Reviews: Portugal Cycle Tours

Thinking of doing a bike tour in Portugal? Want to know what our riders thought of Pedal Portugal’s guided cycle trips? Well this is where you’ll find the reviews.


Riding to Os Almendres near Evora – on the Border Castles Tour in April 2016

We’ve now completed our second year of Pedal Portugal guided bicycle tours – we ran four trips in 2017 and were delighted to have eight repeat customers from 2016 among our riders. 

We’ve already got four tours booked up for 2018 but there are still places on other trips – see the schedule for more details.

The comments below are from riders who have taken part in our bicycling tours:


34 thoughts on “Reviews: Portugal Cycle Tours

    My husband and I absolutely loved this marvellous back country tour. Carolyn and Huw were great leaders: knowledgeable, well organized, fun to be with. The routes chosen were scenic, very quiet, and interspersed with just enough castles. We also appreciated the variety of hotels and restaurants plus the good company of the others in the group.

    We enjoyed Portugal and the Algarve cycle in Feb/March 2016 with Huw and Carolyn so much that we just did another ride with them: the Border Castle tour, also wonderful. They are a fabulous couple and take great care of and create a seamless cycling experience. They find great places to eat and sleep and quiet and scenic cycling routes. We highly recommend riding with them on any of their tours.

    This was a cycling trip of a lifetime! Huw and Carolyn were over the top excellent at making the cycling experience wonderful. The rental bikes were good quality, the roads were lovely to ride on with quaint villages chosen for coffee and lunch stops. The dining experience was varied and wonderful with authentic local Portuguese restaurants. All accommodations were quaint and lovely. Huw and Carolyn took great care in hand picking everywhere and everything to make this an excellent adventure. I highly recommend it! Sincerely, a Canadian.

    We just enjoyed another terrific bike tour with Huw and Carolyn. This was our second tour with them and we enjoyed the trip as much as the first trip. The roads, pace, food, hotels and guides make the trip a holiday. A castle a day, often empty and perfect roads, interesting rest days and of course good people.

    Our Border Castles ride was a wonderful experience. Huw and Caroline were excellent guides/hosts, the food and accommodations were first-rate, and the scenery in the Alentejo was amazing.

    We are the tandem couple on the feature photo. We had such a grand time on the Borders Castles tour that we returned for the Eastern Frontier tour. Though we would love to tour other parts of Europe, it was just so much easier to leave the logistics to Huw and Carolyn. We also knew that we would have a grand time and be well taken care of. The people, food, and wine or Portugal are wonderful and the villages and sights are marvelous. You can pay a lot more to a few other tour companies but it won’t increase your comfort or pleasure.

    As a satisfied repeat customer, I can say Huw and Carolyn are the best! Attentive, knowledgable of the roads, housing, and restaurants, they provide a bike tour to be remembered.
    Comparing the two tours we’ve done: the Border Castle Tour done in the spring was full of wildflowers, and a bit of rain; the Eastern Frontier in the fall was quite hot (unexpectedly hot), and more challenging with the hills.
    Not having to book our lodging and figuring out restaurants was greatly appreciated by us. The daily mid-day meal as a picnic was a treat too.

    Hilary’s and Anita’s review: We would echo everything that Caroline, Deanne, and Tom & Beth (see Elizabeth West review) have stated. Huw was readily available for consultations as we developed our bespoke tour, and he regularly provided updates and inquiries to ensure our expectations were realistic. His and Carolyn’s organization and experience were evident every day of our tour. There were actually 10 of us on the tour, nine bicyclists and one motorist, and it was brilliant how Huw and Carolyn accommodated the range of abilities and needs among the group.

    The two of us especially appreciated the experience of not just biking, but engaging in the culture of the communities we visited, from owners of tiny bars and coffee shops, to sampling local fare with a regional emphasis, to rambling through villages on our rest days. Because the tour was through very small towns, we felt this particular adventure was an authentic taste, of all sorts, of that region of Portugal.

    We’ve already recommended them to several friends who hope to make a trip with them in the future.

