Sete Vales Suspensos OR the Seven Hanging Valleys
Ever visited a travel destination for a few days but realized that your time there wasn’t enough because there was so much to see?
It happened to me when I went to the Algarve. I loved it so much and realized I wanted to spend more time exploring more areas so I went back again within a year.
Yes, Portugal’s Algarve is one of those regions that is worth visiting at least twice because there’s so much to see and it is all good.
What makes Portugal’s Algarve region really special are the rock formations. They not only add a stunning background to the beaches but also offer multiple hikes and viewpoint possibilities.
It was during that trip that I discovered the Seven Haning Valleys hike route because I could see people up on the viewpoints and on a trail while I was kayaking to the Benagil Cave.
So yes, I went back to the Algarve just to stay at an amazingly cute fishing village that I saw from the boat – Carvoeiro. That’s where the hike starts!
I went a step further, and stayed at a hotel from where this trail actually starts – Rocha Brava Village Resort.
Introducing the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail
Table of Contents
The Seven Hanging Valleys trail is a scenic hike in Portugal’s Algarve that goes on for 5.7 km. The hike goes along the coast on the rocks.
This trail goes up and down and one can see many beaches from up above. Not only the beaches but one can also see the holes – or “Algares“.
This walk goes on an almost unbroken line of cliffs, interrupted only by water courses. Historically each hanging valley was associated with a rivermouth flowing into the sea from above. Most of these watercourses flow into the sea from above, creating “hanging valleys”, hence the name.
Each hanging valley shows the effects of erosion that have taken place along the coastline over the last million years. As a result, the cliffs are unique and a predominant feature of this landscape.
There are caves and many algares (or holes) and birds live in many of them, especially bats.
The world-famous Marinha Beach comes at the end of this trail (or the start depending on your direction). It is possible to go down to many of the beaches take a break and then go back up on the trail.
The Seven Hanging Valleys trail also goes on top of the famous Benagil Cave. This cave has a hole on the top of the rocks and the trail will take you there.
Quick Facts about the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail
Here are some numbers and figures about the Seven Hanging Valleys hiking trail:
- Length of the entire trail: 5.7 KM (so a round trip is 11.4 KM).
- Average Duration for the trail: 3 hours one way and 6 hours in total. You can definitely do it faster if you don’t take breaks to click pictures.
- Difficulty Level: Medium, only because it can get slippery on some paths. Also, the hiking path isn’t a proper boardwalk, unlike the Ponta da Piedade hike of Lagos (Lagos is also in the Algarve).
- Maximum Height: 45,50 meters for the rocks above Praia do Vale de Centeanes.
- Minimum Height: 7,50 meters at Benagil Beach.
- Recommended seasons: Spring, Summer, and Autumn. (The official website doesn’t mention summer but I did this in summer and it is doable).
I will share tips for doing this hike in an easier and more fun way at one of the later points.
Seven Hanging Valleys Trail Start Point
Vale de Centeanes is the best beach in Carvoeiro because it has amazing rock formations. Also, the main beach – Praia do Carvoeiro is busy but Praia do Vale de Centeanes isn’t.
Yes, the trail starts from Praia do Vale de Centeanes but a part of it goes through Rocha Brava Village Resort before the lighthouse.
You can’t start the hike from the beach itself, because you have to climb down to go to the beach and then climb up to go on the path. So, leave a beach day for another day, instead go to “Miradouro do Vale Suspenso” or “Miradouro Vale Centeanes” or just near the lighthouse Farol de Alfanzina to start your hike.
Somewhere here also is a place marked on Google as “the best lunch bench in Algarve”. Note that some parts are fenced off because they belong to Rocha Brava Village Resort, so it can get confusing here.
Seven Hanging Valleys Trail End Point
The Seven Hanging Valleys trail ends at Praia da Marinha, but you can actually go on top and walk a little further because the beach right after Praia da Marinha looks insanely beautiful from the top.
If you notice on the above rocks, there are many viewpoint possibilities and there are so many kinds of different views that one can enjoy from the top on all sides.
Seven Hanging Valleys Trail Map
Here’s a map that I made of the Seven Hanging Valleys hiking trail using Google Maps. I have a habit of making things on Google Maps before I visit a destination so that I don’t miss out on things that I really want to do.
If you look for a “walking map” from point A to B, it will give you a slightly different map from what I have made up above.
Here’s a picture that I clicked at the end point of the Seven Hanging Valleys trail at Marinha Beach with information about every spot on the way
I found the above map to be really useful because it mentions scenic spots but of course, it mentions very few of them and there’s a lot more.
Notable Viewpoints along the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail from Start to End
You will want to save this post because I am now going to mention the viewpoints of the hike from the starting point till the end.
