Seven Hanging Valleys Trail (O Percurso dos Setes Vales Suspensos, PR1 LGA) is the most famous coastal hike in the Algarve region in Portugal. The scenery is stunning and indeed, if you want to do just one hike in the area, don’t look any further.
But where exactly to start and in which direction to hike? How to get to the trailhead, where to park your car, and how to get back to it if you rather not walk the same path twice? Can you do the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail with kids? Can you see the same scenery without hiking? And which parts of this trail are worth it the most if you can’t do the entire hike?
In this guide, you will find answers to all these questions about hiking the 7 Hanging Valleys Trail in Algarve.
We also included a map and all kinds of useful information that we wish we had known when we were researching information for this hike. You’ll also find our tips for a better experience. Find out!
Good to know: We visit the Algarve often and have done this hike multiple times. So all the information is really up-to-date.
Seven Hanging Valleys Trail – OVERVIEW
Seven Hanging Valleys Hike Info
- Trailhead: Praia da Marinha OR Praia do Vale de Centeanes.
- Distance: 5.7 km one way, or 11.4 km if you hike there and back (3.5 – 7 miles).
- Duration: 2.5 – 3 hours one way, or 5-6 hours in total if you do it in both directions.
- Difficulty: Medium.
- Elevation change: About 170 meters if you start at Praia da Marinha or about 180 meters if you do it in the other direction (550-600 ft).
- Signage: The hike is well-indicated with wooden signs with yellow/red stripes.
- Season: Year-round. However, this hike is not recommended when it rains or if the wind is very strong, and during the warmest hours of the day in the summer months.
- Equipment: Hiking shoes are highly recommended. Drinking water and sun protection is a must.
- Fee: None. At the moment, parking is free as well, but be sure to double-check when you get there.
- Facilities: Limited/seasonal. There are some souvenir/snack stands at the parking of Praia da Marinha (no bathrooms), and a seasonal restaurant down at the beach. There is a bigger restaurant at Praia do Vale de Centeanes (there are bathrooms here). You will also find a few restaurants in Benagil (the trail takes you right through the terrace of one restaurant here as well). There are also a couple of picnic tables at Praia da Marinha trailhead and a small shaded picnic area on the trail, a bit before you reach the lighthouse.
Good to know: Officially, the Seven Hanging Valleys hike is a linear out-and-back trail that starts and ends at Praia do Vale de Centeanes. However, because both ends of the trail are easily accessible by car, you can simply do this hike one way and in any direction (further below, you can read which direction is better and why).
Furthermore, you can access many other points of interest along this trail (such as Benagil Cave or Alfanzina Lighthouse) by car as well. Plus, you can also stop at one or several beaches along the way.
So in reality, this hike can be made as long or as short as you want. You can find more information about all this below.
Our recent experience: We did the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail one way, with kids, and the entire hike took us just 2 hours and 15 minutes. This is including many photo stops and a detour to Carvalho Beach along the way. So the official indication of 3 hours of hiking time is really generous. On the other hand, if this is your first time in the area, you will likely want to stop for pictures even more often, so you’ll probably need about 3 hours.
Below, you can see the picture of the official Seven Hanging Valleys trail map that you will find on informational panels on both ends of this hike.
As you can see, the trail follows the shoreline between Vale Centianes Beach and Marinha Beach.
There is little elevation change. The lowest point is Benagil Beach at 7.5 meters and the highest point is close to Praia do Vale de Centeanes at 45.5 meters.
And here is an interactive map of the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail which we created to help you with all the names and exact locations.
We indicated the starting/ending points of the 7 Hanging Valleys hike, the parking areas at both ends of the trail, as well as the nicest places to see along the route and parking areas at each of the main sights if you decide to visit them by car.
Further below, you can find more practical information about the hike and pictures of all these places.
How to use this map: Use your computer mouse (or fingers) to zoom in or out. Click on the icons to get more information about each place. Click the arrow on the top left corner for the index. Click the star next to the map’s title to add it to your Google Maps account. To view the saved map on your smartphone or PC, open Google Maps, click the menu and go to ‘Your Places’/’Maps’. If you want to print the map or see it in a bigger window, click on ‘View larger map’ in the top right corner.
