Best of the Algarve 7 nights
Activity: Self guided touring holiday
Bike type: Touring bike
Duration: 7 nights
Activity Level: Reasonably experienced
Accommodation: 3 to 5 star hotels
Daily Average: 55km
Price: From €695
See the Best of the Algarve in just six days of cycling. This tour is designed to show you the highlights of this beautiful region, from the dramatic coastline to the picturesque countryside and lots more besides!
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Day 1 Arrival at Vila Real de Santo António
Upon your arrival in the Algarve, we will collect you and take you to Vila Real de Santo António (VRSA), an interesting old town on the banks of the Guadiana River, which forms a natural border between Portugal and Spain.
Largely redeveloped after the great earthquake of 1755, VRSA was recreated on a grid system, yet still retains a character of its own. It has a relaxed atmosphere and the central square, edged with orange trees and host to an array of shops and cafes, is an ideal place to spend your first evening; enjoy a spot of people watching as you tuck into some fresh local food and wine. This should get you in the mood before you set off on your trip across the Algarve.
Day 2 Cycle to Olhão: (62km/510m elevation gain)
Your first day’s cycling takes you through a number of seaside towns, all with their own special characteristics. The first of these is Monte Gordo, a resort that has been popular since the 70s. There’s a wide promenade that’s popular with cyclists of all description, and a vast, flat sandy beach that is the town’s main attraction. It’s a pleasant start to your ride, though in the hotter months you may be relieved to reach the shade of one of the largest forests in the Algarve, the Mata Nacional da Dunas Litorais. Cycling along sandy trails, with the aromas of pine and other wild flora will give you a real zest for the day ahead.
Next comes a pleasantly sleepy town, Manta Rota. It’s worth a quick stop to look at the unspoilt beach, but if you can hold out a little longer continue to Caçela Velha, a tiny whitewashed village set on a hill overlooking the lagoon with a little church and the remains of an 18th century fort. You will certainly want to linger here to take in the view. It’s neighbour, Fabrica, is also a worthwhile diversion; sipping coffee by the water’s edge, you can take in the boats dipping in the gently ebbing water and watch locals collecting shellfish.
From here you’ll enjoy a relaxing ride along dirt tracks and quiet roads, through the picturesque fishing village of Cabanas, before passing by the salt flats into Tavira, home to a castle, an old Roman bridge and a wealth of traditional architectural styles. After a fairly gentle route along the coast, through the quaint seaside village of Santa Luzia, famous for octopus fishing, you will continue to Pedras del Rei, where you may spot the little train that takes sunbathers to the beach of Barril and the old tuna fishing village.
Your next stop is Fuseta, where several fish restaurants with outdoor charcoal grills offer excellent views across the water.
The last stretch of today’s ride is in the Ria Formosa Natural Park, amidst a maze of lagoons, channels, salt marshes and islands. Your final destination is Olhão, still the hub of the fishing industry, but with a charming old town, renowned for its Moorish style architecture. It’s the perfect place to sample local specialities at local prices.
Day 3 Cycle to Alte: (65km/1180m elevation gain)
Today’s ride heads into the hills, through quiet villages, small hamlets and working farmland, where you will begin to see a different side to this region. It’s a genuine opportunity to soak up the relaxed atmosphere that is the cornerstone of life in the real Algarve. Here, in one of the many roadside cafés, you can experience the soul of the community. Plus, you will no doubt pick up some of the best tasting coffee and homemade cakes for a fraction of the price you pay on the coast!
After a meandering ride through the countryside you will approach the outskirts of Almancil, a busy working town and the furthest point north of what is known as the Golden Triangle (where luxury accommodation and golf courses are in abundance). More interestingly, on the edge of town is São Lourenço Church, with some fine examples of the intricately painted tiles for which Portugal is famous, as well as an impressive golden altar. This Baroque style church is open to visitors, so it’s a good idea to try and time your ride so you can take a quick peek.
Your next stop is Loulé, a thriving old market town. It’s an explorer’s haven, with narrow cobbled streets leading off the central Avenida, tiny shops and hidden away bars and restaurants.
It’s a more challenging afternoon of riding as you navigate your way through the rolling hills to the north of Loulé, but worth the effort for the tremendous scenery. You will want to take a quick detour to the hill-top village of Querença, with it’s beautiful church square and friendly café. From here you will cycle along mostly traffic free roads, punctuated by small towns and villages, with sweeping country scenes to your left and right. Finally, you will reach the charming village of Alte, famous for its white painted houses and fresh water springs.
Day 4 Cycle to Praia da Rocha: (50km/670m elevation gain)
This is another lovely day’s ride, full of contrasting scenery as you track your way down to the coast.
First you cycle along quiet roads to Messines, a typical agricultural town, with narrow streets and a church as the centre piece. On the other side of town you will enter lush green valleys, with tiny hamlets and farmsteads amidst an abundance of thick vegetation. Following some fabulous dirt tracks you will then skirt the Barragem do Arade (a huge reservoir that is one of a few providing much needed water to the region) where, again, you can expect to be overwhelmed by the totally unspoilt surroundings and dramatic views. There’s a little climbing involved, but you get to cycle across the huge dam and then freewheel down afterwards, so you’re well rewarded.
You will most certainly want to take a break in Silves, an enchanting town on the banks of the Rio Arade. Steeped with history, Silves was once the Moorish capital and is home to the best-preserved castle in the Algarve. Home to an annual Medieval Festival, one of the biggest in the region, Silves is ordinarily a sleepy town, where you get the real feeling of taking a step back in time. There are lots of local cafés and restaurants on the front or in the cobbled backstreets, where you can have a leisurely lunch, so just take your pick.