The viewpoints get better towards the end. The best part of this hike is from Benagil Beach to Marinha Beach.
1) Miradouro Vale Centeanes
This viewpoint overlooks the Praia do Vale de Centeanes (translation is the beach of the valley of Centeanes). The Seven Hanging Valleys hike starts from here so this is actually the first viewpoint that you will see on this hike.
The walking trail that starts from here isn’t a proper boardwalk but is a narrow path leading through the bushes on top of the rock.
We also saw a bunch of fruiting prickly pear cactuses here or Opuntia here.
For me, the Vale Centeanes beach was lovely to visit because it was like a mini version of the more famous Marinha beach in terms of the rock formations, water clarity, and sand.
2) Best Lunch Bench in Algarve
This is something we found on Google Maps and we realized that to arrive here one has to get inside the resort that was along the hike, and we later realized that was the resort where we were staying – Rocha Brava Village Resort.
We were able to reach this spot because we had the access key to enter the boundary since we were the guests of the resort. If you can’t then you don’t need to make an effort because there are definitely more viewpoints up ahead and some are more interesting.
3) Alfanzina Lighthouse & Around
We reached the Alfanzina Lighthouse at sunset time and the area around looked very good. There are multiple viewpoints and possibilities as you explore the area around it.
There is also a cave that you see from up above, Gruta do Farol de Alfanzina – but we were just two girls here and it was going to get dark. We of course didn’t want to go inside a cave at that moment.
We also saw some locals who were sitting on top of the rocks near the lighthouse to watch the sunset. Apart from them, there was not even a single person around, and definitely not on the trail.
In comparison, the other lighthouse on the Ponta da Piedade hiking trail that I saw was full of people because that’s a famous viewpoint. That’s also in the Algarve but that spot overlooks the sunset directly so I guess it is more popular for sunset photos.
There is also supposed to be a “Paradise Cave” near Alfanzina Lighthouse. We didn’t have the time to try to find it but if you do, please tell me about it.
4) Praia do Vale Espinhaço Viewpoint
This is a super tiny beach and there are steps that go to it. My friend and I were here at sunset time so we didn’t want to go down to the beach because it was just about to get dark. Instead, we found a nice viewpoint to spend some amazing moments.
If you see the above photo, the way to the beach goes from the left side of the rock that we are sitting on.
I highly recommend this spot for stunning sunset photos. I actually haven’t seen even a single photo of this spot on Instagram till now, which is a very good thing.
5) Floating Rock
Floating rock is a tall cliff that has been eroded from all sides and as a result, appears to be a floating piece of rock. There is a beach right behind the floating rock and it was empty at the time of our visit.
All these spots aren’t marked on the Seven Hanging Valleys trek. This is why I say that the Ponta da Piedade hike is better marked because all the viewpoints have gazebos and an information board.
6) Benagil Beach and Cave
Benagil Beach and Cave is where you should take a pause, rent a kayak or a SUP, and go inside the cave. A better part of doing this hike would be to split it. Do the Benagil cave kayaking in the morning and after that hike from Benagil to Marinha to do half of the Seven Hanging Valleys hike.
As mentioned before, I visited the Benagil Cave twice – once in the afternoon on a kayak and then in the morning on an SUP. The cave gets very full in the afternoon, so try your best to do this first thing in the morning.
If you want to see the cave (which you totally should), then check out the below tours that I have handpicked for you:
- 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. It isn’t easy to stand on the SUP because of the waves but was still fun.
- Benagil Cave Sunrise or Sunset Kayaking: It is different from the others because it has super early or late start times so that you can avoid crowds. This also costs EUR 35 per person and starts from Benagil Beach.
- Algarve: Benagil Caves Guided Kayaking Tour: This is pretty similar to the first one on this list and costs the same – EUR 35. But they have 5 different time slots so that you can start super early or late to avoid crowds. It also leaves from Benagil Beach.
If you are an experienced kayaker, then you may not need a tour and can do this on your own. But remember there is a right way to enter the cave and a wrong way.
Because I was always with a guide – even when we did a private SUP tour with just two people, I had professionals telling me which side of the cave to enter from. There was a Spanish couple who were entering it from the wrong side and spent a long time fighting the waves because they kept getting pushed towards the rocks. Ouch!
The Seven Valleys hike doesn’t take you inside the Benagil cave but it goes next to a hole on top of the Benagil Cave. So you have to get off the path at Benagil Beach and rent a kayak from there to go to the cave.
Benagil Beach is tiny, but pretty. Sadly it was full of seaweed so wasn’t fun to walk on it. Note that I’m talking about the “Benagil Cave” beach but the main Benagil Beach.
