Seven Hanging Valleys Trail – a 2022 guide

BySteven I. Green

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Seven Hanging Valleys Trail is a not-to-miss hike in the Algarve. This 6-kilometers route is known for its breathtaking scenery. lt offers spectacular views of the rugged coast, limestone cliffs, picturesque beaches, and natural caves. The trail is a great short alternative to the famous Fishermen’s Trail, a multi-day route along the west coast of the Algarve.

Seven Hanging Valleys Trail route overview

  • Total distance – 6 km/3,7 mi one way, it’s a linear route
  • Time – from 2 hours
  • Total ascent – 210 m
  • Total descent – 228 m
  • Difficulty – moderate
  • Starting point – Praia da Marinha, Lagoa/Praia do Vale de Centianes, Carvoeiro
  • Finishing point – Praia do Vale de Centianes, Carvoeiro/Praia da Marinha, Lagoa
  • Walking route – Praia da Marinha – Benagil (at 2 km) – Praia do Carvalho (at 3,5 km) – Alfanzina Lighthouse (at 5 km) – Praia do Vale de Centianes (at 6 km).
A wooden boardwalk with a viewpoint on the edge of a cliff in the Algarve, Portugal
A lookout point at the beginning of the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail in Portugal

Where does the trail start?

The Seven Hanging Valleys Trail starts at the famous Marinha Beach, about 7 km from Lagoa. The Micheline Guide named it one of the top 10 beaches and Europe and one of the 100 most beautiful beaches in the world. Lagoa is the nearest to the beach town. Technically the trail doesn’t lead to the beach. From the lookout point at the Marinha Beach Parking, the beach is on the left-hand side down the stairs and the trailhead is on the right. Once you start walking you won’t see the beach anymore. You should visit it before starting the actual hike. 

Rugged cliffs, pinnacles, and a small sandy beach, a view from the top of the cliffs
Hikers get stunning views of the coast right from the start of the trail

How to get to the trailhead?

The easiest way of getting to the start of the trail is driving. If you’re planning to explore the Algarve and visit several locations renting a car is highly recommended. There are public buses and trains but it takes much longer, some beaches can’t be reached by public transport. For navigating put Marinha Beach in Google Maps and it’ll lead you directly to the parking lot by the beach. It’s possible to visit the highlights of the trail with a private tuk-tuk tour from Albufeira.

Where does the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail finish?

The trail finishes at Praia do Vale de Centianes, a beach that is about 7 km from Carvoeiro. The beach area has many guesthouses, a couple of restaurants, and a shop. It’s not really a town. If you want to stay nearby I’d rather stay in Carvoeiro. 

Is the route well-marked?

Yes, it’s marked with yellow and red stripes painted on wooden poles or rocks from end to end. The route marking is the same as for the Rota Vicentina. It’s easy to follow the trail in either direction. The route follows the coast from the start to the end even if you miss a sign just continue walking along the cliffs.

A white and red route marking on a wooden fence on the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail
Route marking on the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail

Can the trail be walked in either direction?

Yes, the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail can be walked in either direction starting at Marinha Beach and finishing at Beach or another way around. Which direction is better is difficult to say. The views are great both ways just make sure from time to time to look back. If you drive it’s better to start at the Marinha Beach because there is a spacious parking lot nearby. There are spots to park a car along the road but they’re very limited. 

How to get back after the hike?

The Seven Hanging Valleys trail is a linear route. If you park your car at the start of the trail to get back to it you can either walk back or take an Uber. Walking can be nice if you have enough time. In this case, the hike will take you a big part of the day including at least one long stop for lunch and rest. Plan to spend 5-6 hours on the trail. 

If you don’t have time to walk both ways to get back to your car you can take an Uber. We often use Uber in Algarve it’s cheap and fast. To take a normal Uber (up to 4 people) from Praia da Marinha costs between 5 and 6 euros. For a larger car that can take more than 4 passengers, you’ll pay 10 euros. Waiting time depending on the season is between 5 and 15 minutes. You’ll need an Uber app on your phone to be able to use it.

If you don’t have a car and staying nearby the trail you can take an Uber both ways to get to the trailhead and back to your hotel.

Marinha Beach from a lookout point on the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail in Portugal
A view of the Marinha Beach from the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail

What is the scenery like on the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail?

The scenery on the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail is spectacular; rugged limestone cliffs, bizarrely shaped pinnacles sticking out of the water, picturesque sandy beaches, dramatic drops, underground caves, and stunning lookout points. It is truly one of the most beautiful coastal hiking routes in the world. I’d definitely recommend having enough time to walk the trail without rushing, enjoying the scenery, and stopping at beautiful beaches along the route.

Can I see the Benagil Cave from the trail?

Yes and no. The famous Benagil Cave is on the route through you can see the actual hole on the surface you can’t look inside the cave. There is a fence around it that prevents people from getting to the edge of the cave. The only way to see it is from a boat.

If you want to see the Benagil Cave you can do a kayak tour to the cave from the Benagil Beach. The tour takes about 2 hours you can combine it with the hike. In summer I’d recommend booking the activity in advance otherwise you risk spending a couple of hours waiting for the next available tour.

A map of the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail
My waling route map of the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail

Seven Hanging Valleys Trail route description

The route is 6 km one way but with walking around to different lookout points and going down to the beaches it’s very likely that your total distance will be more. My total distance was 7 km. 

I’ve divided the trail into three parts according to how busy it is. 

