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Self-Guided Cycling in Portugal: Mountains to the Sea

from $1,799.00

Scenic cycling through small villages and along stunning coastline

  • Reviews 8 Reviews
    5/5
  • Vacation Style Holiday Type
    Self-guided
  • Activity Level Leisurely / Moderate
All about the Self-Guided Cycling in Portugal: Mountains to the Sea.

In the far north of Portugal, on the border with Spain, lies the Minho region: a wild, rugged area of historical and cultural significance. Starting from the Geres National Park, you cycle downhill through small villages and extensive vineyards, following the River Minho towards the Atlantic Ocean. The scenery is a stunning combination of high mountains, rolling river scenes, historic towns and dramatic coastal landscape. You will stay in authentic accommodation offering friendly Portuguese hospitality and delicious regional cuisine. There is plenty of opportunity to relax and enjoy the golden stretches of beach you cycle past, maybe accompanied by a glass of the local Vinho Verde (white wine) for which the region is well known. The ride finishes in Porto, named best European City Destination in 2013, 2014, and again for 2017.

The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.

* 7 nights 3 and 4-star hotels and guesthouses (see accommodation section)
* Luggage transfers
* Local bike rental
* All breakfasts and 3 wine tastings

What is not included in this tour?
  • Flights
  • Single Accommodation (available on request, inquire for supplement)
  • Lunches and dinners (available to prebook, please inquire for additional cost)

Highlights

  • Cycle through rugged scenery and mountain villages
  • Enjoy mouthwateringly fresh fish and seafood
  • Taste the local Vinho Verde directly from the vineyards
  • Relax on miles of golden sand along the Atlantic Ocean
  • Stay in delightful, handpicked accommodation
  • 7 nights 3 and 4-star hotels and guesthouses
  • 6 days cycling with luggage transfers
  • 86% paved, 14% unpaved (including some cobbled sections)
  • Mainly flat or downhill roads with some gentle hills
  • Self-guided tour. Min age 14 yrs
  1. Day 1 Transfer from Porto to Castro Laboreiro; spend the night in a small hotel in a mountain village

    An airport transfer is included to pick you up from Porto airport (please ensure you arrive before 3pm). Driving from the coast into the Serra de Laboreiro mountains you will enter a tiny hamlet and your home for the night.Hotel Castrum Villae or similar

  2. Day 2 Cycle downhill towards Moncao, looking out for deer and wild horses

    A pleasant journey today as you cycle across the northern regions of the Gerês National Park; one of the last natural refuges in Portugal for wolves and golden eagles. Passing through silent villages you notice the traditional espigueiros, the granite maize stores on stilts. By the time you reach Monção, the fortified town on the River Minho, you will come to understand why the Portuguese are so proud of the fact that the Spanish were never able to conquer them. Upon arrival it is time to sample some of the local wine, a perfect end to your first day of cycling.Solar De Serrade or similarN.B. If you have not opted for the Wine and Dine package, please note that this hotel does not provide an evening meal service.

  3. Day 3 Follow the River Minho towards the mediaeval town of Caminha; sample some of the local Vinho Verde that the region is famous for

    On this stage you pedal westwards, along the River Minho to the Atlantic Ocean. Your journey takes you through extensive vineyards dedicated to the production of Vinho Verde (translates as young wine) which is a slightly carbonated, lower-alcohol wine; the perfect drink for a warm afternoon! You can pick up a bottle at the elegant Brejoeira Palace, which is a leading producer of top quality Vinho Verde. Along today’s route you will cycle past landmarks of the battles between Portugal and Spain, such as the 17th Century stronghold at Valença and the Vila Nova de Cerveira fort. That evening arrive in the elegant town of Caminha, located on the estuary of the River Minho, with a history dating back to pre-Roman times.Design & Wine Hotel or similar

  4. Day 4 Cycle along the coast, with an option to stop to admire the Santa Luzia Church overlooking Viana; pedal inland towards Ponte de Lima

