I visited the Algarve twice and here’s my travel guide for Carvoeiro Algarve.
If you have a thing for stunning beaches, then most likely you have heard of Portugal’s Algarve region. Did you know that the Algarve region easily has 10+ destinations?
The most popular destination in the Algarve is Albufeira and that’s where most of the people go. But you know me, I avoid overly crowded places but I don’t compromise on the landscape beauty.
Some of the other destinations in the Algarve are Lagos (which I absolutely love), Portimao (which I didn’t like), Faro (the airport is here), Tavira, Sagres, Silves, Olhão, Quarteira, Loulé, and Vila Real de Santo António to name just a few.
The destination that I saw from the water and instantly fell in love with was Carvoeiro. Do you want to know why?
Introducing Carvoiro, Portugal
First, let me explain what makes the Algarve so special. Yes, the Algarve has the perfect warm Mediterranean climate but that’s not it.
It’s the stunning landscape caused by the rock formations. The unique sea cliffs are around most of the beaches in the Algarve and as a result, they look spectacular.
One can hike from beach to beach in the Algarve and there are many viewpoints. The most famous hike is Ponta da Piedade in Lagos. Back in 2022, I did this hike every day because it was super stunning.
Carvoeiro is even more special because not only are there rock formations, but these rocks create thousands of caves here. So some spots reminded me of Cappadocia!
I have visited the Algarve twice. I actually went back the second time after a year just so that I could spend time exploring the caves of Carvoiro that I saw from the water while I was on the way to Benagil cave from Portimão. Carvoiro is between Portimão and Albufeira
So now that you know what and where Carvoeiro is, let me tell you about the amazing places to visit here.
Planning a last-minute trip to Carvoeiro? I have got you covered! Check out my list of recommended activities and hotels:
- Benagil Cave Guided tour: It is a 2-hour kayaking tour that leaves from Benagil Beach.
- Benagil Caves and Praia da Marinha Boat Trip: 1.5 hour tour on a small boat and you get to visit the world-famous Marinha beach too!
Recomended Hotels in Carvoeiro:
Things to do in Carvoeiro Algarve Portugal
Table of Contents
1) Algar Seco Caves
Algar Seco caves are the reason why I revisited the Algarve. It is a network of caves that face the sea, and you can walk from one cave to another.
Seriously, this part of the Algarve made us feel like we were on another planet. There is a boardwalk that goes along the Algar Seco caves but to visit many of the caves, one has to walk on the rocks.
The entire Algar Seco Caves walk stretches for a few hundred kilometers along the coast in Carvoeiro. Years have erosion have created these stunning grottos on the rock along the water.
The Algar Seco caves are on one of the most popular walking trails in Carvoeiro, which is the Carvoeiro boardwalk.
This area is famous for its bottlenose dolphins but we didn’t see any. I have also read that a Blue Whale was spotted here in 2011.
As mentioned before, you should ideally wear proper shoes but I always do such hikes in flip-flops. I know it isn’t the safest thing to do but I can’t wear closed shoes in summer.
2) Seven Hanging Valleys Trail (sete vales suspensos)
I have mentioned the Seven Hanging Valleys trail already in my Algarve itinerary post and it starts right here in Carvoeiro. I also have an entire post about the setes vales suspensos / Seven Hanging Valleys hiking trail, please check it out.
This trail starts at Praia do Vale de Centeanes, which is a stunning beach, and ends at Praia da Marinha, which is often called Portugal’s prettiest beach. The trail also goes on top of the Benagil Cave.
The entire Seven Hanging Valleys has one viewpoint after another and Algares (holes) that are thankfully marked. You can look inside some of them from the top and see small private beaches.
The entire trail takes up to 3-4 hours if you stop many times to click photos. The best part obviously is at sunrise time or sunset. You don’t have to do the entire trail in one go, it is a better idea to split it.
We did the part from Benagil Beach to Marinha Beach one day, and then once again for sunset. We hiked the part from Vale de Centeanes to Benagil Beach during the day on another day.
The part from Benagil Cave to Marinha Beach on sete vales suspensos is the prettiest. Right on top of Marinha Beach, one can also see a heart shape that’s created with overlapping rocks.
Unlike the Ponta da Piedade hike, the Seven Hanging Valleys trail doesn’t have a proper boardwalk but a hiking path instead. At several places, it looks like the path is closed off with “Danger” signs but they are about the holes in the rocks, which are called Algares.
3) Benagil Cave & Beach
Imagine a secret beach with a hole on top for light, and the only way to visit is by water. It will give you Indiana Jones vibes when you finally enter this stunning cave because it is an adventure.