    I’ve just arrived home from a 10-day “bespoke” tour in the Alentejo that Huw planned and delivered for me and 8 friends. It met and exceeded all expectations. While the rides were challenging and the temperatures warm, we all felt a sense of accomplishment each day when we rolled into another charming town and charming hotel. Huw and Carolyn run a well-oiled machine. They both love to ride, so they take turns driving the van, parking and hopping on the bike to ride back to meet the group. They made everything seamless for us, from the lovely “picnic” lunches that seemed to appear from nowhere, to the coffee stops every morning, to the fantastic dinners, which they always somehow managed to curate to satisfy the vegetarian and pescatarian in our group, plus all us carnivores. Wine was abundant and food was delicious.

    I highly recommend Huw and Carolyn. They have great senses of humor, are knowledgeable about the area and biking in general, unflappable in the face of problems, and just really nice and fun to be around.

      I was one of the 8 friends who participated in the 10-day “bespoke” in the Alentejo region. Caroline provided a great description of the advantages of this tour. To just add my 2 cents, Huw and Carolyn are great guides and have the logistics down to an art. Our “bespoke” was designed specifically for us and it was absolutely amazing. We biked through rural Portugal along country lanes and typically low-trafficked roads through the agricultural landscapes of cork trees, grape vines, olive and almond trees, and wheat fields; not to mention the cattle, sheep, and goats. The region is full of historical castles and fortresses. The routes selected demonstrated our guides’ knowledge of the region and their planning skills. In addition, the “picnic” lunches were healthy and very welcomed from a morning of riding. I also appreciated the local, authentic Portuguese, restaurants we were treated to each night with mounds of food and what seemed like an endless supply of wine. Finally, our lodging options were great. We stayed in two beautiful converted convents, cozy inns, or modern/eco hotels. I would highly recommend Pedal Portugal to any future riders. I hope Carolyn’s walking tour comes to fruition! I’d sign up for that, too!

        Tom and I were also part of the bespoke tour in May and June. We agree with everything Caroline and Deanne said and would like to add how much we enjoyed the arrangements that Huw and Carolyn made. We have been reluctant to sign up for a tour because we were afraid of feeling herded around, but Huw and Carolyn provided all the advantages of a tour (the logistical arrangements especially) without that “following the umbrella around” feeling. In fact, they arranged great accommodations, wonderful local dinners and picnic lunches, and routes on mostly country roads. The tour challenged us physically and yet was enjoyable. We highly recommend Huw and Carolyn and their tours.

    Ditto to everything that Leanne and Barb have written! We thoroughly enjoyed our trip with Huw and Carolyn exploring the quiet back roads and quaint villages of the Alentejo! There was a sense of accomplishment as we re-entered Evora but also sadness that the adventure had ended!
    As we drove speedy highways after the bike trip concluded, we found ourselves wondering what the area we sped through was really like. On the bike, you got a real sense of the culture!
    We are already looking forward to another trip with Pedal Portugal!!!

    Everything about the Border Castles tour was outstanding and exceeded expectations. Highlights included first-rate accommodations, exceptional dinners in a variety of great restaurants, gorgeous scenery on quiet country roads, and the companionship of a great group of travelers. Huw and Carolyn had everything figured out in advance and could not have been nicer. Also, they know how to pack a great picnic lunch! We enjoyed it all so much that we toyed with the idea of leaving a bad review to keep Pedal Portugal from becoming too popular; we want there to be room for us on a future trip!

    Thank you to Huw and Carolyn for an amazing ten day Border Castles tour. I am so grateful they are willing to share their love and knowledge of Portugal. The trip could not have been better. Great meals, accommodations, scenery, a ton of laughs, excellent organization and a small group all combined for an exceptional experience. I should mention for those who are inclined that Portuguese beer and wines are excellent.


    Portugal had been on our must do list for a little while for a cycle trip and when I came across Pedal Portugal’s website, I hoped it would be the right fit for us. Well it was fantastic, in fact, exceeded our expectations. The quality of the hire bikes really good and distances varied with the terrain – all manageable for a cyclist with a reasonable level of fitness. Huw and Carolyn managed the different cyclists abilities with ease and the directions given easy to follow with regrouping stops.

