Benagil cave in Algarve Portugal

How to See Benagil Cave in Algarve (+ Best Tips & Tours)

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Are you planning to visit the Benagil Cave in Algarve, Portugal, and looking for information and tips on how to do it? This article is for you!

In this post, we cover all you need to know about how to see the Benagil Cave in Portugal: where it is, how to get there, tips for best tours, and also our personal experience with visiting Benagil Cave. I also included the map of the area and some practical tips to help you plan your trip. Read on!

We only had two days in Algarve during our recent Portugal stopover. So because our time was very limited, we had to be very selective in what to see and do. On this first-time visit, we wanted to see the very best that Algarve has to offer.

After some research, we chose several of the very best beaches in Algarve and when we stumbled upon a picture of the Benagil cave, we just knew we had to see it as well!

If there is one thing you must do in Algarve is take a boat tour to see the amazing sea caves in Cabo Carvoeiro area!

Benagil cave, also known as Algar de Benagil, is probably the most famous of all the sea caves of Algarve. And yes, it is as beautiful as it looks in the pictures. However, there is so much more to see along the coast of Algarve than just the Benagil sea cave – the whole coastline is beautiful and it’s full of stunning sea caves.

TIP: One of the best ways to see the most beautiful Algarve sea caves, including the Benagil Cave, is to take a boat tour. We took and recommend this highly-rated boat tour. You can read about our experience further below.

How to see the famous Benagil cave in Algarve Portugal
 

Where is Benagil Cave in Portugal

Benagil cave, Grutas de Benagil, is located next to Praia de Benagil (Benagil Beach), between Portimao, Albufeira, and Lagoa. See the map below for the exact location.

 

How to get to Benagil sea cave

While it’s located just around the corner from the nearby Benagil beach (Praia de Benagil), the Benagil cave can only be reached via the sea. You can drive to the top of the cave and walk up to the hole in the ceiling of the Benagil cave and see it from above, but there is no way to get inside the Benagil Cave itself on foot.

To get to the Benagil cave you have to either swim (beware that the ocean is rough and even the best swimmers should be careful), kayak, or take a boat tour.

Boats don’t really stay inside any of the caves longer than a few minutes and leave to make place for the others. Therefore I would advise going as early in the morning as possible.

We couldn’t believe the number of boats that were queuing to enter the Benagil cave when we left. There was just one other boat when we arrived there; where did they all come from all of a sudden?!

Good to know: We were told that it is now forbidden to disembark in the Benagil cave if you come by boat, even though a lot of people who come there with their own boat still do so. If you want to walk inside the caven it’s probably best to go there by kayak – that way you can also get out of the boat and walk inside the Benagil caves.

TIP: Beware that the sea can be very rough and so it’s best to go with an organized kayak tour.

Benagil beach and Benagil caves as seen from a boat
Benagil beach and Benagil caves as seen from the outside
 

Benagil Cave boat tour – the best way to see the Algarve coastline

One of the best ways to get to the Benagil sea cave is by joining the Benagil caves boat tour. There are many companies running boat tours in Algarve and especially in high season you’ll probably be able to find a boat going to Benagil cave in every village nearby.

It’s hard to say which tours are best and what exactly they offer and a lot depends on where you get on the boat – the more coastline you cover, the more sea caves you’ll see. We noticed that the closer we got to the Benagil cave, the more boats we met. So it seems that no matter which Algarve sea cave tour you are on in Portimao – Albufeira area, Benagil cave is always on the itinerary.

We chose this highly rated boat tour departing from Portimao because it not only gave us a possibility to visit the famous Benagil cave, but also see the whole beautiful coastline on the way to it. We also read that this particular stretch of Algarve coast between Portimão and Armação de Pêra is the most beautiful part and most worthy to see from the boat.

Most beautiful sea caves in Algarve Portugal
Just one of the many sea caves we visited
 

We saw the coastline between Portimão and Praia de Benagil, whereas boat tours starting in Albufeira visit the other side – between Albufeira and Benagil. Judging from the customer reviews, both sides are probably just as nice.

As our guide said before we departed, you’ll see so many beautiful villages and so many stunning sea caves, that Benagil cave is just a cherry on the cake. And it’s true – the scenery along the coast and the many sea caves near Cabo Carvoeiro are simply stunning.

There is always a possibility that due to rough sea conditions the boats can’t enter one or the other cave. Benagil cave is not always accessible either. However, it doesn’t even matter and don’t think you missed much if you can’t enter the Benagil Cave due to very rough conditions. You’ll see so many other beautiful places and sea caves that it’s always worth a trip anyway.

Farol de Alfanzina - Alfanzina lighthouse near Cabo Carvoeiro in Algarve Portugal
Alfanzina lighthouse near Cabo Carvoeiro
 

Our experience with the Benagil Cave boat tour

As I said, we took this highly-rated small boat tour on a speed boat departing from Portimao. The whole trip was just a sequence of one highlight after another.

There were just 12 people on the boat and everybody was super excited and mesmerized by the beauty of the places that we visited.

