Seven Hanging Valleys Walk in the Algarve
Early 2019, the online portal ‘European Best Destinations’ named the Seven Hanging Valleys Walk in the Algarve the best hiking destination in Europe. Thousands of travellers from all over the world chose this trail along the cliffs of Lagoa as the best. I had to go and see for myself. Is it really that beautiful?
If you only want the short answer to that question: yes, it is really that beautiful. I loved the beaches with crazy blue water and the yellow rock formations. But if you want to know a little bit more, just read on!
About the trail
The Seven Hanging Valleys Walk is a 5,7 Km trail along the winding outlines of the cliffs between Vale Centianes Beach in Carvoeiro and Marinha Beach. Most of the time you will be walking on top of the cliffs, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, sometimes you will be down at beach level. During the walk you will be treated to some of the most famous beaches of the Algarve, like Carvalho and Benagil beach.
Seven Hanging Valleys
Over millions of years, various water courses sculpted the cliffs along the shoreline. Floating into the ocean from above, they created so called hanging valleys. The intensive erosion shaped the limestone cliffs in the beautiful landscape they are now. The amazing arches and caves you will come across, are all the result of this ongoing process. You will even see sinkholes, vertically developed cavities, in which you can hear the sound of the underground rivers.
Planning your walk
In planning this hike, you must first decide if you want to walk one way or return to your starting point on foot. Personally I am no big fan of walking the same path twice, so I chose the one way. This was also more than enough distance for the hot day in June I was walking it.
Then you have to decide where to start. As I was coming from Albufeira, I thought it best to start at Praia da Marinha and finish in Vale Centianes. As it turned out, it would have been better to do it the other way around. First of all, because Praia da Marinha is sort of the cherry on the cake. I think it’s nice to save the best for last, so in that perspective the best place to start is Vale Centianes Beach. It’s also easier to get a taxi back to the starting point at Praia da Marinha. There are many food stalls (expensive!) that offer to call you a taxi.
Have a break
A logical place to have a break is Benagil. Here you will walk down to sea level, to a beach with several nice restaurants. You even have to cross the terrace of one of them (Casa Lamy) to stay on the route. I must admit I got a little lost here, because I missed a sign, but just remember to always stay as close to the coast as possible.
There are possibilities to go down to other beaches too, but remember they can be difficult to find and challenging. The less people you see on a beach, the harder to reach it will be. Some will only be accessible by boat.
The trail is not very difficult to walk, although occasionally you might need to clamber a little bit. Make sure you wear decent footwear. Flip flops will be too slippery and unstable. Also be aware of the sun. It can get very hot on the cliffs, so bring enough water and sun cream. In summer it’s best to avoid walking this trail during the hottest hours of the day.
There are more than enough trail signs and other information boards along the route. You will not need a GPS or anything like that. If there’s one machine that you do have to bring, it’s a camera!
The Seven Hanging Valleys Walk runs in the Algarve, from Vale Centianes Beach in Carvoeiro to Praia da Marinha. There is parking space on both sides, which can get pretty full during the high season. An alternative option is taking the minibus. The Rota da Falesia Cliffs Route is a Hop On Hop Off minibus service that runs about every half hour. It takes you to both the start and endpoint of the route, and many other coastal places in the area. You can get a 24 or 48 hour ticket in the bus.
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