If you are planning a trip in Algarve, you may wonder where are the best spots to walk and hike. Well, there are lots of different coves and secluded beaches on the Algarve coast. Indeed, the seashore is jagged and offers incredible landscapes. But even if there are lots of different hikes in Algarve, there is one which is especially great. So what is the best hike in Algarve?
The best hike in Algarve is a portion of the Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos (the Seven Hanging Valleys Hiking route). It is the part located between Praia da Marinha and Alfanzina Lighthouse, a 2.5 kilometers trail along the coast. During this hike, you can see several rock formations like the Arco Natural (the Natural Arch), the Algar de Benagil (Benagil Cave), and Praia do Carvalho.
Where is the best hike in Algarve?
Now that we know what the best hike in Algarve is, it is important to know where we should head. The answer is pretty easy. Simply head to Praia da Marinha or to Alfanzina Lighthouse. When I did this hike back in September 2020, we started at Praia da Marinha, but we went across tourists who did it the other way around.
To help visualize where this hike is, here is a satellite view from Google Maps. On the right, you can see Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos and Praia da Marinha. On the left, you can see Alfanzina Lighthouse. Between those two points, you can also see the beaches and rock formations that I mentioned in the introduction.
Finding the best place to start a hike is not always the easiest thing. However, it is pretty easy to find the beginning of this trail. Indeed, this hike starts just at the top of the cliffs behind Praia da Marinha.
Just like a lot of other beaches of Algarve, Praia da Marinha has got cliffs behind it. Basically, the sand of the beach is only accessible after going down the cliffs. This is also the case in Praia da Falesia near Albufeira and Praia do Camilo near Lagos.
However, you will probably not stop directly on this beach because you still have some distance to cover. The view is scenic and you can come back to this beach at another moment if you want to. It’s time to head West and follow the coast trail.
The views on the route from Praia da Marinha to Alfanzina Lighthouse are scenic. You will encounter lots of different types of rock formations. For instance, you will encounter ribbed rocks, holes leading to the sea, caves, coves, and the list goes on.
Praia da Marinha : a great beach to start the best hike in Algarve
Once you arrive at the trailhead, you will be welcomed by one of the most beautiful beaches of Algarve: Praia da Marinha. You will love its colors, its cliffs, and its soft sand.
The particularity of this beach is the presence of huge rocks which are separated from the cliffs, and which stand in the water. If you have ever been to Etretat in France, it may remind you of this place, but you will probably experience better weather in Portugal. In the next video, you can clearly see what I am talking about.
The ribbed rocks of Algarve
After a short walk along the cliffs of Praia da Marinha, you will see another interesting rock formation. It consists of ribbed rocks that could remind you of the ones you can find at Zabriskie Point in the Death Valley. Check the next video to see what I am talking about.
The holes along the trail
During the whole hike, you will also find some huge holes in the middle of the cliffs. To protect walkers, there are barriers around them. Make sure to respect those barriers because falling in one of those holes would be deadly.
This is the kind of holes that created Benagil Cave: the next step of our hike.
After Praia da Marinha, the ribbed rocks, and some holes, you will arrive at the climax of the hike: the Algar de Benagil (Benagil Cave). From the cliffs, Benagil Cave just looks like one of the classic holes of the hikes.
But from down there, it is not the same! It is one of the most photographed places in Algarve, and for good reason. However, to access it, you will need to follow the local rules. You can either join a little cruise or rent a canoe. When I was there, we did not visit Benagil Cave because we were a bit short on time.
We preferred to enjoy some time on Praia de Benagil, a beach in the area.
When you arrive in the village of Benagil, the first part of the trail ends. It is definitely a good time for a break. You can use this break to join a cruise to visit Benagil Cave, to lunch, or to simply enjoy some time at Benagil beach. The latter is a simple yet effective option because it is a great place to relax.
Then, you can start the second part of the trail up to Alfanzina Lighthouse. Some really special coves are waiting for you on this part.
On the second part of the trail, you will definitely be impressed by the number of amazing coves you will encounter. The seashore is so jagged that the weather conditions created secluded beaches on all the coastline. In the next video, you can see one of the coves you will encounter (this one is from the first part of the hike, but still).
However, as you can see in this picture, those coves are not always accessible. There are no stairs like on other famous beaches of Algarve. And walking down to the beach would be extremely dangerous. Even going there with a boat is not recommended.
Thankfully, there are some scenic coves that are accessible along the trail. This is the case of Praia do Carvalho, which you will encounter after Benagil on the second part of the trail.
Praia do Carvalho
Praia do Carvalho is just a large coves like the others on the trail… except that you can access it! And in a unique way! Indeed, a hole was dug inside the stone to create an access to the beach.
This means that you will use a stair dug in the stone to get to the beach. Look at the next picture to see what it looks like.
After leaving Praia do Carvalho, you want to keep following the coastline until Alfanzina Lighthouse.
The end of the best hike in Algarve
As mentioned in the introduction, I recommend that you stop the hike at Alfanzina Lighthouse. However, this is just a piece of advice I give you after my experience doing this hike. You can definitely continue and do the whole Seven Hanging Valleys trail.
In this last section of the hike, you will keep encountering the typical holes and coves. It is a little less touristic, because a part of the tourists stop in Benagil, but you will still see some tourists.
When you arrive at Alfanzina Lighthouse, you can book an Uber to get back to your car. Doing the round trip is totally possible, but it may be a bit long. Indeed, if you stop at Benagil to eat, enjoy the beach, or head to the cave, you will definitely spend several hours to complete the hike. Doing a round trip with this kind of stops would definitely take you around 5 hours.
I hope that this article was helpful and that you are now ready to get on this trail! It is definitely a must-see if you visit Algarve, so I would recommend that you spend at least half-a-day in the area.
If you want to include this hike in a 3-days guide around Faro, you can check the ultimate travel guide I wrote about Algarve by clicking the link attached.
Finally, if there is something I did not cover, or if you want to learn more about this trail, you can ask your question in the comment section below or send me an e-mail. I will be very happy to get back to you.