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Cycling in Portugal

Portugal is relatively undiscovered amongst road cyclists, especially the mountains of Monchique which are deserted by comparison to its Spanish counterparts. If you haven’t yet ridden in Portugal, here is why you need to:

1. Scenic Routes Portugal has a diverse landscape with mountains, valleys, forests, coastal roads, and historic towns, all of which offer stunning views that you can enjoy on two wheels.

2. Mild Climate: Portugal has a mild Mediterranean climate, which means that cycling is possible all year round. Even during the winter months, temperatures are generally mild, making it an ideal destination for cycling.

3. Bike-friendly Infrastructure: Portugal has invested in cycling infrastructure over the years, with dedicated bike lanes and well-maintained roads, making it a safe and enjoyable experience for cyclists.

4. Cultural Experience: Cycling through Portugal’s historic towns and cities provides a unique cultural experience, allowing you to explore the country’s rich history and architecture.

5. Food and Wine: Portugal is known for its delicious food and wine, and cycling through the country’s wine regions allows you to sample some of the best local produce.

5 cyclists riding in the hills of Portugal

Contents Page

Enquire about a cycling holiday to Portugal

Getting to Portugal

The Atlantic Coast

The Climbs

Difference between cycling in Portugal and Mallorca

Climate

Fishing Villages

Wines

Food

The Cities

Getting to Portugal

Portugal is well-connected by air, with several international airports serving major cities such as Lisbon, Porto, and Faro. Many airlines offer direct flights to Portugal from various destinations worldwide, making it relatively easy to reach.

Once you arrive in Portugal, there are several options for getting around, including public transportation, car rental, and bike rentals. Portugal’s public transportation system is efficient and reliable, with buses and trains connecting major cities and towns. Car rental is also a popular option for exploring Portugal, as it provides greater flexibility and access to more remote areas. Many bike rental companies are also available in Portugal, which can provide you with a bicycle to explore the country at your own pace.

Overall, getting to Portugal is relatively easy, and once you’re there, there are several options for getting around, depending on your preferences and budget.

Cycling Portugal’s Atlantic coast

Coastal riding is also a popular option in Portugal, as the country has a long coastline with beautiful beaches and scenic routes. The Algarve region, in particular, is known for its coastal cycling routes, which offer stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean, rugged cliffs, and beautiful beaches. The Rota Vicentina, a network of trails that extends along the southwestern coast of Portugal, is another popular option for coastal riding. The route passes through a variety of landscapes, including wild beaches, picturesque fishing villages, and rugged cliffs. Other coastal routes in Portugal include the Costa Verde, which extends along the northern coast, and the Costa de Prata, which runs along the central coast. Coastal riding in Portugal can be a great way to enjoy the country’s beautiful scenery while also getting a good workout.

2 cyclists stopped on a cliff looking out over the Atlantic Ocean

Where to find the climbs

Portugal has several mountainous regions that offer a wide range of cycling options. The Serra da Estrela mountain range, located in central Portugal, is the highest mountain range in the country and offers some of the most challenging and rewarding cycling routes. The range features steep climbs and breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.

The Peneda-Gerês National Park, located in northern Portugal, is another popular mountainous region for cycling. The park offers a variety of routes that wind through picturesque mountain villages, past cascading waterfalls, and through dense forests.

7 cyclists riding up a hill in Portugal

The Serra de Sintra, located just outside of Lisbon, is a popular destination for mountain biking enthusiasts. The range offers challenging routes through rugged terrain, with stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding countryside.

Other mountainous regions in Portugal that are popular with cyclists include the Serra do Açor, the Serra do Caramulo, and the Serra de Montejunto. Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist looking for a challenging ride or a beginner looking for a more leisurely mountain biking experience, Portugal’s mountainous regions have something to offer.

Comparison between cycling in Portugal and Mallorca

Both Portugal and Mallorca are great destinations for cycling enthusiasts, but there are some differences to consider.