So unless you are going to the beach to rent kayaks or SUPs, there is no other reason to go to Benagil Beach because it isn’t really worth it. If you are doing the cave on another day then stay on the Seven Hanging Valleys hiking trail and don’t make a stop on this beach.
7) Praia do Carvalho
There are two beaches marked as Praia do Carvalho as per Google Maps. One comes before Benagil and one comes after. This is the one that was after crossing the Benagil beach.
This is one of the beaches that I would have liked to go down to. But of course, I picked a few of them because if I went down on every single beach then the hike would have taken forever.
If you see the above photo of the beach, the seaweed has taken over the entire beach. That’s sadly the problem with some of Algarve’s smaller beaches and I also noticed it on a tiny yet lovely Praia do Pinhão, in Lagos which was sadly full of seaweed.
8) Cão Raivoso Beach, Cave and Viewpoint
I don’t know exactly the name of this cave but I’m using the name of the nearby beaches. As mentioned before, there are many holes in the rocks around this area and as a result lots of caves.
The time that I visited Benagil Cave, we visited a few other caves after Benagil but I didn’t write the names down. I specifically remember one cave that was called the Dark Cave.
The above picture was clicked right after the hole in the rock from where you can see the cave. If you miss this spot, don’t fret because there are lots of holes in the rocks all around. They are called algares in Portuguese.
9) Heart Shaped Rock / Elephant Rock Viewpoint
So lately pictures of a heart-shaped rock formation on the Seven Hanging Valleys trail have been taking social media by storm. There isn’t actually a heart-shaped rock but three rocks that give an illusion of a heart-shaped gap.
This illusion is actually formed by the “Elephant Rock” which I saw a year back while kayaking to Benagil Cave. I also kayaked under the arches of the Elephant Rock in 2022 and I did the same round on SUP (Stand-Up Paddleboard) in 2023.
Wondering where to find it? Read on.
No matter which kayaking or SUP tour you do to reach the Benagil Cave, most likely they will take you here because that’s the typical route.
How to find the Heart Shaped Rock Viewpoint on the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail?
In order to find the heart-shaped hole in the rock viewpoint, you need to first find the Elephant Rock, or “Rocha do Elefante”. It is right before the Arco Natural and the Marinha Beach viewpoint.
This spot comes right before you reach Marinha Beach. So, in case you missed it, you literally have to walk from the Marinha Beach Parking to the viewpoint that’s before the beach and overlooks it.
You will see a path that’s fenced off and at the corner where the Elephant Rock is visible, you have to go under the fence and a few steps till it appears that the rocks in front are forming a heart with the elephant rock. The above picture where I am sitting is close to it.
So many people miss this spot that it’s unbelievable! As my friend and I stood there, we saw so many people who clicked a picture of the other viewpoint and didn’t even notice the heart.
So, I really hope you find my website before you do the hike so that you can find this heart shape and click the most amazing pictures.
We liked this spot so much that we went back the same day to see the sunset here.
10) Viewpoint of Praia da Marinha
There isn’t one but many viewpoints of Marinha Beach. The most famous one is what comes right before the beach on the hike and is next to Arco Natural, the next viewpoint.
This picture was clicked in the peak daylight, so just imagine how stunning it would look at time of golden hour during sunrise or sunset.
Another amazing viewpoint of the Marinha beach is the one that comes right before one enters the beach from the parking spot.
Just like I told you to take a break at Benagil Cave, another spot for you to take a break is Marinha Beach. It is often called the most beautiful beach in Europe and it is totally worth the hype.
Praia da Marinha has amazingly clean water, soft sand, interesting rock formations, and arches. This beach is a perfect place to enjoy a beach day, you wouldn’t want to leave.
There is also an affordable beach bar and restaurant where I had two meals and loved them. The sangrias here were just EUR 3 per glass, which is an unbelievable price considering it is right on the beach and one that looks so pretty.
Another amazing viewpoint of Praia da Marinha is after you cross the beach and walk beyond the end of the Seven Hanging Valleys trail. It is worth it because you will also see another lovely viewpoint that comes after, which I mention in the next point.
11) Praia da Malhada do Baraço
This is the viewpoint after the Marinha Beach and isn’t “officially” on the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail but I think it is worth mentioning because the water here looks very smooth and blue from the top.
The beach Praia da Malhada do Baraço looked breathtaking from up above and we could see just one couple on it who kayaked to the beach as we hiked up above.
Pro Tip – Split the Seven Hanging Valleys / Sete Vales Suspensos Hike
You don’t need to do the entire Sete Vales Suspensos trek in one go, it is more fun to split it. That way you can see more sunsets here at different spots, spend longer time on the beaches and have a more relaxed holiday. This is the same thing that I suggested for my Ponta da Piedade hike.
