The best independent guide to Carvoeiro
The best independent guide to Carvoeiro
The Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos (Seven Hanging Valleys) is one of the most scenic hiking routes of the Algarve. This moderately challenging hike trail of 11.5km (round trip) follows the stunning coastline between Vale de Centianes (Carvoeiro) in the west and the Praia da Marinha to the east.
This is a dramatic coastline formed of massive limestone cliffs that have been savagely eroded to create deep sea caves, perilous sink holes and majestic sea arches. Within the golden cliffs, winter streams have carved out wide valleys (the “hanging Valleys”), in which secluded beaches are sheltered from the power of the ocean.
The highly weathered limestone cliffs of the Sete Vales Suspensos hiking route
This guide will provide details for the Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos and then towards the end an image tour of the route.
The Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos is an outstanding hiking route which encompasses some of the finest natural scenery of the central Algarve. The trail could be described as a little rough in certain sections and it certainly is not a beautiful finished footpath, but there are sufficient signs and well-worn paths not to get lost, or wander off the edge of a cliff…..
The Farol de Alfanzina
The length of the return hike means that it can be accomplished within one day, when a moderate pace is set, but expect it to take much longer as the wonderful sights are taken in or photographed. The glorious beaches at either end of the route (the Praia da Marinha at the west and the Praia do Vale Centeanes in the east) make for a worthwhile reward for the long hike.
Praia da Corredoura beach, only accessible by boat, or for birds
Please gloss over this section if you have an ounce of common sense, but it has to be stated:
• Don’t try to swim to Benagil Caves, at least two tourists die each year from this surprisingly difficult swim.
• Many of the cliffs are sheer with precarious overhangs that are not always apparent from the top; always stick to the path and don’t risk a fatal slip for a selfie.
• If it’s hot, take enough water as there are surprisingly few locations to purchase water or boast energy with a coffee.
• Flip-flops are not really a suitable footwear for a rocky path – wear decent shoes
• We suggest extra care after heavy winter rains, as this is when cliff collapses are most likely.
• And never, ever try to cycle the path (which I have seen…)
The Praia do Carvalho
The Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos is best hiked during the spring or autumn, when the temperature is manageable. The spring months is when the plants of this harsh environment are in full bloom, whereas by the summer the flora has withered under the intense heat. This summer heat also significantly increases the challenge of the hike and is typically unsuitable for most tourists, an option for the summer is to divide the route into shorter, manageable sections.
The pitted and weathered coastline
Neither of the starting locations is close to a major town, bus stops or anything convenient for tourists, it is a mystery why the route could not have been extended to Carvoeiro or Armação de Pera. There is a large car park at Praia da Marinha, but this will quickly fill up in the summer. Praia do Vale Centeanes has almost no car parking, but it is possible to park in the residential streets.
If starting in Carvoeiro, it is possible to walk from the town centre to the Algar Seco (GPS 37.09324, -8.46545) along the broad walk and then follow the cliffs to the Praia do Vale Centeanes. An alternative is just to walk the 1km along the nondescript Estrada do Farol, to Praia do Vale Centeanes beach. .
The Praia da Marinha Arches
The hiking trail is well signed and the route is quiet easy to navigate as it just follows the coastline. For a detailed map of the region please see OpenStreetMap, an overview is seen below:
The map is provided by OpenStreetMap.com, which is an open source map project (similar ilk as Wikipedia) and provide some very accurate and detailed maps of Portugal. Best of all these free maps can be downloaded to your phone before the hike (so no need for internet connection while hiking). The phone app is called “OsmAnd” and can be found in the Android Playstore or Apple App Store; once the App is installed the Portuguese maps must be then downloaded.
We use OsmAnd constantly for all of our hiking and exploring of Portugal and highly recommend it.
The beaches along the Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos are as follows (this list is heading from west to east )
• Praia do Vale Centeanes – beautiful natural scenery (9/10)
• Praia do Vale Espinhaço – small beach which is one of the quietest beaches of the route (7/10)
• Praia do Carvalho – beautiful beach, which is reached via tunnel (8/10)
• Praia de Benagil – constant stream of tourist boats heading to the cave (7/10)
• Praia da Corredoura (only accessible by boat) – If you have a boat then its paradise in the summer
• Praia da Mesquita (really part of Praia da Marinha)
• Praia da Marinha – stunning setting and teeming sea life, just crowded in the summer (10/10)
The beach scores are just our own opinion, but all of the beaches would be ideal for a day on the beach.
The beautiful Praia da Marinha, is worthy of the 6km hike
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