Mallorca is known for its stunning coastline, picturesque villages, and challenging mountain roads. The island is a popular destination for professional cycling teams, and many cyclists visit Mallorca to test their endurance on its steep climbs and winding roads. Mallorca also has a well-developed cycling infrastructure, with bike rental shops, cycling tour operators, and designated cycling lanes.

Portugal, on the other hand, offers a diverse landscape that includes coastal routes, mountain roads, and scenic countryside. The country is known for its charming fishing villages, historic cities, and wine regions, providing cyclists with a unique cultural experience. While Portugal may not have as many designated cycling lanes as Mallorca, it does offer a variety of cycling routes that cater to different levels of fitness and experience.

single cyclist descending a road in Portugal

In terms of climate, both Mallorca and Portugal have Mediterranean climates, with mild winters and warm summers. However, Mallorca can be hot and humid during the summer months, while Portugal’s coastal breeze can provide some relief from the heat.

Ultimately, the choice between cycling in Portugal or Mallorca depends on your preferences and what you’re looking for in a cycling holiday. Mallorca may be a better choice if you’re looking for challenging mountain climbs and a well-developed cycling infrastructure, while Portugal may be a better choice if you’re looking for a diverse landscape, cultural experiences, and scenic routes.

Portugal’s climate

The climate in Portugal varies depending on the region, but in general, it is Mediterranean, with mild, rainy winters and warm, dry summers.

Along the coast, temperatures are generally mild throughout the year, with average temperatures ranging from 15°C (59°F) in the winter to 28°C (82°F) in the summer. The sea breeze can provide relief from the heat during the summer months.

Inland, temperatures can be more extreme, with hot summers and cold winters. The northern and central regions of Portugal can experience more rain than the southern regions.

If you’re planning to cycle in Portugal, the best time to visit is typically between April and June or September and November when temperatures are mild and the weather is generally sunny and dry. However, if you prefer warmer weather and don’t mind cycling in the heat, the summer months (July and August) can also be a good time to visit, especially along the coast. Just make sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen.

Where to cycle away from the Algarve heat?

If you enjoy long rides but prefer cooler weather, there are still options for cycling in Portugal. The country’s northern regions, such as the Douro Valley and Minho, have cooler temperatures and can be ideal for cycling in the summer months. These regions also offer scenic routes, including picturesque vineyards and historic villages. Additionally, the Serra da Estrela mountain range in central Portugal can also provide cooler temperatures, even during the summer, and offers challenging and rewarding cycling routes. If you prefer milder temperatures, consider cycling in Portugal during the spring or fall seasons, when temperatures are cooler and more comfortable.

Cycling in Portugal, Cycling in Portugal

Visiting Portugal’s fishing villages

Portugal has a long coastline with many charming fishing villages that offer a unique cultural experience for cyclists. These villages are typically characterized by colourful boats, narrow streets, and traditional whitewashed houses with red-tiled roofs.

Our favourite fishing villages to visit are:

Nazaré

This picturesque fishing village, located on the west coast of Portugal, is known for its big wave surfing and historic sites.

Sesimbra

This coastal town, located just south of Lisbon, is known for its beaches and fresh seafood. The town’s narrow streets and colorful houses provide a charming backdrop for cycling.

Albufeira

This coastal town, located in the Algarve region, is known for its beautiful beaches and bustling nightlife.

Cascais

This charming town, located just outside of Lisbon, offers a variety of cycling routes that wind through historic streets, past beautiful beaches, and along the rugged coastline.

Portugal's fishing villages

Aveiro

This coastal town, located in central Portugal, is known for its colourful moliceiros boats and historic architecture.

Cycling through Portugal’s fishing villages can be a great way to explore the country’s unique culture and history while also enjoying scenic coastal routes.

