Usually, when thinking about cycling in Portugal, you should consider exploring the region that is most suited to your preferences and riding ability. Wine and gastronomy lovers may prefer to ride in Alentejo or the Douro, even though the latter is more suited for experienced riders due to the topography of the region; bike touring enthusiasts that love outdoors might prefer to ride by the Southwest Coast, while others might prefer exploring the trails of Northwest Portugal's Minho region.
Usually, that is. Unless you want explore the whole country in one go - in that case your should look into our Bike Tour across Portugal, where you'll be able to ride from the northernmost point of our country to the southernmost one, in the Algarve, while discovering both Inland Portugal's traditions, culture and gastronomy, and the Atlantic Coastline - in 8 days only!
Ever wondered about cycling across a whole country? Does that sound like a challenge reserved for experienced riders, strong enough to ride the Tour de France? No need for that! As Portugal has a relatively small territory extension, yet is packed with a very diverse geography, here it'll take you 8 days to ride the whole country back to back, from hotel to hotel surrounded with culture, flavors and welcoming communities in every place you will pass by!
Follow our next steps with some tips and an overview of how epic road "Bike Tour across Portugal - from North to South" really is!
Ww'll start by picking you in Porto and transferring you to Chaves, in "Trás-os-Montes", where we'll brief you about your upcoming adventure by the fireplace of a typical restaurant. Our adventure starts in the beautiful city of Chaves, in Vila Real district on the northern edge of Portugal, where nature, culture and history mix in the same place. The ride will start in the oldest and largest national road, the N2, that starts right in Chaves and crosses the country towards Faro, the opposite extreme in the Algarve region. The beginning of the N2 in this area is trough the beautiful highlands of the northern Portugal and you will pass by the gorgeous thermal village of Vidago with it’s beautiful palace nowadays converted into a hotel. Then still on the N2 you will pass by Vila Pouca de Aguiar and the biggest but still beautiful city of Vila Real, the district capital of Trás-os-Montes.
Further on the ride, from the Vila Real city you will start entering in the wine region of the Douro valley, this place is something taken from the “fairytales stories”, the beautiful valleys in the region all laying by the river where endless vineyard terraces are located, creating a unreal environment that you will only understand if you get there. Here you will find some long downhills through winding roads leading you to the beautiful margins of the Douro River where Peso da Régua is located, and also the place where you will sleep for the night. After the ride, take some time to walk by the area and/or get a taxi and visit Pinhão village or enjoying a wine tasting experience in the local wineries.
This day will start with a long flat stretch through the EN222, towards the village of Pinhão. This road is considered one of the most beautiful roads to cycle in the world as you will be riding side-by-side with the river and surrounded with the magical atmosphere of the valley and it's wine terraces. After some kilometres you will make a right turn and start the first big climb of the day towards São João da Pesqueira. This beautiful and long climb, with around 13 km´s, will be a big challenge but, any time, you can stop to recover or simply contemplate the beautiful views over the Torto and Douro Rivers.
Further on the ride you will pass through several villages were the major labour activity is the wine production and processing, also where many wineries are located. Then you will be approaching the côa river valley, another beautiful environment on this day's ride, there is the perfect place to make a stop and take a snack or rehydration, the view will definitely help you in the process. Back on the road, the track will lead you to Mêda, the nearest town from the place where you will be staying for the night. There you will find many Café´s. supermarkets or other facilities to get any wanted supplies.
Finishing the day you will go all the way downhill from Mêda to Marialva with only a last little climb arriving at the finish point of the ride, where your hotel is located. This medieval village, one of the Historical Villages of Portugal is where you will be staying for the night, where the village houses are the hotel rooms, right at the entrance of the walled castle. It’s an amazing environment that we truly recommend to explore after the ride and get to know the history that surrounds you. Also the hotel has an excellent cosi restaurant where you can book a table and enjoy the delicious homemade food and it’s wine, produced by the hotel owners, a delight!
One this day you will find the biggest climbing challenge of the whole tour. It’s a physical day where the views will boost you up to the last point, Penhas Douradas, located in Estrela mountain, the highest point you will reach on this tour.
