The Complete Guide to Visiting Benagil Cave in 2023 (2023)

If you’re planning to visit the Algarve, you’ve probably heard about the Benagil Cave, one of the most famous landmarks of Portugal.

If you’re wondering what exactly is the Benagil Cave, or how to get there in 2023, then you’ve come to the right place!

In this complete guide to visiting the Benagil Cave, we will go over everything you need to know to plan your trip to Portugal and make sure you can properly visit it.

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  • The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Benagil Cave
  • What is the Benagil Cave?
  • Where is the Benagil Cave?
  • How to Get to the Sea Cave?
  • Best Time to Visit the Benagil Caves
  • Expert Tips for Visiting the Benagil Sea Cave
  • Where to Stay Near Benagil Cave?
  • Best Places to See in Algarve After Visiting Benagil

The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Benagil Cave

During my recent trip to Portugal, I went to the south coast, also known as the Algarve. The coast is absolutely stunning, and there is plenty of beautiful places to see around. One of the most epic locations in the Algarve is the Benagil Cave. If you don’t know what it is, don’t worry – I had no idea before actually starting to plan my trip.

Let’s get started with the first part of this guide.

What is the Benagil Cave?

The Benagil Cave, also known as Algar de Benagil in Portuguese, is a geological marvel. The Benagil Cave is an open-sky cave, with a dream-like sand beach inside.

When you’re inside the cave, on the beach, you can see the sky through the opening on the top of the cave. Similarly, when you’re above the cave, on the cliffs, you can see the beach below through the hole.

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The cave boasts a warm orange tone, that contrasts nicely with the blue of the sea. The cave is only accessible by sea, and that’s part of its charm.

You might wonder how was the cave created. Well, the cliffs are made of limestone and, years after years, the waves and wind have created the cave, while the rainwater has made the opening on top of the cave. The Benagil Cave is more than 20 million years old.

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You can visit it in 2 different ways: from the cliffs above while hiking on the Algarve coast; or you can go inside the cave. Whatever way you’ll choose is up to you! Keep reading below to learn exactly how you can visit it.

Where is the Benagil Cave?

The Benagil Cave is located in the south of Portugal, in the region called Algarve.

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🚗 By car:

  • From Lagos: To go to the Benagil Cave from Lagos, which is one of the major towns in the Algarve, it will take you around 40min of driving.
  • From Lisbon: If you’re going from Lisbon to Benagil Caves, it’s a 2,5 hours drive.

🚎 By bus:

  • From Lagos: You can also take a bus from Lagos. There seems to be only one main bus from Lagos to Benagil, leaving twice a day. The first departure is at 9:25 am, and the second one is at 3 pm. Check out the times here: Algarve bus times.
  • From Lisbon: You can take the bus from Lisbon. It takes around 3 hours and costs 20 euros. The buses are pretty comfy, they have air conditioning and toilets. Check out the bus times on this page: enter “Lisbo Oriente” or “Lisboa Sete Rios” as the departure point and choose “Lagoa” as a destination. Be careful, you need to choose “LAGOA” and not “LAGOS”. Lagoa is 15min away from Benagil, while Lagos is 45min away. Once you arrive in Lagoa, you can take a taxi that will take you to Benagil Beach.

✈️ By plane: Faro airport is the nearest airport, located only 62km from Benagil. From there, you can either rent a car, take a taxi (but this will cost you), or choose public transportation.

  • Bus transfers from the airport: reach Benagil in 2,5 hours taking the 56 Aerobus (Faro Airport – Lagoa) and then the bus line 110 to Monte Carvoeiro for 10-12 euros. There are also private shuttles that will take you there in only 45 minutes for 25 euros, you can check them here.
  • Taxi from the airport: will take only 45 minutes to reach Benagil, but it will cost about 65-85 euros.

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How to Get to the Sea Cave?

Once you arrive close to the Benagil Cave, in Benagil Beach, for example, you’re not totally done yet. You still need to find out how to get to the cave.

There are actually several ways you can get to the cave. I will list them below:

1. Walk to the Cave

While you will not be able to go inside the cave by walking, you can go above it. All along the Algarve coast, you’ll find walking paths on the cliffs.

I recommend starting your day at the Cao Raivoso beach. Then, you can hike your way towards the caves, which you will reach in 10 minutes. Along the way, you’ll walk on the cliffs above Praia da Corredoura, a beautiful protected beach.

The Benagil Cave is also pretty impressive from above. There are wooden fences around it, which I do not recommend crossing, as the area around the hole is pretty unstable – cross at your own risk. From above, you’ll see the beach below, which makes for a pretty unique sight!

