- Serra da Arrabida: natural park with spectacular sea views and convent
- Azeitao cheese and wine-making; hand-painted tile-making workshop
- Vila Nova de Milfontes: a lovely whitewashed seaside village
- Alcacer do Sal: medieval castle converted into lodging
- Monchique: the original mountain spa village surrounded by orange groves
- Sagres: stunning cliffs marking the most southwesterly point in Europe
- Algarve region: beaches, fig and almond trees, pottery
- Great seafood from start to finish: grilled fish, shellfish served with chilled white wine.
Day 1: Óbidos
A short transfer takes us to Ribatejo and we will cycle along the quiet and flat back roads of the Tejo River plain past farms, vineyards and roadside fruit stands while flocks of egrets fly overhead. Tonight, we will sleep in Óbidos, a picture-perfect walled village with meticulously kempt whitewashed houses covered in vines and flowers. It is impossible not to succumb to the village's charms. Its name comes from the Latin oppidum, meaning "citadel" or "fortified city" and its walls are still standing today. The tranquil atmosphere is perfect for quiet conversation in a local tavern and tasting ginginha, the liqueur made from locally grown cherries. Tonight we'll sleep within the castle walls in the classical Casa das Senhoras Rainhas. Distance: 44 m / 70 Km or 19 m / 30 km
Watch this video of places we visit.
Day 2: Sintra
After a short transfer we will cycle the quiet back roads heading south (generally we get tailwinds) in the direction of lovely Sintra. Tonight, we will stay in the charming Lawrence’s Hotel in Sintra, the oldest hotel in Europe still in operation. Sintra is a lush mountain town jutting out of the landscape topped with a fantastical pink palace and 8th century castle. The poet, Lord Byron called it a "glorious eden". It is no surprise then, that this UNESCO World Heritage site was once the summer residence for the kings. Set among lush vegetation, it boasts two palaces, a Moorish castle, many convents and private estates as well as museums. We'll select a few monuments to visit and afterwards relax in town over piping hot travesseiro (pillow) pastries, a local specialty. Distance: 23 m / 36 km. Extra loop available (optional). (Trivia: Did you know that the Portuguese are the biggest consumers and producers of rice in Europe? This is probably due to their historical connection to the Eastern world and their discovery of new lands).
Day 3: Cascais
We will depart from the doorstep of our hotel and bike through the forest of Sintra Natural Park to visit the tiny Capuchos Monastery with its simple cork-lined chambers and then coast down to Praia Grande on the Atlantic coast. After a short pit stop we will start a hike to the most westerly point in Europe - Cabo da Roca or "the rock cape" over the cliffs above the Atlantic. At the end, we have the option to ride downhill along the winding coast to Guincho beach and Cascais, a once tiny fishing-village now turned world-class sailing center. The pedestrian friendly downtown offers plenty of little souvenir shops, cafes and seafood restaurants for everyone to get their last fill of Portuguese cuisine and shopping. It is no accident that we call Cascais our home. Distance: Bike 24 m / 38 Km. Hike along the coast (optional): 6 m / 10 km.
Day 4: Alcácer do Sal
We start the day with a visit to the colorful open-air farmers market and get some delicious foods for the day picnic lunch. After a transfer across the Tejo River to the castle town of Palmela, fabulous panoramic views await us on our cycling route through Arrábida’s many vineyards and the forested cliffs of the natural park down to the tiny bay of Portinho de Arrabida. We will have a gourmet picnic and continue to cycle along the breathtaking cliffs of Arrábida. When we’ve spent all of our energy we’ll attend a traditional tile-painting workshop and/or visit a local winery estate. Then, the minivan will take us on a short ride to Alcácer do Sal, an imponent walled castle town got its name for its history of exporting salt (sal). This evening we'll have a chance to amble through the town and admire the vestiges left behind by previous visitors: the Phoenician, Romans and Moors. Tonight we'll all sleep like kings in the historic Pousada D. Afonso II, the converted five hundred year old castle. Distance: 31 miles / 50 km. (Trivia: Did you know that the Portuguese are the biggest consumers and producers of rice in Europe? This is probably due to their historical connection to the Eastern world and their discovery of new lands).
Day 5: Vila Nova de Milfontes
After a short transfer, we bike to Santiago de Cacém, where we will visit its impressive set of “Mirobriga” Roman ruins, we'll ride through countryside along roads lined with fields of flowers and typical whitewashed cottages bordered in blue. Our destination is Vila Nova de Milfontes, a quaint seaside village with a spectacular seaside setting. After a satisfying day of cycling we will sleep in absolutely unique historical inn, the Castelo de Milfontes, once a 16th-century fort which protected the village against North African pirates. Distance: 30 m / 49 km
Day 6: Vila Nova de Milfontes
Today is a free day. Choose either to take a bike ride to Zambujeira do Mar, a neighboring coastal village to the south, or perhaps suntan on the beach and a ramble through the cobbled streets of this whitewashed village. At sunset, we highly recommend a stroll to the beach to sink your toes into the lukewarm sand, before enjoying an aperitif in one of many typical cafés and wine bars. The locals will be happy to practice a little Portuguese with you over a dish of "petiscos" (pa-teesh-koosh - savory snacks) and wine. Option to surf, depending on weather conditions. Distance: 22 m / 35 km with optional extra loop ride.
Day 7: Caldas de Monchique (last day for the shorter version of the tour)
For the ones in the light version of this tour, there will be a 2 hour transfer to Lisbon, to end the tour. Everyone else will pedal along serpentine roads past genuine cork oaks painted with their harvest year and sweet-smelling orange groves to Caldas de Monchique, a tiny spa village nestled in the mountains above the Algarve, whose waters have been enjoyed since Roman times. Our lodgings, the quaint Estalagem D. Lourenço, are a stylish renovation of the original spa inn. Here, we'll soak up the lush scenery and bathe in the smoothest mineral water straight from the source. Come evening we'll dine on the best of Algarve regional cooking and sample medronho the local firewater made from the fruit of the strawberry tree. Distance: 30 m / 48 Km or 40 m / 70 km.
Day 8: Lagos
We begin the day with an exhilarating ride along the forested mountain range of Monchique to the golden fields of the Algarve below. Traditional stone farm buildings and orchards of almond and fig trees border our path to the village of Lagos, the 16th century castle town which served as the original headquarters for the discoveries voyages. Come evening, Lagos is a great place to do some people watching in one of the many open air cafes and bars. Tonight we stay at the Hotel Tivoli Lagos and will have a farewell dinner in downtown Lagos. Distance: 32 m / 51 km
Day 9: Lagos. Its time to say "adeus" (goodbye) to our new friends! For those who are flying out we will transfer you to Faro or Lisboa airports. For those who are staying on, we recommend your stay in the Algarve or Lisbon. See you again soon!
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Europe Portugal Outdoor: Land Rambler Bicycle Touring Cultural Journey
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