Stretching along the coastline of the Algarve is one of the most beautiful walks in Portugal, the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail. On this hike, you will gaze across some of the most picturesque beaches in Europe, peer into Benagil Cave, and be treated to an endless number of jaw-dropping views of the Algarve.
This hike can be done one of two ways, either point-to-point or out-and-back. And if you who don’t want to go the full distance, we’ll let you know how to shorten this walk, seeing the main highlights with the least amount of steps.
In this guide, we cover everything you need to know to hike the Seven Hanging Valley Trail with tips to have the best experience.
Let’s get started.
Seven Hanging Valleys Trail Hiking Stats
There are several ways to hike the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail. The most common way to do it is to hike it point-to-point and then use public transportation or Uber to get back to your starting point. By doing it this way, you aren’t retracing your steps. Even though it is a gorgeous walk, in our opinion, doing it once, in one direction, is sufficient.
Below are the hiking stats for the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, starting at Praia da Marinha (Marinha Beach) and ending at Praia do Vale de Centeanes.
Distance: 5.7 km/3.5 miles*
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Total Ascent: 183 meters/600 feet
Time: 2 to 3 hours
Starting Point: Praia da Marinha
Ending Point: Praia do Vale de Centeanes
* Every source we read for this hike, from the trail signs to other websites, lists the one-way hiking distance as 5.7 km/3.5 miles. At the end of the hike, my Apple watch said I had walked 6.5 km/4 miles. I understand that my Apple watch is not the most reliable source, but if you are doing this hike with an Apple watch, you may also find that the distance is closer to 6.5 km.
Seven Hanging Valleys Trail Map
Seven Hanging Valleys Trail map
Please practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace: plan ahead, stay on the trail, pack out what you bring to the hiking trail, properly dispose of waste, leave areas as you found them, minimize campfire impacts, be considerate of other hikers, and do not approach or feed wildlife.
Seven Hanging Valleys Trail: Route Options
There are three different ways to hike the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail: point-to-point, out-and-back (aka a return hike), or hike a section of the trail.
This is the best option if you want to experience the entire trail and all of the breathtaking views it offers, without repeating any of your steps. Praia da Marinha and Praia do Vale de Centeanes are the two endpoints.
This is also a great option in the hotter summer months, as you can easily finish the hike before the hottest temperatures of the day.
Expect this to take 2 to 3 hours and you’ll walk a total of 5.7 km/3.5 miles. To get back to your starting point, use public transportation or Uber or another ride share app (we used Uber).
We think the best direction is Praia da Marinha to Praia do Vale de Centeanes, since it is easier to find parking at Praia da Marinha and if you do this in the morning, the sun will be at your back.
This is the best option if you don’t mind tackling a longer hike. You’ll walk 11.4 km/7.1 miles and depending on how fast you walk, this will take 4 to 6 hours. Hiking the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail as a return hike eliminates the need to arrange transportation to get back to your starting point.
Hike a Section of the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail
For those who want to see some of the coastline without committing to a full hike, you can walk just a section of the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail. There are parking lots at several places along the trail, which makes it easy to pick out your favorite section.
The eastern section of the hike was our favorite, and the most scenic. If you only want to see the “good stuff,” hike from Marinha Beach to Praia de Corredoura or Carvalho Beach, and consider on adding on the beaches to the east of Praia da Marinha (click here to see them in our BONUS section).
Marinha Beach to Praia de Corredoura
Distance: 3.2 km (2 mile) out-and-back | Time: 1 to 2 hours | Difficulty: Easy
This short, sweet, easy walk takes you past the viewpoints over Marinha Beach plus the sea stacks and arches. It’s the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to amazing views without putting out a whole lot of effort. From Marinha Beach, you’ll get views down onto the beach plus the picturesque coastline dotted with sea stacks. Turn around once you reach Praia de Corredoura.