Seven Hanging Valleys Trail: what’s in the name
The Seven Hanging Valleys Trail follows the clifftop paths along one of the most beautiful stretches of the Algarve coastline.
The “hanging valleys” are places where – in the distant past – river mouths met the ocean. This unique scenery was formed due to the erosion and strong water flow from the rivers to the sea.
Along this trail, you’ll see stunning landscapes with limestone cliffs and sinkholes sculpted by water over millions of years. The area is also home to many marine birds, bats, and also some unique plants.
Best time to hike
The Seven Hanging Valleys trail is a spectacular hike that can be done in any season and any time of the day. That being said, the absolute best season to do this hike is spring and fall, and the best time of the day is early morning or late afternoon, just before sunset. In the winter, any time of the day is fine as long as the weather is good.
We have been to this area in various seasons and did (parts of) the hike on several occasions. Most recently, we did the entire hike in April, part of the hike in September, and then again about half of it in November and around New Year. It never disappoints. The colors of the rocky shoreline and the water change depending on the season and the weather, but it’s always impressive.
In spring and in autumn, the temperatures are ideal for hiking and you’ll see lots of beautiful flowers (mostly in the spring, but also in other seasons).
In the warmest months (April-October), especially on those days when the skies are blue, the colors are amazing. You can also see countless boats and kayaks exploring the sea caves below, or go swimming. There are several beaches where you can stop for a swim before, during, or after the hike.
This hike is not ideal in the warmest months of the summer because the trail is quite exposed with very little shade. If you are planning to hike the 7 Hanging Valleys trail in June, July, or August, be sure to start very early in the morning before it gets too warm (or too busy to find a parking spot for your car). You may want to wear your swimsuit during the hike so that you can cool off at the beaches during the hike.
In the winter months, the ocean is usually rougher and you can see waves crashing into the rocks beneath. Keep in mind that it can get very windy here so it’s not ideal to do this hike on a cold windy rainy day either.
TIP: Because this area is very popular not just for the hike but also for the beaches, the parking areas at the trailheads fill up very quickly. If you are coming by car, try to arrive before 10-11 am in the low season, around 9 am in the shoulder season, and probably no later than 8-8.30 am in the high season (May-September). In the summer, you will want to start very early anyway, before it gets too hot.
Which direction is best?
As already mentioned, you can do the Seven Hanging Valleys hike starting either from Praia da Marinha or from Praia do Vale de Centeanes. In addition, you can do this hike both ways or simply walk in one direction.
No matter if you are doing it one way or both ways, we recommend doing the Seven Hanging Valleys starting from Praia da Marinha. There are several reasons for this.
First, the parking area is much bigger at Praia da Marinha, so it’s easier to find a spot for your car. Second, you will be walking from east to west so the sun will be behind you making it easier to enjoy the scenery. Third, there is a bit less elevation gain in this direction. If you start at Praia do Vale de Centeanes, you will immediately have to climb quite a lot of stairs to the start of the trail.
And finally, there is a really nice restaurant called O Stop at Praia do Vale de Centeanes. You could have lunch here at the end of the hike (or in the middle if you are walking back on foot). In the high season, you may want to call the restaurant and reserve a table in advance. I don’t think it’s open in the winter (November to March).
Below, you can find practical information on how to get back to your car if you decide to do this hike in one direction only.
Getting there & where to stay nearby
By far the best way to get to one of the trailheads of the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail is by car or by taxi/Bolt/Uber. Public transport options are limited.
If you are staying very close by, you could also walk to the trail from your hotel. For example, Vila Alba Resort is just about 20 minutes walk from Marinha Beach, or – on the other side – Tivoli Carvoeiro, just about 15 minutes walk to the trailhead at Praia do Vale Centeanes.
There are also many smaller hotels and privately rented accommodations in this area, mostly in Benagil and Carvoeiro.
But you don’t really have to stay nearby in order to do this hike. It makes a nice excursion from pretty much anywhere in the Algarve. For example, Albufeira (where we always stay) is less than 30 minutes drive from Marinha Beach, just like Portimao. Lagos is about 40 minutes.
