Vila do Bispo – Algarve – Portugal
Welcome to Vila do Bispo Uncovered! Your guide to Vila do Bispo holidays!
Welcome to Vila Do Bispo Uncovered! Your tourist guide to holidays in Vila do Bispo in western Algarve, Portugal. For information about the town of Vila do Bispo, its beaches, accommodation, restaurants, bars, shops, things to do and in fact, all things Vila do Bispo Uncovered!
About Vila do Bispo
Vila do Bispo is a small town 22km to the west of Lagos and the centre of the municipality which includes towns such as Sagres, Budens and Raposeira. It is a pretty town with the older, typical Algarvean houses clustered around the 16th century church, and then expanding westwards with newer, more modern, buildings around the cultural centre and municipal building. You will find everything you need for your stay – there are two banks, an ‘Alisuper’ shop for groceries and plenty of places to eat out. There is a bigger supermarket, ‘Ecomarche’ on the main N125 at Budens – just a few minutes away by car – which is open every day of the year.
In February 1992, Vila do Bispo signed a ‘twinning’ agreement with Nishinoomote, in Japan, in recognition of the fact that Portuguese were the first Europeans to arrive in Japan in the 16th century. The square between the cultural centre and municipal building was inaugurated in 1998 and called ‘Praça de Tanegashima’ (‘Tanegashima Square’) to commemorate the agreement.
For a town of its size, there are an amazing number of restaurants! Not surprisingly, fish is the main feature of the menus, as it is in an area surrounded by the sea; the boards outside listing the varieties fresh for that day. ‘Perceves’ is a real local delicacy and translates as ‘goose barnacles’! In the hunting season (October to December) there will often be dishes of wild boar (javeli), hare (lebre), partridge (perdiz) and quails (codorniz) on offer as well.
Vila do Bispo is only a short distance from the coast – the nearest beach on the western Atlantic coast is Praia do Castelejo (a favourite with surfers) and the beaches at Sagres are only about 8km. Between Sagres and Burgau, along the southern coastline, are many more quiet beaches which are well worth finding if you want to ‘get away’ from it all. The beaches of Ingrina and Zavial are the closest ( heading eastwards from Vila do Bispo -turn right at Raposeira traffic lights) and apart from being popular with surfers both also have a beach bar / restaurant if you just want to enjoy the view!
Just to the east of Vila do Bispo is the pretty village of Raposeira where Henry the Navigator reputedly lived although no-one can say quite which house! Just a couple of kilometres to the east of Raposeira is the Chapel of Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe, where Prince Henry worshipped. The chapel stands alone in the countryside just to the left of the N125 as you head towards Budens – there is an access road signposted. It was built in the second half of the 13th century and is one of the few buildings in the Algarve to survive the earthquake of 1755. It’s a rather delightfully plain building inside and out and pretty impressive that it’s still in one piece! It is open every day except Mondays and holidays – full details are on the ‘Things to do’ page.
Also along this stretch of coast lies the once small fishing village of Salema. It is now somewhat larger with lots of villas and apartments stretching up and along the steep hillsides that surround the central square.
Amongst the development in Salema was a beach front promenade and additional parking. There are a lot of car parking spaces on one of the roads leading down into the centre, which eases the congestion in the small central area. The houses on the hills above the village certainly have stunning views, and you would certainly get plenty of exercise walking up and down the rather steep hill! Luckily there is car parking part way down which, hopefully, is adequate to cope with demand!
There are many places to explore in the vicinity of Vila do Bispo and it is perfect for walking. A large band of the western Atlantic coast from Sagres to Odeceixe is part of the protected Costa Vicentina park so there is plenty of scope for bird watching and enjoying the multitude of different plants and flowers along the way – springtime (in other words any time after Christmas!) is ideal and the colours are amazing.
There are beaches that hardly anyone visits along this part of the south coast and the most south westerly point in Europe (Cabo de São Vicente) with amazing views is just a short distance away. You can spot remains of look out towers and old fortifications all around the coastline which certainly gives a feel for the less peaceful times in Portugal’s history (though it is hard to imagine today!).
The Vila do Bispo area is also known for having lots of ‘menhirs’, or ‘standing stones’ proving that people were living in this southern region of Portugal as far back as the Stone Age, so as well as having some lovely countryside for long, rambling walks there are quite a lot of interesting things to keep a look out for. An easy menhir to spot is along the road between Raposeira and Praia da Ingrina – conveniently positioned just a few feet from the road! There is a brown information sign (saying ‘megaliths’) a short distance either side of it, so you know when to start looking!
This far western end of the Algarve is still relatively untouched by mass tourism and has beautiful beaches and lovely countryside. It is sometimes a little wild and windswept on the more exposed western Atlantic coast which is, of course, the reason it is a favourite with surfers from all over. It might be quiet but there is still plenty to do around Vila do Bispo – golf, diving, Blo-karting, surfing, horse riding – are all available nearby and if you want to visit a waterpark or Lagos Zoo for a bit of family fun, then Slide and Splash is about half an hour away and the zoo is even closer.
Vila do Bispo is perfect for families and couples who just want to enjoy the sunshine, a few meals out and generally relax into the Algarve way of life.