    Huw and Carolyn are passionate about Portugal and their well thought out itinerary presented beautiful scenic (mostly) quiet back roads, cycling into ancient historical cobbled towns with mandatory castle and a crossover into Spain for the night. The variety of accommodation fantastic and varied, especially the hospitality of Lidia at the country house in Pavia was exceptional.

    Huw and Carolyn aim to introduce you to as many local Portuguese food specialities as possible which means interesting restaurants and variety of dishes every night – you don’t go hungry. Our group went for the picnic lunch option, which was more than ample, fresh and always tasty, it also meant we got to town with enough time to be the tourist (or have a beer) before dinner.

    Scenery stunning: rolling hills, vineyards, cork trees, olive groves, sheep/cow/goats, wildflowers, quaint quiet towns – JUST GO!!

  14. Border Castles Tour – October 2016 (highly recommended)

    The Border Castles tour was a terrific tour with a great variety of cycling terrain along with some great historical sites and towns including Evora, Monsaraz and Elvas (the fort and aqueducts were fantastic). The accommodation chosen by our fabulous hosts, Huw and Carolyn, was also a highlight. We stayed in rural retreats, convents as well as some modern arty places. The restaurants chosen after a hard day of cycling gave us a taste of the traditional foods and wines from Portugal and was also a highlight. I personally valued the picnic lunches we had each day. It was simple, healthy and practical in terms of we are here to cycle not sit around for 2 hours eating. It meant arriving at our destination at a good hour so we could explore that location by foot too.

    We did a few quirky things along the way such as adding a few extra kms one day just so we could say we rode to Spain and back. Adding the extra 25kms on the last day to visit the “stones” megalithic site was well worth the amount of dust we ate on a 4km uphill stretch to finally reach the site. Ensuring we still had our teeth at the end of the downhill ride back was a bonus.

    The terrain of this tour is quite hilly with the first few days being being mostly up. Yes, the down hills did come too but that was later on. A couple of us classified only one hill as a “killer hill” (end of day 1) and although no hill by itself was extra hard it was a tough tour purely because of the sheer volume of hills. If you do chose this tour be prepared from a fitness perspective. Like most things in life you only get out of it what you put in. To enjoy the castles, towns and cycling ensure you are very fit and very capable. There is definitely more prestige in saying you cycled the trip instead of seeing it from a van.

    Huw and Carolyn direct the tour but also own the company. They are friendly, affable, well traveled and have all your interests at heart. Everything was organized perfectly and the trip went seamlessly. Their preparation helped make this a truly memorable holiday and a positive cycling experience. Thank you Huw & Carolyn and thank you to the other group members who made it a great holiday too.

    We recently completed the October session of the Border Castles tour and had a wonderful time. Cycling the quiet “undulating” (hilly) roads through beautiful rural countryside was a true pleasure. The many castles we visited along the way provided great photo opportunities, especially without the crowds of other tourists who visit similar historical sites in the coastal cities. We particularly enjoyed Monsaraz, the Fort at Elvas, Castelo de Vide (the Chocolate Shop is an excellent place to visit), Marvao and the Standing Stones. Huw and Carolyn did a great job of selecting a wonderful variety of comfortable accommodations and great restaurants serving traditional Portuguese food. It was a pleasure to cycle and spend time with them and the rest of the guests in our group. We highly recommend Pedal Portugal to others who wish to enjoy a similar great cycling experience.

    We had the privelege of being part of the first group to experience the Eastern Explorer Tour and what a treat. Carolyn and Huw put an incredible amount of time, thought and effort into the planning of the entire trip.
    While some days presented with ‘significant’ hills, every day was a good, challenging ride that ensured I became fitter and stronger all the time and conquered hills that I previously would not have even attempted.
    At the end of every day we were faced with excellent accommodation that was drenched in history (Moura was my personal favourite). There is no place for vegetarians on this trip so prepare to experience all the local meat, and some wonderul octopus and fish pie.
    If you are looking to do a cycling trip through Portugal and are either a strong cyclist or looking for a trip that will test your mettle then sign up now. And as for Carolyn and Huw, they are the best! You honestly could not ask for better tour guides.