READ ALSO: Where to Stay in Algarve (detailed guide with more info about all the best towns)
How to get back to your car?
This was the biggest question for us when planning to do the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail for the first time. How do we avoid a long walk back to the car? (There was no way we could convince the kids to do the same walk in two directions)
The public transport options are quite limited here, after all, and walking to/from the bus would take almost just as long as simply hiking back.
It turns out that it’s really simple! Install the Bolt or Uber app if you don’t have it yet, and you will see that there are plenty of cars available in the area.
So there is no need to walk for 2-3 hours in order to get back to your car if you don’t feel like it. The drive between the start and the end of the trail takes less than 15 minutes and costs just a few euros.
TIP: Bolt is usually a bit cheaper in the Algarve than Uber. But it’s really a small difference and it’s very affordable. If your hotel is in the area, I would consider taking a transfer both ways. That way, you don’t have to worry about parking and can start the hike when you feel like it.
Best places to see
The main reason to do the Seven Hanging Valleys hike is for the stunning coastal scenery. However, some places along the trail are more impressive than others, and – as already mentioned, you can also see a lot of the same landscapes if you simply drive from one point to the other and then walk to the viewpoints.
Just to be clear, I highly recommend doing the entire trail on foot. But if it’s too hot or you have concerns about the length or difficulty of the hike, you should know that this option exists. Just keep in mind that finding parking will be challenging everywhere, so this is something that would work best in the low season when it’s not too busy.
Here are the most impressive places to see along the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail:
Praia da Marinha
Marinha Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Algarve.
The Seven Hanging Valleys Trail starts or ends at this beach, but the trail doesn’t take you to the beach itself. You can see it from the viewing area at the top of the cliffs.
In addition, you can easily take a small detour to the beach itself as well. For that, walk east all the way to the end of the viewing area at Praia da Marinha. Soon, you will see steep stairs leading to the beach on your right side.
There is a seasonal restaurant at Marinha Beach.
Good to know: You’ll need to foresee at least 30 minutes of extra time for a visit to this beach.
The Coastline & Natural Arches near Marinha Beach
Some of the most impressive scenery of the 7 Hanging Valleys hike can be found west of Praia da Marinha.
As you start the hike and follow the signs for the Seven Hanging Valleys trail, you will see quite a few small detours to the left towards the edge of the cliffs. Be sure to check out the views here – the area is stunning!
One of our favorite spots here are the colorful rock formations that look a bit like the ones at the famous Falésia Beach between Vilamoura and Albufeira further east. Another must-see is the impressive natural arches (see the picture below and also the featured image at the very top of this article).
TIP: This area is so beautiful that it’s well worth seeing it from the water. So if you have some extra time, we highly recommend going kayaking here. If interested, you can find our detailed guide with tips and recommendations via the link below.
READ ALSO: Top Spots for Kayaking in Algarve
Benagil Cave & Praia de Benagil
Benagil Cave is the most famous sea cave in the Algarve attracting big crowds.
You can see the cave through the hole from above (so from the trail itself), but the view is very limited. Or you can make a detour and visit the inside of the cave. Please note that nowadays it’s not allowed to disembark on the little beach inside the cave – you have to stay on the boat/kayak.
Good to know: The cave is only accessible by boat, so you will have to rent a kayak, book a guided kayak tour, or join a SUP-tour. All of these tours start from Benagil Beach, so just a short detour from the trail. Most of these tours take about 2 hours and explore more of the coastline, not just the Benagil Cave.
TIP: If you are short on time and just want to see the main cave, you can opt for this ‘express’ kayak tour or simply rent a kayak and go on your own. In that case, you only need about 1 hour. Benagil Cave is extremely popular (in all seasons), so if you want to combine a visit to the cave together with the hike without wasting time, be sure to book this in advance!
Good to know for planning purposes: If you start the hike at Marinha Beach, count that it will take you about 1 hour to get to Benagil. In reality, it will likely be less (it took us about 40 minutes). But if you are taking a tour or renting a kayak, you will want to arrive a bit before the agreed time. If you want to take it easy and not have to stress, book a time slot about 1.5 hours after you plan to start your hike.