    Today you spend the morning cycling along the dramatic Atlantic Ocean coastline, through fishing villages that appear unchanged for centuries. Arriving in Viana do Castelo the peace and quiet is replaced by the buzz of this lively city, situated on the estuary of the River Lima. Viana has an impressive maritime history and the wealth created by this is demonstrated in the narrow lanes, crowded with Manueline manors and Rococo palaces. A must-see is the 19th Century Byzantine Santa Lucia Church on the hilltop overlooking the city, worth the steep climb for the breathtaking view. From here you cycle inland until you arrive in Ponte de Lima, the oldest village in Portugal. Your accommodation tonight is in a delightfully rural setting, and there is time to taste some of the wine and honey made on the estate itself.Quinta da Agra or similar (please note this accommodation is approx. 5km from the centre of Ponte de Lima)N.B. This hotel does not provide an evening meal service but a meal can be prebooked at a local restaurant (and a taxi can be arranged).

  5. Day 5 Follow in the tracks of the ancient Santiago de Compostela route, cycle through cornfields and vineyards to Barcelos

    The ride today follows the ancient Portuguese route towards Santiago de Compostela, and whether you are religious or not, is a really special experience. It is a route that those who have walked it for centuries, do so knowing they will meet challenges, experience great joy, and learn the lesson of life. The pleasant route today is through cornfields and vineyards to the pretty town of Barcelos on the River Cavado. Barcelos is the centre of the pottery industry in Portugal. There are markets held in the town on most days and a visit to one of these is highly recommended.Hotel Bagoeira or similar

  6. Day 6 Enjoy an easy ride today back towards the Atlantic Ocean; finish in the seaside town of Vila do Conde, famous for its shipbuilding past

    The ride back to the Atlantic today is a short stage, so why not take some extra time to enjoy a great lunch the Portuguese way: a leisurely, several course meal that reminds you again why the Portuguese people are so proud of their cuisine. You arrive in Vila do Conde where you can enjoy a walk around the manors and palaces within the town centre, and take a leisurely stroll along the beach before dinner.Hotel Brazao or similar

  7. Day 7 Pedal along the coast on quiet cycle paths, approaching the UNESCO World Heritage City of Porto

    The last stage of your holiday takes you on quiet cycle paths along the coast; along sand dunes, and passing through fishing villages and a seabird reserve. You approach Porto, and enter via the estuary of the River Douro. A UNESCO World Heritage City and best European City destination for 2013, 2014, and again for 2017, Porto is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. The old centre boasts more than 1500 listed monuments, and the history of the traditional Port Wine can be explored by visited many of the Port cellars which are open to the public and can be appreciated during the included Port tasting.Dom Henrique Hotel or similar

  8. Day 8 End Porto

    Finish your trip in Porto and take a transfer back to the airport.**

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Where you stay

Hotels and guesthouses

7 nights spent in an array of diverse comfortable accommodations, handpicked for their character and location. Highlights include a 17th Century manor house set in extensive vineyards, a luxurious modern hotel with individually decorated rooms set in the middle of town, and a rustic locally owned heritage property where all food is farmed by the charismatic owner.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts and 3 wine tastings included.

A typical hotel breakfast consists of: toast/bread with jam,or honey, cheese and ham, served with coffee, tea, milk, orange juice, fruit, cake and yoghurt.

Portuguese people are very proud of their cuisine, and the deliciously fresh seafood is a real highlight. You will find fresh fish on most menus, usually sardines, sea bream, hake, sea bass and sole, cooked in a variety of ways. Bacalhau (cured codfish) is a national dish although it can vary depending on the region – there are up to 365 recipes to cook it! Caldo Verde (green soup) is made with potatoes, olive oil and salt, sometimes with garlic and onion, and is typical in the northern region of Portugal. For meat lovers the barrosã meat (steak) is often served grilled and roasted just to it’s naturally delicious flavor. There are also several stew dishes to sample, delicacies being Tripas à Moda do Porto (tripe & white bean stew) and Rojões à Minhota (chunks of pork usually cooked with potatoes). ‘Francesinha’ is an iconic dish originating from Porto and involves layers of different meats (usually beef, ham, grilled pork, linguiça (smoke cured pork sausage) and sausage), between two slices of bread, covered by melted cheese and immersed in a spicy beer & tomato sauce, often topped with a fried egg and surrounded by chips. It is not for the faint hearted!