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2. Drive to Benagil

Same as walking, driving will not get you inside the cave, but it will get you on the cliffs above. Head for Benagil Caves with your GPS, and then head out from the main road on a dirt lane. This will get you very close to the cave. Simply park your car somewhere, and go for a short walk 🙂

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3. Swim to Benagil

Swimming is the first way to get inside the cave. The swimming distance is around 200 meters at low tide.

Start at Praia de Benagil (Benagil beach), swim along the cliff for 1 minute, and you’ll soon see the cave after turning around the bend of the cliff. Then you have to swim 100 meters to the cave.

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Swimming to the cave is the easiest at low tide. In any case, low or high tide, swimming along cliffs remains dangerous. Do not attempt if you’re not an experienced swimmer, and please do not attempt to go with kids.

Now, if you’re a terrible swimmer like me, swimming is not really an option. Check out the following options if you still want to visit inside the cave, while being safe.

4. Rent a Stand-Up Paddle or a Kayak

If you’re not confident in your swimming abilities, don’t worry! You can rent a SUP (stand-up paddle) from the Benagil Beach, and paddle your way inside the cave. It will cost you around 20€ for one board.

If you don’t like paddling or if you’re afraid of carrying your things on a stand-up paddle, you can prefer to rent a kayak on a beach nearby. It will make your experience a whole better as you can fit your bags in the kayak, and this will be way safer for your belongings than on the stand-up paddle.

You can rent a kayak in Benagil Beach: this will cost around 30€ per hour.

Here’s the best paddle/kayak tour you can book for your visit to the caves: From Albufeira: Benagil Tour by Kayak or SUP

5. Go on a Boat Tour

The last option to visit the Benagil Caves is to go on a boat tour. This is by far the most popular way to get to the caves, and you’ll have no difficulty finding a tour.

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2019 update: boats are no longer authorized to disembark on the beach. They have to stay at sea, away from the beach. Some boats allow you to go in the water and swim to the beach.

If you choose to do so, you’ll have to go early morning. The area gets crowded pretty quick, and boats are queuing up to enter the caves. If you don’t go early enough, your boat won’t be able to stay long enough at the cave for you to swim to it.

Benagil is not the only destination for boat tours. Rather, you will go along the Algarve coast, and you’ll discover the many caves of the region. Check out Taruga Benagil Tours; they’ll take you to 20 different caves, for around 18€.

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Have you chosen how you’ll discover the Benagil Cave Algarve? If not or if you can’t do any of the above, you should know there’s one last option to visit the caves in-depth: using your drone!

If you have a drone with you while visiting Portugal, you can use your drone to see the caves from above, and experience them through your smartphone screen (or even better, 3D glasses if you have a pair!)

Best Time to Visit the Benagil Caves

As you may already know, Algarve is a top summer destination in Europe thanks to its beautiful beaches and very pleasant weather. But because of the crowds, summer is certainly not the best time of the year to visit if you need relaxation and calm.

For me, the best time to go to Benagil Cave and enjoy this marvel is in spring (April – June) or autumn (September – October). There are fewer tourists than in July and August, and the weather is still appropriate for swimming as temperatures are between 18°C and 35°C.

Nevertheless, if you decide to spend your summer vacations in the Algarve, you should know that the boat or kayak excursions to the caves are quickly taken over. It is highly recommended to book in advance.

Expert Tips for Visiting the Benagil Sea Cave

If you’re in the last steps of planning your trip to the Algarve and the Benagil Cave, I’ve listed below several tips that will help you during your adventure:

  • plan in advance: the worst thing you want to do is go to the Benagil Cave without any planning, thinking you’ll just wing it. If you do so, you might leave the place without having experienced it the way you wanted to. Make sure to plan correctly what you want to do, in which way you want to visit, and at what times.
  • wake up early: this is true especially if you’re visiting in summer. The cave is the most popular attraction in the Algarve, and it gets crazily packed during the day – boats line up in front of the entry, and people battle for a spot on the beach inside the cave. Wake up early, and visit the caves first thing in the morning to have the best experience possible. Use the rest of the day to visit some less famous locations in the area.

