Algar Seco is a wonderland of tunnels, grottos, caves, cliffs, and windows to the sea. It’s one of the most photographed places in Algarve, Portugal, with its two cave openings and views of the Atlantic Ocean.
However, there is more to do at Algar Seco than photograph this picturesque cave. You can also walk down to the grotto and go cliff jumping, walk the boardwalk trails that run from Algar Seco to a viewpoint of Carvoeiro, and (the best part!!) explore the rocky coastline, where you can take some unique photos through cave openings.
In this guide, we share with you everything you need to know to visit Algar Seco, plus uncover a few unique photography locations.
Where is Algar Seco?
Algar Seco is located in the Algarve, Portugal, near the town of Carvoeiro. On Google Maps, it is listed as Algar Seco Rocks.
What is Algar Seco?
Algar Seco is a stretch of rocky coastline. The limestone cliffs have been eroded by the sea and rain, creating a wonderland of caves, grottos, and unique rock formations.
The most famous cave in Algar Seco is A Boneca, a cave with two windows and a view of the Atlantic Ocean.
Legend has it that Algar Seco was formed by the tears of Princess Alfanzina, after her father, the King, ordered her lover to be killed. Her tears eroded the limestone rocks, forming the caves, grottos, and holes in the rocks.
Did You Know? The word Algar comes from the Arabic word algár, which means cave.
Algar Seco and the two windows of the A Boneca cave
How to Get to Algar Seco
If you have a rental car, the best place to park is at Estacionamento do Algar Seco, a small parking lot at the end of Estrada do Algar Seco. This parking lot sits right next to steps that lead to A Boneca and the grotto.
Along Estrada do Algar Seco are more parking spaces (these are parallel parking spots). And at the intersection of Estrada do Algar Seco and Rua das Flores is another parking lot. This one is located uphill from the entrance to A Boneca, so you’ll do more walking if you park here, but it’s a good lot to mark on your map if the first one is full.
It’s also possible to get here by bus, but the buses aren’t reliable and do not run frequently. Another option is Uber.
The iconic view from A Boneca at Algar Seco
Things to Do at Algar Seco
Viewpoint of the Coast
From the parking lot at the end of Estrada do Algar Seco, you can walk out onto the rocks for a view along the coastline. The views aren’t quite as good as what you’ll get from the other places we mention next, but it is quick and easy to do.
View of the coastline
A set of steps leads down from the parking lot to the sea. After walking down the first set of steps (41 steps), go right to continue down 34 steps to the restaurant.
You will walk through A Boneca Restaurant and Bar, a great place to stop for a drink or bite to eat.
Continue down the steps and look for the pillar and the handwritten sign “A Boneca.”
Enter the narrow tunnel and it is roughly a 10 meter walk through the tunnel to get to the cave. There is a very good chance that there will be a line here. The cave is very small and since this is the most popular spot at Algar Seco to photograph, you may have to wait your turn.
The Grotto and Blowhole
From A Boneca, climb the stairs back towards the parking lot. Rather than going all of the way to the top, take the longer series of stairs down to the grotto (90 steps).
Stairs leading down to the grotto
You’ll first see the blowhole and pool of water and when the tide is high, the water here can be very rough.
You can walk on a narrow clifflike trail around the grotto and out to the coast. In the summer months, this is a popular cliff jumping spot. A series of steps are carved out on the rocks to help cliff jumpers get back on land.
Algar Seco cliff jumping spot
This is a view of the cliff jumping spot from a boat tour we took of the coast. You can see the steps carved into the rock to help cliff jumpers get back on land.
Caminho do Algar Seco
Caminho do Algar Seco is the boardwalk trail that runs along the top of the cliffs. It starts near the parking lot for Algar Seco and runs west to a fabulous viewpoint of Carvoeiro. Along the boardwalk trail are informational signs about the area.
Caminho do Algar Seco
Cliff Views, Caves & Tunnels
From the boardwalk, there is a series of wooden steps that lead down to the coast. These steps end at a short tunnel. Walk through the tunnel, down a few sets of rocky, uneven steps, and welcome to the coolest part of Algar Seco. We felt like we were walking around Tatooine in Star Wars.
This area is a joy to explore. Have fun exploring the rocky cliffs and the maze of tunnels. Most people explore the more open area at the bottom of the steps, but if you follow the trails to the left, you’ll get to explore a quieter and more scenic side of Algar Seco.
Looking up at the boardwalk trail and the steps leading down to the rocky coastline.
When you come down the steps, follow the trails to the left to explore more caves and tunnels.
This area is so much fun to explore and photograph!
This is a view of the Algar Seco cliffs by boat.
How Much Time Do You Need at Algar Seco?
To visit the grotto, A Boneca, walk the boardwalk trail, and explore the rocky cliffs, you’ll need about an hour. If you have a snack or a meal at the restaurant, or go cliff jumping, add on another 30 minutes to an hour.
Things to Do Near Algar Seco
Praia de Carvoeiro
Just a short walk from Algar Seco is Carvoeiro Beach. This small, lovely beach sits next to Carvoeiro, a picturesque fishing town.
Praia do Carvoeiro
Seven Hanging Valleys Trail
The Seven Hanging Valleys Trail is a point-to-point hike from Marinha Beach to Praia do Vale de Centeanes. It is a gorgeous hike from start to finish and takes about 2 to 3 hours. Learn more in our Guide to the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail.
One of many spectacular views along the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail
Famous Benagil Cave is also near Algar Seco. However, the best way to visit Benagil Cave is on a boat tour, and most of these boat tours start in Portimão and Albufeira.
If you want to spend part of the day on the beach, Marinha Beach is just a short drive east of Algar Seco. It’s one of the Algarve’s most beautiful beaches and well worth a visit while in the area. If you do the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, you’ll start or end at Marinha Beach.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Algar Seco Worth It?
Algar Seco is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the Algarve. It is also one of the most unique, with its sea caves, grottos, boardwalk trails, and places to go cliff jumping. Algar Seco is worth it and it was one of our favorite experiences in the Algarve.
When is the best time of day to visit Algar Seco?
Algar Seco can be visited all day. For lower crowds, visit early in the day, ideally before 10 am. Crowds also tend to be lower later in the afternoon, and if you hang out until the evening, this is a beautiful spot to watch the sunset.
How much does it cost to visit Algar Seco?
Algar Seco is free to visit.
If you have any questions about how to visit Algar Seco, let us know in the comment section below.
More Information for Your Trip to Portugal
SINTRA: In our article Best Things to Do in Sintra, we cover the top sights to see in Sintra, plus everything you need to know to plan your visit, with time saving tips, transportation options, and a sample itinerary.
ÓBIDOS: Óbidos is a hillside town that is a joy to explore. Learn more in our Guide to Óbidos.
TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY: For more information about the camera gear we carry, check out our Travel Photography Gear Guide. And tips and tricks for taking great photos in our article How to Take Better Photos while Traveling.
EUROPE TRAVEL INSPIRATION: Get more travel ideas in our article 10 Days in Europe itinerary, which has 10 itineraries for your next trip to Europe. If you have less time, we also have an article that lists 25 different ways to spend one week in Europe.
Read all of our articles about Portugal in our Portugal Travel Guide.
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