Activity: Self guided touring holiday
Bike type: Touring bike (optional e-bike)
Duration: 7 nights, 5 days cycling
Activity Level: Intermediate
Accommodation: 3 star and 4 star hotels
Daily Average: 30km
Price: From €1085
This is designed to be a gentle and relaxing holiday with a rest day roughly halfway through the week. It will be a trip full of contrasts as you make your way from the historic town of Silves, down towards the dramatic West Coast and back to the fresh air and mountains of Monchique. Cycling mainly on quiet tarmac roads and occasionally dirt tracks, there will be plenty of opportunities to linger at one of the main roadside cafés, where you can mix with the locals and sample some of their fabulous fresh products.
Day 1 Arrival at Silves
Upon your arrival in the Algarve, we will collect you and get you equipped with your bicycle for the tour. Then we will transport you and your bicycles to 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. The views from the castle over the town and the surrounding countryside justify the rather steep ascent along narrow cobbled streets. There’s a café just by the entrance to the castle where they play live music, a great spot to wile away an hour or two. Host 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 as you wander through the myriad of back streets.
Day 2 Cycle to Praia da Rocha: (17km/187m elevation gain)
It’s a short hop down to the coast, today, so you can take you time and enjoy a relaxing day’s cycling. Before you leave Silves, it’s worth stopping for a moment as you cross the Roman bridge; the view of the town and castle from the other side of the river is one of the best, so have your camera ready. From here, you can follow a much frequented track alongside the Rio Arade, which eventually leads you up and over the hills to Estombar, another very typical Portuguese village, virtually untouched by the development of mass tourism in the region. From here you will head to the coast and to Ferragudo, a pretty village overlooking the estuary.
Try to time your arrival around lunchtime, as there are some fabulous fish restaurants both in the town square and by the waters edge. You will probably wish to linger a while as this is your last haven of peace and tranquility before you head over the bridge into Portimão, the Western Algarve’s biggest town. You may be struck by the sudden increase in activity as you cross the river, 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. With one of the largest beaches in the Algarve and some scenic cliffs to the West, it is easy to see why Praia da Rocha has developed into a major holiday resort.
Day 3 Cycle to Lagos; (31km/220m elevation gain)
Today’s ride takes you along the coast you come to the fishing village of Alvor, one of the quieter resorts, but growing in popularity. Although the earthquake wiped out most of the traditional Moorish village in 1755, you can still see remains of Alvor’s history in places such as the 16th century church. Alvor’s buildings are still mainly low-rise and the charm of the old town still remains, with the narrow cobbled streets leading down to the riverfront, where you can enjoy a leisurely coffee and watch the fishing boats. 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.
For dinner there are plenty of places to choose from, including traditional local restaurants, tapas bars, cafes and bakeries, plus lots of international options. Many of these are concentrated around the marina, the river and the old town, all of which provide a very pleasant backdrop whilst you enjoy your meal.
Day 4 Cycle to Sagres: (42km/615m elevation gain)
Today’s ride will prove more challenging 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 of Luz are the tiny villages of Burgau and Salema, which have few amenities in comparison to Luz, but both exude a specific charm that attracts day visitors throughout the year, so worth a swift diversion.
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, where you will spend the night.
Day 5 Rest Day in Sagres
Sagres is a truly tranquil town with beautiful beaches, a picturesque harbour, a very pretty town square and stunning views. It is very popular in summer with visitors, but all year round with fishermen and surfers because of the western Atlantic waters creating such good waves for surfing. It is mostly known as the place where Henry the Navigator brought together great mariners, astronomers, ship-builders and cartographers to build and navigate great ships in the period of the Age of Discoveries. Sagres is also home to Henry’s fortress, which was originally built in the 15th century. Further along from the fort, is the headland, Cabo de São Vincente (“Cape St. Vincent”). It’s a bracing ride (12km round trip) along the cliffs to the imposing lighthouse (claimed to be one of Europe’s most powerful lighthouses) and the views from the point are simply breathtaking.
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)
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 towards 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 as you approach Marmelete, where there is a roadside 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. Options for upgrade to E-Bike.
- Detailed maps and route suggestions
- Good quality hotels/apartments along the route
- Route assistance where necessary
- Airport Transfers
- Luggage Transfer.
- 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” holiday as this is how we can provide the best value for money for our clients. We can also provide the services of a guide and/or a support vehicle. Please contact us for further details and prices.