique in the world. This is a true paradise for lovers of wildflowers.
The region is no less rich in animal life, in addition to foxes, wild boars, badgers, wild cats and rabbits, birds are the great attraction of the Costa Vicentina. More than twenty species inhabit the creeks and wetland areas; including herons, storks, kingfishers and water hens. The crags of the coast are home to ravens, rock doves, pigeons, gulls, magpies and many others. Birds of prey, such as eagles, falcons, sparrow hawks and owls share the skies with more than thirty other bird species, such as blackbirds, nightingales and finches.
All these factors have made the Costa Vicentina of immense interest to all Nature lovers.
The recently opened trail is fully accessible to walkers and mountainbikers and constitutes a wonderful way of exploring the Western Algarve, especially in the spring and autumn months. It extends 340 kms between Cabo Sao Vicente and Santiago de Cacem and is fully marked, so one can walk/ride the entire distance in total autonomy and safety.
Between Aljezur and Sagres, you will find some of the most beautiful beaches of the Algarve. Staying in this area you are very close to many of them:
Bordeira beach is a wonderfully long beach that has a reputation for great waves and yet also has the safety of a river for young children. Open spaces and stunningly beautiful with a small cave to be discovered.
Arrifana is THE local surfing hot spot where one can always spot someone catching waves.
Monte Clerigo, a lovely beach surrounded by a tiny village that invites you to stay for a coffee or meal to enjoy the beautiful view.
Amado beach hosts the World and European surfing contests whilst Amoreira beach is where the European kayaking Championship has been held previously.
Off the beaten track is Vale Figueiras. This is a wonderful surfing beach or great for finding free space on the beach for sunbathing “au natural”.
Aljezur is a small and tranquil town that offers visitors a share of its rich history. Situated on top of a hill, the ruins of a 10th century Moorish castle overlook the old town as well as the new part of Aljezur – the latter being founded after a disastrous earthquake in 1755 that damaged the old town widely. For hundreds of years agriculture was the regions main economic activity and its produce was at one stage shipped to market via the port on the Aljezur creek.
Apart from the castle ruins there are a number of places of interest including the Municipal Museum which contains works of art, archaeological artifacts and a collection of artisans’ tools and farm implements. The Museum St Anthony is a 17th century building dedicated to the Saint Anthony of Lisbon. The house and garden of the Aljezur-born painter José Cercas in Rua do Castelo is now a museum containing a collection of his work, mainly portraits, landscapes and flowers, and some fine antique furniture, porcelain and other artists’ work that he collected during his lifetime. The church Igreja da Misericordia in the centre of the town was built in the 16th century and next door is a museum of religious art.
A number of shops, restaurants, cafes and mini-markets as well as a fresh produce market can be found in Aljezur.
Lagos is a picturesque city that is surrounded by 16th century city walls, a leftover of the enduring Moorish occupation. A vast amount of shops, cafes, pubs, restaurants and nightclubs can be found in the narrow streets if the cobbled old town.
There is a regional museum that displays a collection of archaeological finds from prehistoric and neolithic times. Furthermore, various exhibitions and cultural/music events are held in the cultural centre. The marina invites for a stroll and offers visitors boat and dolphin tour, yacht hire, diving trips etc. A 17th century fortress at the mouth of the port hosts a small maritime musuem.
Lagos hosts all major supermarkets: Aldi, Lidl, Intermarché, Continente & Pingo Doce.
Lagos train station is located opposite the marina. Trains run regularly to Faro and Vila Real de Santo Antonio from there.
Sagres, a former fishing village, hosts a number of beautiful beaches, restaurants, bars, cafes and potteries. Surfing, windsurfing and fishing are very popular here.
Historically, Sagres has been of tremendous importance as it was the starting point of numerous expeditions during past centuries. The age of the Portuguese Discoveries began here back in the 15th century, initiated by Henry the Navigator.
The biggest attraction is the nearby lighthouse at the Cape St.Vincent that marks Europe’s most southwesterly spot in mainland Europe. The Fortress of Sagres, located south-west of Sagres on a small headland about 1 km in length, is a monument of national importance. A giant pebble circle on inside with a diameter of 43m is interpreted to be a compass rose.