Algarve & Alentejo Circular Tour in a group
- Guided road bike tour in a group
- 8 days/7 nights/6 days of cycling
- Distance: 660km approx and about 8,400 metres of ascent
- Distances of the routes: 6 days cycling, each day covers between 95 and 120km
- Route summary: On the one hand in the Algarve you have the inland region, typified by its hilly landscape with constantly changing gradients, where those who enjoy climbing can anticipate many long and demanding uphill stretches. On the other hand there are the coastal and the central regions with constantly changing and gently undulating landscape. In the Alentejo the routes are mostly level with gentle gradients, perfect for those who enjoy gobbling up the kilometres! You will cycle on well surfaced and mostly quiet roads. You will encounter a greater volume of traffic only when entering or leaving some towns and larger villages.
- Start dates in spring and autumn are as follows:
06.04.2019, finish on 13.04.2019
19.10.2019, finish on 26.10.2019
- Number of participants: minimum of 6 and maximum of 24
Detailed holiday and bike tour description
Southern Portugal, an all year round cycling paradise for road cyclists who like a challenge!
The Algarve, the starting point and the destination of this cycle tour, is fascinating because of its incredibly varied landscape. On the one hand there is the Serra, the hilly, unspoilt inland region and then you also have the coastal region with its amazing variety. Between these two regions there is a very fertile central area with extensive orange groves and vineyards. Venturing even further inland you come to the Alentejo, a region of vast plains which stretch beyond the horizon and are interspersed with waving corn fields, cork oaks and olive trees. Neither should we fail to mention the beautiful west coast with its rugged cliffs which fall steeply into the Atlantic. So we can offer a varied network of cycling routes to suit every requirement with well surfaced, quiet roads. A ‘must’ for every road cycling enthusiast!
Day1 Arrival in Faro. Transfer to your hotel in Olhão.
Welcome meeting including a welcome drink and introduction to the tour. You will then be given your bicycles which will be checked over with you to ensure that everything is correct. Olhão is a small town but the largest fishing port of the Algarve. The Old Town is well preserved and in it you will find many small restaurants offering a wide choice of fresh seafood. The Old Town is just a few minutes' walk from your hotel along the lovely harbour promenade.
Day 2 Olhão – Estoi – Santa Catarina – Alcaria Cume – Tavira – Olhão
approx. 95 km/ 1500 m of ascent
The tour begins with a long, gentle warm-up ride of 30km through the Barrocal region. Typical of this region are the many scattered, unspoilt villages set in a landscape of the trees so often found in the Algarve: carob, olive and almond, also large vegetable fields and, it goes without saying, the countless orange groves. Eventually you come to the Serra Alcaria do Cume, a hilly and in places mountainous landscape criss-crossed by many river valleys. This region is thinly populated and the roads are well surfaced and very quiet. It is by no means unusual to cycle for several kilometres without meeting a single vehicle. A road with many twists and turns brings you up to the highest point of the ride: 500m above sea level. Each successive summit affords you wonderful panoramas over the Serra hill country and down to the Atlantic coast. You then enjoy a great downhill ride into the Ribeira de Aportel river valley. This is followed straightaway by a steep climb and then another beautiful downhill stretch, 15km long, through countryside dotted with many cork oaks. The best cork in the world is harvested and processed in this region. After this great downhill section you have an undulating ride of several kilometres to Moncarapacho. You cycle through the town and then follow side roads back to your hotel in Olhão.
Day 3Transfer to Ameixial, then Ameixial – Almodôvar – Ourique – Vila Nova de Milfontes.
approx 115 km/ 1200 m of ascent
Today’s tour takes you right through the Alentejo. It begins with a bus transfer from your hotel to Ameixial, the starting point of the route. Ameixial is a small village on the northern edge of the Algarve. First you cycle on a winding road through the Rio Vascão river valley and then after a short climb you enjoy a great downhill ride covering 40 km! The route goes right through the hills and through small villages with mostly single-storey houses painted blue or yellow. You then come to the Monte da Rocha reservoir. This is the beginning of the landscape which is typical of the Alentejo – vast undulating fields with cork oaks, olive trees and pinewoods, cornfields waving in the breeze and pastureland with cows and sheep. You cycle through this rolling countryside towards the sea. Just before the end of today’s route there is a short climb and when you reach the top of the hill, you feel the salty sea air on your face. With a view of the Atlantic you cycle towards the coast and to your accommodation in the small town of Vila Nova de Milfontes. This picturesque place is perched on the edge of a cliff above the banks of the Ribeira Mira river which flows into the sea at this point. Beneath the cliffs and on both river banks there are lovely bathing beaches. Just at the edge of the picturesque Old Town there is a fort which was built in the 15th century to protect the town from pirates and corsairs.
