We decided to visit the southern region of Portugal, Algarve, in a long weekend. We tried to see as much as possible in as little time. It was a tough mission but we got the best time trying. We visited several places in Algarve such as Lagos and Lagoa, where you can find the famous Benagil Cave. We did not have time to explore Albufeira, but it is a good reason to go back!
In this guide we will give you a full list of things you must do in Lagoa, including a complete guide on hiking the Seven Hanging Valley Trail and the information you need to visit the beautiful Benagil Cave.
The beautiful city of Lagoa is great to walk around and photograph, but it is really internationally known for its breathtaking beaches, grottos and caves along its endless limestone cliffs. To best experience Lagoa you need to be ready to hike, swim and explore.
Continue reading for the complete guide on how to visit the Benagil Cave and to explore this breathtaking region.
Best things to do in Algarve Travel Video:
Choosing how to get to the Benagil Cave
When we first started researching how to get to this breathtaking cave, we had a hard time understanding how to get to the Benagil cave and what else there was to do in the surrounding area. We decided to write this post to make it easier for you to explore the area and get the best experience possible.
The first thing to have in mind is that the Benagil Cave is not the only cave around even though it might be the most beautiful one. So, there are two main ways to explore the are either by foot or by boat. Keep reading to see which option is more appropriate for your interests, budget and time. The only thing that you need to be aware is that you cannot access the cave by foot, you can only access it by sea.
Exploring the caves of Carvoeiro by foot:
One of the best way to enjoy the view of the endless cliffs and rock formations in Lagoa is by hiking the Seven Hanging Valleys trail. The trail follows the edges of the cliffs down the coastline, offering the best views to the hikers. There are some of the beaches are not accessible from land, but you can still look down on them and photograph from the trail.
The Seven Hanging Valleys trail starts at the Praia de Vale Centianes and finishes in Praia de Marihna. You can start the hike at any point and finish it where you please, while stopping at many beaches along the way. It is a linear hike and a total of 11.4km round trip. It can take you approximately 3 hours each way, unless you take more time going down the beaches, swimming and relaxing along the way.
For more information about the hike, check out page 34 of the Guide to Walking Trails in the Algarve by the local tourism board.
Another great way to see the caves and the beautiful landscape of Lagoa is by taking a boat tour. We recommend doing both activities as you will get a total different perspective and experience that will make your trip even more enjoyable.
Exploring the caves of Lagoa by boat
When visiting Lagoa we highly suggest taking a boat tour of the grottos, caves and secluded beaches. You enter many caves, some not much bigger than the boat itself, and admire the beautiful rock formations.
We took a boat tour with Taruga Benagil Tours. We chose them based on their price and the number of caves the tour visits. We looked for the best tour option and decided this was the best, and we were not wrong. We enjoyed it and took beautiful pictures and videos. We visited 20 caves from Carvoeiro to Armacao Pera.
There are two different options for the boat tour; the first one is to enjoy the ride from the boat and the second one includes to stay at the Benagil Cave for half an hour. You could also get a beach transfer, closer to the city or your hotel, if needed, for an extra fee.
You will definitely see so many beautiful villages and many beautiful sea caves in the tour and Benagil cave will be just the cherry on the cake.
Praia do Paraiso
Praia do Paraiso is a gorgeous beach with the best spots to take panoramic landscape photos. This secluded bay is just north of the town beach, giving an amazing beach at the foot of the city.
Farol de Alfanzina (Lighthouse)
Even though the Alfanzina Lighthouse is closed to the public, the lighthouse and its beautiful red house make a great photo on the edge of the cliffs. The lighthouse was built in the 1920’s and is still lighting the way to this day.
Carvoerio Beach is the main beach of the city and closest to the downtown area. You can access it by going down Lagoa Road, until the beach is right at your feet. It is the only beach in the area with wheelchair access. It is also a starting point of many of the boat cave tours.
Vale de Covo
Vale de Covo a small but gorgeous beach located between Carvoreiro and Centianes Beach. This secluded spot is located behind the Almansor Hotel is great for a photo alone.
Centianes Beach is the second closest beach to downtown. Being so close to downtown this large beach can fill up fast in the mornings. If you spend the day there, there is also a bar and restaurant right on the beach for some food and drinks.
Benagil Beach is famous for its breathtaking cave, Benagil Cave, which is just around the corner. You can visit the cave by boat even though it is not far from the beach itself, swimming is not recommended due the amount of tour boats that go to the cave. It can be dangerous.
If you are looking to visit one of the most famous beach caves in the world, look no further than the Benagil Sea Cave. The Benagil cave, also known as Algar de Benagil, is probably the most famous and beautiful cave of all the sea caves in the region of Algarve.
This breathtaking location is best accessed via a boat tour, where you have the added option to be dropped of at this small beach and enjoy for a short time. You cannot reach the Benagil cave by foot or swimming. The only ways are by going on a kayak or taking a boat tour.
Carvalho Beach is one of the more secluded and unique beaches that we visited. To get to the beach you must walk through the carved out rock. On the right side of the beach, there are steps carved out to a small room halfway up the cliff, where you can see the whole beach and even jump into the waters if you are daring. On the left side of the beach there is a beautiful small cave that looks like a frame.
Albandeira Beach is a great beach if you are looking to spend your day enjoying tide pools. On the edges of the beach there are small caves you can walk through, during low tide, to get to some smaller and more rocky beaches.
Marinha Beach is classified as one of the best destinations in Europe by European Best Destinations and is a top 10 most beautiful beaches in Europe by Michelin Guide. If those awards do not convince you, take our word, it is worth visiting. It has the most beautiful views, water and sand!
Tips to make your visit to Lagoa and the Benagil Cave more enjoyable:
- If you choose to do the trail give yourself at least 3 hours each way to walk and take as many photos as you wish. Something we recommend doing if you have a car and are traveling with someone is to drop someone off at the beginning of the trail and then drive to the end of the trail to start the hike. In the middle you meet and switch car keys and pick the other person up. In this way you can safe time and only do the hike one way.
- Most Benagil cave boat tours take between two to three hours. The tours have different prices but they range from 25 to 40EUR per person.
- Go early in the morning for less crowds.
- Bring your swimsuit in case you take the tour where you can swim or stay at one of the caves.
- Use sunscreen, you do not want to burn yourself.
- Bring your camera and a waterproof case.
When is the best time to visit the Benagil Cave?
The months between July and August are the busiest months in Southern Portugal. Prices are higher as well as the beaches are super crowded. If possible I would try to avoid traveling during the summer as it is their high season. The low season, which is between November to March, is a little bit colder and less boats are running.
The best time to visit the Benagil Caves and the region of Algarve in general is during the shoulder season, in early June and the beginning of September to early October.
What is the best time of day to visit the Benagil Cave?
I always say the earlier the better. Not only you will avoid the crowds but you will also get better lighting and more time to enjoy other activities. We recommend to visit the cave either before hiking the Seven Hanging Valley Trail or after finishing it. If you are more into photography then you might want to do it between 11 AM to 5 PM depending in what season you are visiting. The lighting early in the morning might not be the best for photos.