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Tour cycling in Portugal.

Tour cycling in Portugal.

I have been cycling in Portugal several times over the past 17 years and have covered many parts of the country by bicycle, so here is some general advice about tour cycling in Portugal, seen from my perspective.

What are the roads in Portugal like, for cycling?

The roads in Portugal are mostly good for cycling.

The roads in Portugal are mostly good for cycling.

Roads in Portugal are generally good for tour cycling. Getting in and out of Lisbon by bicycle can be a little tricky of course, but if you take one of the ferries from Cais do Sodre, that goes across the river Tejo, then you are quickly out of the city, in case you are heading south from Lisbon, on your bicycle. And you should of course stay away from the motorways in Portugal, where it’s both dangerous and illegal to cycle, but that should not really be a problem for you to find an alternative. Once you are away from the big roads, then you will find that most roads in Portugal are nicely paved and often, either have a shoulder for soft traffic, or is so quiet that you hardly see any cars. I generally find car drivers to be quite friendly towards cyclists in Portugal and I have never had any serious encounters with aggressive drivers, while tour cycling in Portugal. Be ware that Madeira Island is not quite as as good as the mainland for cycling. There is a trip report about Madeira Here.

 

Accommodation for tour cyclists in Portugal.

Space for bicycles on a road in Portugal.

Space for bicycles on a road in Portugal.

When I am tour cycling in Portugal these days, I mostly stay in smaller hotels. These places are often called Residencial by the way. I do it because they are cheap, usually costing me between 20€ and 30€ per night, sometimes even less. Sure enough, camping is cheaper and very doable if this is what you like. The government run campsites called “camping municipal” are often very cheap and there are also good chances to camp wild along the west coast of Portugal, on many of the secluded and little visited beaches. And don’t forget about the portuguese youth hostels. They are often very bicycle friendly and usually have excellent staff, who like to bike themselves. These places are cheap and have both dorms and private rooms.

And space for my bicycle in a portuguese hotel room.

And space for my bicycle in a portuguese hotel room.

Finding bicycle shops in Portugal.

 

If you need spare parts for your bike in Portugal, then you will find that almost all major towns will have a well equipped bicycle store, but be ware that smaller villages, usually don’t have a bicycle store. But ask around if you need it urgently, as there might be a bicycle repair shop, even in the small villages. You have quite a few independent bicycle stores around Portugal, that I highly recommend, but as an alternative, you can also look for the sport stores called “Sport Zone” where they always have a well equipped bicycle section. You also have bicycle sections in the Decathlon stores in Portugal.

Cycling near Fatima, in Portugal.

Cycling near Fatima, in Portugal.

What part of Portugal is the best for tour cycling?

Cycling in Alentejo is fantastic.

Cycling in Alentejo is fantastic.

Having cycled quite a bit in both north, south and central Portugal, I will have to say that my favorite region for tour cycling in Portugal is Alentejo. Sometimes people ask me if there is anything to see in Alentejo, because they have never really heard of places to see there, but I can assure you that there is plenty to see and the roads are nice and mostly quiet and Alentejo is by far the least populated part of Portugal, when compared to size. Because it is fairly unknown as a tourist destination, some of the really nice places there are surprisingly un touristy. Mertola is a great example of that for instance. It’s not that I don’t like the other parts of Portugal, it’s just that I think Alentejo is slightly better for tour cycling, In fact, Alentejo is one of the best places in the world for tour cycling if you ask me. but don’t miss out on the rest of the country. The area up around Aveiro and Coimbra is really nice for tour cycling too for instance.

Cycling near Aveiro.

Cycling near Aveiro.

What time of year is the best for tour cycling in Portugal?

Spring cycling near Estoril.

Spring cycling near Estoril.

If you are free to chose what time of year you want to go tour cycling in Portugal, then chose either spring or fall. This is when you have mostly nice weather, but not as steaming hot as you can get it in places like Algarve and Alentejo and the summer can be crowded with tourists too in many places, driving accommodation prices up. Winter is doable, as long as you are ready to put up with wind and rain every now and then. Portuguese weather is in general more unpredictable than the weather in other southern european countries, because it’s located by the Atlantic Ocean and not by the Mediterranean sea and you will see that during winter months in particular.

 

My final conclusion about tour cycling in Portugal.

As a whole, Portugal is a really nice country for tour cycling, with locals who are friendly to cycling tourists and a country where you can get by easily, even if you speak no portuguese, as most younger people there tend to be at least bilingual. Be ware that when you are close to the coast, then it can be quite windy in Portugal and the most common wind direction depends a little on what part of the country you are, so be prepared for a little wind in your face from time to time. But as a whole, Portugal is a great country to go cycling.

My bicycle leaning up against a cork oak.

My bicycle leaning up against a cork oak.

Claus.

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7 Comments

  1. Your pictures and comments were very helpful, thanks alot. I will place Portugal on list of countries to visit by bike.

  2. Great post! Adding it to my list of travel resources in Portugal. I love bicycling, but, unfortunately, since we started our perpetual travel around the world, two bags is all we carry around. That means that we switched to hiking.

    I can attest that Portugal is beautiful in spring: not too hot, not too many rainy days; basically, perfect for any physical activity. Beware though that higher elevations could be 10-15 degrees colder with some strong winds, so layers of clothing are necessary.

  3. Excellent summary and I would agree with all the main points – including the Alentejo probably being the best area for cycling. The eastern Beira region (to the north) is also excellent and even quieter (with some fabulous ruined castles) but can be a bit cooler and harder to get to.
    If you want more detail on Portugal’s different regions, ideas for routes, guided tours etc, can I suggest the Pedal Portugal website!

  4. No doubt, Portugal is the great place for cycling. But I hadn’t much idea about cycling in Portugal. After reading your post, I get enough idea about Portugal. My desire is, I will go to Portugal for cycling. Portugal is really nice place for cycling.

  5. Have you used trains or buses for inter city transportation with your bike in Portugal? Our group is flying into Lisbon, but wanting to start cycling from Evora, not Lisbon. We are finding conflicting information regarding being able to take our bikes (in boxes) on buses & trains. Our bikes are not foldable, so would be in larger bike boxes.

    • Hi’ Tanya. I don’t think you will be able to bring them on trains, as I have never seen any area on the trains that can fit bikes. Bur on busses should be ok, I would think, as long as the bikes are in boxes. But if you are a group traveling together,, then it’s maybe a good idea to email the bus company in advance and ask. Being a group, I suppose that you are reserving your bus tickets in advance anyway. Have a nice trip to Portugal.

  6. Thanks for the information. I’ve been thinking about riding in Portugal and your article helps motivate me to do it.

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