    Pedal Portugal will spoil you for any other bike tour. Huw and Carolyn have created something really unique and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone. Every day was a well thought out adventure with great cycling, empty roads, fun companionship, interesting sights and lots of sunshine! We had a diverse range of accommodations (all great) and wonderful evening meals. Thanks to everyone on this tour for making it so special.
    Maureen and Paul (California)

    I’ve just returned from Huw & Carolyn’s Eastern Explorer Sept 2016 tour. As a first time to Portugal I was looking for a “not cookie cutter” cycle trip in the less trodden areas, which I could then combine with my own travel to more touristed areas.

    The Eastern Explorer tour was just perfect! The cycling itself, the locations, accommodation, food & wine and Huw & Carolyn’s organization & logistics were wonderful. We could clearly feel the care & thoughtfulness which had gone into the planning & throughout the trip once we were on it. This, and our fabulous group and blue sunny skies the whole time., all really made the trip for me.

    I echo Chris & Sue to everything in their review. The easy going nature, good hard riding as you felt like it or take it easy if you felt like that, made for such great comeraderie through out.

    The Eastern Explorer Tour was a great trip made all the more enjoyable by our wonderful tour leaders Huw and Carolyn. The places we stayed in overnight were wonderful and a mix of old and new. However, there is a price to pay for the spectacular views from the overnight accommodation. Most of the towns are situated on top of what Huw termed a “significant” hill.
    After riding for 70 km through fairly hot countryside the sight of our hotel several kilometres up a steep incline was often accompanied by groans from the group. Luckily the reward for the climb was always a bar with cold beer. In my opinion a small price to pay!
    The cycling is fairly strenuous and a good workout for experienced riders. Anyone who does an occasional weekend ride on the weekend may well struggle with the distances and hills.
    I would love to do the tour again in the spring when the countryside is green and perhaps the temperature a bit cooler.
    Thanks for a very memorable experience Huw and Carolyn.
    Chris (Australia)

    Super fun vacation, riding on good roads with almost no cars. Loved having the small group (10 total), so well taken care of by Huw & Carolyn the whole time. Thanks for picking all the great hotels and dinner venues. It was especially fun to see Carolyn or Huw biking back to meet us after parking the van further on. Even our one day of rain riding was okay, since we had a big tailwind pushing us along and our Goretex suits kept us pretty comfortable. We thoroughly recommend this bike tour to anyone who likes to ride free of gear, through rolling countryside, interspersed with interesting stops along the way.

    p.s. Rebuttal: Falling over the first day and hurting my arm made me ride the rest of the trip more gently and carefully. No need for anyone to be intimidated. Glad it didn’t prevent me from riding the whole tour! (Bruce)

    • Bruce- I’m expecting you to defend yourself! Road bikes with flat tires don’t work that well…I couldn’t resist the jab


    We loved the Border Castles trip. We were intimidated by getting saddled with having to keep up with guys who had recently done the Leadville 100 – it’s worth noting that one of them was the only one to get lost and the other fell off his bike. (Rebuttals, Dan and Bruce????). Actually the group jelled well and went at a pace we could all do. There was enough time to do our own thing that we looked forward to the 2-3 hour dinners. The rides through lovely cork tree “parks”, rolling hills of the Alentejo, the medieval castles, low-traffic roads, and the super pleasant guides, Huw and Carolyn, made the days go far too quickly. We loved the choice of towns and accommodations and even got to catch the famous bull/horse & rider tango, a Portuguese bull fight. Did I mention that we would highly recommend a Pedal Portugal trip?

    We just finished the “Borders and Castles” tour with Huw and Carolyn and had a fantastic time! Everything was perfectly planned with great routes, delicious food and drink, awesome castles and sights everywhere! I would highly recommend this group and biking in Portugal to anyone.

    My wife and I recently finished the Algarve Winter cycling tour. We came away very satisfied. Huw and Carolyn were excellent hosts, always able to please. The routing and preparations were all well done. The countryside was beautiful, and the roads we travelled were very quiet. Value for cost was excellent. I would strongly recommend PedalPortugal to anyone considering a cycling trip.

