Vila do Bispo is a triangle of land that points like an arrow out to sea, into the infinite ocean!
Table of Contents
VILA DO BISPO, ALGARVE
A quiet village with an immense coastline of beautiful, quiet beaches of great natural beauty. It is also a place shrouded in the mysticism of prehistoric cults, sacred rites of the Romans, the legend of S. Vicente de Fora. Fortresses and prehistoric monuments, archaeological excavations, dinosaur footprints and sacred cults… there is much to discover in Vila do Bispo!
WHERE IS VILA DO BISPO?
It is in the Algarve region, on the southwestern tip of Portugal. It was once thought that this was the end of the world. Departing from Lisbon, it is 319km, about 3h by car.
Public transport is available. The bus departs from Lisbon-Sete Rios. From July to September there are four buses per day. The rest of the year there is only one daily bus. Travelling by bus is a little longer, 3h50 or 4h25, depending on the timetable. It is also possible to fly from Lisbon to Faro, which is 108 km from Vila do Bispo, and then take a taxi. This option may be more comfortable, but it takes no less time. Between boarding and leaving the plane and travelling from Faro to Vila do Bispo, you will end up spending more than 3 hours.
WHAT TO VISIT IN (AND AROUND) VILA DO BISPO?
Besides the beaches with a magical atmosphere, the town has several places of interest, both in the town centre and throughout the municipality. So that you can plan the sequence of your visits, we have prepared the map below. We hope you find it useful!
The Praça da República used to be the centre of the town. It is still noticeable in the layout of the streets, that many of them start from this point. The Igreja Matriz stands out here, which was probably built in the 16th century. This church, dedicated to Nossa Senhora da Conceição, has a typically Algarve façade of simple beauty.
At the entrance to Vila do Bispo we are welcomed by the Jardim da Fonte. It is a large and pleasant area, with many trees that provide plenty of shade. In this space, the 19th century New Fountain and the recent Memorial in honour of the Ex-Combatants, who were born and lived in the borough of Vila do Bispo, stand out.
Algarve Barn” MONUMENT – Vila do Bispo
The Celeiro do Algarve is a work by contemporary sculptor Mário Miranda. This monument recalls the agrarian history of Vila do Bispo as an important cereal producer until the 19th century. It depicts a cob in stone and metal rings, alluding to the undulating of the small hills of Vila do Bispo.
VILA DO BISPO INTERPRETATION CENTRE
The Interpretation Centre was inaugurated in 2009, in the building of the old barnacle market. In Vila do Bispo, this is the space for cultural dissemination, which often hosts temporary exhibitions. On one of the façades of the Interpretation Centre there is a painting with the theme of the Discoveries by the artist Ângela Ferreira.
Tanegashima Square is a large gardened area, which defines the current centre of the village. It is a space that marks the twinning of Vila do Bispo with the municipality of Nishinoomote, which is located on the island of Tanegashima, in Japan, where, in the 16th century, the Portuguese first arrived. Representing the meeting of cultures, the sculptural work of the artist António Matos stands out in the middle of the square.
MILLS OF VILA DO BISPO
In Vila do Bispo, the mills bear witness to the importance that, in the past, these lands had in the production of cereals. In the northern part of the village, there are still three mills, which gave their name to Rua dos Moinhos. All of them are deactivated and are now residential, however, they are still prominent landmarks.
THE PALAEOLITHIC DEPOSIT OF VALE DE BOI
The Vale de Boi Palaeolithic site is the largest archaeological site in the Iberian Peninsula. It covers an area of over 10,000 m2, near Ribeira de Vale Boi, in the municipality of Vila do Bispo. The archaeological work carried out here has found traces of human presence dating back more than thirty thousand years. Hunting artefacts were unearthed, such as arrowheads, small fishing spears, adornment pieces made of shells and perforated bones, which would have been part of necklaces. A rare art object was also found, representing three aurochs (a wild ox now extinct), engraved on a schist plate. Through the thousands of bones of hunted animals found here, the variety of fauna that once existed in the Vila do Bispo area was discovered. Bones of rabbit, donkey, horse, deer, fox, wolf, lynx, aurochs, bear, lion and rhinoceros have been discovered!
MENHIRS OF VILA DO BISPO
In the lands that are now part of Vila do Bispo, there is one of the largest concentrations of menhirs known worldwide. Menhirs are monuments associated with pre-historic religious cult. The most important ones are found in Monte dos Amantes – the Menhirs of Pedra Escorregadia, at the council’s seat, and near the village of Raposeira, the Menir do Padrão, which reminds us of the menhir that Obelix, the cartoon hero, carries with him.
DINOSAUR FOOTPRINTS ON SALEMA BEACH
Salema Beach is located on the south coast of Vila do Bispo, in the parish of Budens. Besides being an excellent beach, it has a very special attraction, dinosaur footprints thought to be 140 million years old! On the west side of the beach, next to some access stairs, a trail of 8 herbivorous dinosaur footprints is engraved in the rock, and on the east side, 6 footprints of carnivorous dinosaurs of the Tyrannosaurus genus can be seen. The western footprints are more visible in the morning and the others in the afternoon.