Your day will start leaving the Côa valley with it’s gentle rolling hills, perfect for a warm up, then you will pass through another Historical Village, Trancoso. There you will make a quick stop to visit the village centre and the ruined Castle at the top of the hill. On the road again you will then get to Celorico da Beira, a beautiful village located right at the “entrance” of the Serra Da Estrela Natural park,in town the castle is the major attraction and you can try the local creamy and pungent goat cheese of Serra da Estrela, a delicacy for most of the portuguese around the country.
The next step on the ride today is entering the Serra da Estrela natural park, where you will face a gentle climb and pass by the quiet village of Folgosinho, after that the climb starts getting more challenging and will probably be the toughest of the day, with a reward at the top, where you will face a flat and then downhill section, perfect to recover your legs. The day will finish with a long but gentle 9 kilometres climb, until you reach your hotel. After this long day, enjoy the comfort of the hotel and delight your eyes and soul with the gorgeous mountain views surrounding the hotel area.
On this day, a big challenging climb awaits you, perhaps the longest one of the whole tour, with incredible views and perfect condition roads. The day will start with a downhill from the top of the mountain towards Manteigas at the bottom, this village is one of the most visited locations in the area and from there you will face the first fun and tough climb, a 9 kilometres distance through a glacier valley, it has one of the most beautiful views in the mountain and you will probably cross with some fellow riders there, finishing it, the final point of the climb is in the beautiful Viriato Lake. Then the ride starts going downhill, first passing in Penhas da Saúde where many mountain retreats and chalets are located, and again, the views are suberbe. The downhill will end in the main city of Covilhã, located at the south edge of the mountain, this is the biggest and most habittated place in Serra da Estrela Mountain, but still a quiet warming town.
From Covilhã, it’s all “good news” and the hardest climbs are done, the ride gets mostly rolling hills and flat sections and only one last challenging climb awaits you towards Fundão.
The area then it’s filled with little small villages, perfect for coffee breaks or some pastry delicacies tasting, until you reach Castelo Branco, the district capital. There you can take a break and enjoy the city vibe and if you're up to, visit the castle at the top of the hill. The ride will finish with the last easy 30 kilometres towards Vila Velha de Ródão where your hotel will be located nearby, right by the Tejo River.
Your 5th day on tour will be entering the southern region of Portugal, more specifically northern Alentejo region.
Start your day with a nice climb from the Tejo river towards Nisa, it’s a long stretch going uphill but with some pleasurous downhills in between. Once getting to Nisa you have already entered the Alentejo region, the “rolling hills land”, That means that most of the ride today is with these fast ups and downs. The first gorgeous villages you will pass by are Alpalhão, Flôr de Rosa, Crato, Alter do Chão and Fronteira. There you can stop for a coffee or water refill and also spot the traditional houses all painted in white and blue/yellow, very typical all around Alentejo. Now the landscape and terrain are pretty different than on the days before, like moving to a whole new country where life is lived at a slower pace. Get in the mood!
Back on track, after passing through Fronteira, the rolling hills are still on, so the next section will also be like that, until you get to Estremoz centre, where you will cycle to and through the castle at the top of the hill. Take some time to enjoy this magical place where marble is predominant, and also take a look at the views and if you're up to, around town you will find some fine restaurantes with typical dishes and a variety of wine, not forgetting that you will be back riding on your bike!
After a few rolling hills again, the day will finish with a 7 kilometres climb through the highest sierra in the region, the D’Ossa Sierra. Done with the climb the last 2 kilometres section is a full downhill reaching your hotel, a beautiful Convent now days converted into a hotel and one of the most beautiful places to stay in the area, an unforgettable experience.
Today the ride will take you from Estremoz to Alvito in one of easiest days riding in the whole tour, where once again the rolling hills will be predominant. Leaving the hotel, you will face a 7 kilometres downhill leaving the D’Ossa Sierra area, towards Redondo, then the next section will take you through quiet secondary roads, where traffic is barely inexistent, where you will pass by the villages of São Mansos, Torre de Coelheiros and last, Viana do Alentejo that has an amazing well preserved 13th century castle and the Beautiful Nossa Senhora de Aires Sanctuary. If you have time enough, we truly recommend you to visit both!
