Praia de Benagil – the complete guide
Praia de Benagil is a magnificent beach near Lagoa. The beach is most famous for its sensational cave called Algar de Benagil. This cave has a round hole in the ceiling that frames the beautiful blue sky inside. Benagil and its cave can be found on many lists of ‘places you have to see in your lifetime‘. Without a doubt, this wonder of nature is one of the best things to see in the Algarve.
Watch it in 4K
Imagine you are already there by watching this short video of Praia de Benagil.
Praia de Benagil is a relatively small beach, sitting between impressive gold-coloured cliffs. The cliffs also protect the beach from winds.
The sand on the beach is quite soft and feels nice. When you get in the water, the temperature can be a bit cold at first. However, the sea water is of excellent quality. There are no stones in the sea, in contrast to some other beaches in the Algarve. Beware that the sea on this beach goes from shallow to deep quite quickly.
In the summer, the beach attracts quite a lot of visitors. Since the beach is not that big, it feels crowded quite quickly. Even so, there is always a spot to put your towel. Be aware that it not possible to rent sunbeds here. Since the sun can be quite strong in the Algarve, make sure to bring your own parasol.
Algar de Benagil (the eye)
Near Praia de Benagil is an impressive cave, called Algar de Benagil. The cave is located just around the corner of the left side of the beach. When you arrive there, you will be amazed. Inside the cave is a small, magical beach. From inside the cave, you will see the blue sky through an opening in the ceiling, also known as the eye.
This photogenic cave is very popular among photographers, and it can be seen on many postcards. To enter Algar de Benagil, you have to go through one of two arches. The sea outside the cave is also a great location for snorkeling. The water is crystal clear and the surroundings are amazing. The Benagil cave was even featured in the selection of the 10 coolest caves in the world by the Huffington Post.
Visiting the cave
You can visit the cave in the following ways:
There are many boats going to the cave. Most probably you will join a group of tourists and visit the cave together. In most boat tours, you will visit other beaches, caves and grottoes as well. Ask beforehand if your boat trip allows you to walk inside the cave, because some boat trips do not allow for that. Those boats enter the cave, stay there for two minutes to take pictures, and then continue the journey. During summer, you might have to wait a couple of hours before there is an available spot on a boat. Most boat tours cost around 20-30 euros per person. Boats depart from the beginning of Benagil beach, near the snack bar. There are also boats going to Algar de Benagil from other beaches, like Carvoeiro or Armação de Pêra.
The boat trips are regulated, in order to prevent overcrowding on the water and the caves. You can choose between a short boat trip (around 30 minutes) or a longer boat trip (between 1,5 and 3 hours). During off season, when the sea conditions are rough, there are no boat trips.
By kayak or stand up paddle board (SUP)
You can rent a kayak or SUP on the beach and go to the cave yourself. In this way, you have more freedom than going on a boat trip with others. You can stay as long as you want in the Benagil cave. If you want, you can go even further to the remote Praia da Corredoura. Be aware that some kayak operators will need you to sign a responsibility statement and require you to show a valid ID card.
If you are more of an adventurous type it is possible to swim to the cave. Although the distance from the beach is not that far (200 metres), it is only recommended for people who can swim well. Otherwise, there might be no one to help you if you get in trouble. It helps if you have proper equipment (like goggles, fins or a wetsuit). The swim takes about 5-10 minutes. Keep an eye out for the current and the tide. Also watch the boats going in and out of the cave. They can generate big waves. Do not attempt to swim to the cave when the sea is rough. When in doubt, ask around.
If possible, try to visit the cave as early as possible. Then you will have excellent lighting for photos, as the morning sun beams pour in from the top! The best time is actually during sunrise, but also the sunset is very nice from the cave.
Looking down from above
Up on the cliffs, near the car park, you can walk to the opening and look through the eye of Algar de Benagil. You will see the small beach and the sea down below. It is very easy to walk from the beach to Algar de Benagil. Just follow the signs. The walk from Praia de Benagil takes about 5 minutes. The cave itself is for safety reasons protected by a wooden fence. Always keep a safe distance from the hole.
Watch this impressive video to see the cave from above.
Praia de Benagil is located in the small fishing village of Benagil, which gave the beach its name. The village of Benagil has one main road, which goes up and down quite steeply. There is not that much to do in the village itself, except visiting the beach and a couple of restaurants. Benagil is situated between Carvoeiro and Armação de Pêra. Nearby beaches are the iconic Praia da Marinha to the east and the popular Praia do Carvalho to the west.