    What could be better than biking from small town to town in the Algarve during the winter season? Beautiful beach after beach with not a soul around. Blue skies and warm temperatures. Our groups comings and goings heralded by the crow of roosters and the barking of the local dogs. Morning coffees in the local town cafe. Castles to explore. The smell of the orange blossoms in the air and wild calla lilies in bloom everywhere. I miss it already.

    Carolyn and Huw are wonderful hosts making our bicycle trip through this serene environment absolutely effortless. Their gracious personalities and attention to detail was amazing. From arranged accommodation that was always comfortable to dinners out in local restaurants sampling authentic Portuguese cuisine, everything flowed seamlessly making our job simply to enjoy the ride.

    Thanks to Carolyn and Huw for making this such a memorable time for Gary and I.

    What can I say? What are you waiting for? You’ll love it!

    Louise Day and Gary Bodeux

    My husband and were on the second Pedal Portugal tour starting Feb/March 2016. We loved having Huw and Carolyn plan and take us on a tour of the Algarve. They are great leaders, gracious, knowledgable and nice to spend time with.
    We had a good group and finished each day ready to enjoy a good meal and comfortable bed. The days were never too long, they were varied, with just enough “undulating”and we loved the region. We generally had good food that was varied and each place we stayed at was interesting and offered great post bike exploring. We loved the port tasting in Silves, the black pork and German made hotel in Monchique. We hiked around the tallest mountain in the Algarve and enjoyed “bluebird skies” most days. We missed biking in the only rain by 30 minutes! Chasing waves on the beach with the girls was just plain fun! We loved the tour and would love to try another.
    Thanks to Huw and Carolyn for a well planned tour and thanks to our tour mates that made the whole trip fun.

    I was a fellow traveller of all of the above & agree with what they say! Some of the above are used to light weight tent touring & being self-reliant; this tour worked for them and will work for those who like to let others take the strain – and for a winter sunshine break I was happy to have someone meet me at the airport assemble my bike (yes!) and then guide me round quiet back roads I’d not have found myself.

    I loved seeing the storks which greet their mates with clacking of beaks (we have so much in common) but I spotted parrots and a little owl too. It’s also fun to see what is growing up in the hills (metre high broad beans in February… And in the evenings – food for famished cyclists – bread and olives and cheese and sardines; then soup and stew (maybe cataplana – fish stew) dessert – expect ‘pudim’ = crème caramel, + coffee and maybe a digestif. And all that at a good restaurant that Huw and Carolyn have road tested. I’m only just back to pre-tour weight…

    A guided tour. Something I have never attempted before. I usually tour alone or in the company of one other. I’m used to having my independence and am notoriously bad at following instructions from others. Also my wife points out that I have a wicked sense of humour that others just don’t get unless they know me very well. She was starting to feel sorry for my fellow travellers before I had even finished my packing.
    Well as it turned out I was introduced to a great bunch of people. They were very understanding and put up with me for the whole ten days . A group of different nationalities and characters came together and made this a really enjoyable and memorable experience. Huw and Caroline went out of their way to look out for everybody and their standard of care for the riders was exceptional. Nothing was too much trouble and on the odd occasion when something did not turn out as planned it was soon sorted out.
    I thoroughly recommend Pedal Portugal and wish them well with this lovely business endeavour.

    Well that was a fun trip. Having never cycled in Portugal before I found the routes varied and interesting on quiet (but undulating) roads. The hotels and restaurants that had been chosen were generally of a very high standard.

    Huw and Carolyn were enthusiastic and knowledgeable and made sure that everything ran smoothly throughout the trip. It was a thoroughly enjoyable tour.

    I hugely recommend Pedal Portugal’s guided tour. Lovely guides with a vast amount of experience and knowledge that they were more than happy to pass on.
    If you are thinking you would like to do some bike touring in Southern Europe but are unsure of how do-able it is, the tour works perfectly as a platform to build your knowledge & confidence from. And you are doing that whilst meeting a diverse group of cool ,friendly people with whom you already know you have interests in common.
    I found it a privilege to meet them all; and collectively, what a vast amount of touring experience, to tap into.

    Best trip ever! Such lovely guides, such a beautiful country…..and the other riders??? Well, too much fun…hope our new friends all make it to our home Canada for a warm shower one day.

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