A trail through caves in the Algarve
The trail of the Seven Hanging Valleys is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful trails in the Algarve and an incredible way to discover the Lagoa e Carvoeiro region by foot. Called “Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos” in Portuguese, it is one of the most beautiful trails in the region but also in Portugal. So, if you’re in the Algarve and enjoy thinking, make the fascinating 7 Hanging Valleys trail route one of your must-do things in your journey.
by Filipe PereiraPortuguese Local Guide
Since an early age, Algarve has been a mandatory stop for me at least twice per year. Get to know this region through insider tips, and discover it like a local!
HOW TO GET TO THE SEVEN HANGING VALLEYS TRAILThe best way to make the trail of 7 Hanging Valleys trail is to get a ride to Praia da Marinha, either by taxi, or ride-hailing apps. Ideally, you would start the trail in the morning. Another option is to take a car to Praia da Marinha and park there. The trail of the seven hanging valleys ends at Vale de Centeanes beach but, if you have time, the best way is to follow the Vale Seco and go to Carvoeiro. In that way, you will already be where you are staying. If you left your car in Praia da Marinha, just take a taxi in Carvoeiro to pick up the car at the beginning of the seven hanging valleys.
Where does the seven hanging valleys trail start?The trail of the 7 Hanging Valleys starts at Praia da Marinha and heads towards Vale de Centeanes Beach, for a total of 5.7 km (without deviations). However, ideally, you can make some detours on the trail of the Seven Hanging Valleys, explore algares, and caves, do kayak or paddle, swim on the beaches, and enjoy the fabulous cuisine of the Algarve.
How long is the seven hanging valleys trail?From its beginning at Praia da Marinha towards Vale de Centeanes Beach, it’s a total of 5.7 km. However, that doesn’t include any detours on the trail, which is something I suggest, making it a bit longer. You will be able to explore algares, caves, doing kayak or paddle, swim on the beaches, and enjoy the fabulous cuisine of the Algarve.
What to Explore While Doing the 7 Hanging Valley Trail?
1. Visit Praia da MarinhaAt the Marina beach, it is worth going down there, contemplating the wonderful rock formations and taking the first dip in the sea before starting the walk through the Seven Hanging Valleys.
2. Visit Praia da MesquitaThe route of the Seven Hanging Valleys begins in the car park of Praia da Marinha and then follows, through the top of the cliffs, towards the beach of the Mesquita, just seen from above. A little ahead is a rock formation with two arches. It is beautiful and also very popular on Instagram because it gives rise to a heart-shaped photograph. The trail then goes towards the cliff at the top of the magnificent beach of Corredoura, only accessible by boat, kayak, or paddle. LOCAL TIP FOR THE SEVEN HangingVALES – A great way to get to Corredoura beach is, when you reach Benagil beach, rent a kayak or paddle and paddle there. You can combine this activity with a visit to the Benagil cave on the trail of the Seven Hanging Valleys.
3. Some of the Algarve coastAlong the way, the route of the Seven Hanging Valleys passes through several algares. The algares (caves) are vertical cavities in limestones where water takes advantage of the rock’s weaknesses, namely cracks and diaclases, and begins to erode these materials. Water mixed with atmospheric carbon dioxide is the leading erosive agent of limestones, causing the dissolution of calcium carbonate. In this way, the cavities begin to grow and resemble wells. These are called dissolution algars.
4. See the Benagil Cave from aboveThe best known figure in the Algarve is the Algar de Benagil, which can be seen from above through the route of the Seven Hanging Valleys. However, you cannot go down to the seaweed from the path of the Seven Hanging Valleys. To go inside the algar you will have to do it from Benagil beach, about 300 meters ahead.
5. Visit Benagil BeachWhen you reach the Benagil beach take the opportunity to bathe and rent a kayak or paddle to visit the magnificent Benagil cave.
6. Visit the Benagil inside the caveWhen you reach the interior of the Algar de Benagil you will realize that this figure is huge. This is because the algars can increase in such a way that, due to lack of support base, they can cause a top to fall, creating a bell-shaped algar, as it seems to be this one from Benagil. These types of algares are called abatement algars and in the Algarve they are magnificent.
7. Visit Praia do CarvalhoThen the hiking then goes towards the Praia do Carvalho, where there is a tunnel dug in the rock on the right side of the beach, that allows seeing a limestone formation of the Miocene rich in conquering limestones, full of shells and skeletons.
8. Cabo CarvoeiroThe trail then goes towards the magnificent Cabo Carvoeiro and the cavities that are at the base and that seem to defy the laws of gravity.
9. The Espinhaço valleyThe route continues along several algares and hanging valleys, some of which are magnificent, as is the case with Vale Espinhaço, where the Carvoeiro stream flows. This is perhaps the easiest hanging valley to understand the dynamics of this type of valleys. The valleys of these Algarve streams are retreating from the coastline due to the collapse of the cliffs. This situation means that at present the flow of the stream ceases to reach the sea smoothly, but in a waterfall, falling from the top of the cliff into the sea. However, most of these valleys are dry, especially for two reasons. The first is because it is a limestone region where runoff is reduced (since the water tends to circulate underground in the limestones). The second reason is related to the climatic characteristics of the area, where rainfall is very scarce and streams have a temporary flow, remaining dry for much of the year. Between Cabo Carvoeiro and the Alfanzina Lighthouse, immense dissolving algares are worth exploring on the trail of the Seven Hanging Valleys.
10. Visit Vale de Centeanes BeachThe trail then goes towards the beach of Vale de Centeanes where it officially ends. However, if you feel like it, you can go to Algar Seco and from there to Carvoeiro. From Vale de Centeanes it is about 2 km.
WHERE TO SLEEP AROUND THE AREANext to the Benagil beach, you can stay in some excellent places close to the Seven Hanging Valleys. You can choose to: Near the Marinha beach, at the beginning of hiking, you can experience the Casa Marinha Beach, the Villa Quinta Marinha [16, Akivillas Benagil Ocean, or to Suites Alba Resort & Spa. Near the Plaza de Vale de Centianes, at the end of the Seven Hanging Valleys trail, you can experience the Cidana´s Beach House, o Centeanes Beach apartment, Pestana Palm Gardens, or the Hotel Baia Cristal Beach & Spa Resort. Next to the Praia do Carvoeiro, you can stay in some excellent places. You can choose to:
- cheaper accommodation in Carvoeiro, such as O Quintal Guesthouse, Castelo Guest House, or Hotel Carvoeiro Plaza;
- more comfortable accommodation in Carvoeiro, the Tivoli Carvoeiro, the Suites Alba Resort & amp; Spa, or Villa Welwitshia;
- accommodation for families or groups in Carvoeiro, Casa Alfanzina, Vivenda Brito, Casa Cedro – Vista Mar 2, or Casa Borboleta, and Apartment Miramare apartments, Carvoeiro Bay Apartment, Beach Apartment Carvoeiro, or the Beach Apartment.