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2015-11-02

Cycling in the Douro region - preparing your bike tour

Road cycling is a great way to discover the Douro region. The perfect tarmac, winding roads and great wine hotels can make for a great bike tour in the world\'s first demarcated region. Here are a few tips on cyling by the Douro river.

Bike tour in the Douro river – what is it like to ride one of the world’s best wine countries?

Riding in the Douro region, the world’s first demarcated wine region of the world, you’ll get to experience the best the country has to offer. This region, which has traces of human presence from up to 30.000 years ago, that can now be observed in the area of Foz Côa, was nominated UNESCO world heritage site for its traditional “socalcos”, the man-made terraced vineyards that are common in the slopes of the river banks. This is a privileged region for producing wine: the soil, temperature and humidity of the river provide unique conditions: so much so that Wine Spectactor nominated the Dow’s Vintage Port as the best wine in the world in 2014. The best way to reach this region is to fly to Porto, the second largest city in Portugal and UNESCO world heritage site. That is where any tour in the Douro must start, as it is in Porto that are the wine cellars used to age the Douro wines and its sweet and liquorish famous Port wine.

douro region map

This region is challenging for road cycling: all the roads by the river are flat, but once you start moving away from the Douro, it’s all uphill. You can easily climb from 1000m to 2000m accumulated meters in 40km which can be challenging for the more inexperienced cyclists, but the tarmac is just in great condition and the average incline is medium. Meaning that, with a bit of patience and determination, anyone can ride along these 7 to 10 km climbs with inclination of 6%. The views are worth it though! Viewpoints like São Salvador do Mundo and Casais de Loivos provide great views of the river and the wine terraces.

You’ll find amazing roads between Porto and Freixo de Espada à Cinta, especially between Peso da Régua and Foz Côa – here’s a post on some of our favorite roads to ride in the Douro. Riding the N222, voted the world’s best road by Avis, is an unforgettable experience. Its winding and flat profile by the Douro river make it a great warm up or cool down from a big ride.

feel douro boat ride

Complement your cycling experience with a boat ride by the Douro river with Feel Douro

 

You’ll find amazing roads between Porto and Freixo de Espada à Cinta, especially between Peso da Régua and Foz Côa – here’s a post on some of our favorite roads to ride in the Douro. Riding the N222, voted the world’s best road by Avis, is an unforgettable experience. Its winding and flat profile by the Douro river make it a great warm up or cool down from a big ride.

douro granfondo socalcos

Join 2000 other cyclists in May of 2016 for the Douro Granfondo

You’ll find history everywhere. After all, this northern region is the cradle of the country, and from where the support came so that D. Afonso Henriques, “The Conqueror”, could defeat his own mother and start adding new territory to the south. The north is therefore known for its castles, medieval fortresses and deep connection with the Portuguese roots. Visiting the Douro museum in Peso da Régua is a great way of getting to know the region. The river itself is part of history: as the wine was produced, the river was used as a “highway” to transport it towards Gaia and Porto, for aging in the wine cellars. The wines would stay there for several years before being shipped all over the world.

Agriculture is what the Douro is known for and especially Wine, as it’s the birthplace of the famous port wine, although the red and white wines in this region are known for being fruity and light. Olives, Almonds and cherries are other of the region’s main produces. And it’s all because of the micro-climate, which makes it similar to a Mediterranean climate, although Portugal is not bathed by that sea. Add the soil (schist) and the river, and you get a vibrant, fresh place, with great temperature for growing grapes and for riding.

barco rabelo douro

Great hotels and accommodations can be found everywhere, as tourism is important to the region. Late castles from the 12th century now hold amazing rural tourism projects in which guests are allowed to have a deeper and richer experience, as they get to know the owners of the house, walk through their vineyards and enjoy a more unique feel in the region. Most wine farms have their own wine hotel too.

Quinta da Pacheca is an amazing and charming wine hotel by Peso da Régua that is great to plan your cycling holidays from.

Gastronomy is a plus too. The Douro region is known for great food, especially hearty, meaty plates. “Enchidos” like the “chorizos” and smoked sausages are the trademark of the Douro, as are the lamb, goat ling, seared octopus and the amazing desserts of the region.

Road cycling is one of the best ways to get to know the region, as it is mostly car-free and adds a more authentic feel to it. If you go cycling in the Douro, you can stop at the farms, get to know the locals and relax at your own pace. In the 1st of May, you can also join 2000 other cyclists in the Douro Granfondo, the biggest cycle sportive in the country or join a bike tour in the Douro region with Live Love Ride.

road cycling in the douro

 

 

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