PROTECTED LANDSCAPE AREA
The variety of fauna and flora and the great natural beauty of the area between Belixe and Odeceixe were the reasons for the creation of a protected landscape area. Animals such as wild boar and wild flowers are some of the natural attractions of the region. If you like the beach but also enjoy observing nature while strolling through hills and valleys, then you’ve found the right place!
OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE CHAPEL
It is in a secluded location in a rural area. Away from the hustle and bustle of the Algarve coast. It is one of the oldest religious monuments in the Algarve. It was erected in the 14th century for the purpose of being a pilgrimage chapel. It was renovated a century later with the approval of Prince Henry the Navigator, who prayed here. It has a triangular shape. Inside the church there are beautiful columns with stringed elements and several illustrative panels. A hermitage with “soul” that becomes special during the autumn season. Beautiful in its simplicity.
BARÃO of SÃO MIGUEL
From Vila do Bispo to Barão de São Miguel is only 15 minutes by car (16 kilometres away). It is a small rural village very calm and quiet. Time passes slowly here and Barão de São Miguel has resisted the urban explosion of recent years. The houses are colourful with beautiful chimneys typical of the Algarve (revealing the influences of the Moorish presence in the region). Surrounding the village are rounded hills. The pride of the village is centred on its mother church which dates back to the 16th century and still retains its architecture. Visiting this place is almost a visit of a sociological nature.
BEACHES NEAR VILA DO BISPO
The municipality of Vila do Bispo has several stunning beaches, both on the south and the west coast. On the west coast, between Cape S. Vicente and Aljezur, some beaches are almost deserted and no human intervention is noticeable. The beauty of these beaches also comes from the cliffs, however, when the high tide reduces the sand, it is necessary to keep the proper distance from the cliffs because of the danger of collapse. There are so many incredible beaches that it is difficult to choose the best ones. We have prepared a map with some of the many beaches you can visit. We hope it will be useful!
Praia da Murração is set among the rocky cliffs of the Vicentine coast, with the beauty of a wild orchid. The beach and the surrounding area are practically untouched by man. Through the vegetation of the cliffs, whose green almost touches the blue of the sea, you can occasionally see sheep grazing. It is located before Praia do Amado, in Aljezur, but it still belongs to the municipality of Vila do Bispo. To get to this beach, you have to drive along a wide dirt road for 5 km. But it’s worth the journey to get to Joia Vicentina, the name by which the Murração beach has come to be known. It is an unsupervised beach, without any infrastructures, not very frequented because of its difficult access. Its tranquility and beauty are attributes that attract naturists. To help you discover the Vicentine Jewel, here are the GPS coordinates: 37° 9’17.02 “N 8°54’31.33 “W
PONTA RUIVA BEACH
This beach is particularly popular with surfers and bodyboarders. At the southern end of the beach, a large reddish rock stands out, giving rise to the name Ponta Ruiva Beach. It is a very beautiful, wild beach with no surveillance or infrastructures. The access is made through a cliff, following a footpath that goes down towards the beach on a lower slope. On this path, you can smell the strong scent of cistus, an abundant plant in the surrounding vegetation, and you can often see hawks or small birds, such as the purple gallinule. The journey by car is made on dirt roads; from Vila do Bispo, the way is signposted, but from Sagres, there is no signpost. The last stretch of the dirt road is not easy, so that it should only be done with an off-road vehicle. As signposting is not abundant, the easiest thing to do is to stick to the GPS coordinates: 37° 4’3.49 “N 8°57’53.66 “W
Cordoama Beach is set against imposing cliffs, which reach over 100 metres. It has an extensive sandy stretch of almost 2 kilometres. At low tide, the sands of this beach join the sands of Barriga and Castelejo beach, forming a tongue of sand as far as the eye can see. It is a wide and quite quiet beach. The sea waves are great for sports such as surfing and bodyboarding. Praia da Cordoama is one of the twelve beaches in Vila do Bispo with a blue flag. It is supervised during the bathing season, has a restaurant and a car park. There is a direct road to this beach, about 5 km long, from Vila do Bispo Municipal Market.
Praia da Barriga Beach is located north of Praia da Cordoama Beach. Its sand is smaller, about 900 metres long, and there are no lifeguards. The beach, sheltered by the black cliffs that contrast with the white of the sand, is as lovely as the green road that leads to it. To get here, you have to follow a rural dirt road, unmarked, about 4Km long. To avoid getting lost along the way, here are the GPS coordinates: 37° 7’7.38 “N 8°55’46.76 “W
A very beautiful beach in a small bay protected by the wind. It has a small sandy beach that becomes quite small at high tide (during the winter). The path to get there is beautiful. A guarantee of a peaceful day at the beach away from the hustle and bustle. Near the beach you will find a restaurant where you can dine while watching the sunset. A good option also for those with children.
FURNAS BEACH, VILA DO BISPO
Beach with extensive and beautiful sand. It has a parking place that is approximately 100 meters from the beach (a flat path). A good option for those who want to take their dog. The access to the beach is through a paved road and the last 600 meters through a dirt road that is in good condition. The beach has a grotto facing the ocean, a good place to rest and admire the sea.
