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Looking for a hike to do in Portugal? Look no further! The Seven Hanging Valleys Trail hike is one of the most popular hikes on the Algarve, and easily one of the top hikes in Portugal. It is also a great alternative to the Fisherman’s Trail, which is a multi-day hike in the area.
The Algarve coast is filled with some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and the best way to explore them is on foot! This stunning coastal walk will take you through some of the most beautiful terrain that the Algarve has to offer.
Distance: 7 miles (11.4 km) out-and-back
Elevation: 1,200 ft gain
When to hike: Year round
Trail Type: Out-and-Back
Time to Complete: 4-6 hours, including stops
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate, depending on level of experience
Trailhead Location: Praia da Marinha, or Praia do Vale de Centeanes
Walking route: Praia da Marinha – Benagil – Praia do Carvalho – Alfanzina Lighthouse – Praia do Vale de Centianes
Things to know before hiking the Seven Hanging Valleys hike
This hike is a point-to-point hike along Portugal’s gorgeous southern coast. In other words, it’s either a shorter one-way hike (if you can find transportation to/from the trailheads), or a longer out-and-back hike.
There are limited places to stop for food and drinks along the trail, especially in the off-season, so make sure to pack enough food and water for the full hike.
There is little to no shade on this hike, so sun protection is key. Pack a hat, wear sunscreen, and bring along enough water. This is important all year round, but especially during the hot summer months.
Wear proper footwear. While it is not necessary to wear hiking boots to complete this trail, although never a bad idea, do not attempt this hike in flip flops or sandals. If it is super hot, hiking sandals are an option, but I would recommend a proper sneaker or walking shoe.
Pack a swimsuit and towel. There are plenty of opportunities to stop for a swim along the hike, and on a hot day you will definitely want to do just that!
Have a trail map handy. While the trail is relatively easy to follow with yellow and red stripes painted on wooden poles and stones throughout, there are a few areas that can get a bit confusing. Make sure to have a physical or digital map handy. I recommend Gaia or Google Maps.
Although you can see Benagil cave from above (although not a particularly nice view), it is not accessible from this hike. Benagil cave can only be accessed from the sea.
Options for hiking the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail
The full 11.4 km trail is considered an out-and-back trail. Many people hike the trail this way, but it does mean that you are hiking there and back along the same route.
If you don’t feel like retracing your steps, or simply don’t have the time, then you can just do one direction of this hike. In this case you will need to take a taxi or Uber back to the trailhead. If you’re only doing the hike in one direction, make sure to turn around from time to time to soak up all of the views.
A standard Uber back to the trailhead shouldn’t cost more than 7 or 8 euros and they tend to be relatively available. If you’re hiking during the off-season, expect to wait a bit longer for an available driver.
Although we planned to complete an out and back hike, this is what we ended up doing instead when the rain started towards the end us of hike.
In general, the most popular and often thought of as the best part of the hike is along the eastern end of the trail, between Praia da Marinha and Praia do Carvalho. If you have limited time, you can just focus on this portion of the trail. You can either hike it round trip, or simply grab an Uber to return back to the starting point.
Which direction should you hike?
While you can technically do this hike in either direction, I recommend starting at Praia da Marinha, approximately 7 km from Lagos and hiking west along the coast. However, the views are equally gorgeous no matter which direction you choose to hike. There is a much bigger parking lot at Praia da Marinha, which will be important if you’re hiking during the peak season. You also won’t have to deal with the sun being straight-on, as you would if you’re hiking the opposite direction.
How to get to the trailhead
By far the easiest way to get to the trailhead is to drive yourself. In general, having a car to explore the Algarve region is recommended. If you don’t have your own rental car, I recommend grabbing a taxi or Uber. Public transportation is technically available, but not the most reliable, especially in the off-season.
What time of year to hike the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail
While it is possible to complete this Algarve hike year-round, I recommend hiking it in the Spring or Fall. As I mentioned above, there is little to no protection from the sun, so it can get extremely HOT during the summer.
If you’re hiking during the summer, please make sure to adequately prepare with sun protection and ample water. You’ll also want to make sure that you have your swimsuit handy for plenty of swim breaks along the way.
Hiking during the shoulder seasons will not only be much more pleasant temperature-wise, but also far less busy. It could be a bit chilly for swimming, but there are always still some brave souls in the water.
It is also possible to complete this hike in the winter, but the chance of rain is considerably higher so make sure to keep an eye on the weather forecast. We completed this Algarve hike at the end of November and it was the perfect temperature, but we did get a bit of rain in the afternoon.
What to expect on the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail hike
The hike can be broken down into three distinct sections, which I’ll describe in more detail below.
Marinha Beach – Benagil Beach, 1.2 miles
From the parking lot at Praia da Marinha, the trail starts by heading west, which is towards your right if you’re facing the water. If you want to visit the beach first, take the stairs down on your left. Otherwise, you can visit the beach at the end of your hike if you’re planning an out-and-back hike.
It should take you approximately 1 hour to reach Benagil Beach, passing the gorgeous Praia da Corredoura beach along the way. You will also have an opportunity to peak at the Benagil Cave from above, but truthfully it is not much to see.
This is probably the busiest stretch of the hike. You’ll also find a restaurant at Benagil beach.
Benagil Beach – Praia do Carvalho, 1 mile
This portion of the hike becomes less busy, as many tourists turn back after Benagil beach (or end their hike here).
Be sure to head down the stairs in the rocks on the right hand side to reach the beautiful Carvalho beach. If the weather is nice, this is the perfect spot to stop for a swim.
Praia do Carvalho – Praia do Vale de Centianes, 1.5 miles
This is the last stretch of the hike, and arguably the least popular (and therefore less crowded). You’ll start this section with a long climb back up from Praia do Carvalho, so be prepared to some steps. Make sure you are following the path, and not climbing the stairs back to the main road (which is what we accidentally did).
Along the way you’ll pass the beautiful Alfanzina Lighthouse, along with some nice picnic spots.
Once you end the hike, you can walk along the main road to reach the nearby town of Carvoeiro, or walk along the Carvoeiro Boardwalk.
Where to stay for the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail
There are a number of different options to stay before your hike. If you want to be close to the hike, Carvoeiro is a great options. We stayed in Lagos, which was about a 35 minute drive from the trailhead, but had lots of great restaurants and beaches. Here are some great options for Lagos:
What to pack for the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail?
- A small backpack
- Hiking boots or sneakers
- Sun protection – sunscreen, hat, sunglasses
- Water – I recommend at least 1.5 liters for this hike (I always travel with my Vapur water bottle)
- Snacks + a packed lunch (you can pack lunch to-go in a Stasher bag or Stojo bowl)
- Swimsuit and travel towel
Visiting Portugal? Here are some other articles to check out:
- How to get from Lisbon to Lagos
- Best Restaurants in Lagos, Portugal
- First Timers Guide to Lisbon
- 3 Days in Porto