Top 10 Caves to visit in Portugal
If there is one thing you won’t want to miss when visiting Portugal, it’s exploring the amazing caves scattered around the country! From spectacular sea caves, accessible by boat, to underground caves and even volcanic caves, there is something for everyone! Check out our top 10 caves to visit in Portugal!
1. Benagil Cave – Algarve
Topping our list is probably what would be considered the most famous cave in Portugal, and the only sea cave on our list! Located between Armacao de Pera and Carvoeiro, you will find Algar de Benagil! An incredible sea cave, carved out by years of wind and water, it is one of the top places to visit in the Algarve! If you’re traveling to the Algarve, we urge you to take a boat trip to explore this beautiful natural cave! Marinas offering this tour include Vilamoura, Albufeira and Portimao. Other fantastic sea caves in the Algarve worth mentioning include Elephant cave, Xorino Cave, Algar Seco and Marinha Beach.
2. Porto Moniz – Madeira
In the heart of Madeira, you will find a spectacular volcanic pool! One of the highlights of visiting the island is swimming in the cave. Entrance is cheap at €1.50 and children under three can come for free. The swimming complex has been divided into two pools. The first is the natural pool, where you can swim inside the cave. The second, the Lido Pool, is a man made structure, in which you won’t find sharp rocks and makes for safer swimming, particularly with the kids! You’ll also find a lounging area, bar and shower/changing room, which makes for a relaxing day by the sea! There are many tours you can take to visit Porto Moniz. We find however that making your way there allows you to explore the volcanic pools at a more leisurely pace.
3. Mira de Aire Cave – Central Portugal
If you’re staying in Central Portugal, you’ll want to visit the amazing cave! Discovered in 1947, this is likely one of the largest caves in Portugal and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the region. A fantastic tour that will start at 300 meters in altitude and take you down 180 meters of fantastic limestone shapes. You’ll get to know formations like the Organ, the Martian, and the Jellyfish. All of this leads you to the spectacular waterfall! This tour will set you back 7,00€ , with discounted rates for children, but so worth the visit! The whole complex makes for a fun filled day out as you will find more things to visit, including a water park!
4. Mina de Sal – Algarve
Though technically not a cave, the Salt Mines of Loule had to make our list! A wonderful tour taking you 230 meters underground, where you can get to know geological formations dating back over 200 million years! You’ll also learn all about the history of salt production in the mines and how it has evolved over the years. Tours are available in three languages (Portuguese, English and French) and the tickets are €25, with discounts for groups, children and senior citizens. You can book a tour Monday through Friday, and we do advise booking early to ensure your spot!
5. Gruta do Escoural – Alentejo
In Montemor-o-Novo, in the Alentejo region, you’ll find the breathtaking Gruta do Escoural. This cave was actually discovered accidentally in the 1960’s, and is now a popular tourist attraction. It is also the only cave in Portugal where you can find paintings and carvings dating back to the Paleolithic Era! With walkways and lit tunnels, you’ll get a great view of these amazing tunnels and the history behind them. Visits are, limited, so it’s best to book ahead of time, and tickets are cheap! At 3€ for adults, and discounts for groups, children and seniors, it’s well worth a look!
6. Gruta do Carvao – Azores
The largest volcanic cave system on the island of Sao Miguel, you’ll want to book a visit if you are travelling here! Technically it is not classified as a cave, but rather a lava tube. This means that these tunnels we formed from volcanic eruptions, where lava slid into the earth and later dried to form these fantastic walkways! Though not exact, it is predicted that the lava tube is between 5000 and 12000 years old, and likely a result of the eruption of the volcano of Sete Cidades or Fogo. You can choose between two different tours. The first is a more easy going route which takes you through 200 meters of tunnels. If you’ve got a bit of an adventurous streak, you may want to take the longer tour, as it will take you deeper and farther in the tunnels! Prices start at 5€ for adults, with discounted rates for children, students and seniors.
7. Gruta da Lapa de Santa Margarida – Lisbon
In the beautiful Arrabida Natural Park, you’ll find a beautiful cave that maintains its alter to Saint Margarida! Though getting there can be a bit tricky, as you’ll have to descend approximately 200 steps! Going down is a bit easier than the trek back up, but well worth the effort, as the sea views are amazing!You can find guided tours in the Arrabida Natural Park by jeep, or though fun activities like coasteering and kayaking, or even boat trips!
8. Gruta de Alvados and Grutas de Santo Antonio – Central Portugal
Why visit one cave when you can visit two? If you’re traveling around Central Portugal, you’ll find a variety of caves in the Natural Park! We’ve already mentioned the main cave, Mira de Aire, but there’s more! You can visit one tour for 6€, or take advantage of a double tour for 9,50€! Each is unique and home to fantastic stalagmites and stalactites. The Santo Antonio Cave highlight is the beautiful underground lake, while at the Alvados cave, offers you a variety of columns and small lakes along the way!
9. Algar do Carvao – Azores
Terceira Island in Azores is home to one of the most beautiful Portuguese caves, Algar do Carvao. Unlike Gruta do Carvao in Sao Miguel, this one is an actual empty volcano! With artificial lighting you’ll get to see a wide variety of stalactites and stalagmites, amazing rock formations and a crystal clear pond! It’s a wonderful experience, making you feel like you’ve stepped into a mystical world. Tickets start at 5€ with discounted rates for students.
10. Gruta de Sao Vicente – Madeira
A result of a volcanic eruption dating back almost 900,000 years, you’ll want to explore this spectacular cave! An amazing combination of lava tunnels and caves, this is the largest cave complex on the island! The tour itself is divided into 3 parts. First you’ll explore the inside of the caves with beautiful photo opportunities along the way. Next we will take you to the exhibition where you will learn all about the history of the cave. The last section of your tour is a 3D movie! After the tour, your free to enjoy a drink at the on site cafe and even purchase some souvenirs at the gift shop! The full tour is 8€ with discounted rates for children, students and seniors!