Benagil, is a small fishing village on the southern coast of the Algarve which has gained fame in recent years thanks to its incredible sea cave, however there is much more than just a cave to explore in this picturesque Algarve destination.
Located along the southern coast of the central Algarve between the popular tourist destinations of Praia do Carvoeiro and Armação de Pêra, Benagil has long been a favourite with local residents looking to enjoy the warm summer weather on the beach or to explore the caves and rock formations.
Benagil is most famous for the sea cave located just around the corner from the beach. This cave has been featured in top destination lists and “places you have to see” all across the internet and thanks to visitors sharing their incredible photos of the cave it has become one of the top things to do in the Algarve.
Getting to the cave has become easier than ever thanks to its popularity and an increase in the number of boat trips, not only from Benagil itself but also from other areas.
Can you swim to the cave?
While the cave does not look very far from the main Benagil beach in the village it is not advised to swim around to the cave to look at it. The currents in this area can be very strong and tides change quickly which means that if you want to enjoy the cave safely then it is best to hop on one of the many boats. If you are looking for something a little bit different to take you to the cave the there is always the option of hiring a Stand up Paddle Board (SUP) to take you into the cave and others along this part of the Algarve coastline.
Boats to take you to the caves can be boarded directly on Benagil beach, however the trips are exceptionally popular during the summer months and you may find yourself in for a very long wait if you opt to visit from here. There are instead many different boat companies operating from local beaches including Armação de Pêra and Carvoeiro to take you into the caves.
Trips from other beaches not only have the benefit of being able to include other caves and the opportunity to view the spectacular rock formations along this stretch of the coast, they also have the advantage of not having to struggle to find parking in Benagil itself or having to wait too long for a trip.
Other longer boat trips are also available to see the Benagil cave, including trips from Albufeira, Portimão, Vilamoura and Lagos taking in more of the sights and including time to see the cave too.
Why many people choose to get a boat trip from another beach is usually down to parking which in Benagil is in very short supply.
How to get to Benagil
Benagil itself is comprised primarily of a single road which passes down steeply to the beach area and then back up again (equally steeply!) and parking is available on the sides of this road – however it is very limited and you need to be very confident in your handbrake!
The extra cost of taking a boat from another beach will easily be covered by not needing to take a taxi to Benagil if you don’t have a car while in the area and take a boat from a neighbouring beach.
If you are driving to Benagil then it is well sign posted locally. In Portugal beaches are denoted by brown road signs, and signs for Benagil can be found in the Carvoeiro area. If you are in Carvoeiro travel up the O Farol hill in the town to leave the town, at the top of the hill you will find signposts for Benagil which will take you along a coastal road and then slightly into the countryside before winding back towards the coast and Benagil. Once you enter Benagil from this direction you will be met with a mini roundabout where you need to take a left to head down to the beach to then find a parking space.
Benagil can also be found by approaching from the west and the direction of Armação de Pêra. If you turn off the EN125 at the Nobel International School after Porches and take the turn to the right there are sign posts to take you towards Benagil. This road is not a main road and care needs to be taken on the narrow lanes, which is why many people choose to approach Benagil from the Carvoeiro direction which has slightly better roads.
Other Benagil sights
Once you are in Benagil, apart from the cave the main attraction is probably the beach. Upon first looking at the beach it doesn’t really look as though there is all that much there, this is because the main part of the beach is actually around the corner of the cliff to the right.
There are lots of boats as you first approach the beach and there is also a small snack bar/café on the right of the beach opening – a perfectly place to pick up some cool drinks, snacks or an ice cream while down on the sands. The beach itself is typical of the local area with towering cliffs and golden sands.
The waters here can get rough at times so you need to be careful when you go in to the sea, you also need to make sure that you are not laying in the way of the boats as they go in and out, this is clearly marked on the beach. Take care also not to sit directly below the cliffs to avoid any rock falls – it may be tempting to get shade from the cliffs but it is a much better idea to take your own instead.
While Benagil is a very small little village in the Algarve, it has a fantastic selection of restaurants, with many open throughout the year and offering spectacular views over the beach and cliff tops.
At the top of the hill on the western side of the beach there is O Litoral restaurant which serves up traditional Portuguese cuisine and is open for lunch and dinner with inside and outdoor seating areas.
If you continue down the hill a little on the left hand side you will find O Algar, a family run restaurant, famous for its fresh fish and exceptionally warm welcome. Here again you can out on the terrace where there are views across to the beach or inside this Portuguese restaurant.
Slightly down the hill further is O Pescador, a quirky and cool restaurant with fish specialities and some exciting menu choices, although a little more expensive than the other places in the village.
On the other side of the town, tucked away on a tiny side street on the way to Carvalho beach is Brisa do Mar, a simple Portuguese restaurant open for lunch and dinner and with very reasonable prices.
As with all of Benagil, parking is not easy so it is a good idea to get a taxi to the restaurants if you don’t want to struggle with parking, especially in the high season.
Marinha & other nearby places to explore
While in the local area take the time to explore other local beaches. To the east of Benagil is the beautiful smugglers cove beach of Carvalho, where you have to enter by climbing down through hidden stairs! This beach is only a few hundred metres from Benagil and is fantastic for those who want to experience a little sense of adventure. There are no amenities at this beach but the small cove beach is perfect for snorkeling in the clear waters on a calm day.
To the west of Benagil is Praia da Marinha. You can walk to this beach along the cliff tops however if the weather is too warm or you don’t fancy scrambling over the cliffs it can be reached by car and at the beach there is a generous car park.
Marinha beach has been voted as one of the most beautiful in the world and it isn’t hard to see why with its clear blue waters and impressive rock formations and stacks in the sea. Because it has such a wide reputation during the summer months it can get very busy here so get to the beach early to make sure you get a space.
Marinha beach has a restaurant open during the summer season and the beach really is one to visit while in the Algarve, if only to stand at the top where there are some spectacular cliff views. To get to the beach there are many, many steps so be prepared for a bit of a hike, however it is well worth it by the time you get to the bottom.
Benagil may have been made famous by the local sea cave just along the coast, however it remains a beautiful and largely unspoiled Algarve fishing village worth visiting for its cave, beach, restaurants and the nearby local beaches in the area.
Don’t forget if you are planning a trip to Benagil and would like to book boat trips, SUP or transport to get there, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help!