To drink you will find plenty of the local Sagres and Superbock beer. Vinho Verde is available from the supermarket and directly from the producers. It is a young, medium alcohol white wine with an almost carbonated quality. Port needs no introduction and a glass (or two) of the fortified wine will generally follow a hearty Portuguese meal!

Cycling conditions
This is a self-guided cycling trip for those who like to cycle independently, but with back up to take out the hard work and planning. We arrange your accommodations, provide you with a map and route notes so that you can cycle at your own pace, while your bags are transported from one hotel to the next.
Activity Level: 2 (Leisurely/Moderate)
Please see the introductory pages of the cycling holidays brochure or our website for more important information on classification and grading.
Average daily ride: 42km (26 miles). There is also the opportunity to increase the daily distance by taking the slightly harder option – you can decide this on the day.
No. of days cycling: 6
Terrain & route: Mostly on cycle paths or roads. Whilst the majority of the cycling is on paved roads there will also be times you are cycling on cycle paths – these can be of mixed terrain and are sometimes affected by adverse weather conditions (i.e. they can get muddy). You will be warned at the introductory briefing if there are any sections of the route where you need to take extra care because of this. We would also like to point out that cobbled roads are included in our description of ‘paved roads’; something you should take into consideration when booking.The route is mainly flat or downhill with the occasional small climb.
Vehicle Support: A representative will be there to meet you, make sure the bikes are all set up and will be on call throughout the trip should you need. You are also provided with a GPS device loaded with the tracks and a prepaid mobile phone for emergencies.

It is very common to keep pet dogs in Northern Portugal for guarding rural properties. Whilst on the cycle route, you may encounter dogs barking or running alongside your bike. In most cases, dogs are confined to properties for this trip.

It is important that you are happy reading maps and following route notes, we make these as accurate as possible and they are regularly checked. Where possible we stick to cycle tracks and quiet roads to make the journeys as pleasant as possible, however, on occasion we have to use busier routes.

As this is a self-guided holiday there is no group and no leader. There may be others on the same departure date as you, but you will not be organised together. The route notes contain an emergency assistance telephone number should you need it and in emergencies, the local representative is normally able to dispatch a taxi or pick you up themselves. They may wish to charge for this service.

Families
Self-guided cycling holidays are a perfect option for families as they offer the freedom for you to take your holiday at your own pace. You can stop as and when you want and need, at the cafes and restaurants that suit your family and the sites that interest you. As a guide we have suggested that 14 years is the minimum age for this trip, but as it is self-guided and you will be leading your own family we will ultimately leave this decision up to you. The daily distances are all published in the trip notes along with a description of each days cycling so you have a good idea of what to expect. On this trip, children should be expected to ride on roads with traffic. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact one of our experts. The principle idea is that these holidays can be as flexible as you like, with logistical support but no group or leader to dictate the daily activities

Overall Rating
5/5
Reviewed On 26/07/2019
5/5

Varied and fascinating cycling from remote Portugal

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were a few climbs and each one felt very rewarding to get over, but the best feeling was probably after the second day of cycling when we made it to the sea (for the first time on the trip) and it was beautiful.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring sandals and shorts as you may need to cross a river while the cycles can get pretty hot. The map was slightly out of date when we were there so be prepared to keep checking it to know where to go! It was very easy to go off track but also very easy to get back on track. Look up the general route before each cycle and then if you go off route you'll be able to carry on and meet back with it soon. Get the Wine Tasting package in Porto, it was superb!

Reviewed On 26/07/2019
5/5

Self-guided Cycling in Portugal - do it!

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The most inspirational moment of our trip was when we rescued a kid (baby goat!) that had been stranded! The first couple of days were really deserted but it was wonderful to be alone and surrounded by such beautiful scenery, feeling like you had just stumbled upon hidden gems yourself. The oldest village in Portugal, Pont de Lima, was a highlight as it is very pretty.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do the dine and wine package in Porto! A 4/5 course meal with a different glass of vino with each course, set in a stunning restaurant on the river - peaceful, great food and a lovely end to the trip.

