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Lisbon bike tours - exploring Sintra, Arrábida or Monsanto on a bike

Lisbon's outskirts are packed with great roads and trails for mountain bikers and road cyclists alike. When in Lisbon, make sure to explore Sintra and Arrábida sierras or even the city's city park, Monsanto, joining a Lisbon bike tour with a local guide to get more of your stay in the capital.

Cycling is one of the best ways to explore the natural parks around Lisbon, from the beautiful Sierras in Sintra and Arrábida to the metropolitan park of Monsanto. Joining a Lisbon bike tour is one of the best ways to explore these areas beautiful trails and roads. Grab a bike, join a ride with local guide and prepare to be amazed!

Cycling in Sintra Sierra - Lisbon's cyclists go-to bike park 

A 30 minute drive up north, you'll find the Sintra Sierra, where the historical city of Sintra is located. Cycling enthusiasts living in Lisbon ride to Sintra every other weekend to enjoy it's peacefull roads and trails. The city of Sintra is worth riding by, to see the picturesque buildings and gardens and for a mid-ride stop for coffee or pastry - Sintra's cultural landscape is UNESCO world heritage patrimony.Due to it's microclimate, Sintra is oftentimes foggy which, combined with its big trees and romantic architecture, creates a beautiful scenario for cycling.

For road cyclists, Sintra Sierra also offers several backroads that are worth exploring. Riding by the middle of the Sierra, to  "Capuchos", towards the Roca Cape ( Europe's westernmost point), towards Colares and back to Sintra is one of the best rides around Lisbon. There are several roads to climb/descend in the area, which is marked by a dense forest and great oceanic views, and the best way to explore them is either starting your ride in Cascais, riding by the coast towards Guincho and then climbing towards the top of the Sierra, or starting from the historical center of Sintra, going straight to "Capuchos" from one of the different climbs available and exploring the Sierra from there. Join one of our Lisbon road cycling tours to go for a morning ride by Sintra Sierra with a local cyclist.

For mountain bikers, you can start your exploration in Sintra's historical city center, where you can start climbing right away from the train station ( where there are regular trains operating to and from Lisbon) or start right at the top, in "Capuchos", where you can park your car. From there, you can climb to Peninha Sanctuary and enjoy several macadam trails and single tracks designed by local riders in the area. There are experiences for every type of rider here - from downhill to Enduro sections, with drops and jumps, to other more natural trails with less human intervention. There are also some great sections for Cross Country or recretional riding, but it's always better to go with a local rider or guide to explore the Sierra, as it is intricate and can sometimes be overwhelming to find your way throughout. Join one of our Lisbon Mountain Bike Tours to go for a half-day ride in Sintra Sierra with a local guide and appropriate bike. 

Cycling in Arrábida Sierra - oceanic views, cliffs and Sado estuary

Traversing the Tagus river, down south, a 30 minute drive will take you towards Arrábida natural park, a Sierra located by the atlantic ocean in Setúbal district. This is a protected area which reaches it higgest peak at 499meters that is coverd in mediterranean like vegetation, remindind us adriatic locations, like Dalmatia. It's also home to some of the most charming beaches nearby Lisbon like "Portinho da Arrábida", or "Galapinhos" and a former 16th monastery, that marks the landscape. If you are visiting the area, make sure to visit Azeitão (renowned by local pastry and beautiful vineyards) Palmela's medieval castle and Setúbal. The beautiful views over the Sado estuary will make you want to visit Tróia peninsula too, for sure.

For road cyclists, the best way to explore the area is starting and ending in Azeitão. Starting riding towards Aldeia Rica, and then turn south, by the N379 road, entering the natural park and starting your ascent to the top of the Sierra. Even though the Sierra's highest point is only at 499meters, the climb can be tough and has some short but steep sections which can be challenging. Keep riding by the national road and soaking in those beautiful views of the Arrábida convent, the Sado river Estuary, the Tróia peninsula and the whole southwest coast of Portugal. Once at the top, a technical but short descend will lead you to the oceanside, where you can turn right towards "Praia da Figueirinha" and "Portinho da Arrábida" - where we strongly advise you to descend to, so you can enjoy the small beach, fishermen's harbour and lovely restaurants that provide great lunch options. Riding back to Azeitão, you can also choose to extend your ride up to Cabo Espichel - when reaching Azeitão, turn left towards Sesimbra and ride towards Espichel Sanctuary, where you'll be able to see, in a clear day, the Sintra Sierra, to the north.

Cycling in Monsanto - Lisbon's city park is packed with surprises

Located right in the middle of Lisbon metropolitan area, Monsanto is one of Europe's largest forested parks. Covering over 900 acres, it is the capital's main lung. Mainly used for crops and pasture for livestock in the VIII century, Monsanto began to be regarded for its strategic importance as a good balance between the city's growing urban area and the need for a natural landscape and to improve the climate of the capital. And this is where Monsanto Sierra becomes so special. One minute you are walking in a thriving European capital, the next you can be cycling through a dense green landscape, surrounded by varied flora and fauna, in a mix of terrain, asphalt and man-made trails, ranging from twisting singletracks, gravel tracks and winding roads crossing most of the Monsanto Sierra that provide the road cyclist with a great opportunity to pedal some k's without needing to engage the urban traffic.

If you are using a road bike, you can ride a short circuit that will take you in and around Monsanto, passing by some sight-seeing spots and historical monuments such as the Lisbon Aqueduct or Palácio Marquês da Fronteira, or some sight-seeing spots such as the Garden of Montes Claros or the Keil do Amaral Amphitheater or you can take the cycle-path in the Bela Vista road that leads to Monsanto's Panoramic site, where you can see the best view of Lisbon, Tagus river and the city of Almada, on the south bank. All within an hour long ride.
If you are up for mountain biking, you will find a several trails and gravel roads that run inside the Monsanto Sierra that can cater the adrenaline junkies or the cycling enthusiasts who like to find small curious sites, such as the Monsanto quarries, the Lisbon Aqueduct that runs over and under ground or the multiple ruins of windmills, forts and defensive buildings that were used to protect the city from attacks coming from the sea. There are countless singletracks you can take and even try out your skills on man-made flow trails, often illegal, but tolerated by the local entities as they serve as ways to maintain the Park and the trails open. There are several gravel roads and cycle-paths if you just want to go out for a relaxed ride inside a natural setting inside a large city.
So if you are in Lisbon for the day, don't forget to extend your stay and visit Sintra, Arrábida or Monsanto on a bike - it's definitely worth it!


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