The natural monument of Algar Seco, Algarve, is one of the most unique places on the southern Portugal coast with curious rock formations, caves, blowholes, and natural pools.
Particularly recognized for the cave with the two natural windows and the “Boneca” (The Doll) rock formation, this is one of the coolest natural places in the Algarve.
Legend says that Princess Alfanzina was meeting her lover, a poor coaler, at Algar Seco to hide from her father, the King. When the King found out, he ordered her lover killed.
The Princess grieved for the loss of her loved one on the same spot where they used to meet and her tears formed the holes in Algar Seco.
If we’re to believe the legend, the Princess’s sorrow created one of the most captivating landscapes in Portugal.
Read on to find out everything you need to know to explore this natural wonder that is Algar Seco.
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How to get to Algar Seco, Carvoeiro
Algar Seco is situated close to one of the most charming towns in Algarve, Carvoeiro. One of the best ways to get to Algar Seco is actually to walk the Carvoeiro boardwalk, starting above Carvoeiro beach by Nossa Senhora da Encarnação Fort and ending in Algar Seco.
The boardwalk lets you discover more of the cliffside with natural caves, windows, and tunnels and is my favorite way to get to Algar Seco.
There are buses from Portimão and Lagoa to Carvoeiro. Take bus no. 110 from Lagoa towards Portimão or 107 from Portimão or Lagoa direction Praia do Carvalho.
If you come by car, there are a few parking spots by Algar Seco, but they do fill up quickly. Driving there is easy, just plot in “Algar Seco” in the GPS and it will take you to the end of the road where you can park (if it’s available) and walk straight down the staircase to the natural monument.
When is the best time to visit Algar Seco
Algar Seco can be visited all year round. In fact, the winter months in Algarve are a great time to go to avoid the crowds.
However, I highly recommend going on days with good weather and a fairly calm sea so you don’t risk it being closed. Rainy days can also be risky to walk on the cliffs, so make sure you’re cautious when walking on narrow parts.
Places to stay near Algar Seco, Algarve
Algar Seco Parque
The absolute best place to stay near Algar Seco is the Algar Seco Parque, situated right above Algar Seco. The apartment hotel has several outdoor pools with sweeping views of the coast. If you’re looking for a comfortable stay with a private kitchen, this is the place to stay.
For a mid-range option, check in at Villa Welwitshia to indulge in the outside pool or take the short walk down to the beach. This is a great option for those who want to be close to Carvoeiro town but still have peace and quiet back at the hotel. It’s a short walk to the boardwalk taking you to Algar Seco.
O Quintal Guesthouse
This is a wonderful budget option in Carvoeiro with light rooms and quirky details. The hotel has an outdoor pool and garden but is still just a short walk to the beach and to the Carvoeiro boardwalk that takes you straight to Algar Seco.
Staying in Albufeira? Check out more day trips from Albufeira here!
What to do in Algar Seco
Once you get to Algar Seco, walk down the stairs. They split to the left and right halfway down.
Take to the right to reach the Bonaca Restaurant for a refreshing drink or lunch. You can also see the tall, pinnacle rock formation.
Walk left to get to the natural pool and cave.
Be aware that when the natural pool is filled with water (it depends on the tides) extremely high currents can occur as it’s connected with the sea through an underwater tunnel.
People are often swimming there, but keep close to the rock walls so you can hold on if the currents start.
Past the pool on the right side, you’ll find the cave leading into the two natural windows. This is arguably one of the best and most unique views in the Algarve.
Walk further out along the cliffs, following narrow paths formed in the soft, golden rock, and venture along with awesome natural scenes followed by the glittering ocean.
For more caves, natural windows, tunnels, and cool rock formations take the walk halfway up the Carvoeiro boardwalk that starts just a few meters from the top of the steps of Algar Seco.
This is a popular area for birds to live and nest due to the inaccessibility to humans and other predators to reach the vertical cliffsides.
Apparently, the blowholes are insane on days when the ocean is at its angriest, just as the stairs are closed for walking down due to safety measures.
What to do near Algar Seco
Algar Seco is surrounded by natural beauty and there are a lot of cool things to do nearby. Here are some of my favorites.
Walk Carvoeiro boardwalk
If you don’t walk from Carvoeiro to Algar Seco, you should still take a stroll on Carvoeiro boardwalk. There are so many cool passageways, caves, and tunnels you can get to from the boardwalk, and it’s one of the best things to do in Carvoeiro.
The natural limestone carvings are cool to explore for the whole family and if you bring your lunch, there are many nice places to sit down and have a snack with a view.
Birdwatchers will also love the boardwalk as there is a myriad of birds living in this area. Among other species, you can see Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, and Peregrine Falcon.
You can read my complete guide to Carvoeiro boardwalk here.
Hike the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail
One of the best hikes in the Algarve starts by Algar Seco. Head east on the trail and you can hike for a couple of hours all the way to Marinha beach.
The Seven Hanging Valleys Trail takes you across the golden cliffs, past some of the most beautiful beaches in the Algarve, and on top of numerous sinkholes dotted along the coast.
The only place you have to do a section on the road is when you reach Benagil beach and cave, which is a natural stop if you haven’t seen the world-famous sea cave yet.
Another highlight is the natural arches between Benagil beach and Marinha beach.
Chill at Carvoeiro beach
Carvoeiro beach is no doubt one of the most iconic beaches in the Algarve with the enchanting houses lining the golden sand.
Spending a few hours there soaking in the warm sun and taking pictures from the classical viewpoint is a great way to spend the rest of the day after venturing around the labyrinths of Algar Seco.
Head to Benagil Cave
Algar Seco is only a short walk or drive from the world-famous Benagil Cave. Situated right outside Benagil beach, the cave is only reached by sea.
The best way to see the cave is by kayak or paddleboard since it gives you the opportunity to enter the cave and walk on the beach to really feel the grandeur of this natural cathedral.
Sunlight beaming down like a spotlight on the golden sand from the large sinkhole in the cave ceiling makes this a magical experience.
Book your kayak or stand-up paddleboard here.
If you prefer to go with a local guide, try this tour.
If you prefer to see the cave by boat, you can book tours directly on the beach.
You can read my complete guide to Benagil Cave here.
Enjoy a day at Marinha beach
One of the most breathtaking beaches in Portugal is found not far from Algar Seco. Marinha beach is spectacular in every way possible with a spectacle of limestone formations towering in the water around the beach.
The tall cliffs drop dramatically down to the golden sand dotted with people soaking in the heat from the sun and dipping in and out of the crystal clear water.
Read my complete guide to Marinha beach here.
Staying in Faro? Check out other memorable day trips from Faro here!
Reflections on Algar Seco, Portugal
The first time I went to Algar Seco was with a couple of German hitchhikers I had picked up at Marinha beach and I completely fell in love with the area. There are so many cool tunnels, passageways, and caves to keep you entertained for a good while.
Combine it with the walk up Carvoeiro boardwalk to explore more passageways and caves. Let yourself be mesmerized by the million-old natural carvings by sea and wind that have left this everchanging natural wonder for us to enjoy.