Reviewed On 26/07/2019
5/5

Portugal: Mountains to the Sea

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    My partner was in awe of the vineyards that we went through as we dropped out of the mountains, but I was inspired by the last leg from Vila do Conde to Porto, completely along the coast at the back of the beaches, sometimes along specially constructed boardwalks. Also the sections along the Caminho de Santiago de Compostela (in the opposite directions) had a 'spiritual' feel.
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    N/A as self-guided
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    One word of caution, this trip was rated as 'Easy' and whilst most of it is, there are a number of off-road sections where the track is very steep and badly worn, and from our previous experience we would rate this as moderate. Bring good quality padded gloves as many roads are granite setts and a number of the tracks are constructed from stones. Also tag a couple of days on to your trip and enjoy Porto and the Douro Valley.
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is an amazing trip that could be improved further with a few minor improvements: 1) Directions to accommodation where it doesn't coincide with the day's finish 2) Mud-guards on bike 3) Panniers should be waterproof or dry bag provided.

Reviewed On 26/07/2019
5/5

Beautiful Bike Rides and Fantastic Food

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Staying at the Solar do Serrade in Moncao was amazing. The people were so nice. I sat outside drinking one of their wines with the pleasure of knowing that the grapes were grown in the next field and picked by hand. The bottling was done in the building just behind me. Finding lovely little places for a drink and a snack, both on the route and at each destination. The riverside views were amazing.
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    N/A, but the GPS was much easier to follow than I anticipated!
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take it easy to enjoy the views and soak up the atmosphere. For my level of fitness the routes were short enough to give me plenty of time to stop and look around some of the towns and villages but I could still arrive at the next hotel early enough to explore that town too. You could get to the next place before lunch if you wanted to, but what's the rush? I found that most of the hotels didn't do an evening meal unless it had a specific attached restaurant. These hotels were Design and Wine in Caminha and Hotel Bagoeira in Barcelos both of which I found enjoyable. But in all the towns (even tiny Castro Laboreiro) there were plenty of places to eat and from my experience all good.
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    You only get a short time with the local tour rep at Porto airport, so make sure everything is ok before you transfer to Castro Laboreiro, especially knowing how to use the GPS! But even if you get slightly lost its easy to find your way back to the route. Most days were easy cycling, there's just one day that has a couple of climbs of any note. Also, most of the route is away from traffic, on quiet roads and some of it on a shared path with pedestrians, but there are a couple of busy sections. I found the Portuguese drivers very considerate. Even when I was walking in town they stopped at crossings every time. If you've got time before or after the trip, take a train to Lisbon. I booked a 1st class seat in advance and got a ticket for 22 euros.

Reviewed On 26/07/2019
5/5

A great way to see Portugal

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The most inspirational moment of the trip was staying at Solar de Serrade. It was incredible to see 18 acres of family owned vineyards with a friendly proprietor who takes pride in the wine she produces. We were able to witness a family run winery right on site, under 5 minutes away from our room. From seeing the growing grapes, to storage, to labelling the bottles and packaging them by hand - it made the experience feel very real and authentic.
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    This was a self-guided trip and we found the GPS to be clear with directions. The route notes help to supplement the GPS with full written directions.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    My advice is below for any future travellers: - Rural Portugal properties all seem to have pet dogs! They barked as we cycled pass, but continue on cycling and it isn't an issue. - Quinta De Agra (lovely property) and Solar de Serrade don't provide evening meals - enjoy a night out in the historic nearby towns or opt for the Wine & Dine Package. - There are cobbled streets as you enter and exit towns and on some cycleways. This is something to bear in mind for the trip. - Bring cycling gloves due to the terrain
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I'm sure this is temporary but the city of Viana Do Castelo had major roadworks running through which affects the GPS. Cycle by the waterside, cross some roads and get to the bridge to exit the town of Viana Do Castelo (Day 4).

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Package Confirmed Dates Trip Status Trip Status Price (PP) Excluding Flights Price (PP) Including Flights  
August 24, 2019
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$1,999.00
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August 31, 2019
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September 7, 2019
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September 14, 2019
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September 21, 2019
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$1,799.00
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September 28, 2019
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September 10, 2019
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