Tour of the Algarve
This self guided road bike experience takes advantage of a fantastic network of quality, quiet tarmac roads that stretch across the Algarve. It's a tour that will introduce you you to many aspects of this colourful region, from stunning coastline to tranquil countryside, rugged weather-beaten landscapes to quaint village squares. Plus, the route can be adapted to suit a number of abilities, so there's is literally something for everyone.
- Activity: Self guided road bike holiday
- Bike type: Road bike or touring bike
- Duration: 7 nights, 6 days cycling
- Activity level: Intermediate
- Accommodation: 3 and 4 star hotels
- Price: From €560
Day 1 Arrival
Upon your arrival in the Algarve, we will collect you and take you to Vila Real de Santo Antonio (VRSA), an interesting 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 cafés, 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.
Day 2 Cycle to Loulé (71km. 770m. elevation gain)
Starting off towards the ancient settlement of Castro Marim, you'll enjoy views across the river to Spain and over the salt pans, still a thriving local industry. Leaving town you will circumvent the natural reserve of Castro Marim and VRSA. Established in 1975, this nature reserve is Portugal's oldest, covering 20 sq km of marshland and salt pans. From here you will turn south and cycle along the local railway line to the town of Vilanova de Cacela. This just before crossing national road 125 (the principal road that spans the whole of the Algarve) to the picturesque coastal village of Cacela Velha, a tiny whitewashed village set on a hill overlooking the lagoon with a little church and the remains of a 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 you can take in the boats dipping in the gently ebbing water and watch the locals collecting shellfish.
From here the route takes youback inland a little where you will enjoy some quiet country lanes, avoiding the busy roads that hug the coast., before turning south once more towards Tavira. Tavira's very pretty, home to a castle, an old Roman bridge and a wealth of traditional architectural styles, built either side of the river Gilão, which creates two distinct halves of the town. Several cafés and many restaurants make the town a good place to stop for lunch.
Cycling up and along the river out of town,you will wind your way through unspoilt country side, where few tourists venture, to São Brás de Alportel, a typical Algarvian working town, which the hub of the Algarvean cork industry. Then it's only a short stretch to the market town of Loulé. It's an explorer's haven, with narrow cobbled streets leading off the central avenida, tiny shops and hidden away bars and restaurants. You can dine at one of the many cafés or restaurants that serve fresh local produce and are frequented as much by locals as visitors.
Day 3 Cycle to Silves (80km. 700m. elevation gain)
Leaving town it won't be long before you notice the levels of traffic decrease as you cycle towards the hill-top village of Querença. It's a short hop up to the beautiful church square, where you can enjoysome local biscuits with your morning coffee. Querença is well known for its agricultural products, just as the rather strong medronho (a sort of a fruit brandy) and the famous chouriço (smoked sausage). In fact they even hold an annual sausage festival which draws visitors from far and wide. But it's sitting outside the outhentic and welcoming café, taking in the tranquil setting and beautiful backdrop of the small church that we think is the real attraction here. You will need to tear yourself away from this but there is a lot more to see as you cross the valley to join a surprisingly traffic-free main road that is punctuated by small towns and villages. With sweeping country scenes to your left and right, this road leads you past the traditional working town of Salir as well as the classified site of Rocha da Pena, an outstanding limestone rock that offers excellent 360º views if you are energetic enough to climb to the top.
Finally you will reach the charming village of Alte, famous for it's white painted houses and fresh water springs. There's a beautiful church in the centre of the vilage, surrounded by cafés and craft shops, selling locally produced goods. A coffee and pastel de nata (custard tart) o the back terrace of the pastelaria Agua Mel or the front terrace of bike café Germano's is a must. Leaving the village on the west side, just past the cemetery, you will cycle quiet undulating roads to São Bartholomeu de Messines, a typical agricultural town, with narrow streets and yet another 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.
You will want to make the most of your stay 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. The views from the castle over the town and over the country side justify the the rather steep ascent along narrow cobbled streets. There's a café just by the entrance of the castle where live music is played, a great spot to while away an hour or two. Silves is host to an annual medieval festival, one of the biggest in the region, but 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 4 Cycle to Sagres (74km. 735m. elevation gain)
Heading west towards the southern tip of Portugal, you can look forward to some dramatic scenery as you approach the rugged coastline around the fortress at Sagres and the high cliffs at Cabo de São Vicente, the southernmost tip of Portugal and Europe. In the mean time there is plenty to see on your way as you travel through Algarve country side that is largely untouched by the tourism that dominates the coastal resorts.
Leaving Silves town you will cycle parallel to the river Arade for some way before veering slightly north towards the foothills of Monchique, a pretty mountain town which you will be visiting later in your trip. Cutting cross country you will enjoy some peaceful winding roads, surrounded by farms and forests, leading you through the odd tiny hamlet before heading south towrds Odiaxere, a typical Algarvean village with the inherrent village square and daily market selling local produce, as well as a beautifuly preserved old wind mill, from where is a good view to the Monchique mountains further north. From here you will gradually track south west, avoiding the main arterial roads, but passing through a number of working towns and villages, where you can really get a feel for how the locals live. You will not be short of cafés and village squares, or churches and traditional architecture to admire. The locals are friendly, and if not fluent there is lots of fun to be had as you discover there is more than one way to communicate! For the more adventurous there are opportunities to try some of the lesser known local dishes such as perceves (barnacles), javali, (wild boar), lebre (hare), perdiz (patridge), or codorniz (quail).