VIRTUAL TOUR TO VILA DO BISPO
HISTORY OF VILA DO BISPO
Vila do Bispo has a strong prehistoric presence. It was a sacred place for the Romans, where they worshipped Hercules and Saturn. Later, the relics of the martyr S. Vicente were brought to Cabo de S. Vicente, in Sagres, which will have always been protected by crows. These lands became known as Vila do Bispo in the 16th century when King D. Manuel I donated the then village of S. Maria do Cabo to Bishop D. Fernando Coutinho. Here you will find not only dinosaur footprints, but also footprints from the history of Portugal, the history of humanity and the history of the world.
WHAT TO SEE NEAR VILA DO BISPO?
Near Vila do Bispo there are many interesting places to visit. We leave you here some suggestions and also a map so you can plan the sequence of your walks.
The Ponta do Telheiro Geomonument is located 6 km northwest of Sagres. The immense cliffs provide not only impressive scenery but are also an important 90 million-year-old rock chain of great scientific importance.
In Vila do Bispo, in the parish of Budens, are the ruins of the Fort of São Luís de Almádena. The fort is also known as Boca do Rio fort because it is located on a hill overlooking the beach where the Ribeira de Budens flows into the sea. From Vila do Bispo to Budens is a distance of 9.4 kilometres, which can be covered in 11 minutes by car.
Above the beautiful Praia da Figueira beach, also in Budens, you can see the ruins of another fortress, the Forte de Vera Cruz da Figueira. This construction dates back to the 17th century and, like the Boca do Rio fort, it protected the coast from pirate attacks.
It is 15 kilometres from Vila do Bispo to Cabo de São Vicente, a distance that can be covered in 16 minutes by car. In the 16th century a monastery was built in Cabo de São Vicente. To protect the many pilgrims passing through, the monastery was surrounded by a fortress. In the 19th century, the monastery gave way to a lighthouse and today it is one of the lighthouses in Europe with the longest range.
From Vila do Bispo to Sagres fortress is a distance of 10 kilometres, a distance that can be covered in 10 minutes by car. Sagres fortress dates back to the 15th century, but it has undergone several restructurings, and the beauty of its current layout is due to the interventions made in the 18th century. A spectacular site with a splendid view. The strong wind is a constant presence.
Forte do Beliche, at Cape S. Vicente, was built in the 16th century to protect a landing zone. It was consecrated to Santo António, and inside there is a chapel dedicated to Santa Catarina. The fort was in a bad state of conservation, but was recovered in the 20th century to become a hotel pole supporting the Pousada de Sagres. It is currently a lovely space, often used for events.
The church of nossa senhora da Graça is in the complex of Sagres fortress. It was commissioned in the 15th century by Infante Dom Henrique in honour of Santa Maria. Inside the temple, the High Altar and its wooden altarpiece stand out. Also notice the three tombstones that are there in honour of former captains of the fortress. Next to the temple, there is a magnificent view of the Atlantic Ocean!
A mysterious construction unearthed in 1919 and made with 48 stone alignments. It is arranged in a circular space and has been called the “wind rose”. It is believed to have been commissioned by the nautical school that was created by Prince Henry the Navigator who lived here at the time of the great Portuguese discoveries. It was cleaned and renovated in 1959. There are also those who believe it is a 16th century sundial that would have supported the naval activity in the region. Whatever the truth, it is a very interesting place that deserves a close visit.
HOTELS IN VILA DO BISPO
There are some good accommodation options in and around Vila do Bispo. The following suggestion is based on the analysis of the relationship between price and overall customer comments.
Over 16o reviews on google and an overall rating of 4.4 stars (out of a maximum of 5). The comments strongly refer to the good location, the quality of cleanliness and the pool. Pets are welcome! It is a 5 minute walk from the beach (just over 100 meters away). The staff is very friendly.
RESTAURANTS AND GASTRONOMY IN VILA DO BISPO
Vila do Bispo’s gastronomy gathers the best of two worlds: on one hand, the magnificent fish that the Atlantic offers us. On the other, the products that the land has to give us. Here are some suggestions for those who prefer fish: sea bream, arroz de safio, sargo, fried moray eel sandwiches. If you prefer shellfish, try barnacles, lobster and whelks. For lovers of local produce we suggest chickpeas, sausages and cabbage.
RESTAURANT RIBEIRA DO POÇO
It has over 780 reviews on Google and an overall rating of 4.6 (out of 5). Very busy, it is difficult to find a table in the summer months. If you can, you’re sure to enjoy it. Customers praise the quality of the seafood and produce. The staff are friendly and the price/quality ratio is good.
TASCA DO CARECA (TAVERN OF THE BALD MAN)
The name alone already inspires me with confidence (me being bald too!). It’s a 1 cipher (cheap) restaurant, with more than 450 comments on google and an overall rating of 4.4 stars (out of a maximum of 5). It is super busy in the summer months (space is small). Go early if you want to eat the bald food! The house squid is the restaurant’s speciality. The portions are very well served and the price is very cheap (one portion is enough for two people and the price for two is around 15€).