The Approach to Sagres
This near final stretch of the Ecovia do Litoral, the approach to Sagres, is one of the most attractive of the whole route. Starting from Burgau, the trail leads through the centre of town before entering the Southwest Alentejo and St Vincent Coast Natural Park. Should you be passing this way at dusk rather than first thing in the morning, you will find the locals drive up to a loop in the road overlooking the coast to watch the sun go down. The bike route, however, heads a short way inland before making a 90 degree left turn to bring you back to the coast at a point opposite the sunset-watching spot, then loops back inland to reach Salema on a back road.
If you feel like a challenge, or you'd just rather walk for a while, you can cut off this loop by looking out for a right hand turn up an amazingly steep hill, shortly after the 90 degree left. This is a new road that must have a gradient of 1 in 4 or even 1 in 3. It is somewhat difficult to push a laden bike up it, let alone ride, but you will be rewarded with stunning views when you reach the top. The second part of the reward is a whiz down into the pretty coastal village of Salema. Here you can enjoy coffee and cakes, or lunch, at a reasonable price in the Atlantico Restaurant with a view of waves crashing over the seafront a few feet away.
After the refreshment stop you will need to climb back out of Salema to the EN125. But don't worry, you will be cycling on the much quieter old N125 road. Beyond Figueira (where you can buy the makings of a picnic) the map on the official Ecovia do Litoral website shows the route running beside new roads all the way to Sagres. But on the ground you will find the signs direct you to turn left onto an agricultural road that runs southwest and then west. About 400m before it intersects with the EN1257-1, an even smaller road turns off to the north, linking to another agricultural road leading to the village of Raposeira. By the time you reach there you will have enjoyed a wonderful ride on traffic-free, well surfaced roads undulating past isolated farms. This is a world away from the Algarve that most tourists know.
Raposeira has places to eat but the next village on the route, Vila do Bispo, is a better bet for a stop, being larger. It has a couple of fish restaurants anda new interpretation centre (free entry, but not open every day) explaining the local flora, fauna and way of life. From Bispo it is more or less downhill all the way to Sagres on the old N268 road following the main EN268, although you will have to ride on the main road for the final mile or so.
Now you are in Sagres you are nearly at the end of the Ecovia, but why not leave the final stretch for another day? The hard work is done and you may feel that you deserve a little luxury having got this far, in which case check into the Pousada which has a great position on the headland. Like all Pousadas (and Paradors), a substantially discounted rate can often be obtained if you book in advance and travel out of the peak season, particularly if you are of retirement age or are prepared to stay for more than one night. Spend two nights here and you can complete the Ecovia with a gentle ride to Cape St Vincent the next day before heading back to your starting point - or continuing into the Alentejo - the day after.
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