After refreshments, you can follow a much frequented track alongside the Rio Arade, which eventually leads you up and over the hills to Estombar, before arriving in Ferragudo, a pretty village overlooking the estuary. This is your last haven of peace and tranquility before you head over the new bridge into Portimão, the Western Algarve’s biggest town. You will be struck by the sudden increase in activity but you can easily wend your way along the waterfront, avoiding the centre of town, around to the beautiful seaside resort of Praia da Rocha and your lovely guesthouse that overlooks the ocean.
Day 5 Cycle to Sagres: (66km/1080m elevation gain)
Today’s ride takes you along the coast and through Alvor, one of the quieter resorts, but growing in popularity. Head down to the riverfront, where you can enjoy a leisurely coffee and watch the fishing boats on the estuary. From here you will need to head inland briefly (unless you can find a friendly boatman!) to negotiate around the estuary and back down through country lanes to the 4km long Meia Praia beach and on towards Lagos. It’s a bustling town with lots to offer; from the modern marina and waterfront restaurants, to the lively town square and the maize of cobbled streets within the old city walls, there is plenty to explore. However, don’t relax too much because, after a relatively easy morning of mostly flat terrain, you will have a more challenging afternoon as you encounter the hills that hug the coastline between Lagos and the rugged cliffs of Sagres.
But, as always, there’s a positive! Because along the way you can enjoy the refreshing sea air and you will have opportunities to take a break in some very pretty coastal towns and villages. Luz, for example, is a sprawling seaside town with a long promenade, often host to local market stalls and artists displaying their work. Just a few kms West, Salema is a tiny village that has few amenities in comparison, but exudes a specific charm that attracts day visitors throughout the year.
The next stage of your ride today will take you along some quiet back-roads and tracks towards Vila de Bispo, where you will join the final leg that transports you across a dramatic, weather beaten landscape towards Sagres, with its impressive old fortress. This is where you will spend the night. It’s a laid back town that comes alive with surfers every weekend. You may be ready for a rest and a good meal and there are plenty of eateries to choose from. But if you still have some energy, a bracing ride (12km round trip) along the cliffs to the southernmost tip of Portugal and Europe at Cape St Vincent, is the perfect way to end the day.
Day 6 Cycle to Aljezur: (54km/750m elevation gain)
Having reached ‘the end of the world’ as Cape St. Vincent is historically known (being the furthermost point in Western Europe), it’s time to head North along the unspoilt western coastline of Portugal. After finding your way back to Vila de Bispo, through the wild flowers and along the rugged rocks of the clifftops, you will join a long tree-lined road that stretches for miles. An ancient village, Pedrelva, that has been brought back to life from being a cluster of abandoned ruins, is perhaps worth a quick detour. Otherwise, the long undulating road is ideal for getting some decent kilometres under your belt before a possible lunch stop at Carrapateira.
Carrapateira is a village of fisherman and farmers alike and the perfect spot to take a little time out. From the easily accessible peninsula at Pontal da Carrapateira, you can enjoy dramatic views of the cliffs and crags dropping to the Atlantic and, on a clear day, you should see the Sagres lighthouse in the distance. Whilst to the North you will see the immense Bordeira beach and sand dunes, from where you can observe the action-packed surfing, which is huge in this area.
Progressing northwards, the scenery changes as you approach your overnight stay in Aljezur, an ancient Moorish town situated in a lush green valley and built on either side of a river that runs through the valley. You have now entered the “land of the sweet potato” of which Aljezur is deemed the “capital”. It’s said that they produce the tastiest varieties because of the weather conditions and the sea air. So it’s probably the best place to sample it cooked in one of a few traditional methods. If you happen to be there in October/November, they even have an annual Sweet Potato Festival.
Day 7 Cycle to Monchique: (35km/1210m elevation gain)
This is your final day’s riding is shorter but challenging and it is well worth it. Your destination, Monchique, is a market town up in the Serra de Monchique, which is a thickly wooded mountain range separating the Algarve from the winelands of the Alentejo. The journey up to Monchique offers spectacular scenery and is totally different from coastal Algarve.
Heading out of Aljezur, you will embark on a steep ascent to the tiny hamlet of Pedascas, where you will begin to appreciate your efforts as you enjoy the views to the South across the Algarve. The road becomes more undulating towards Marmelete, where there is a single café that is accustomed to serving sugar and caffeine in various forms to those tackling this breath-taking climb. After Marmelete the route is more forgiving as you meander around the pine-covered hilltops and descend through some of the steep valleys that surround Monchique.
Monchique is, indeed, a perfect place to finish your journey; a quiet and relaxed town, with friendly locals and some fabulous restaurants with views to die for. If you feel in need of some pampering, neighbouring Caldas de Monchique is home to some traditional thermal baths, where you can rest your aching legs as you enjoy some rather special spa treatments.
But you may well be feeling energised and what better way to complete your adventure than make the final 8km climb up from Monchique to Foia, the highest peak in the Algarve? It’s an iconic route that is undertaken by local and pro riders alike but, most importantly, on a clear day, you get the best views across the Algarve right down to the coast.
Your boutique hotel is situated just a few minutes out of town and close to some local restaurants offering quality home-cooked food and wine.
Day 8 Departure
We will transfer you from your accommodation for your journey home.
- Quality bike and equipment hire
- Detailed maps and route suggestions
- Good quality hotels/apartments along the route
- Route assistance where necessary
- Airport Transfers.
- Holiday insurance – recommended.
Prices are per person, based upon two people sharing a twin/double bedded room.
- Discounts are available for large groups, please contact us for details.
- We also offer options for daily route extensions.
This tour is designed and priced as a “self guided, carry your own luggage” holiday as this is how we can provide the best value for money for our clients. However, if you prefer to have the services of a dedicated guide, a support vehicle, or perhaps a luggage transfer service, we are happy to arrange these for you at the following rates:
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