The local economy of Benagil was centered around fishing up until the second half of the 20th century, after which it focused more on tourism. The beach is actually still used by fishermen. Usually you can see several fishing boats on Praia de Benagil. If you are lucky, you will see fishermen bringing the catch of the day ashore.
You can hike on top of the cliffs near Benagil beach. This will give you a great view of the beach and its surroundings. Make sure you do not go too close to the edge.
Travelling to the Algarve this year? Dont’ forget to bring the Marco Polo Travel Guide.
Jumping from the rocks
On the right side of the beach, there is a hill, with a small path in the rocks. The path takes you to a spot where you can jump from, right in the water. It is safe – there are no rocks in the water below. But you will need some courage. There are varying heights to jump from. This is sure to give you a rush of adrenaline.
How to get there
Praia de Benagil is at a distance of 6,2 kilometers from the town of Lagoa. By car it takes about 10 to 15 minutes. You can enter the following address in your GPS to get to the beach: CM1154, 8400 Lagoa, Portugal.
Parking is free of charge. The best place to park your car is on top of the cliffs. There is a car park there, in front of the restaurant O Litoral. Then you have to walk down a steep hill to access the beach. The walk is about 7 minutes. If you prefer to park your closer to the beach, then you can park alongside the road on the steep slope. Parking here is limited and you have to put the car in reverse with the handbrake firmly on. Locals sometimes even put bricks under the front wheel to secure their car. Come early in the morning or in the late afternoon to secure a parking spot.
To reach Benagil beach by public transport you can take a bus from Lagoa to Praia de Carvalho. From there you can either take a taxi or walk along the coastline for about 25 minutes.
There is one small restaurant/snack bar right on the beach. The restaurant is called A Lota and offers outdoor seating under parasols. The restaurant serves sandwiches, salads and snacks. It is also the place where you can get a drink or ice cream to take up to the beach. The food here is not that great, so it is best to avoid it. Only go here if you have no other choice.
If you prefer to have a proper lunch or dining experience, then you have to walk uphill. Our favourite restaurants near Praia de Benagil are:
- Helders Restaurante-Bar. This restaurant offers delicious Portuguese food. Very good value for money. Also a good place to watch sports, while enjoying a cold beer.
- O Algar. This is a family restaurant and has very good food. They specialize in fresh fish and seafood. The view from the restaurant over the sea is superb.
- O Pescador Benagil. This Portuguese restaurant is located on the cliff above Benagil beach. They offer a good selection of Portuguese wine. The restaurant is slighly more expensive than others, but the food and view make up for it.
There are some hotels within a short driving distance from Praia de Benagil. Our favourite hotels near the beach are:
- Montinho Boutique B&B. This bed and breakfast has beautiful views and very comfortable rooms. Quiet location, but still close to the beach. Very friendly hosts and nice breakfast.
- Terraços de Benagil. The location of this property is amazing: it is a couple of minutes walking to the beach. It consists of several houses, each with their own kitchen and a lovely roof terrace.
- Rocha Brava Village Resort. This 4 star resort has everything you need for a great holiday in the Algarve. It consists of several spacious villas and offers plenty of welness and sport facilities.
After the busy summer season of last year, we recommend to book your hotel now, as it will probably sell out. Below you can find a map with the location of hotels near Praia de Benagil. By changing the date of your holiday, the map will show you the current prices.
Praia de Benagil is an excellent location to explore the sea caves near Lagoa by boat. You can book your excursion or boat trip in Benagil, but chances are (especially in the high season) that you will have to wait a couple of hours for a spot on a boat. You can also book your boat trip right now, which saves time. Below you can see our recommended boat trips and excursions in the area of Benagil.
Praia de Benagil – Facilities
Facilities in Praia de Benagil:
- Restaurant: yes
- Bar/club: no
- Toilet: yes
- Shower: yes
- Water sports: no
- Sunbeds: no
- Parking: yes, on the side of the road (difficult) or on top of the cliffs (recommended)
- Lifeguards: yes
- Blue flag beach: no
Are you excited? We hope you are ready for your next holiday adventure in the Algarve! Don’t forget to check out our other pages and discover all the secret tips on more amazing destinations in the Algarve.