Also in town you can make your coffee break and refill the water bottles.
The last stretch riding today will be a 35 kilometres distance to your final destination of the day, your hotel, located right at the edge of the Vale do Gaio reservoir and where you can relax, if the weather is favourable, have your dinner outdoors and recharge batteries for the next day.
On this day's ride, the direction is southwest, leaving the rural region of Alentejo, towards it’s cliffed beaches and ocean views. Start cycling by the banks of the Sado River on flat sections with almost zero traffic until you reach Grândola, a nice big village where you can stop for a coffee or water bottle refill. Then the route will take you to some climbs through the Grândola Sierra where some fun climbs await you, and the famous cork trees are all around, very predominant in this area.
The next section is the plateau of Santiago do Cacém followed by a downhill stretch towards the Morgavel reservoir that also marks the beginning of the protected area of Vicentina coast and the southwest region, where your last kilometers riding on this tour will happen.
Already in the protected area the ride will be on a flat section in parallel with the coast and you will pass by the village of Porto Covo and then Vila Nova de Milfontes where your seaside hotel is located. Take some time to walk around town and enjoy the views over the ocean, go for a dive in the sea and finishing with a dinner at one of the local amazing restaurants.
This is your last day on the tour and will lead you to the southwesternmost point of Continental Europe, Sagres, the place where D. Henrique founded the nautical school, responsible for the Portuguese expeditions through the African territory. On this mostly flat ride, you will be pleased by the proximity from the coast and it’s gorgeous cliffed beaches with unique views, which means that when you get to a beach or cliff location, the road will have some ups and downs, no big deal, but still some small climbs to do.
The first place you will ride through is Odeceixe, a nice quaint village distanced just 4 kilometres away from the beach with its name and where the beautfiful Seixe river flows through and separates on the north edge the Alentejo region, from the south edge where Algarve region is located. A place very popular in the summer but also a year round place to visit or surfing.
Back on the road, the next destination is Aljezur, where you can stop for a coffee or water refill, if the timing lets you, visit the castle and the local market. Leaving town you will face a steep 3 kilometers climb that will take you to a plateau where the beaches of Monte Clérigo and Arrifana are located, both incredibly beautiful to visit. Next place on the route is Vila do Bispo, the last stop before finishing the ride and tour. There you can check the Castelejo viewpoint located just 2 kilometres away from the town centre, the place is, once again, amazing and you will be between the beaches of Castelejo and Cordoama, a delight for your eyes!
The last kilometres on this tour will take you to flat roads towards the “finish line” of this epic journey. As you approach, a red lighthouse will be visible at the horizon, that means that you're approaching the southwesternmost point in Continental Europe, the Saint Vincente Cape! There the cliffs are massive and if you look up north, can have a whole perspective of the coastal stretch you did on this tour.
Congratulations, you have succeeded and crossed Portugal from north to south, in an unforgettable journey. Well done! 🙂
Enjoy a well rested day - tomorrow, after a morning at the beach, we'll transfer you back to Lisbon or any other location in the Algarve, if you wish to spend some extra days relaxing in this sunny region.
If you need more information on this bike tour, click to visit this tour: Bike Tour across Portugal - from North to South!
And, if you book one of our multi-day bike tours in Portugal and enjoy an additional free night in Lisbon or Porto, at the beginning or end of your tour - and, if you are booking for 2021, you can also benefit from an early bird discount of 5% on all our multi-day tours, just by booking ahead*.
How can you benefit from this offer? Simply choose one of our signature multi-day Bike Tours running in Continental Portugal, whether as a private self-guided/guided or scheduled group tour option, and choose in which city you'd like to spend the extra night in, right at the start or end of the tour*!
We'll be waiting for you to enjoy a "Clean and Safe" experience in Portugal - the first night is on us! Click here for all information regarding this promotion!