Marinha Beach to Carvalho Beach
Distance: 7 km (4.4 miles) | Time: 2 to 3 hours | Difficulty: Easy to moderate
This trail starts at Marinha Beach, continues to Praia de Corredoura, passes by Benagil Cave and Benagil Beach, and ends at Carvalho Beach. It hits the most popular highlights of the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, but since you walk back to Marinha Beach, you don’t have to worry about hiring Uber or catching the bus to get back to your car. Consider spending some time at Carvalho Beach or Marinha Beach in the afternoon (or hiking to the beaches in our Bonus Section).
Best Direction to Hike the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail
The best direction to hike the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail is from east to west (from Marinha Beach to Praia do Vale de Centeanes).
At Marinha Beach, the parking lot is considerably larger than at Praia do Vale de Centeanes. At Praia do Vale de Centeanes, parking is along the road, so you will have to parallel park your vehicle. It’s also very nice to end at Praia do Vale de Centeanes, since there is a restaurant that sits right on this beach. This is a great spot to relax and get a cold drink at the end of the hike.
The best time to do this hike is in the morning, especially if you plan to be in the Algarve from May through October, when the temperatures are warm/hot. If you start in the morning at Marinha Beach, the sun will be at your back during the hike, giving you the best views of the beaches, sea stacks, and coastline. We started the hike at 9 am and all of our photos were taken in the morning.
Seven Hanging Valleys Trail
Step-By-Step Trail Guide
Now that we got the logistics out of the way, we can finally talk about the good part…what it is like to hike the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail.
Getting Here: You can get here by car, bus, or Uber (ride share app). We had a rental car. It’s best to get here by 9 am at the latest. Even in October, there were just a handful of parking spaces remaining, so in the summer, consider arriving before 8 am, or even earlier. People park here both to hike the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail and to visit Marinha Beach, so this is a popular, busy place in the Algarve.
At the Marinha Beach parking lot there are food trucks and bathrooms.
Marinha Beach parking lot
From the parking lot, walk down to the very large terrace. From here you get your first awesome view of Marinha Beach.
If you want to go down to Marinha Beach, the trail starts on the left side of the terrace (more on this in our “Places to Add on to the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail”).
To start the hike, look for the trail that starts on the right side of the terrace.
As you walk along this trail, you will be treated to many spectacular viewpoints of Marinha Beach and the sea stacks and arches that sit out in the water. This was one of our favorite parts of the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail and it only takes a few minutes of walking to get these views.
The rock with two arches is called “Elephant Rock” since it looks like an elephant from the opposite side (you have to take a boat tour of the coast to see this side of Elephant Rock).
Marinha Beach (Praia da Marinha)
Praia de Corredoura
As you continue west, you will pass by another sea arch and then arrive at Praia da Corredoura.
On the opposite cliffs, you can see the white buildings of Benagil. In that same direction is the famous Benagil Cave.
Praia de Corredoura
Benagil Cave is one of the most popular sights along the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, but the view really isn’t all that great from eye level. The opening in the ceiling of the cave is surrounded by a fence and from this point, it’s challenging to get a view into Benagil Cave (for the best photo, hold your camera high above your head). We saw many people hopping the fence for a better view of the cave, but you are entering a forbidden zone and risk getting a fine. It is also quite dangerous as you risk falling into Benagil Cave.
The best way to see Benagil Cave is to take a boat tour of the cave. On the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, there is no entrance into Benagil Cave (it is not accessible by land).
If you stand behind the fence and hold your camera high over your head, you can get a photo looking down into the cave. It took a lot of tries but it was worth the effort! On the day we did this hike, boat tours were not running which is why the beach is empty.
After seeing Benagil Cave, it’s a short walk to a viewpoint over Benagil Beach.
This is where things get a little confusing. After the viewpoint overlooking Benagil Beach (photo above), the trail takes you out to a road. You know you are in the right spot if you see the O Algar restaurant to your left. At the road, turn left and walk downhill along the road to Benagil Beach.
Once at Benagil Beach, there are bathrooms and a café. There are also boats available to take people out to Benagil Cave, and if these are running, it’s something to consider doing. On our visit, all boat tours were suspended due to the rough seas, but this would be a great add-on to the hike if you don’t already have a boat tour planned.
We took a boat tour of Benagil Cave later in the week and it’s awesome to see.
