Portugal is a real cycling jewel in Europe’s crown. Quite simply, bike touring in Portugal is delightful!
Cyclists will enjoy Lisbon’s timelessness and continue on to the Algarve’s coastline offering wind swept white beaches, castles and headlands. Portugal seems to have it all. Visit beautiful Porto and go on to cycle the Douro. The Alentejo’s rolling countryside provides inspiring vistas at every turn. Of course there are always a few exerting climbs for those who enjoy a biking challenge. Top that with magical palaces and monuments along Portugal’s West coast and you will soon immerse yourself in the spirit of the place.
With an evening glass in hand of the national tipple port, you will reflect fondly on the miles cycled.
Our holidays cycle through the middle of Portugal, a rich fertile area called the Alentejo. This undulating terrain is home to a wealth of cultures and has seen some of the most powerful and influential of them settle here. Agriculturally based still, the artisanship apparent in everything from their famous woven carpets to their potent port is crafted with much pride. Cycle this area discovering the charming hilltop castle towns, its romantic Moorish legacy, the Roman mosaics and stirring monuments in the heritage city of Evora and of course the most lovely scenery. A country of explorers is waiting for you!
Porto is a vibrant place to start your cycling tour of the Douro from. Portugal’s 2nd largest city and based at the mouth of the Douro, its history of port wine trade and transport gives it a robust feel of excitement. The heart of the place is an ideal intro to this enchanting area for biking, with its narrow alleyways, hilly streets and riverfront setting. The monument are varied ranging from modern dynamic new builds to the ancient and atmospheric. A chance to try the delicious Portuguese kitchen and discover why this city is a UNESCO Heritage site which has been beloved for ages.
Further south from the Alentejo is the region of the Algarve, coming from the Arabic word, Al Gharb (the west). An area full of the footsteps of others it is a fascinating area and blessed with temperate climate the rest of Europe doesn´t lay claim to. Cycle this area discovering the alluring sea vistas, castles perched atop towns, and its own romantic Roman and Moorish legacy. It is also where the Golden Age of Portugal set forth as seafaring vessels left home from here. It is a magical area of white washed villages, blue skies and waving palms. Come and venture forth yourself and explore this exciting area on 2 wheels!
The winding Douro (River of Gold), a river which is the source of life essence to these vines, giving the soil a richness to grow, is your companion on this Portuguese bike trip as are the mighty gorges, forests, vines, olive and almond trees you pass by. Cycle to local places, all giving you an idea of the traditional customs, products, and history of the area including a special family run Quinta (wine making estate) and an olive oil press. Relish biking the Douro river gorge landscape and as well, spotting the bird life of this area is diverse with kingfishers, herons to Golden eagles.
Highlights of the Alentejo and Algarve
Lisbon (Lisboa): Enjoying Atlantic breezes from its shores, this capital of Portugal since its conquest from the Moors in 1147, was supposedly founded by Ulysess. Wander the old city quarters of Alfama and enjoy riding the Funicular elevator up these steep narrow streets. A lively city, you can always enjoy fado, the mournful national song at many a cozy night place or hit the wonderful array of museums that crowd Lisbon. Built on seven hills, exploring it will get the heart rate going but it will definitely be worth it.
Arraiolos: The craftspeople have perfected the art of their traditional hand made wool carpets and these are displayed throughout its twisting streets. Some of these 17 th and 18 th century inspired designs might make the trip home like many a traveller through the ages. Some even hang in London’s prestigious Albert and Victoria Museum. As well, close by is the nature reserve and if you can fit in just one more castle, the town’s own 14th Century fortress still has its Gothic arches and Manuelin clocktower all in working order.
Redondo: A lovely little town with the ruins of a 14th century castle hovering above, and almost like an even higher star floats the church of the Misericórdia. The centre of the wine growing region of Alentejo, cycle through vineyards.
Monsaraz: Lying close to the Iberian border, this enchanting town could make you believe you are living in another time, so medieval is the place. The steep city walls secure this history and date from the 16th century. Here is a place to wander and the Gothic church and Palace of Justice are real treats to the architecture buff as is the 14th century castle that looms above.
Evora: Once the residence of kings, Evora is a real tapestry of Roman, Moorish and Baroque influence, all of which has been wonderfully preserved in this UNESCO heritage city. The pretty narrow lanes spilling flowers are a delight to explore and the curved arched entrance takes one back to its Arabic heritage and you almost might wish you brought your toga when you explore the Roman temple.
Estremoz: Due to its admirable strategic position in the area, the country’s monarchs flocked here to reign in safety and probably to take advantage of the warm sunlight that floods the area as well. An interesting town with old fashioned houses and open plazas.
Vila Viçosa: Resting on the orchard filled hillsides of this most fertile area; this town spreads out below its castle. So pretty is it that it was even given as a wedding present to Dona Brites, the wife of King Afonso IV. Here the former residences of the dukes and kings are furnished in this area’s marble and they are a delight to visit.
Vila Nova Milfontes: Along the Algarve coast there are so many villages which saw some fascinating history of pirates, battles and watching Portugal´s Golden era of Discovery. Vila Nova is no different, set on the Atlantic it was founded in the 15th century and its 17th century fortress attests to these hardy people. The town itself is very close to several nature preserves, some wonderful bird migratory paths and has some romantically sandy beaches.
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