The Best wines in Portugal

Yes, Portugal is known for producing high-quality wines, and its wine regions offer a unique experience for cycling enthusiasts. Some of the most famous wine regions in Portugal include the Douro Valley, the Alentejo, and the Vinho Verde region.

The Douro Valley, located in northern Portugal, is known for producing some of the world’s finest Port wines. Cycling through the Douro Valley offers breathtaking views of the vineyards that cling to the steep hillsides along the Douro River.

The Alentejo, located in southern Portugal, is known for its full-bodied red wines and offers a variety of cycling routes that wind through picturesque countryside and past historic towns.

The Vinho Verde region, located in the northwest of Portugal, is known for its crisp, refreshing white wines and offers a variety of cycling routes that wind through lush green landscapes and picturesque villages.

Many wineries and vineyards in Portugal offer wine tastings and tours, making it a great way to combine cycling with a unique culinary experience.

Portugal’s diverse cuisine

Portuguese cuisine is diverse and flavourful, with a focus on fresh seafood, meats, and vegetables. Some of the most famous dishes in Portugal include grilled sardines, bacalhau (salt cod), cozido (a hearty stew), and francesinha (a sandwich filled with meat, cheese, and a spicy tomato sauce).

Seafood is a staple of Portuguese cuisine, and many coastal towns and villages have excellent seafood restaurants that serve fresh fish and shellfish. Portugal is also known for its pastries, including the famous pastel de nata, a custard tart with a crispy pastry shell.

In addition to its traditional cuisine, Portugal has a growing culinary scene, with many innovative chefs and restaurants that fuse traditional Portuguese ingredients and flavors with modern techniques.

Cycling in Portugal offers a great opportunity to explore the country’s culinary scene and sample its delicious food. Many cycling tours and routes include stops at local restaurants and cafes, providing an authentic taste of Portugal’s cuisine.

The cities

Porto

Porto is a historic city located in northern Portugal, and it’s a popular destination for tourists from all over the world. The city is situated on the banks of the Douro River, which is famous for its port wine production.

The city’s historic center, Ribeira, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and features narrow streets, colorful buildings, and picturesque squares. The most famous landmark in Porto is the Dom Luis I Bridge, which spans the Douro River and provides stunning views of the city.

Porto is also known for its food, especially its seafood and traditional dishes like francesinha (a sandwich filled with meat, cheese, and a spicy tomato sauce). The city has many excellent restaurants and cafes that serve delicious food and wine.

View of Porto bay

In addition to its historic center, Porto has many other attractions, including museums, parks, and gardens. The Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art is one of the most popular museums in the city, featuring works by Portuguese and international artists.

For cyclists, Porto offers a great starting point for exploring the surrounding countryside and wine regions. The city has many bike rental shops and tour operators that offer guided tours and cycling routes, making it a great destination for cycling enthusiasts of all levels.

Lisbon

Lisbon is the capital city of Portugal and is known for its rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant culture. The city is located on the Atlantic coast, with a hilly landscape that provides breathtaking views of the city and the sea.

One of the most famous landmarks in Lisbon is the Belem Tower, a 16th-century tower that was built to defend the city’s port. The tower is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Lisbon.

Aerial view of Lisbon

Lisbon is also known for its food, with a rich culinary tradition that includes fresh seafood, meats, and pastries. The city has many excellent restaurants, cafes, and bakeries that serve delicious food and wine.

In addition to its historic landmarks and food, Lisbon is also famous for its vibrant nightlife, with many bars, clubs, and music venues that cater to different tastes and styles.

For cyclists, Lisbon offers a variety of cycling routes, including the Lisbon-Estoril coast road and the Monsanto Forest Park, which offers over 50 km of cycling trails. The city also has many bike rental shops and tour operators that offer guided tours and cycling routes, making it a great destination for cycling enthusiasts of all levels.

Make An Enquiry

We hope you found our guide to cycling in Portugal helpful. If you’re looking to book your next Portugal cycling holiday, make an enquiry with us today.

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