Day 4Milfontes – Santiago de Cacém – Sines – Milfontes
approx 120 km/ 1200 m of ascent
Today’s tour begins with a short climb up onto a high plateau from which you have a fantastic view of the coast and of the vast plains of the Alentejo. After 30 km the road begins to climb gradually upwards as far as the historic, little town of Santiago de Cacém. It stands on a hilltop with a well preserved castle which was built in the 7th century by the Moors who ruled this region until the 12th century. From here the route leads on down to the sea, to Sines, another historic town, the birthplace of Vasco da Gama, the famous explorer. The town stands on the edge of a cliff and is in the shape of an amphitheatre. A very good cycle path takes you along by the Atlantic past the old part of the town where there are the ruins of a fort dating back to the Middle Ages and also a bronze statue of Vasco da Gama. When you leave the town you enter the Costa Vicentina nature reserve which stretches along the whole of the west coast right down to Sagres and is mostly unspoilt by tourism. A really lovely coast road brings you to the small village of Porto Covo which was completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1755 and rebuilt in a chequered design high on the cliffs. From the village there is a wonderful panoramic view of the rugged cliff scenery. You will really be able to speed along on the last 20km. You ride through the inland region on almost completely level roads back to Vila Nova de Milfontes.
Day 5Milfontes – Odeiceixe – Aljezur – Vila do Bispo – Salema – Luz – Lagos
approx. 120 km/ 1400 m of ascent
Today you continue on through the Costa Vicentina nature reserve. Typical of this gently rolling landscape are the cork oaks and huge fields with olive trees. Wild herbs grow in abundance and, alongside the wild flowers, grasses, cork oaks and eucalyptus trees, give the whole area a wonderful fragrance. In spring the region is just a sea of flowers with green meadows, red carpets of flowers and almond blossom. You pass the picturesque village of Odeceixe which has one of the most beautiful bathing beaches of the west coast. You then go on through Aljezur where you’ll find fields of the best sweet potatoes in the whole of Portugal. After this you change from the west coast to the south coast. You reach the south coast at Salema, a small holiday resort which is situated on an idyllic sandy bay surrounded by cliffs. After a short but very demanding climb (20%) onto a hilltop you will be rewarded with one of the best views of the deep blue Atlantic and the extraordinarily shaped cliffs of the rocky coast. You reach your next hotel in Lagos by way of the famous Costa d’Oiro, the ‘gold coast’ so named because of the ochre coloured cliffs. The hotel is situated in the heart of the historic Old Town with many interesting things to see and many small restaurants serving delicious seafood.
Day 6Lagos – Bensafrim – Fóia (highest mountain of the Algarve) – Monchique – Autódromo – Lagos
approx 100 km/ 1700 m of ascent
Today it’s the ‘King of the Mountains’ stage! The route takes you to the top of the highest mountain in the Algarve, the Fóia (902m) in the middle of the Serra. Passing a beautiful, blue lake hidden in the hills, you come after 35km to a stunning, panoramic road at 350m above sea level. The road leads through woodlands with spruce and eucalyptus trees, again and again affording wonderful views down to the coast. After 10km you leave this road and begin the climb up into the Fóia, a narrow, winding road with very little traffic. You soon come out above the tree line and the view opens up to reveal a bare mountain top strewn with large boulders. You reach the summit by a series of climbs, some as steep as 20%. Your reward is an amazing panoramic view across the vast range of the Serra hills and the west and south coastal regions. The it’s time for a wonderful ride down to Monchique. This is a mountain village, tucked in between the Fóia and another high mountain. It is well known for its roasted wild boar and also for medronho schnapps which is made from the fruit of the medronho bush (a kind of strawberry shrub) which grows wild in this region. After this you continue down the valley for another 10km through typically Mediterranean evergreen vegetation. You go on past the famous racing track at Portimão where regular motor racing and motor bike racing fixtures are held. On the final section of the route you ride along a beautiful, long, sandy beach, the Maia Praia, and finally cycle over the railway bridge and along by the harbour to your hotel in Lagos.
Day 7Lagos – Silves – Messines – Paderne – Loulé – Faro
approx. 110 km/ 1400 m of ascent
You begin this final section by cycling back along the Maia Praia and then round the two enormous estuaries of the Rio Alvor and the Rio Arade rivers. These both offer a breeding paradise for many species of birds and are also home to flamingos and storks. You then keep to the Rio Arade river and cycle to the very historic town of Silves, the former capital of the Algarve. The castle and the cathedral both date from this era. The whole region is one of the most fertile of the Algarve – enormous citrus groves and vineyards stretch right across the landscape. Up to this point the route has been mostly level but now you begin to climb on a dead straight road up to São Bartolomeu de Messines, a small town at the foot of the Serra hills. From there you can recover on a good downhill ride through the Barrocal region with its small villages and many uncultivated fields with olive. carob, almond and fig trees. This section is followed by another climb up towards the Serra, to Alte, one of the most beautiful villages in the Algarve. Thanks to a spring which rises here and feeds a stream, this area is always green and full of flowers. You then continue through Loulé, a market town of some significance, before finally reaching Faro, the capital of the Algarve. A very good cycle path takes you into the town. You cycle through the historic Old Town, which is surrounded by the old walls, which are very well preserved. In the Old Town there are some 16th century buildings which have been beautifully renovated, e.g. the Cathedral, a museum in a former convent and the Bishop’s residence. All this is evidence of Faro’s heyday when it was a significant trading centre and profited from the successful voyages of those who explored the oceans of the world. Your hotel is very close to the Old Town and right by the marina.
Day 8Back journey
Transfer from your hotel to Faro airport (included).