Alternatively, you can also drive to Benagil and visit the cave before or after the hike. Or even visit it another day, as we did. It all depends on how much time you have in the area.
Keep in mind that sea caves may not be accessible if the sea is too rough (this is usually not a problem in the warmest months). Via the link below, you can find our detailed guide explaining everything you may need to know about visiting Benagil Cave.
LEARN MORE: Benagil Cave
Praia do Carvalho
As you walk from Benagil further west, you will soon reach Carvalho Beach. This small beach can be accessed via the stairs on your left side. It’s just a very short detour and one that we highly recommend!
The most special is actually the access to the beach. As you walk down the stairs, you will have to walk through a narrow tunnel inside a rock and into the beach. It’s such a fun way to arrive at the beach and a nice change in scenery. If it’s warm and you have your swimwear (also pack quick-drying travel towels), you could even go swimming here.
If you are hiking the Seven Hanging Valleys trail with children, a stop at Carvalho Beach is a must! The kids will love the stairs and the tunnel, and you can also take a break or have picnic at the beach.
You’ll have to bring your own food/drinks though since there is no restaurant here. There is a small drinks kiosk at the parking area above the beach, but it was closed every time we visited here (usually in the low season).
Farol de Alfanzina
Alfazina Lighthouse is another nice stop along the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail. The lighthouse is operational since 1920 and its light can be seen for over 30 miles.
However, the lighthouse itself cannot be visited and it’s actually fenced, so you will have to walk around it.
That being said, the scenery around here is really nice. We have visited here a few times in the past before we even considered doing the Seven Hanging Valleys hike, and we always found that it was worth the detour in its own right.
Praia do Vale de Centeanes
Vale de Centeanes Beach is the official starting point of the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail. For us, coming from Praia da Marinha, this was the final destination of our hike. It’s a beautiful place to relax after a long walk!
The beach itself is quite small, but – in season – you can go swimming here. Plus, there is a very good restaurant here, O Stop. It serves fresh seafood, but you will also find homemade cakes, ice cream, etc. Despite its very touristy location, the food and the service are very good.
The only issue might be finding a free table here at lunchtime. If you are visiting on a weekday outside the busiest summer months and get here early (just around noon), it shouldn’t be a problem. However, in summer, it will likely be crowded here at lunchtime. So if you want to be 100% sure to find a table, it’s probably best to reserve.
On our recent visit to Algarve in April, we started this hike at Praia da Marinha at 10.15 in the morning and were at Praia do Vale de Centeanes at around 12.30. All the tables outside were either taken or reserved. Luckily, there were still plenty of tables inside (with open windows overlooking the sea). By the time we finished our lunch, there was a line of people waiting for a table.
Which part of the hike is the nicest?
If you feel that the entire trail is too long for you and just want to do a part of it, you can easily do a part of the hike. The most beautiful part of the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail is between Praia da Marinha and Praia do Carvalho.
But we find that it’s really worth checking out the scenery around the Alfanzina Lighthouse as well. And from there, it’s such a short walk to the end of the trail where you can have a delicious lunch at a beach restaurant.
All in all, if you walk this trail in just one direction and take a taxi back to where you started, it’s really not such a challenging hike. It took us just 2 hours and 15 minutes including all the stops. But if you want to make it even shorter, then you will find the most impressive coastal scenery between Marinha Beach, Benagil, and Carvalho Beach.
Hiking Seven Hanging Valleys Trail with kids
Yes, you can easily do the Seven Hanging Valleys hike with children. I would say from about the age of 4-5 if it’s not too hot and your kids are used to some hiking. We saw quite a few families with children of about that age doing (parts of) this hike.
However, a lot will depend on the season when you hike, how warm it is, how many children you have, and your kids’ willingness to cooperate. Furthermore, keep in mind that the trail is uneven, and there are steep drops, potholes, and similar, so you’ll have to be more careful with younger children!
Our own kids were already teenagers when we did this hike recently and they didn’t find it challenging at all. However, as you would expect of teens, they didn’t see the point of hiking back the same way. So we took a taxi to get back in order to get back to the trailhead where we left our car.
With younger children, you could just drive to the main viewpoints and walk around each of them. Or you could just do a part of the hike and end with some time at one of the beaches. There are so many possibilities that you can easily make it work for your family, no matter the ages of your kids.
READ ALSO: Algarve with Kids
Some useful tips
- Start early or come later in the day. This is not just because of the heat in the summer, but also because parking is really limited. If you can’t make it here early in the morning, it might be worth postponing it until later in the afternoon. This hike would also be great at sunset, just be sure to time it right so that you don’t have to walk on the sea cliffs after it gets dark.
- Footwear. No matter the season, we highly recommend wearing hiking shoes for the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail. We wore light hiking shoes (like this) and it was ideal. We saw tourists walking to just a few viewpoints along the trail in sneakers and some of them were really struggling even on the seemingly flat terrain. I once visited here in sneakers and it was ok for the viewpoints (I drove everywhere by car), but I wouldn’t have wanted to do the entire hike in them.
- Water and sun protection. This is very important in all seasons as well, and absolutely essential between May and September. Also, depending on the weather, you may want to pack a light sweater or a jacket because the wind can be cold.
- Look back! When you are doing this hike (especially if you do it in just one direction), don’t forget to look back once in a while. The scenery is ever-changing and sometimes, the best views can be behind you.
- Explore beyond this area! There are so many other beautiful places in the same area as the Seven Hanging Valleys. So if you have some time, be sure to do some more sightseeing. Some of the nicest coastal features can be found in Algar Seco in Carvoeiro, just nearby (I indicated it on our map as well). The scenery here is very unique, and you can easily explore the cliffs and even several nice caves on foot. Carvoeiro town itself is well worth a visit as well, just like many other little towns, beaches, and coastal areas…
READ ALSO: Tips & Tricks for Visiting Algarve
The Seven Hanging Valleys is a coastal area in the Algarve region in southern Portugal. It stretches between Praia do Vale de Centeanes in the west to Praia da Marinha in the east.
The 7 Hanging Valleys trail is a 5.7 km (3.5 miles) hike between Praia da Marinha and Praia do Vale de Centeanes. You can also walk it both ways, in which case the total distance is 11.4 km (7 miles).
You need a minimum of 2.5 hours if you want to hike the entire length of Seven Hanging Valleys Trail in one direction. This includes a fast-paced 2-hour hike, plus the time you’ll need to get back to your car by taxi. If you want to do this hike in both directions, you’ll need at least 5 hours. If you also visit Benagil Caves or spend some time at the beaches along the trail, you can easily fill the entire day here.
Yes, absolutely. The Seven Hanging Valleys hike brings you to some of the most beautiful coastal areas of the Algarve region. Plus, this is a rather easy hike that only takes a few hours of your time. Furthermore, you can combine it with a visit to Benagil Cave, spend some time at the beach, and have delicious Portuguese food. It makes for a perfect (half) day trip to the area!
So, this is our guide to the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail in the Algarve. I hope that it answers all your questions and helps you plan a perfect visit.
Enjoy your time in this beautiful part of Portugal!
TIP: If you are looking for more information for your visit to the Algarve region, be sure to take a look at our other articles about the region as well. We go to Portugal quite often, so you’ll find lots of guides for various destinations including Portuguese islands on our blog as well. Check it out on our Portugal travel page or – for the Algarve – via the links below!
Travel inspiration for the Algarve region:
- Most Beautiful Places to See in Algarve
- Algarve Itinerary
- Best Beaches in Algarve
- Most Beautiful Towns to Visit in Algarve
- Algarve Water Parks (+ more info about Slide & Splash and tips for Zoomarine)
- Best Things to Do in Lagos
- Best Things to Do in Faro
- Best Things to Do in Albufeira
- Most Beautiful Beaches in and near Albufeira
- Best Things to Do in Tavira
- Best Things to Do in Sagres
- Benagil Cave (complete guide and best tours)
- Ponta da Piedade (all the best ways to visit)
- Kayaking at Ponta da Piedade (bucket list!)
- Best Restaurants in Albufeira
- Algarve in April
- Algarve in November
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