The sea was quite rough on the day we did this boat tour in April and we were happy to be on a small speed boat. These boats go faster, you never get seasick in them, and they also have much bigger chances to be able to enter the sea caves.

We visited so many sea caves that I lost the count of them all. Despite the rough sea, we could enter every single one of them. Our guide was extremely well trained and he made sure that we had a safe ride with lots of thrills along the way. He also told us a lot about the places that we saw and gave quite some tips on the best places to visit along the Algarve coast by car afterwards.

Best way to see Algarve coast and the sea caves is to take a boat tour
Algarve coast is simply stunning!
 

Benagil Cave boat tour with kids

We did the Benagil cave boat tour in Algarve with our three kids (ages 7, 7, and 9) and at first, we were a bit worried that they might get bored. But the kids were all just as excited as we were!

All three boys loved the fast and bumpy boat ride and were super excited about the boat entering the caves and passing through the narrow openings in the rocks. None of them got bored and they kept on saying that this was the best boat ride ever. In fact, they loved it so much that a few days later we did a whale watching tour in Madeira with a speed boat as well.

From what I see, there is no age limit for kids on this tour, so it’s a fun activity that the whole family can enjoy together.

Benagil Caves in Algarve Portugal
Benagil Cave
 

Is it possible to visit Benagil Cave from Lagos?

The best way to get to Benagil Cave is by taking a boat tour from Portimao or Albufeira – the two biggest towns nearby. However, it’s also possible to visit the cave from Lagos. It’s a bit further and boat tours take just a little bit longer (and cost a bit more), but it’s definitely possible.

The price difference is just 5-10EUR, so it’s not worth taking a car to Portimao first. If you are staying in Lagos, just take a boat tour to Benagil cave from there.

TIP: Here you can find the best Benagil cave tours from Lagos.

Practical information for visiting Benagil Cave

  • If you want to see Benagil Cave from above, you can do it by yourself, no need to take a tour. But if you want to see it from the inside, it’s best to take a boat or a kayak. While swimming is theoretically possible, I really wouldn’t advise it.
  • Most Benagil cave boat tours take 2 to 3 hours and cost around 30-40EUR/pp (price varies depending on the season, duration of the tour, size of the boat, etc.). You can find and book Benagil cave tours here.
  • Make sure to do your research and book a small boat tour. Smaller boats have fewer people, they go faster, and they can enter the caves easier.
  • If you are traveling in summer and have plenty of time, consider a kayaking tour.
  • Go early in the morning for fewer crowds.
  • In summer, some tours also offer an option to swim, so you may want to wear your swimsuit and take a towel.
  • Don’t forget sunscreen lotion. We didn’t think to apply any as it was a rather grey and cool spring day and we all got red noses in just two hours.
  • There are many more possibilities to explore the Algarve coastline by boat: kayak trips, a combination of sea caves and dolphin watching, etc. Here you can find the best deals for Algarve boat tours departing from many different towns.
The best way to see the stunning Algarve coastline is by boat
Boat tour is the best way to see the beautiful Algarve coast
 

Taking the boat tour to Benagil cave was one of the absolute highlights of our short trip to Algarve. Whether you are in Algarve for just a day or a week, seeing the sea caves and the beautiful coastline from the water is really a must. Highly recommended!

***Read also: Best Beaches in Algarve***

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How to see the best sea caves of Algarve Portugal including the famous Benagil cave
 

Comments

  1. I just returned from the Algarve region this week and also highly recommend you see the Benagil caves! We took the kayak tour, which allows you to dock the kayak and spend some time in the cave, whereas boats are not permitted to dock. Note, the Benagil beach is close enough, where some people entered the cave via swimming or paddle boarding. One more quick tip. While in the Algarve, don’t miss out on the ‘Seven hanging valley walk’ in the Algarve which is a coastline walk that starts in Praia do Marinha and ends in Praia de Vale Centeanes (it’s 3.7 miles one way, so 7.4 miles roundtrip). The views are truly breathtaking! I can’t say enough about it. Enjoy!! BTW, the Algarve coastline is on the cover of the ‘National Geographic’ magazine this month. 🙂

    1. Author

      Thank you for sharing your experience, Manuela.
      Happy travels!

    2. Hi Manuela, We are traveling to Algarve next week and I was looking into kayak options to Benagil caves. How was the kayak experience itself. Was it tough and how long did it take? Also, do you know if they allow kids on the kayaks?

      1. Author

        Hi Bindi, our comment section doesn’t work like forums do so I’m the only one who gets notifications if there are comments…
        Anyway, here you can find a very popular kayaking tour with lots of reviews and it seems to be possible to book it from 3 years old.
        From everything I hear, your kayaking experience will depend completely on how the sea is that day – it can be quite rough or it can be calm and easy.
        Enjoy your trip!

  2. Hello, great info and pics! Do you know of any companies that do private boat charters? Thank you

  3. Thanks a lot for sharing this useful and easy to get information

  4. Hello Jurga,
    This is a very informative post. We will be travelling to Algarve with our 4 year daughter in the last week of August 2019 for 3N/4D.
    I have gone through many blogs online and is confused if I should stay at Lagos, Albufeira or near Praia da Rocha. Can you please provide some tips in this regard. We want to see mainly the beautiful beaches and caves.
    Also is it possible to travel within Algarve without car, Thanks..

