Julie Portugal 8 Comments

Algar Seco is a wonderland of tunnels, grottos, caves, cliffs, and windows to the sea. It’s one of the most photographed places in the Algarve, 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 A Boneca from Boat

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.

Algarve Portugal

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.

Coast near Algar Seco

View of the coastline

A Boneca

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.”

A Boneca Entrance

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.

Algar Seco Algarve Portugal

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).

Algar Seco Stairs

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.

Algar Seco Grotto Blowhole

The grotto

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

Algar Seco cliff jumping spot


Algar Seco Cliff Jumping

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.

Algar Seco Boardwalk

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.

Exploring Algar Seco

Looking up at the boardwalk trail and the steps leading down to the rocky coastline.


Algar Seco Tunnel

When you come down the steps, follow the trails to the left to explore more caves and tunnels.


Julie in Algarve

Algar Seco Photo

This area is so much fun to explore and photograph!


Cave Tunnel Opening

Things to Do at Algar Seco

Algar Seco Cliffs

Algarve Boat Tour Algar Seco

This is a view of the Algar Seco cliffs by boat.

Portugal Travel Guide

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.

Carvoeiro Algarve Portugal

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.

Seven Hanging Valleys Trail

One of many spectacular views along the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail

Benagil Cave

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.

Benagil Cave Algarve Portugal

Benagil Cave

Marinha Beach

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.

Marinha Beach Algarve Portugal

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

ALGARVE: Get started with our Algarve Bucket List, which lists the best things to do in the Algarve and learn how to plan your time with our Algarve Itinerary Planner. Learn how to hike the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, one of the most beautiful walks in Europe. Don’t miss our guides to Benagil Cave and the best beaches in the Algarve. Find out where to stay in our Algarve Hotel Guide, get a list of the best restaurants in Albufeira, and learn why October is the perfect time to visit the Algarve.

SINTRA: In our article Best Things to Do in Sintra, we cover the top sights to see in Sintra. In our article One Day in Sintra, we provide three different ways to plan a day trip to Sintra from Lisbon.

PORTO: Get started with our Porto Travel Guide, which lists where to eat, where to stay, and has lots of helpful tips for visiting Porto. We cover the best things to do in Porto in our Porto Bucket List. In our Guide to the Wine Cellars in Gaia, get recommendations on which wine cellars to visit and how to plan your time. See the best of Porto in our 2 Days in Porto Itinerary.

LISBON: In our Lisbon Bucket List, we list 40 highlights and hidden gems to visit in Lisbon. Plan your time with our one day in Lisbon itinerary. Here are 14 amazing day trips to take from Lisbon. Find the perfect place to stay in our Lisbon Hotel Guide.

PORTUGAL ITINERARIES: If you are just beginning to plan your Portugal itinerary, take a look at our 10 Day Portugal Itinerary for five different ways to spend 10 days in Portugal. We also have a detailed 10 day itinerary that includes Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve.

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.

We have TONS more information about Portugal in our Portugal Travel Guide, including Lisbon, Sintra, Porto, the Algarve, and the Douro Valley.


Algar Seco Algarve Portugal


All rights reserved © Earth Trekkers. Republishing this article and/or any of its contents (text, photography, etc.), in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited.

Comments 8

  1. Avatar for Michelle

    Hi, Julie. I’m so glad that I found you (doing research for traveling abroad with an anaphylactic kid), and we seem to have similar traveling taste – hit the must-dos but mix it up with nature and culture. We’re planning a family trip for 6 (youngest is 16) at the beginning of summer for 11-12 days on the ground. First time abroad for half our group. I’m conflicted about taking the time to go south to the Algarve. These hikes look lovely and are right up our alley, but I’ve read opinions that you can find good coastal hikes and cliffs, etc staying north. I read your post on Navarre, but I’m not sure it quite measures up to these views. We want to get the most bang for our buck, but my family will revolt if I try to over plan. Do you have an opinion on the south verses north? We plan to fly into Porto and out Lisbon, but I could reverse the order or do round trips out of either. If we make it to the Algarve, I think I can only squeeze in 2 nights. Thanks for your expert advice!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Michelle. Your comment is rather timely…later today I plan to publish a post on the best beaches in the Algarve, so you can get another view of the Algarve looks like from this post. In northern Portugal, our time was spent in Porto, the Douro Valley, and visiting the small towns in that area. I have heard there is some nice hiking in Peneda Geres National Park, but even with 5 weeks in Portugal, we didn’t have time to get up there. From our experience in Portugal, if you are looking to do some hiking, the Algarve is worth it. The Seven Hanging Valleys Trail is very nice and takes half of a day, so you can spend the second half of that day on a beach somewhere.
      If you are planning your first trip to Portugal, must-see’s are Porto, Sintra, a day or two in Lisbon, and if your family is active, I think it’s worth adding on the Algarve. It really is a beautiful part of Portugal. Tyler and Kara are super jealous that they weren’t with us for that part of our trip. In addition to those places, you could see some towns/landmarks between Porto and Lisbon, like Nazare, Obidos, and from Porto day trip to Guimaraes and Braga. I have plans to publish 25 more articles about mainland Portugal, and I’m trying to get them out as fast as possible (along with everything else we visited before Portugal), so if you don’t see something, write in again. As you brainstorm your itinerary more and need suggestions, please write in again and I can offer more advice.
      Cheers, Julie