Benagil Beach to Carvalho Beach
This is the most confusing part of the hike. We originally headed off in the wrong direction (walking up the road), as did quite a few other hikers, but realized our mistake. To avoid losing the trail, THIS PART IS VERY IMPORTANT!
There are two ways to continue on the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail.
Option #1: On Benagil Beach, while looking out to sea, there is a staircase on the cliffside to your right. Take that to keep following the trail. At the top of the staircase is a blue and while building. The Casa Lamy restaurant is to your right and the trails continues to your left.
The steps on Benagil Beach
Option #2: If it is high tide and you can’t get to these steps on the beach then walk back towards the road with Benagil Beach behind you. Follow the road on the left uphill for a few paces until you reach a ramp next to the cliff wall. It is signed for Casa Lamy (a restaurant), which is located at the top of the ramp. It seems weird to walk through the outdoor tables of the restaurant, but it is the way to go. Just past the restaurant are the steps up from Benagil Beach. This is where the two paths connect.
Ramp to Casa Lamy
Whichever path you took, you now walk alongside a white and blue building that has a gelato shop and a beach club.
Just past the end of the building a dirt trail will branch off of the man-made path. Take that dirt path. There is a trail marker here.
Follow the coastline around to Praia do Carvalho. On this part of the trail, you get a good view looking back at Benagil Beach and a nice view approaching Praia do Carvalho. This is one part of the hike where you could end up hiking alongside a cliff edge. If that bothers you, then turn uphill as there are safer paths to follow higher up the hill. Either way you will reach Praia do Carvalho.
The view looking back to Benagil Beach
Views along the coastline
Praia do Carvalho
This is another spectacular beach in the Algarve. It’s a small sandy beach but there are several caves that offer some shade and a unique view of the beach.
Praia do Carvalho. On the right hand side of this photo you can see a long staircase…this is the next part of the trail.
To get to Praia do Carvalho, descend the steps in the tunnel. Just before your feet hit the sand, to the left is a small cave that is a cool spot to photograph the beach.
For more interesting vantage points, be sure to walk along the beach, as there are a few more caves here.
Praia do Carvalho
Exit Praia do Carvalho via the tunnel and then be prepared for a stair climb. At the top of the staircase, follow the trail to the left. Enjoy the views back to Praia do Carvalho.
Farol de Alfanzina
It doesn’t take long until you get another amazing view of the coastline. As you round a bend in the trail, again, you are looking across sea stacks and sea pillars with Farol de Alfanzina (the lighthouse) in the distance.
On Google, this area is labeled as “Peninsula.” This is a large rock peninsula with a cave. The views are constantly changing as you continue the walk towards the lighthouse.
Farol de Alfanzina
Praia do Vale de Centeanes
Once you walk past the lighthouse, there is nothing really noteworthy until you reach a viewpoint of Praia do Vale de Centeanes. This part of the hike was the least interesting, and in some ways, felt like it was never going to end.
The trail between the lighthouse and Praia do Vale de Centeanes
However, it is worth it to keep going. The view of Praia do Vale de Centeanes is magnificent and this large, picturesque beach is a great endpoint for the walk.
Praia do Vale de Centeanes
The Seven Hanging Valleys Trail ends at this beach. You can grab a bite to eat at the restaurant on the beach, have a refreshing drink, or spend some time on the beach.
If you are doing this walk point-to-point, you can use the bus or a ride share app to get back to the Marinha Beach parking lot. We used Uber and had no issues.
Additional Information & Helpful Tips
Best Time of Day to Hike the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail: The morning, ideally starting by 10 am or earlier. By starting early in the day, you get through most of the hike before the hotter afternoon temperatures. If you are here in the summer, I recommend starting by 8 am, because this trail will be HOT midday.
Toilets: There are toilets located along the trail in many locations. Most beaches have toilet facilities as well as small cafes where you can refill your water bottle, have a snack or even a full meal.
Cellular Service: We had great cellular service along the entire trail.
Fear of Heights: This trail frequently runs along the coastal cliffs, although in the majority of these sections, there is a fence that runs alongside the trail. Even so, if you have a fear of heights, portions of this walk could be challenging for you.