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  • pack your GoPro or waterproof camera: it’s rather hard to bring camera gear inside the cave (you can with a kayak), so if you want to take photos inside the cave, the best bet is to pack your waterproof camera. It’ll be easy to carry it when swimming to the cave from the beach, from the boat, or while paddling on the stand-up paddle.
  • book your activity as soon as possible: if you’re thinking of going to the cave with a stand-up paddle, a kayak, or a boat, you need to book it as soon as possible. The Algarve is a pretty popular region, and it gets pretty crowded. Save yourself some troubles, and book early. You’ll have peace of mind when coming to the spot, with your mean of transportation to the cave already booked.
  • check the tides: if you plan to swim, it’s best to visit at low tide, as it will be much easier to swim to the cave.

Where to Stay Near Benagil Cave?

The Algarve is one of the most visited regions in Portugal and the Benagil Caves are one of its top attractions. So whatever your travel style and budget, you’ll definitely find something that will best suit you. Below, find out my top 3 recommendations close to the caves:

💰 Budget – Olive Hostel Lagos: Located in the center of Lagos, this hostel is certainly not the closest to the caves, but it is a very good value for money. It’s also a smart choice if you’re traveling Algarve, not only Benagil. Clean, comfortable with a nice decoration and all commodities, you will feel like in a hotel.

Comfy – O Quintal Guesthouse: Located a 15min drive from Benagil beach and a 2min walk from Carvoeiro Beach, this bed & breakfast offers everything you could need. Air conditioning, a terrace, a kitchen, an outdoor swimming pool, etc. You will feel at home there.

⭐️ Luxury – Rocha Brava Village Resort: Located only a 10min drive from the caves, this 4-star-resort has 3 swimming pools, several tennis courts, a gym, and more. Rooms are pretty well furnished, each of them has everything to be independent (washing machine, dishwasher, microwave…). The perfect luxury choice!

Not satisfied with this selection? Find more options in this dedicated guide of the 20+ Best Hotels in Algarve.

If you want to know more about the best neighborhoods where to stay in Algarve, check here.

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Best Places to See in Algarve After Visiting Benagil

While the Benagil Cave is the most famous thing to see in the Algarve, there are plenty of other beautiful things to discover on the south coast of Portugal.

Right next to the caves, you’ll find the secret beach – Cao Raivoso. You can drive there, park your car on the cliffs, and then start your day hike up on the Algarve cliffs.

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Among all the amazing things to see on the Algarve coast, here are a few:

  • Ponta da Piedade
  • Student beach
  • Camilo Beach
  • Albandeira Beach
  • Tavira Castle

You can also check out this post for a list of all the incredible locations in the Algarve: 36 best places in Algarve

FAQ: Quick Answers & Information About Benagil Cave

Find below a quick sum-up of this post thanks to these answers to the questions you might have about Portugal’s Benagil.

When is the best time to visit the Benagil caves? The caves can be visited any time of the year and boat trips are also available all year round, but I strongly recommend going in May-June or September-October. In winter, it will be more complicated to swim because of the temperature of the water, but the more adventurous among you can try.

Where to sleep around Benagil? The best place you could stay in if you want to be close to the sea caves is O Quintal Guesthouse. It’s a comfy hotel not too expensive located on the Carvoeiro beach at only 15min from the sea caves.

Is it possible to visit Benagil on your own or do you have to book a tour? You can visit it by yourself easily by hiking or driving, but this won’t take you inside the cave. To get inside, I recommend booking a tour (either a boat tour, a kayak tour, or a paddle-SUP tour as you prefer).

Click here to find the best Benagil cave tours on Get Your Guide.

Where to park around the Benagil cave? Due to the limited parking around Benagil beach, it is recommended to leave your car in the large parking lot located 300 meters from the beach when coming from Lagos. The place is very touristic and well indicated.

Where to eat around Benagil cave? Several restaurants are located near the sea cave of Benagil, here are some recommendations:

  • O Pescador: located on the main road, not far from the parking, this place serves seafood, fish, and gourmet cuisine in a nice trendy setting with a view of the cliffs.
  • Casa Lamy: directly at the beach, this restaurant serves typical Portuguese food, grilled seafood, salads, and more for a good price.
  • O Litoral: cozy restaurant near the beach, serving local products including squid, monkfish, and other grilled fish.

What to pack for a cruise to the Benagil cave? Bring warm clothes. Even if it feels warm on land, at sea the temperatures are cooler. Add to that the speed of the boat and the splashes that could get you wet… It is wise to take a warm garment or a windbreaker. Don’t forget sunglasses and sunscreen, as the sun reflects on the sea, which can sometimes be annoying.

I hope this guide helped you plan your trip to Portugal and the Algarve, and that you’ll include the Benagil Caves in your schedule! Do you still have any questions about the cave after reading this guide? Ask in the comments below, I always reply!

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