NEW. Spend a week in Portugal on this guided cycling holiday and enjoy some of the best coastal and rural scenery in the far south-west corner of mainland Europe.
The Rota Vicentina is a historical route used by pilgrims, travellers and locals for centuries. Large numbers of walkers now follow this European-designated Grand Route (GR), which starts from the old town of Santiago do Cacém.
Our 300km tour begins a bit further north in the small Alentejo town of Grândola and also includes part of the south coast of the popular Algarve region, ending in the historic riverside town of Lagos.
We will be leading small groups (6-10 riders) on this guided tour, which includes biking the length of one of Portugal’s largest protected landscapes: the South-West Alentejo & Vicentine Coast Natural Park, known for its bird life and beautiful cliffs and beaches.
The first part of our tour takes in the wooded hills and quiet countryside of the Alentejo, plus a chance to see the windswept sandy beaches of this region. Continuing south, we visit the riverside town of Vila Nova de Milfontes, before following the increasingly rugged and beautiful coast to spectacular Cabo São Vicente at the extreme south-west tip of mainland Europe and then turning east to the the end of our ride at Lagos.
Planned departure/finish dates for the Rota Vicentina South West Tour are:
- Autumn/Fall 2017: Sunday 29th October – Saturday 4th November
2018: Sunday 4th March – Saturday 10th March
Why this tour?
This trip provides an opportunity to explore a real mixture of landscapes as we cross two regions, the Alentejo and the Algarve.
There are no major mountains on this route but there are enough moderate climbs to provide some challenge for most riders and keep the terrain varied and interesting.
Cork oaks, mixed woodland and pasture covers much of the landscape around the gentle hills of the Serra de Grândola. Riding inland towards the small town of Cercal, we bike across a quiet agricultural landscape and cross the edge of the Alentejo plains.
Entering the SW Alentejo & Vicentine Coast natural park, we visit dramatic cliffs, tiny sandy coves and some pretty coastal villages. After reaching spectacular Cabo São Vicente, we turn east to zigzag our way towards our final destination at the historic port and riverside resort of Lagos.
Along the way there will be plenty for bird lovers to watch out for, from flamingos and spoonbills, to storks and eagles.
And while it’s impossible to guarantee perfect weather even in Portugal, there can be excellent cycling conditions at the times of year this tour runs.
October/November is generally quite a few degrees warmer (up to 22°C/72ºF) than March (17°C/63ºF), although the autumn can also be damper. However, you can still expect more days of sunshine than you can rain or drizzle.
These months also have the benefit of avoiding the crowds of Portugal’s main tourist season – meaning roads, hotels, beaches etc. will all be a lot quieter than in the summer months.
Where do we go?
The tour works its way south from Grândola to the south-west tip of mainland Europe and finishes at Lagos in the Algarve.
We will ride through pine forests and farmland, visit wild beaches and dramatic cliffs, cross hills covered with cork oaks, and stay in quiet towns and small villages.
Although not car-free, wherever possible we will ride on quiet lanes and minor roads where traffic is generally very light.
Starting from Grândola, the planned itinerary* is as follows:
Day One (Sunday): arrive in Grândola (transfer by train from Lisbon) and meet your fellow riders
Day Two (Monday): we head west through a range of low wooded hills and out to visit some lagoons and beaches on the Atlantic coast near Melides before going back inland again to Santiago do Cacém with its medieval castle. 58km / 37 miles
Day Three (Tuesday): we ride south on a spectacular inland route, following the crest of a ridge of hills before descending into lovely quiet countryside, and then heading out towards the Mira estuary and the coast at Vila Nova de Milfontes. 58km / 37 miles
Day Four (Wednesday): we continue south, exploring some of the Alentejo’s prettiest section of coast with opportunities to visit sandy coves and the towering cliffs of Cabo Sardão before crossing the border into the Algarve and stopping in a turismo rural property near the village of Odeceixe. 61km / 38 miles
Day Five (Thursday): today’s ride continues south through some wild landscapes as we follow the Atlantic coast south to Cabo São Vicente – the south-western tip of Europe – before reaching the fishing port and surfers’ hangout of Sagres. 70km / 44 miles
Day Six (Friday): our final day’s ride sees us turn east, visiting several more gorgeous beaches, and taking some quiet back roads as we loop through peaceful countryside to reach the ancient port of Lagos. 53km / 33 miles
Day Seven (Saturday): we say our farewells and transfer back to Faro for connections to Lisbon.
*Please note: the exact itinerary may change depending on accommodation availability and other similar factors.
The tour costs €1,130 per rider* – which works out at around £960 or $1,190 US at current exchange rates (February 2017).
- 6 nights bed and breakfast (based on two people sharing a twin or double room) in a good hotel or guest house
- evening meal – typically three courses with house wine or beer and coffee**
- support vehicle to carry luggage etc (and emergency transport)
- transfers from Lisbon airport on Day One and to Faro (airport/train station) on Day Seven if required
- experienced guide to ride with you***
*Price: The price in euros will not change. However, as a UK-based operator, payment will be taken in sterling based on the exchange rate at the time.
**Food: Portugal is not a great place for vegetarians or anyone with any special dietary requirements. I will try my best to make suitable arrangements but cannot guarantee being able to find restaurants that can cater for non-omnivores!
***Guides: My wife and I will alternate between riding with you and driving the support vehicle.
What’s not included?
The price above does not include:
- travel to Portugal and any internal transport other than that detailed above
- insurance – you are responsible for ensuring you have all appropriate insurance
- lunches, snacks, coffees etc.
- bike hire (see below)
Wherever possible, if anyone is unable to ride I will try to take them in the support vehicle. However, I can not guarantee this option. If essential, I can make arrangements with a taxi or bus but any individual costs will be additional.
Cycle hire – road or hybrid bike – can be arranged but will cost extra. We work with Cycling Rentals, a company that is based near Lisbon but can deliver anywhere in Portugal. The exact cost will vary depending on the type of bike and any accessories required. However, the cost for a road touring bike/hybrid suspension touring bike (including delivery/collection) will be around €145 for the duration of the tour.
Single rooms should also be possible but this will involve an additional supplement of around €240 (exact price will depend on numbers).
For anyone wanting additional accommodation, either before or after the tour, I can either book this for you or suggest various options but this would be an extra cost.
Places are limited – and I need a minimum of six riders to make the tour viable – so the sooner you sign up the better.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org