Elevation profile of the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail in Portugal
Elevation profile of my walk on the trail. As you can see there are very few ascents and descents on the route

Part 1. Marinha Beach – Benagil Beach, 2 km/1,2 mi

The first part of the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail is from Marinha Beach to Benagil Beach. It’s a 2-kilometer stretch that is extremely busy. Many tourists walk this part between two beaches. Both places, the Marinha Beach and the Benagil are two sights in the Algarve that attract thousands of people every day. In my opinion, this part has the most impressive views over the cliffs, pinnacles with arches, and beaches. 

At th Benagil Beach there are 4 restaurants. After that there will be no cafes or restaurants till the end of the trail except for a food kiosk at Carvalho Beach.

The highlights of the first part include Marinha Beach, Mirador dos Arcos viewpoint, Mesquite Beach, Corredoura Beach, Bengali Cave, and Benagil Beach.

A view of the Benagil Beach from the top of the cliffs on the Seven Hanging Valley Trail
Benagil Beach from a viewpoint on the trail

Part 2. Benagil Beach – Praia do Carvalho, 1,5 km/1 mi

The second part of the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail from Benagil Beach to Praia do Carvalho is about 1,5 km. Once you pass the Benagil there will be significantly fewer people. Praia do Carvalho is not-to-miss here. It’s a small picturesque beach surrounded by limestone cliffs. The access to the beach is through a tunnel with a long staircase. 

The highlights of the second part are stunning views of the Benagil Beach from the top of the cliffs, a cave with a long staircase leading to the Carvalho Beach, and Carvalho Beach itself.

A tunnel with many stairs, Carvalho Beach, Algarve
The tunnel with a staircase the leads to the Carvalho Beach, one of the beaches on the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail

Part 3. Praia do Carvalho – Praia do Vale de Centianes, 2,5 km/1,5 mi

The last part from Praia do Carvalho to Praia do Vale de Centianes is the least crowded. It’s a 2,5-kilometers stretch. I walked the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail on the 25th of April which is a public holiday in Portugal and still, there were not many people on this part of the trail. There is a nice picnic spot in the forest at 4,6 km. I really enjoyed the last part because it was quiet. The parts of the trail go through the pine forest offering some shade. This part can be called the most challenging because of a long staircase leading up from the Carvalho Beach and a couple of ascents and descents along the way. 

The highlights of the last part include several natural pits, Cabo Carvoeiro, several viewpoints, Alfanzina Lighthouse, Vale Suspenso Viewpoint, and Praia do Vale de Centianes. 

Stunning scenery on the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail
The part of the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail between Alfazina Lighthouse and Praia do Vale de Centianes

When is the best time for hiking?

Weatherwise spring is our favorite time for hiking in Portugal. We’ve done several hikes and long-distance walks along the Portuguese Coast in April/May including the famous Fisherman’s Trail and the Coastal Route of the Portuguese Camino and always had great weather. 

During the summer months, June to September it gets very hot especially from July to mid-September. It’s not the best time for hiking in the Algarve. It’s the peak season for the region there are thousands of people everywhere. If you walk the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail during these months it’s highly recommended to start early in the morning before it gets very crowded and too hot.

From the second half of September to mid-November it is warm, mostly sunny, and far less crowded than in the summer. Just like the spring, it’s a good time for hiking.

The winter months December to February are cooler and rainier but there are still plenty of sunny days. Except for the Christmas holiday overall that time of the year there are very few tourists from that point of view, it’s the best time to visit the Algarve. It’s a pleasant time for hiking the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail. You don’t have to worry about starting early or finding parking. 

Tips for walking the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail

  1. Start the hike early in the morning, especially during the summer months. This way you’ll skip the midday heat. 
  2. If you stop for a picnic take all rubbish and leftovers with you. 
  3. Carry enough water.
  4. Use sunscreen and wear a hat.
  5. Stay on the marked trail.
  6. Don’t climb over the wooden fences to come clothes to the caves. It’s not safe for you and not good for the structures. Limestone cliffs are very fragile.
  7. If you walk the trail during the busiest months (July, August, September) and don’t want to spend an hour waiting for your food at one of the restaurants along the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail rather bring snacks or sandwiches with you. There will be places to stop for rest and lunch on the trail. 
  8. To find a parking spot, especially on weekends and during the peak season, it’s essential to arrive at the Marinha Beach parking early in the morning.
Natural arches in a cliff sticking into the sea on the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail
Two natural arches from a viewpoint at the beginning of the trail

Places to stay near the trail

If you want to stay close to the trail I would recommend Carvoeiro. It’s a nice small beach town with many hotels, restaurants, and bars. 

If you’d rather stay in a bigger place Lagos is a great option. It’s not far from the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, about 30 km. There are several beautiful sandy beaches in Lagos that are great for tanning, surfing, kayaking, etc. The town has many hostels, hotels, restaurants, bars, and several supermarkets. If you’re looking for a budget accommodation and food it’s better to stay in Lagos.

What to pack for the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail?

  • A small backpack to carry essentials, water, and snacks.
  • Hiking shoes or trail running shoes that are comfortable for walking on a rocky footpath. I wouldn’t recommend doing the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail in flip-flops.
  • A water bottle
  • A cap or a hat is very important.
  • Sunglasses.
  • Comfortable clothes for hiking. I’d recommend wearing a thin long-sleeve shirt (e.g. a running or fitness shirt) and long pants (e.g. yoga pants or hiking pants). We often see tourists in the Algarve even during the winter months with sunburns. On the trail, you’re exposed to the sun with very little shade to hide. 
  • Sunscreen is a must-have especially if you’re wearing a short-sleeve outfit. 
  • A swimming towel in case you decide to go for a swim at one of the beaches.
  • Swimsuit or boardshorts.


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