Benagil Beach is the middle point of the Sete Vales Suspensos hike, which makes it easier to split it with a break. If you decide to split it, here’s how I suggest you do it.
Arrive via Uber to Benagil Beach (Uber is so cheap in Portugal, was EUR 7 from Carvoiero to Benagil) and from here kayak to the Benagil Cave.
Come back to Benagil Beach to return the kayak and then hike from Benagil to Marinha Beach. This is the best part of the hike. Spend the rest of the day at Marinha and take an Uber to go back.
Spend a day at Praia do Vale de Centeanes – the pretty beach that’s the starting point. Then do the sunset hike to Benagil. Or, arrive at Benagil and hike back from Benagil to Praia do Vale de Centeanes and spend the rest of the day here.
If you are like me and would like to see the sunset from one of the viewpoints, then plan in a way that you have enough time to hike back. When in doubt, just UBER it back to your hotel. Uber is very cheap in Portugal and we never paid more than EUR 7.
I’d like to say that wear comfortable shoes but I did this hike in flip-flops. I can’t wear closed shoes in summer but if I ever take my child on a hike like this, I’d never let her wear flip-flops.
Where to Stay near the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail?
I have mentioned this already in my Algarve Road trip itinerary and Carvoeiro posts – the best base for the Seven Hanging Valleys trail is Carvoeiro. In Carvoeiro, pick a place that’s close to the start of the trail, so somewhere near Vale de Centeanes beach.
For that reason, we stayed at Rocha Brava Village Resort. It is a beautiful resort with villas, apartments, restaurants, supermarkets, a bakery, man-made waterfalls, sports centers, swimming pools, and play areas, and is close to the beach.
Our apartment was less than EUR 100 per night for two and had a kitchen too. This way we saved money by cooking two meals per day ourselves.
Another option for a great place to book nearby is Tivoli Carvoiero. It is a super stunning property with a view of the sea and cliffs on both sides. It overlooks Vale Covo and has pools with a view that’s unmatched.
FAQs about hiking the Seven Hanging Valleys
How long does it take to hike the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail?
It takes 3 hours one way to hike the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail with a lot of photo breaks and stops. You can take a break in the middle to eat lunch at one of the restaurants on Benagil Beach, it is the midpoint.
As mentioned above, it is more fun to split this hike, so that you can also kayak to the Benagil Cave and do the rest on another day. This way, you can enjoy two different sunset spots or sunrise spots on the hike.
How hard is the Seven Hanging Valleys Hike?
It is not a difficult hike but at times one has to climb up, so I wouldn’t call it “easy” but somewhere between medium and easy.
Where do I start the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail?
The trail starts at Vale de Centeanes Beach and ends at Marinha Beach. So it isn’t actually from beach to beach but from the viewpoint of the Vale de Centeanes beach to the viewpoint of Marinha Beach.
You can go to the viewpoint of the starting beach to start the trail, which is Miradouro Vale Centeanes. I found some parts of the hiking paths from the start point super narrow and at times broken. You can also start the hike a bit further from Alfanzina Lighthouse.
The best part of this hike is after Benagil and Carvalho beaches, so you can actually skip the first part and do it till the end to Marinha Beach.
Alternatively, you can start the hike from the viewpoint of Praia da Marinha and do it in reverse.
Where does the Seven Hanging Valleys trail end?
The Seven Hanging Valleys trail ends at the super beautiful Praia da Marinha, which is often called the most beautiful beach in Europe. You can take a break and enjoy a peaceful beach day at Praia da Marinha.
Do you need hiking shoes for the Algarve?
I’d say yes. To be honest, I did this hike and also the Ponta da Piedade hike in the Algarve wearing flip-flips because I didn’t want to wear closed shoes in summer.
But I still recommend you carry hiking shoes to be safe.
Carvoeiro and Lagos both offer a lot of hiking opportunities and in some areas the path tends to get slippery so decent hiking shoes definitely help.
Closing Thoughts on Setes Vales Suspensos Trekking or Seven Hanging Valleys Hike
The main beauty of the Algarve is the rocks. So beaches aren’t the only places where you can enjoy the rocks but also hikes like these ones where one can see stunning sights.
Make sure you read my Algarve itinerary so that you can maximize your time here based on my expert times since I visited this area more than once.
If you like hiking, don’t miss Lagos. You can hike from one beach to another and explore the entire coastline to see all the beaches of Lagos. Don’t miss the Ponta da Piedade hike because that’s truly out of the world.
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