    1. Author

      Hi Ravi, all these areas are nice in their own way and there is not one best answer where to stay.
      Staying in Portimao (Praia da Rocha) has the benefit of being more central and if you like touristy busy beach towns, I think it’s a good choice.
      I hear that Albufeira area is also very nice and in Lagos you have some of the most beautiful beaches of Algarve too. Stunning area, but if you stay close to e.g. Praia Dona Ana or Praia do Camilo, there’s not much else there, but the beach and a few restaurants. So it’s really about what you are looking for…
      We ourselves stayed in Sagres. It’s a bit far from everywhere else, but we loved that off-beat feeling and the area is so nice too.
      It’s a really tough choice. If you are mostly interested in sightseeing, I think Lagos or Portimao are the two best places because they are close to the bigger roads, so it will take you less time to get somewhere…
      If you are looking for specific accommodation tips, please check this article about the best beaches in Algarve, where I also indicated the nicest accommodations near each beach.
      And yes, I really recommend renting a car if you are planning to travel around. I guess you could also take a few boat tours too, but it’s also about getting there.
      Check this website for best car rental deals. It’s usually quite cheap in Portugal (we paid just 18-25 EUR/day for a big car every time we rented (always in April though)).
      Hope this helps.

  5. Hello!
    Thanks for sharing your impressions. We are at the algarve right now and would love to visit the Benagil caves. The only problem is I sprained my ankle and tore a ligament. What would you say. Is it possible to do the tour? Most important: Do I have to swim? Thanks a lot!

    1. Author

      Hi Julia, no, we didn’t swim at all. You just sit in the speedboat. Maybe swimming is available in warmer months, I’m not sure. We just sat on the boat the whole time.

  6. Hi Jurga, we are planning 1st week of may. i read in few blogs they dont let u get off the boat in caves, did u face it too?

    1. Author

      Hi Sneha, as it’s already mentioned in the article, you’re not allowed to disembark the boat inside the caves. Some people who come with their own private boats do, but in principle, it’s forbidden, so no boat tours will do that.

  7. What time of day did your boat tour depart? We are looking to possibly book the same one for our trip in July. Thanks!

    1. Author

      Hi Jennifer, we had the 11.30 AM boat (in April), but in summer you may want to go earlier if possible. The later in the day, the busier and the hotter it will be.

  8. Hi and great review regarding the caves. We are planning to visit portugal in October 2019 and definitley stay in lagos a few days to visit the caves etc.
    How crowded is that month related to tourist and what kind of wheather we should expect?
    I’m starting to do the research and will appreciate your input.
    Thanks Carmen

    1. Author

      Hi Carmen, October will not be crowded at all and if you’re lucky you might still have beautiful t-shirt weather. 🙂
      I think it’s an excellent time to visit anywhere in Portugal.
      Enjoy the trip!

  9. Hi ! We are travelling with our 1 year old . Do they provide life jackets for such young ones ? Also is it ok to take someone small lily that for boat tour ? I myself not a great swimmer, so wondering? Your suggestion will be greatly appreciated.

    Nee

    1. Author

      Hi Neethu, from what I see they allow infant bookings as well, but I would have my concerns taking a baby on a speedboat… To start with, everyone sits separately and there is not much space to hold a baby on your lap… Maybe in a baby-carrier, but still.
      I think you better look for a bigger boat tour instead. But then I don’t know if bigger boats can enter the caves…
      I really don’t know what to say. Why not contact the company directly and ask if they have experience with taking babies on these tours.

      1. Hi Neethu,
        we are in the same situation as you, what did you choose?

  10. Ole!

    Is the above picture of the Benagil Cave taken by you?
    I’m looking for a tour that takes me as close to the inside of the cave as possible.

    Thank you.

    //Jordan

    1. Author

      Ole, Jordan! Yes, all the pictures in this post are taken by me.
      Just note that all the tours will attempt to go inside the cave, but it always depends on the weather conditions, the waves, etc. So you never know, but in general, yes, you should be able to see Benagil Cave from inside.

  11. Hi! Thank you for the post; we are traveling to this area with a 5 year old and 7 year old next summer. I have a couple of questions for you.
    Did the tour companies have size-appropriate life jackets for the kids? Also, we are wondering if we should bring our own car seats with us, or if most car companies have safe ones available. I’ve emailed a couple of companies and received very vague answers so far. I would love to hear any tips about safe travel with kids this age! Thank you 🙂

    1. Author

      Hi Bethany, yes, they have life jackets suitable for the kids.
      As for car seats, you can rent boosters for kids that age or pack your own. We always pack our own as it saves a lot of money and trouble when you travel a lot (you can read about it here: what to pack when flying with kids). I know many people pack their own travel boosters for kids – Mifold Grab-and-Go or an inflatable booster seat are good options that take very little space. Kids of 5-7 years old can use a booster seat in Europe, no need for a chair with a high back at that age.
      PS rent your car well in advance, for the lowest prices.

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