- Monuments and ruins of Mérida, Cáceres, Évora, Marvão from Roman and other periods
- Sintra: palaces, castle, lush scenery, views
- Bucolic scenery of rolling hills, whitewashed villages & hilltop castle towns
- Delicious Spanish and Portuguese regional food and red wine.
- Local handicrafts: weaving, pottery, cork products
- Historic hotels: converted medieval castles and convents, often with pools.
Day 1: Merida, Spain - World Heritage site. We begin our tour in marvelous Merida, the capital of Spain's Extremadura region, founded by the Romans in 25 A.D. Selected as a World Heritage site in 1993, the city is famous for its well-preserved collection of Roman ruins, including an aqueduct, circus, bridge, amphitheater and temple. We'll meet at the hotel (the Velada or the Parador de Merida) for a trip briefing and bicycle adjustments, followed by a delectable dinner.
Day 2: Cáceres, Spain - World Heritage site. We'll pedal our bicycles on back roads passing through cork oak and olive groves from Merida to Cáceres, a marvelous example of a medieval city, originally founded in 34 BC by the Moors. Part of today's cycling will be along the Camiño de Santiago - Via de la Plata. Due to its many well-preserved monuments, UNESCO chose it as a World Heritage site in 1986. Stretch your legs and explore the serpentine streets and discover the judiaria (jewish quarter), palaces and cathedrals. We stay the night at the Merida Palace or a similar level hotel, that do justice to the history of the city where it stands. Distance: 20 miles / 32 km. Other distances optional.
Day 3: Marvao, Portugal. After spinning due west towards the Portuguese border we'll encounter the enchanting castle village of Marvao set on a 3000 ft (1000 m) granite pedestal with panoramic views. This evening, gaze at the overwhelming number of stars visible in the pitch black sky of the countryside. Tonight we'll sleep like babies in the Pousada de Santa Maria. Distance: 37 m / 60 km.
Day 4: Crato (Alter do Chão), Portugal. Distance: 27 m / 43 km or 50 m / 80 km. We'll forget the hubbub of our daily lives as we cycle through the tranquil Alentejo landscape past herds of grazing sheep and cattle and stands of cork oak to the village of Crato (Alter do Chão).
Day 5: Evora, Portugal - World Heritage site. After another pleasant day of riding through the vast plains of the Alentejo, we'll arrive at our hotel Cartuxa or the Pousada de Lóios in Evora, once the second most important city in Portugal after Lisboa. This fascinating and seemingly untouched city is a UNESCO World Heritage site enclosed by medieval walls and filled with museums and monuments dating from various from the medieval to renaissance periods. Highlights include: The Chapel of Bones, Roman Temple to Diana, the gothic Cathedral and the archbishop's palace. Distance: 48 m / 77 km.
Day 6: Evora, Portugal - World Heritage site. Today we either have the option to go on a short loop ride to see a mysterious prehistoric monument or to amble through this whitewashed town and take in its impressive collection of monuments and churches. Distance: 29 m / 47 km or 43 m / 69 km.
Day 7: Sintra, Portugal - World Heritage site. Van transfer to Sintra, 15m (30 km) west of Lisboa. On this final day we'll take a hike (biking optional) along the dramatic cliffs above the Atlantic to the westernmost point in Europe - Cabo da Roca. Sintra itself is a UNESCO World Heritage site which the kings once chose as their summer residence due to its temperate summer climate. Set among lush vegetation, it boasts two palaces, a Moorish castle, many convents and private estates, as well countless other architectural gems. We'll select a few monuments to visit and afterwards relax in town over piping hot travesseiro (pillow) pastries, a local specialty. Tonight we'll lodge in the charming Lawrence's Hotel, the first hotel founded in Iberia, in the 16th Century, and where Lord Byron also stayed. Distance: bike ride: 11 m / 17 km and walk 4 m / 6,5 km.
Day 8: Sintra, Portugal - World Heritage site. We've come to our farewell day. After breakfast we offer a van transfer to Lisboa airport for early afternoon flights and plenty of tips and suggestions for those who plan to stay in the area.
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Europe Spain Portugal Outdoor: Land Rambler Bicycle Touring Cultural Journey
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