Adventurous Portugal: How to Visit Benagil Cave

How to Visit Benagil Cave, Portugal

When I think back to our Portuguese adventures from last summer, this is the place that generally pops into my head first. Although we had an amazing time exploring Lisbon, loved Pena Palace and enjoyed our days in beautiful Lagos, Benagil somehow tops them all. It is definitely a unique place and I think it’s really cool that travelers can actually see it on the inside. 

Find out all about how you can visit Benagil Cave: 

Where Exactly is the Cave?

The small village of Benagil, where the cave is also located,  is 45 kilometers east of Lagos and 60 kilometers away from Faro. The easiest way to get to the cove itself is from the main beach of Benagil.

It can be reached very easily on a paved road via car or taxi. Before you arrive, you need to know that parking spaces are few near the beach, so finding a place to park your car might be difficult during peak season. Public transport isn't really an option, since there are merely two bus routes to the village daily. 

Benagil Beach

How to Get There?

The village can be reached on a good quality paved road via car or taxi. Before you arrive, you need to know that there are very few parking spaces near the beach, so finding a spot might be difficult during peak season. Public transport isn’t really an option, as there are merely two bus routes to the village daily. Once you get to the beach and face the ocean, Benagil Cave will be to your left, right after this rock formation:

How to Visit Benagil Cave, Portugal

How to Visit Benagil Cave?

Basically there are three main possibilities to visit the cave on the inside. The most popular option among tourists is via a boat tour. Such a trip will set you back between 20 and 25 euros and last approximately an hour. The upside of these tours is that they take you to many rock formations and coves, not only to Benagil. However, the downside is that even though you enter the cave with the boat, you aren’t allowed to step off of it and spend time inside the cave. They basically just enter, float inside for a minute or two so you can take pictures, then leave.

You can also rent kayaks at local vendors, usually from the same people who also offer boat trips on the beach. A two-person kayak costs twenty euros for an hours’ time.

Albeit these options all seemed nice and comfortable, we thought we’d save a few euros (by now you must’ve noticed how very frugal we are…), so we decided to swim into the cave. I must admit, I am by no means a pro swimmer. In fact, I consider myself an extremely poor one, so I was very-very nervous about the whole experience. But I was also very curious and frugal. So I went for it.

How to Visit Benagil Cave, Portugal

Benagil Beach seen from the Ocean

At first, the water was extremely cold for someone who spent the entire day in the sun. Once I got a bit used to the freezing temperature, I suddenly remembered where we were going, so I started paddling with my legs. (No joke, I really swim like a dog. Or any dog probably swims better than me. Just so you get the gist of my swimming skills). Once we passed the rock formation I mentioned above, we could already see the entrance to the cave and the infamous light shining down through the hole.

How to Visit Benagil Cave, Portugal

I was actually very surprised to see how close it was. According to GPS, the distance is 200 meters one-way, so it’s totally doable if you’re eager to swim in. Be advised that at the last section of the path, right before you enter the cave and reach it by foot, the waves are pretty strong. Make sure you’re already aware of how overpowering ocean waves can be, before you delve into this adventure.

How to Visit Benagil Cave, Portugal

Entering Benagil Cave

Once inside, sit down and catch your breath. Although it’s a short swim, tackling the ocean waves isn’t at all a simple task. The only people who are inside are probably swimmers like you, so it’s pretty unlikely you’ll catch a crowd. However, you’ll need to prepare for the noise and big waves caused by the small boats, which will arrive every couple of minutes or so. But just sit for a minute and take in the surroundings – you’ve worked hard for it!

How to Visit Benagil Cave, Portugal

How to Visit Benagil Cave, Portugal

How to Visit Benagil Cave, Portugal

How to Visit Benagil Cave, Portugal

How to Visit Benagil Cave, Portugal

How to Visit Benagil Cave, Portugal

How to Visit Benagil Cave, Portugal

Once you’re ready to leave, check if there are any incoming boats you should be aware of. The first leg of the swim is the one where you’ll make the most effort, since you’re swimming against the waves coming at you. Just make sure you’ve had enough rest to leisurely swim back.

How to Visit Benagil Cave, Portugal

Admire Benagil Cave from Above

If you want a different perspective of the cave, you might want to see it from above as well. All you need to do is take a small detour as you head back towards your car. You’ll soon find yourself on a trodden bath right above the hole, encircled by a small gate. Don’t hesitate to make a few extra steps to have a glance at the area from a farther perspective as well.

How to Visit Benagil Cave, Portugal

How to Visit Benagil Cave, Portugal

How to Visit Benagil Cave, Portugal

How to Visit Benagil Cave, Portugal

Practical Info

  • Take on the swimming challenge responsibly. If the weather is bad, if the waves are tall and the wind is blowing strongly, you might want to reconsider swimming into Benagil Cave. On days with bad weather, the boats don’t run either, so don’t even think about swimming at such a time!
  • I found that my snorkeling fins were (logically) very helpful, so if you have one, don’t be afraid to use it!
  • Swim as far away from the rock formations of the coast as you can. You never know where the water could be shallow and you can hit your leg in a cliff. A huge wave can come at any time, crushing you into the cliff walls (just sayin’). So be careful and keep your distance.
  • Always be on the lookout for the boats. Yes, the captains are already used to tourists swimming to Benagil Cave. But accidents can happen and they generally do when people are not paying enough attention. So don’t get too comfortable swimming around them.

So tell me: how would you visit Benagil Cave? Would you paddle yourself in? Would you dare to swim? Or would you take it easy and go on a boat tour? Let me know!

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How to Visit Benagil Cave, Portugal

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