I have visited the Benagil Cave twice – once on a kayak in 2022 and then on a SUP in 2023. In 2022 I visited the cave from Portimão because I was staying in Lagos. It was a catamaran and we got onto our kayaks a little before Benagil beach. In 2023 directly from Benagil Beach.
I had a different experience on both occasions because one was at the peak visiting time and the second was at the earliest time possible. The first was a group tour and the second was a private tour – they both costed the same EUR 40 per person, but the private one was obviously better.
So should you do a tour or rent a kayak/paddleboard and reach the Benagil Cave on your own? If you have a lot of experience kayaking or SUPing, then, by all means, do it without a guide.
I have shortlisted a few tours for you to book:
- Benagil Cave Guided tour: It is a 2-hour kayaking tour that leaves from Benagil Beach.
- Benagil Kayak Rental: If you have enough kayaking experience, then you can rent the kayak and do it yourself. But be careful of the rocks at the entry of the cave.
- Benagil Cave Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP): For me entering the Benagil Cave on a paddleboard was a lot of fun. Try it.
Yes, I have done a lot of kayaking too but I didn’t want to do it without a guide because of the rocks. The cave entry spot gets tricky because of the waves and I didn’t want a big wave to throw me against the rocks.
4) Marinha Beach
Praia da Marinha or just the Marinha beach is not only one of the most famous beaches in Portugal but Europe. It is super close to Carvoeiro, so you can visit it literally every day like we did.
If you are doing the Seven Hanging Valleys trail then you will definitely get to visit the Marinha beach. You can do the hike early and then spend a day on Marinha Beach to relax.
Alternatively, you can use Uber to reach Marinha Beach from Carvoeiro, it costs just EUR 7. Of course, the normal taxis are more expensive.
Praia da Marinha is the perfect beach with soft sand, clear water that’s cold, and stunning rock formations. There are arches, and you can swim around them for a fun experience.
The rock formations provide a decent amount of shaded spots for you to put up your mat. This is also one of the reasons why I love the beaches of Algarve.
Praia da Marinha has a restaurant at the entry area with surprisingly delicious and affordable food. We ate here twice and loved the sangrias. There is also a WC behind the restaurant.
5) Praia do Vale de Centeanes
If you are looking for an amazing beach to spend most of your time without too many people, then this is it. It is definitely one of the best places to visit in Carvoeiro.
Praia do Vale de Centeanes was right behind our resort so we ended up visiting it and spent a day here. This beach is a smaller version of Praia da Marinha, it is similar but also a bit different.
Vale de Centeanes has an arch towards the end of the beach and you can sit right under it for a perfect partially shaded spot with the ocean in front of your eyes.
The water at the entry point had seaweed but just after a few meters, it was super clean. So, if you enter and see seaweed, don’t be instantly disappointed but walk a bit further.
The water is very after you cross the initial seaweed area and it is a delight to swim here. The sand is also perfectly soft and doesn’t have too many pebbles.
There is a restaurant/bar at the entry point of Vale de Centeanes, and also a WC. So, grab a beer or another drink as soon as you enter, walk further set up a spot with your mat, and enjoy your chilled drink.
We spent an entire day at Vale de Centeanes and we didn’t ever feel that it was crowded.
6) Carvoeiro Boardwalk
One of the best things to do in Carvoeiro to enjoy an evening is to do the entire Carvoeiro Boardwalk. As the name suggests, it is a wooden walkway along Caroeiro’s rocky coast, so expect viewpoints and pretty sights.
We actually combined the Carvoeiro Boardwalk with the Algar Seco cave walk and it was a fun experience. It is a 570-meter-long boardwalk so is tiny.
We saw the sunset at Algar Seco caves and walked the Carvoeiro Boardwalk during the golden hour. Algar Seco comes halfway in the middle when you see a restaurant called “A Boneca”.
This walk ends near Forte de Nossa Senhora da Encarnação, and from there you can walk a bit further to Miradouro da Senhora da Encarnação.
From Miradouro da Senhora da Encarnação, you can see the main beach – Praia de Carvoeiro. From here you can walk down to the main town area of Carvoeiro, which has restaurants, bars, and many other places that can be found in typical summer destinations.
Praia de Carvoeiro is a busy beach and so is the Carvoeiro town area that’s next to it. This is why we decided to spend most of our time on quieter beaches like Vale de Centeanes and Marinha.
How to Reach Carvoeiro?
The closest airport to Carvoeiro is in Faro, but you can also land in Lisbon and do the journey to Carvoeiro by bus.