Cliff Edges: As you do this walk, some sections of the trail will have fences in place as well as signs warning hikers of unstable cliffs (Zona Interdita signs). If you cross into these areas, you run the risk of being fined, as these areas are off limits for your safety. You can get plenty of outstanding views without entering these areas.
Additions to the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail
Once you make it to Benagil Beach, you have the option to join a boat tour of Benagil Cave. Touring Benagil Cave by boat is one of the best experiences to have in the Algarve, so if you don’t already have this planned in your itinerary, it’s possible to add this on during the hike.
Beaches East of Marinha Beach
If you enjoyed the cliff views of Marinha Beach, Carvalho Beach, and the lighthouse, there are a few beaches east of Marinha Beach that are absolutely spectacular! We hiked out on this trail, not knowing what to expect, and were blown away by the views.
From the large terrace that sits next to the Marinha Beach parking lot, take the trail on the left side that takes you down to Marinha Beach. This trail will fork: if you go right, you continue down to Marinha Beach. If you go left, it takes you to some amazing cliff views.
Your first viewpoint is of Praia do Pau.
Praia do Pau
If you just stopped here, it’s worth it. But if you keep following the trail, you walk up onto a cliff that gives you views looking west along the coastline, to Marinha Beach and beyond. It’s well worth it and you don’t have to get close to the cliff edge for these views.
And finally, if you continue on the trail one minute more, you get an entirely different view, this time of Praia da Malhada do Baraço, another amazing Algarve beach.
Praia da Malhada do Baraço
We stopped at this point, but the trail continues on if you want to continue exploring…
What to Bring on the Hike
Hiking shoes or good walking/running shoes. Hiking shoes are ideal for this hike, since you will hike on a lot of uneven surfaces. However, Tim did this in walking shoes and I wore sandals. This was the only hike we had planned on this trip and we did not want to pack hiking shoes for just one short hike. We got by in our walking shoes/sandals and did fine, but hiking shoes would have made the hike easier and less slippery. I don’t recommend sandals unless you have LOTS of experience hiking.
Water. Bring at least 1.5 liters of water per person.
Sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses. Most of the trail is fully exposed to the sun.
More Great Hikes Around the World
If You Like This Hike…
If you like the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, here are six similar hikes from around the world:
- The Cinque Terre, Italy
- The Path of the Gods, Amalfi Coast, Italy
- The Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
- The Coogee to Bondi Coastal Trail, Sydney, Australia
- The Stave-Bleik Coastal Trail, Vesteralen Islands, Norway
- Walking from Fira to Oia, Santorini, Greece
For more great hikes from around the world, check out our Hiking Guide.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long is the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail?
The Seven Hanging Valleys Trail is 5.7 km/3.5 miles (2 to 3 hours) if you do it point-to point, 11.4 km/7.1 miles (4 to 6 hours) if you do it out and back.
Is the Seven Hanging Valleys hike hard to do?
The Seven Hanging Valleys hike is easy to moderate in difficulty. There are a few ups and downs, as you hike from the cliffs down to a beach and then back up again, but the climbs are relatively small. However, if you have limited hiking experience or will be doing this in the hotter summer months, this is moderate to even strenuous in terms of difficulty.
Do you need hiking shoes for the Seven Hanging Valleys hike?
Hiking shoes are ideal for this hike, since you will be walking on a lot of rocky, uneven trails. However, you can also do this hike in a sturdy pair of walking or running shoes.
How long does it take to hike the Seven Hanging Valleys trail?
If you do this hike point-to-point, it takes 2 to 3 hours. However, if you plan to spend time on one of the beaches, you could spend much longer.
If you have any questions about how to hike the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, or if you want to share your experience, 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.
MORE GREAT HIKES FROM AROUND THE WORLD: For a list of great hiking trails from around the world, check out our 20 Best Day Hikes in the World article. We also have a guide to the Best Hikes in Europe and 20 Great Day Hikes in the US National Parks. For a bigger list of hikes, check out our Hiking Page.
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.
Read all of our articles about Portugal in our Portugal Travel Guide.
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