  2. Avatar for Anne

    We will be spending two weeks in Portugal next year with 4 days in the Algarve. What is your recommendation for the best town to stay those four days? We will have a rental car. Looking forward to all your upcoming Portugal posts. Love all the great information you share.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Anne. We stayed in Albufeira, picking this town because it is centrally located in the Algarve. We stayed at Vila Balaia and LOVED it. This is a luxury villa but prices are very affordable. Each villa has a living room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and terrace that opens out to the pool. It’s a great place to stay if you have a rental car, because it sits outside of Albufeira so driving to other parts of the Algarve is easy and from this villa, you can Uber into town if you plan to have dinner in Albufeira. The only downside is it does not have beach access. We’d definitely stay here again. I have lots of information to be published, both about the Algarve and mainland Portugal, with a goal of getting a new article out each week (although I’m traveling the next 11 days so there won’t be much going on on the website). Let me know if you have any other questions. Cheers, Julie

  3. Avatar for Iris

    Hi Judie,

    Thanks for the posting! I found our travel style is pretty similar to yours, so your itineraries are highly regarded. May I know how many days did you spend on Algarve area and Lisbon, respectively? We will have 7-8 days in Portugal and wish to combine culture and nature. Is Algarve a good nature area or Madeira is better? Do you mind sharing places you travellled this time? Thank you so much!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Iris. We have not been to Madeira yet so I won’t be able to compare it to the mainland of Portugal (although we are hoping to get to Madeira soon!). We spent 9 days in the Algarve and were pretty busy for each of those 9 days, seeing it from the east coast to the border with Spain. Many one week trips through Portugal usually include Lisbon and Porto. But you could do a Lisbon + Algarve trip…about 2 to 3 days in Lisbon and the rest of your time in the Algarve. In my opinion, you need at least 3 days in the Algarve since there is so much to do. This gives you time to visit a few beaches, take a boat tour, and hike the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, if you like hiking and beautiful coastal scenery. We have so much to publish about mainland Portugal that it will take me at least 6 months to get it all onto our website, so keep checking back as you plan your trip (I am also catching up on New Zealand, Australia, and Paris so have a lot on my plate right now…a good problem to have for me, but not for those eagerly awaiting our Portugal content). And if you have more questions as you plan your trip, don’t hesitate to write in again. On our Sintra post, we were already asked about things to do in Lisbon, so you could check the comment section of that post for our list (it’s not complete but does list the top experiences and some of our favorite things to do). Cheers, Julie

  4. Avatar for Sayali Telawane
    Sayali Telawane

    Finally a post on Portugal.
    I travel alot in europe and your blogs are something i always always get inspirtation from.
    They are so informatative and helpful while planning any trip.
    Your way of travelling is exactly how i travel, which is a combination of touristy places and many many offbeat
    places. From last 2-3 years i knew you have not yet visited Portugal and when i planned to visit in November this year,
    i just thought of having a look and finally i saw a blog here and was very very happy and relieved. I could finally follow your tips and iteranery blindly.
    Thank you for your blog.
    Keep exploring and posting more and more stuff.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Sayali! Thanks for writing in! We plan to publish a lot about Portugal in the upcoming weeks (although we are still catching up on publishing our New Zealand and Australia content as well). I’m happy to hear you like our website and happy travels in Portugal! Cheers, Julie

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *