Benagil Cave is possibly one of the most famous places in Portugal, and for good reason. It was made famous from a photo that went viral on social media, and it quickly became one of the most visited natural attractions of the Algarve.
We incorporated our Benagil Cave tour from Lagos with exploring other beaches in the area, and it was easily the best day of our Algarve itinerary.
I was afraid Benagil Cave would be an Instagram vs reality moment, where it looks stunning in photos but it wouldn’t be in person. I’m glad that I was proved wrong.
Benagil Caves in the Algarve is a huge sea cave with a hole in the ceiling and doors that open up directly in the sea. It’s a gorgeous natural formation, which deserves a place in your Portugal bucket list.
In this guide I put together everything you need to know about visiting Benagil Cave. Including how to get to Benagil Cave, the best Benagil Cave tours, the best time to visit, tips from my experience and more!
We visited Benagil Cave on a sunrise kayak tour, and it was the best decision we could have made. If you want to know everything about visiting Benagil Cave, read on!
- 1 What is Benagil Cave?
- 2 How to get to Benagil sea cave
- 3 Best time to visit Benagil Cave
- 4 The best Benagil Cave tours
- 5 How much does a Benagil Cave tour cost?
- 6 Our experience visiting Benagil Cave
- 7 Where to stay to visit Benagil Cave
- 8 Visiting Benagil Cave FAQs
What is Benagil Cave?
Benagil Cave is a huge sea cave located on the southern coast of Portugal, in the Algarve region. It’s often described also as Benagil Cathedral, because of its huge size and imposing natural formation.
Benagil sea cave is characterised by two entrances facing the sea and a giant hole on its ceiling. Inside the cave there is also a small beach where you can walk around, dip your feet in the sea and enjoy this stunning sea cave.
From inside the cave you can see all the different shades of gold and amber rock that line the cave walls, telling the history of thousands of years of sea and wind erosion. It’s a sight of incredible natural beauty.
How to get to Benagil sea cave
You can only reach Benagil Cave by the sea. Despite being located along the Algarve coast on mainland Portugal, the entrances of Benagil Cave face directly into the sea.
If you walk along the coast you will be able to look into the distinctive hole of Benagil Cave, but you won’t be able to access the cave from there.
When I visited in summer 2021 they had placed a security fence around the hole, meaning you could look into Benagil Cave but without getting too close.
Benagil Cave is just 200 metres from Benagil Beach. You can only get to the Benagil Cave location by sea with a kayak, SUP or boat. Some people also swim to Benagil sea caves, as the distance is fairly short.
However this isn’t recommended unless you know the location and tides really well, and unless you’re a confident and strong swimmer. Joining a kayak, SUP or boat tour is the easiest and safest way to get to Benagil Cave.
The tours to Benagil Cave usually start directly in Benagil Beach, unless you book one specifically with a transfer. Since the town around it is fairly small, most people usually stay in either Lagos, Albufeira or Portimao to then visit Benagil.
These popular Algarve destinations are all within a 25 to 40 minute drive from Benagil. If you’re driving your own car to Benagil Cave, you can find a big free parking area here.
Best time to visit Benagil Cave
The best time to visit Benagil Cave is as early as possible in the morning. I’m not joking when I say that the time of visit could make or break your Benagil Cave tour.
We did a 7AM kayak tour to Benagil Cave and our group was the only one there. We spent half an hour wandering around the cave and taking photos, sharing this gorgeous natural rock formation with only 10 other people.
When we walked past the cave entrance later in the afternoon and peaked in, we were shocked by the amount of people and kayaks stacked inside the cave, to say nothing of the chaos that was Benagil Beach.
You should also check the tide times. We visited during low tide so there was a lot of sandy beach to sit and walk on. In the afternoon the tide had gone up, so besides there being more people, it also felt more crowded as the beach was smaller.
The best Benagil Cave tours
Being one of the most popular attractions in Portugal, it’s only natural that there would be hundreds of tours dedicated to visiting this one sea cave in the Algarve.
I always recommend booking your tour online beforehand, especially if you’re travelling in high season, as it will ensure you can do the tour you want and on your preferred date and time.
One of the cool things about doing a Benagil Cave tour is that there are loads of options to choose from. I have listed below some of the most popular tours to Benagil Cave.
Benagil Cave Kayak Tour
We visited Benagil Cave on a kayak tour and loved it. The tour lasted 1.5 hours, of which around 30 minutes were spent inside Benagil Cave, taking photos and generally just admiring this gorgeous natural formation.
Besides Benagil Cave, we loved exploring this part of the Algarve coast by kayak, as it allows you to get really close to the huge staggering cliffs while also being close to the crystal clear sea.
There are lots of Benagil Cave kayak tours, so I have listed below some of the ones with the best reviews online.
Algarve: Benagil Caves 2-Hour Guided Kayaking Tour – The classic Benagil Cave kayak tour, starting in Benagil Beach for those who want to drive there alone and then explore the surroundings once the tour ends
Algarve: Benagil Sea Cave Sunrise or Sunset Kayak Experience – As I already mentioned the best time to visit Benagil Cave is as early as possible in the morning. Join this sunrise kayak tour for the opportunity to see Benagil Cave without the crowds!
Portimao: Kayak Tour of Benagil Caves – If you’re staying in Portimao and don’t have a car, this tour is a great way to visit Benagil, as it includes also the boat cruise there.
From Albufeira: Benagil Hidden Caves Tour by Kayak or SUP – Same thing for those who are staying in Albufeira, join this tour if you want both the boat cruise and kayak experience!
Benagil Cave Boat Trips
If kayaking isn’t your thing, worry not! As there are also plenty of boat tours that can take you to Benagil Cave. I have listed below some of the most popular ones.
Portimao: Benagil Caves 2-Hour Speed Boat Tour – If you’re looking for a Benagil Cave tour from Portimao, this speed boat tour is a great choice! Besides Benagil Cave you will be able to explore also a large part of Portugese coast.
Albufeira: Benagil Caves & Dolphin Watching Speed Boat Tour – For those who want a Benagil Cave tour from Albufeira, this boat tour also includes a dolphin watching experience! It’s like getting a 2-for-1 tour!
Lagos: Benagil Sea Cave Tour – Last but not least, if you want to visit Benagil Cave from Lagos, this scenic cruise will allow you to do just that.
SUP tour to Benagil Cave
If you don’t fancy kayaking and you don’t want to be on a boat, you can also join a Benagil Caves SUP tour!
Algarve: Benagil Caves Stand-Up Paddle Board Tour – Discover the gorgeous Benagil sea cave, and the gorgeous coastline of the Algarve, by paddling out on your very own SUP!
How much does a Benagil Cave tour cost?
Generally speaking, the tours to Benagil Caves range from 20 EUR to 50 EUR depending on what transport mode you choose and whether they include other services or attractions.
You should visit the page of the exact Benagil Cave tour you want to do to see their latest prices and availability.
If you want to save money you could try renting a kayak or SUP at Benagil Beach and making your own way to Benagil Cave, as it’s fairly close. However you would then miss out on the other sea caves the tours take you to visit.
Our experience visiting Benagil Cave
I’ll be honest and say that before visiting Benagil Cave, I was convinced it would be one of those overhyped locations that became famous on social media but which is actually disappointing in real life.
I was very happy to be proved wrong. Benagil Cave in Portugal is a place of truly stunning natural beauty, which I believe should feature on everyone’s Europe bucket list.
Walking on the small beach inside the cave, looking up at the hole in the cave ceiling and admiring the layers of rock and erosion that brought it to look like that over millions of years, really has a way of making you feel small.
I also really enjoyed kayaking along the rest of the coast, exploring other sea caves and admiring the golden cliffs of Praia da Marinha. I thought it would be a lot of hype just for one cave, but there was actually more to it.
We did the 7AM sunrise kayak tour and were not disappointed. I heard from others who visited during the day that they hated it because huge number of kayaks, boats and people crowded into the cave.
Benagil Cave is a truly unique natural rock formation, which deserves its place on every Portugal itinerary. If you want to fully enjoy it, make the effort to wake up early and give it the attention it deserves.
Where to stay to visit Benagil Cave
The town surrounding Benagil Cave and Benagil Beach is fairly small and quiet. This is the reason why most travellers visiting Benagil Cave stay in either Lagos, Albufeira or Portimao.
We stayed in Lagos and loved it, although it is the town furthest away. The drive from Lagos to Benagil Cave is around 40 minutes, but the town itself is very cute, as well as being close to Ponta da Piedade and other awesome Algarve beaches.
Albufeira is closer, only a 30-minute drive to Benagil, and a great place to stay for young travellers looking to party. The town has a beautiful beach right in front of it, and a reputation for being a party destination.
Portimao is also around a 30-minute drive from Benagil. It’s a great starting point for many of the boat and kayak tours to Benagil that I’ve listed above.
Some people try to visit Benagil Cave on a day trip from Lisbon but that’s not worth it in my opinion. You would spend longer driving than enjoying Benagil. You should visit cities like Lisbon, Sintra and Porto on separate days from Benagil.
Here are some great accommodation options for every budget in each of these towns.
Budget in Lagos – Topcity Hostel & Suites: This is the hostel we stayed at for two nights and a great choice for budget travellers. They have a rooftop pool, spacious terraces for every dorm and a fun sociable atmosphere.
Mid-range in Albufeira – Casa dos Arcos: This charming guest house is the perfect place to stay for those who want to treat themselves without breaking the bank. You can relax in their lovely courtyard after a long day of exploring the Algarve.
Luxury in Portimao – Jupiter Marina Hotel: With its infinity pool with sea views, spacious rooms and spa, it’s the perfect place to treat yourself after an early morning kayaking to Benagil Cave!
Visiting Benagil Cave FAQs
Conscious this article has become quite long, so I wanted to summarise the key points here!
How do I get to Benagil Cave? Benagil Cave is located 200 metres away from Benagil Beach, on the coast of mainland Portugal. You can only access the cave from the sea with a kayak, SUP or boat tour.
What is the best time to visit Benagil Cave? If you’re visiting in summer, the best time to see Benagil is at 7AM before the huge tourist crowds arrive. If you’re in Portugal in winter you can go also later during the day, although many tours won’t be running in low season so make sure to plan accordingly and book online beforehand.
Can you go to Benagil Cave without a tour? Technically yes. You could swim to Benagil Cave but it’s not recommended. You could also rent a kayak, SUP or boat and make your own way there, but you would miss on the explanation of how Benagil Cave was formed and the tour to the other nearby sea caves.
Is visiting Benagil Cave worth it? In my opinion yes. There is a reason this stunning natural cave became so famous in the first place, just make sure to visit early in the morning to avoid the crowds and have a pleasant experience at Benagil.
Where do I book a Benagil Cave tour? I always recommend GetYourGuide as an online platform for tours. They offers loads of tours where you can read reviews, plus they have a very flexible cancellation policy.
Final thoughts on the best Benagil sea caves tours
There you have it, the ultimate guide to visiting Benagil Cave in the Algarve! I hope my article answers all the questions you might have about Benagil sea caves, and it will help plan your time there.
Whether you were wondering how to get to Benagil, whether it’s actually worth visiting or paying for a Benagil Cave tour, I tried to answer all your Benagil questions here.
While the enthusiasm around Benagil Cave is without a doubt a bit overhyped, this sea cave is truly beautiful and worth a visit. It was one of the highlights of our time in the Algarve.
The Algarve is also a popular European winter destination. If you’re looking for a bit of winter sun, you can strike two birds with one stone and also get to enjoy Benagil Cave without the summer crowds.
If you have any questions about visiting Benagil Cave let me know in the comments below! Have you already been to Benagil Caves in Portugal? How did you find it? Tell me about your experiences in the comments below!
Looking for more Portugal travel tips? Check out my other Portugal travel guides!
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