I have always been fascinated by subterranean caves. The dank smell upon entering these magical underworlds of beauty, – an eerie fantasy setting of Jules Verne proportions.
The Mira de Aire cave is considered to be one of the seven Natural Wonders of Portugal and although over 11 kilometers of the tunnel has been discovered and mapped since the 1940s. Less than 5% is nowadays available for the public to visit. It is located inside a National park near the small town Minde. Yes, far away from big cities, but it is well worth it. I guarantee that you will not get disappointed with Mother Nature’s ever-changing ‘Mise-en-scène’ estimated to have begun over 150 million years ago. Drop by drop of water finding its way through small cracks in the limestone and over time creating various speleothems. It is simply a fantastic sight and one attraction you should not allow yourself to miss out coming to Portugal. On location, is also found a cafe/restaurant, but you should check up on their opening times, as they vary from season to season. All tickets can be bought on site at each center.
Moeda is a stone throw from Fatima and as Mira de Aire cave very picturesque. It has a cafe and excellent parking facilities. It is located in a forest.
Alvados is probably the most “authentic” cave with very little light play and narrow mazes. It is entirely different from the others but under no circumstances boring, just different and darker.
All visits to any of the caves, respectively, are lead by a Portuguese or English speaking guide. It is not possible to go on a frolic on your own, and every visitor is kindly asked and reminded not to touch the walls or throw any litter inside, as it could interfere with the micro-ecosystem. Souvenir shops are available at all sites.
All caves are also within a short drive from each other and not too far away from the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima, one of the most important religious places in Portugal, and is also a huge tourist and pilgrim attraction.
Please also keep in mind that Madeira and Azores also have some fantastic caverns too. However, this short article only dealt with the ones situated on Mainland Portugal.
Below the links to the three caves I visited.
Thanks for reading