In order to reach Carvoeiro from Lagos, you have to arrive at Lagoa (not Lagos) or Albufeira by train or bus, from there just get on a taxi to reach Carvoeiro. It is cheaper if you Uber it from Lagoa instead of getting on a “normal” taxi.
If you are traveling to the Algarve with a group of people, then it makes sense to rent a car from Faro or Lisbon and travel internally within the country. Somehow the car rental prices are so much lower in Portugal as compared to Italy.
The second option is to book a transfer on the “SunTransfers” website. I actually did a lot of research and it seemed to be the only affordable option.
When I say affordable, I mean cheaper than a taxi but definitely more expensive than a bus. Unfortunately, I didn’t book in advance and there wasn’t any slot available just a day before traveling.
Another option would be to book a direct bus from Lisbon to Albufeira, and from there do the remaining journey by local bus or taxi. We got onto Flixbus from Albufeira to reach Lisbon and the journey took just 3 hours.
Rocha Brava Village – Best Place to stay in Carvoeiro with Villas, Apartments
We stayed in a place called Rocha Brava Village Resort and it was breathtaking. It was massive and the entire complex had bungalows, villas, low-rise apartments, and many kinds of accommodations with interesting architecture. It felt like a mini village and not just a resort.
The entire resort complex has paradisical landscaping – waterfalls, ponds, flowery arches, tropical trees, and much more.
We had an entire apartment to ourselves with a kitchen, dining area, balcony with sun loungers, bedroom with AC, bathroom, and a dressing area. Unlike AirB&B, there was also a cleaning service because it is a resort.
The reason we had booked Rocha Brava Village Resort was that slightly away from Carvoeiro’s busy area and super close to the stunning Vale de Centeanes beach, from where the Seven Hanging Valleys trial starts.
At the start of the trail, there’s a spot that’s marked on Google Maps as the “Best lunch bench in Algarve”, which is actually inside Rocha Brava village resort.
There were a few swimming pools, hot tubs, sports centers, restaurants, bars, and supermarkets, inside Rocha Brava Village resort and it made it perfect for families.
So, if I ever go back to Carvoeiro again with my family, I will book this same place.
Where to Eat in Carvoeiro Algarve
Because we had an entire apartment with a kitchen, we cooked some of our own meals ourselves, but we made it a point to at least eat one meal outside.
Portugal is one of those places where I enjoy every single meal because they don’t shy away from cooking with flavor. They can be bigger restaurants or even simple home-run kitchens but the freshness of ingredients, herbs, etc ensure a good experience.
Below are the restaurants that I recommend:
Boneca Bar is right at the entry of “A Boneca” cave in the Algar Seco cave walk area. So, the best part of this restaurant/bar is the location. If you are going to watch the sunset at Algar Seco cave walk, then eating dinner here with a glass of wine makes a lot of sense to save time.
Order grilled fresh fish, house wine, and calamari rings, and enjoy a nice meal here. But be prepared to spend because this is a high-end place.
I just did an Indian thing and recommended an Indian restaurant. I had a madras-style prawn curry with tandoori roti and it totally hit the spot.
Marinha Beach Snack Bar
This was so good that we went back for another mean. I ordered a big plate of prawns and I loved them because they were perfectly herby and delicious.
Closing Thoughts about Carvoeiro Algarve, Portugal
Trust me when I say this, when a destination is enough to bring me back to the same region year after year, then you should take my word for it and travel to it.
Unlike many other parts of Europe, Carvoeiro is still not busy and one can truly enjoy a summer vacation here with beaches, good food, and amazing hikes.
FAQs about traveling to Carvoeiro Algarve, Portugal
What is the nicest part of the Algarve?
Having visited the Algarve twice, I’d say the nicest part is Carvoeiro because it has a lot of lovely places to visit and some amazing places nearby.
Apart from the beaches, the stunning Algar Seco Caves are right here and the Seven Hanging Valleys trail also begins in Carvoeiro. Just nearby are the Benagil Cave and Marinha Beach.
Should I stay in Carvoeiro Portugal?
Yes, Carvoeiro is an excellent base for exploring the Algarve because some of the best places to visit are right here or nearby. One can find amazing resorts, villas, and apartments to stay in Carvoeiro.
Is Carvoeiro Portugal worth visiting?
Yes, definitely. This is my favorite place in the Algarve and shouldn’t be missed. If you don’t have much time, then miss places like Portimao or Albufeira but don’t skip Carvoeiro.
What is the most luxurious part of the Algarve?
It is Carvoeiro. But if you are a budget traveler, don’t let that discourage you because I was able to find amazing mid-range rooms. I booked an entire apartment for around EUR 100 per day for two and cooked two meals there, so we ended up saving money.
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