As you approach Sagres along the main, yet still comparatively traffic free road from Vila do Bispo, you will quickly be aware that of the fact that you are approaching the wild Atlantic Coast as you breathe i the salty sea air and enjoy the bracing winds and natural roughness of the land and seascape that surrounds you. Sagres is a truly tranquil town with beautiful beaches, a picturesque harbour, pretty town square and stunning views. It is very popular in the summer with holiday visitors, but all year round with fishermen and surfers beause of the wild Atlantic waters creating excellent conditions for both activities. Sagres 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 for the period that resulted in the Age of the Discoveries. It is also home to Henry's fortress, which was originally built in the 15th century. Having arrived you may be ready for a rest and a good meal, there are plenty of eateries to choose from.
Day 5 Cycle to Aljezur (60km. 550m. elevation gain)
Starting out from Sagres there is the recommended option to visit Cabo de São Vicente, home to what is claimed to be one of Europe's most powerful lighthouses. This is around a 12kms detour, but it is allways a special spot and well worth it. Returning to Vila do Bispo, taking in the aroma of the wild flowers that proliferate along the rugged rocks of the clifftops, you will join a long pine tree-lined road that stretches for miles northwards. You will pass an ancient village, Aldeia de Pedralva, that has been brought back to live from being a cluster of abandoned ruins. The ondulating road is ideal for getting some decent kilometres under your belt before a possible lunch stop at Carrapateira.
Carrapateira is a village of fisheren, farners and surfers alike and the perfect spot to take a little time out. From the easily accessible peninsula at Pontal de Carrapateira you can enjoy the dramatic views of the sand dunes, western Atlantic coast and Bordeira beach observing the action packed surfing. 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 trough the valley. You have now entered the land of sweet potato, of which Aljezur deemed the 'capital'. It is said that they produce the tastiest varieties because of perfect weather conditions and sea air. So it's probably the best place to sample it cooked in one of several traditional methods. Very much recommended in combination with octopus, polvo.
Day 6 Cycle to Monchique (38km. 850m. elevation gain)
Todays ride is not so much about the distance, but more about the climb. Your destination, Monchique is a mountain market town up in the Serra de Monchique, which is a thickly wooded mountain range separating the Algarve from the agricultural fields and 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 until the tiny hamlet of Pedascas, where you can begin to appreciate your efforts as you enjoy the views to the south across the Algarve. The roads becomes ondulating towards Marmelete. Here's a good opportunity for a break as there are a couple of cafés that are accustomed to serving sugar and caffeine in various forms to those who have been tackling the breathtaking climb. After Marmelete the route is more forgiving as you meander around the pine and oak covered hill sides overlooking the steep valleys, following the well surfaced mountain road to Monchique.
Monchique is, indeed a pefect place to finish your journey, a quiet and relaxed town, friendly locals and some fabulous restaurants with views to die for. Neighbouring Caldas de Monchique is home to some traditional thermal baths, where you can rest your aching legs as you enjoy the provided spa treatments. But you may well be feeeling energised and what better way to complete the today's adventure than make the final 8km climb up from Monchique's central square to Foía, the highest peak of the Algarve (902m.)? This option is an iconic route that is undertaken by local and proriders alike, but most importantly, on a clear day, you get the best views across the Algarve right down to the coast. And if it is not the views, the smooth running descent afterwards will make it all worthwhile.
Day 7 Cycle to Albufeira (60-75km. 500m. elevation gain)
There are sevaral options for the route down to the coast today. If you feel like you have cycled enough you can be in Albufeira within 60 kms following the main road down towards Portimão switching east to Siilves. Our recommended 75 km route offers more great scenery and beautiful quiet roads through impressive cork oak forest. Both routes passing through Silves is a good moment to revisit your favorite café. After you will make your way through the orange grooves to the agricultultural town of Algoz and the small village of Guia. Guia is birthplace and home of the famous frango assado, or chicken piri piri. It is bursting with establishments and you can easily take your pick to enjoy a simple, but very tasty charcoal grilled chicken usually served with a beautiful tomato salad, before the final leg of your journey.
The last few kilometres take you past the well known vineyard Adega do Cantor, established by Sir Cliff Richard, resident of Guia. These rolling hills will be your last image from the Algarve countryside as you make your way to the coast and your destination for the night, the popular seaside town, Albufeira. This is a bustling tourist town with lots to see and do providing plenty busy bars and restaurants where you can celebrate the end of your cycling trip! You will be staying in a good quality 4 star hotel within walking distance from the beach and the old town.
Day 8 Departure
We will transfer you from your accommodation to the local airport or train station for your journey home.
- January: €560
- February: €560
- March: €595
- April: €725
- May: €725
- June: €875
- July: €915
- August: €1005
- September: €925
- October: €775
- November: €595
- December: €595
- GPS tracks, detailed maps and route suggestions
- Good quality hotels along the route
- Route assistance where necessary
- Airport transfers
- Bike hire
- Luggage transfer - see below
- 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 would be to provide extra services:
- Luggage transfer: €330 per group
- Dedicated cycling guide: POA
- Support vehicle: POA