Best Caves in the Algarve, Portugal


The caves of the Algarve have become an attraction. They represent part of the natural heritage of the Algarve.

The Algarve is located in Portugal, in the extreme southwest of the European continent.

It is a region with a particularly sunny climate, enchanting landscapes, and beautiful architectural wealth.

Between the cliff-lined beaches in the west, the long sandy stretches in the southeast, and the three mountain ranges, which cover almost half of the territory, you have beautiful caves.

The Algarve’s rugged coastline is not only home to beaches, but also to beautiful rock formations.

All along the coastline, you will also have great opportunities to explore caves.

Benagil is often included in lists of the most beautiful beaches in the world and can be too crowded, but there are many others, such as Marinha Arches, Elephant caves, or the Xorino caves

You can explore these caves by walking along the beaches or on a boat or kayak trip.

Must see Caves in the South of Portugal

The Cave of Benagil

Benagil is a small fishing village located on the southern coast of the Algarve.

This Portuguese region has become increasingly famous in recent years for its incredible sea caves.

Located between Praia de Carvoeiro and Armação de Pêra, Benagil has always been a favorite destination for locals looking to enjoy the summer on the beach and explore these extraordinary rock formations.

The golden color of the cliffs gives an even more beautiful dimension to this landscape.

The Algarve is home to many sea caves and, among these caves, those of Benagil is the most famous and are among the most beautiful in the world according to many tourist guides.

Arriving near the Benagil caves, it is difficult to see their peculiarity from afar. It is when you enter the caves that you realize how exceptional they are.

benagil cave
Beautiful Benagil from the inside Source:
benagil cave from up
Benagil Cave from up

The Arches of Marinha

The Arches of Marinha are not a cave but it is worth the sight because it is breathtaking. It is located just around the Marinha beach.

It results from limestone formation through the years with two big arches supporting it at the bottom.

You can visit the arches either by paddling or by kayak but since this beach can be super crowded this is not recommended because there are several boat rides to the caverns and guided tours, both of which are considerably safer and easier.

The “Arches of Marinha” are stunning, emerging from the Atlantic and surrounded by golden cliffs, lovely beaches, and that blue sky.

You will love them!

While visiting Benagil cave don’t miss the Arches of Marinha. You can combine those two visits.

The Arches of Marinha

The Elephant cave

Located next to Lagos in the Ponte de Piedade area, this cave is like no other. Shaped like an elephant this cave is one of the local favorites.

You will see the elephant from the outside from a little bit far away. It is one of the biggest and spectacular caves in the Lagos area.

Around these caves, you will notice that there is much more to see.

It is only accessible by boat or small boat from Lagos you will have the opportunity to get up close to these striking natural wonders.

Paddles and kayaks are also available here for those who feel more adventurous and would like to visit them independently.

Elephant Cave source:

The Captain Cave

For those who are lucky enough to have great weather and sea conditions, you can visit the Gruta do Capitão.

It is the less accessible caves but if you get the chance to get in you’ll be amazed by the scenery, a local treasure.

It has a small beach, where you can appreciate the natural sculpture of its arch.

This Cave is located between Armação de Pêra and Carvoeiro. Close to the beaches of Estaquinha and Barraquinho. You can only visit by boat or with an experienced captain.

You can only access the cave at low tide because, at high tide, most of the cave is flooded and it is almost impossible to enter with a boat.

Xorino Cave

The Xorino Cave is located in Albufeira, immediately west of the fishermen’s beach.

This is where, according to legend, the Moors sought refuge during the Christian Reconquista.

This protected cave is not only historically important, but it is also quite beautiful and easy to visit. You can take a boat from Vilamoura, there’s plenty of boat tours.

During low tide, boats will be able to enter, and if you’re lucky, you might catch a sight of the nesting birds.

The Xorino Cave got its name from a charming legend that claims that when it rains, the cave appears to be crying.

It gives the place a sense of mystery as you explore it, as well as a great sense of adventure as you uncover the caverns and rock formations.

How to get to Benagil Cave?

Portimão is the ideal city to visit the caves of Benagil. It is very easy to reach by train from Faro, in about 1 hour and 20 minutes. It is also possible to rent a car directly from Faro airport.

From Lisbon, getting there by train may be an excellent idea.

Faro is only 3 hours by train from Lisbon and costs less than 25 €. The trains are quite modern, so don’t hesitate to try the railway adventure.

Unfortunately, the cave is not accessible on foot, and swimming in it is quite risky.

You can only go by taking one of the Algarve’s boat cruises, kayaking, or paddling. The cave’s ability to be entered is dependent on the tide and sea conditions, as it is with all sea caves.

By boat from Portimão

Costs: From €30 per person, available all year round

There are several dozens of boats offering a similar itinerary from Portimão to the Benagil cave.

The departure is from Portimão for 1h30 of happiness to discover the picturesque landscapes of the Algarve coast, in particular its twenty caves.

First stop of your trip, the sublime beach Praia da Marinha where you can swim and admire the cliffs all around.

A few minutes later, you’ll be on your way to the Benagil caves!

You will have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the place and take all the pictures you want during a stop on the spot.

By kayak from Portimão

Costs: From €40 per person, available from May to October

Like the previous excursion, the departure is from the marina of Portimão. However, it is very different since you leave by catamaran for 2h30 of pleasure!

It is in kayak that you will be able to visit the caves of Benagil.

You will learn how to handle the kayak before getting on board.

You paddle from the beach to the famous Benagil caves. Kayaking is clearly the best way to visit the caves and the surrounding area.

Your guide will take you to discover other magical beaches and caves such as Barraquinho Beach, Baraço Cave and Praia da Marinha.

By boat from Albufeira

Costs: From €34 per person, available all year round

Unlike the two previous excursions, the departure is from the port of Albufeira and not from Portimão.

During 2h30, you will discover not only the sublime coast of the Algarve but also its biodiversity.

You start by reaching the Benagil caves, which you can observe up close. A journey through fabulous and almost unreal landscapes.

The difference in this excursion is the discovery of the rich biodiversity of the region. Your guide is indeed a marine biologist and will take you to observe birds and dolphins!

This excursion is recommended for those who absolutely want to see certain animals in their natural environment.

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