Lisbon to the Algarve Cycling Tour
Activity: Self guided touring holiday
Bike type: Hybrid touring bike
Duration: 7 nights and 6 days cycling
Activity Level: Intermediate & Advanced
Accommodation: Good quality B&Bs and 3/4 star hotels
Daily Average: 50km
Price: From €995
This is a cycling tour of fabulous contrasts, as you make your way from Lisbon, the imposing and captivating Capital City of Portugal, to the ever popular and stunning region of the Algarve.
The route, for the most part, hugs the Atlantic coast; providing varied and spectacular scenery every single day. It’s a wonderful way to experience first-hand the many unique characteristics of the most South Westerly corner of Europe.
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Day 1 Arrival in Lisbon
Upon your arrival in Lisbon, we will meet you and take you to your hotel in Sesimbra, just to the south of Lisbon. Sesimbra is a pretty seaside resort, set in the sheltering foothills of the Arrábida mountain range. Its pristine beaches and rugged cliffs provide the perfect backdrop to enjoy the freshly cooked seafood, for which it is famous.
Time allowing, you should take in the panoramic views from the battlements of the Castelo de Sesimbra. Or make a quick diversion to the Cabo Espichel, a dramatic headland that is home to a church, a lighthouse and, incredibly, two sets of dinosaur footprints!
Day 2 Cycle to Setúbal: (43km/540m elevation gain)
Setting out from the spectacular Cabo Espichel, most of today’s ride is along the limestone cliffs within the Arrábida Natural Park, overlooking the crystal clear waters of the Setúbal Bay and the Troia Peninsula, with its fine white sandy beaches.
Along the route there are numerous attractions including the Arrábida Convent, which is worth a slight diversion for it’s historical interest and fine views. Your destination for the night, Setúbal, is a thriving port town, with a quaint old quarter where you can while away the hours on one of the beautiful squares, whilst you sample the local delicacy, chocos fritos (fried cuttlefish). Or take a leisurely boat trip up the Estuary where you can spot all kinds of birds on the saltmarshes. This Natural Reserve is also home to a colony of bottlenose dolphins. So there is plenty to see and do in and around the town.
Day 3 Cycle to Santiago de Cacém: (62km/580m elevation gain)
After breakfast you will take the ferry across the bay to the Troia Peninsular. (Keep an eye out for dolphins as they have been known to race alongside the boat!). The peninsula is a low-lying sandbank, so it’s a nice flat ride to start the day, partly along a designated cycle path. It’s worth stopping for a moment to take in the Roman ruins, once a major fish-salting factory and a sizeable discovery. Further down is Carrasqueira, an old fishing community where you can still see traditional reed houses and narrow fishing boats moored on the mud flats nearby. Your leisurely ride continues almost 20kms, flanked by sand dunes and rice fields, ending in the Alentejo region and the lovely town of Comporta, one of the regions most “hip” resorts. If you’re feeling brave you might like to sample their local speciality, a Blueberry Caipirosca (a vodka based cocktail that hails from Brazil).
From here the landscape begins to change as you head inland. You will see cork oak forests and moors abundant with pine and eucalyptus trees. You will stay in the bustling provincial town of Santiago de Cacém, with an imposing Moorish castle and an interesting history.
Day 4 Cycle to Vila Nova de Milfontes: (58km/450m elevation gain)
Today’s rides takes you back to the Atlantic coast. But first you will spend the day cycling along very quiet roads and through sleepy villages that are surrounded by undulating countryside and forests of cork oak.
You may wish to take a break in Cercal, a typical Alentejo small town, rich in traditional architecture. You can explore its historical centre via a network of narrow streets and alleys, sampling local products and enjoying the traditional arts and crafts.
At the picturesque village of São Luis, you will turn West towards the Atlantic and the popular seaside town, Vilanova de Milfontes. Very popular with Portuguese tourists, it’s a lively and welcoming town overlooking the Mira River. It’s beautifully traditional and the myriad of cobbled streets are perfect for exploring at your leisure.
Day 5 Cycle to Zambujeira do Mar: (38km/200m elevation gain)
This is a relatively short day in terms of kilometres, but it’s packed full with opportunities to detour and enjoy some fabulous sights as you cycle through the scenic Vicentina Natural Park.
Some of your day’s highlights might include: the Praia do Almograve, widely considered to be one of the West Coast’s most outstanding beaches, dotted with rock pools full of marine life; Cabo Sardão Lighthouse, where you can actually look down on the storks that nest on the rocks leading down to the beach; and Entrada da Barca, which is a natural fishing port that gives you a sense of how the force of the Atlantic Ocean continues to shape the Alentejo coast.
Reaching Zambujeira do Mar, you can’t help but be charmed by the pretty, whitewashed village perched at the top of a giant cliff overlooking a wide, sandy bay.
Day 6 Cycle to Aljezur: (44km/460m elevation gain)
This is another great day’s cycling along the unspoilt coastline. For the first few kilometres you really will be hugging the coast, so do take time to stop and take in the spectacular views, listen to the crashing waves and breathe in some of the freshest air in Europe!
Worthy of a lunch stop is Odeceixe, a sleepy town perched on a hill, overlooking the estuary of the river Seixe, that straddles the borders between the Alentejo and the Algarve. As you leave Odeceixe you are not only crossing over into the Algarve, but into the “land of the sweet potato” of which Aljezur is deemed the “capital”. It’s said that they produce the best tasting 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 Sagres: (54km/750 m elevation gain)
Your last day’s ride brings with it some of the most dramatic scenery; with the wild, rugged coastline on your right and the windswept plains on your left. The climate here can make for a few bracing hours on the bike, but with the totally unspoilt landscape and the sea air filling your lungs, you are likely to feel a sense of invigoration as you approach the end of your journey down the West Coast of Portugal.
Cabo de São Vicente, sometimes referred to as the “edge of the world” is the South Western tip of Europe and the 5km ride along the Sagres peninsula takes you past the Fortaleza do Beliche and on to the lighthouse right at the end of the headland, where you can take your iconic ‘end of trip’ photo and buy some last minute souvenirs from the tenacious stallholders that are there year round.
Day 8 Departure
We will transfer you from your hotel to Faro airport or, if you are returning via Lisbon, to a local train station for your journey home.
We strongly recommend that, if you are able, you spend a couple of days extra in Lisbon, to explore this city full of surprises. You will not be disappointed. Lisbon is a picture postcard city; it has succeeded in retaining its old-fashioned charm, whilst at the same time offering an eclectic feast of modern and historical architecture and cultural attractions. There is literally something for everyone.
Additionally, this tour can be extended to include the Algarve Coast and beyond into Spain. Please ask for more details.
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- Quality bike and equipment hire . Options for upgrade to E-Bike if required
- Detailed maps and route suggestions
- Good quality hotels/apartments along the route
- Route advice & recommendations
- Airport Transfers
- Holiday insurance – recommended
- Ferry fare between Setubal and Troia
- 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: