Bicycling the Alentejo
Explore Portugal's south-central lands and west coast with undulating wheat fields, cork and eucalyptus trees, olive orchards and vineyards. As the western outpost of continental Europe, this region harmonizes centuries of ancient, Roman, Arabic, Medieval and Renaissance influences. Highlights include:
- Beautiful, serene historic hotels-including one that's also a cooking school!
- Roman ruins, rural paradise and one of the most ancient towns in Europe
- Alqueva reservoir, one of the world's best places for stargazing
- Artisan centers of pottery, tapestry, winemaking and marble work
***Extend this trip by 4 days and with our Cycling the Alentejo Plus! Costa Vicentina tour.***View Day-by-Day ItineraryHide Day-by-Day Itinerary
Day 1: Meet in Lisbon, Shuttle to Elvas
Highlights: Elvas and its medieval walls
After arriving in Lisbon, you'll take our mid-morning shuttle east to Elvas, a fortified city just a stone's through from the Spanish border. After lunch, you'll meet your fellow riders, the tour leaders will fit bicycles, and lead a safety briefing, then it's off on a short loop ride around Elvas' impressive Roman Aqueduct, its well preserved 16th century walls, and its other fortifications. Tonight's hotel is built into the city's walls, and has a beautiful pool-a great spot to relax before or after your sumptuous welcome dinner.
Distance: 20km (12 miles). Meals: D
Lodging: Hotel Sao Joao de Deus
Day 2: Bicycle to Vila Vicosa
Highlights: Marble museum, historic hotel
Consider today's short ride down to the river a warm-up for the excitement of the days ahead! You'll pedal with views into Spain before turning west, riding toward Vila Vicosa through wheat fields and olive orchard dotted with cork-oak trees. This semi-arid region is one of the country's least populated, and is known for its agricultural production, though today's short climb ends at a town famed for its marble. The beautiful rose-colored Vila Vicosa marble can be seen everywhere in town-including the street pavers! You'll learn about its properties, history and the process of extraction on your guided tour of the marble museum and inactive quarry. This afternoon, you can log extra mileage, or give yourself in to poolside relaxation at your historic Pousada hotel, once a 16th-century convent.
Distance: 30km (18 miles). Meals: B, D
Lodging: Pousada de Vila Vicosa
Day 3: Bicycle to Monsaraz
Highlights: Alqueva reservoir, castles and fortified town of Monsaraz
Departing the rose-colored city, today's ride takes you south to the castle town of Monsaraz, which overlooks the Alqueva reservoir. The largest reservoir in Europe, this body of water straddles the Spanish-Portuguese border, and was designated in 2012 as one of the first Starlight Tourism Destinations for its ideal star-gazing conditions and exceptionally low light pollution. Enjoy dinner together tonight, then bask in the inky night sky.
Distance: 65km (40 miles). Meals: B, D
Lodging: Hotel Estalagem de Monsaraz
Day 4: Bicycle to Evora
Highlights: Ceramic town, medieval Evora
Today's ride to Evora includes a pleasant stop in São Pedro do Corval, a well-known pottery town where you'll have the opportunity to browse several workshops and visit with the artists who run them. Upon your arrival in beautiful Evora, notice how its Roman aqueducts and ruins blend with the Medieval walls and Renaissance churches. Inhabited for more than 2000 years, Evora is on the roster of most ancient towns in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You'll spend two-nights here which will allow you to take in some of its most notable sights.
Distance: 65km (40 miles). Meals: B
Lodging: Hotel E'vora
Day 5: Evora - rest day or optional ride
Highlights: Visit Evora, or take a loop ride to Arraiolos
Following a guided walk through the old part of Evora, you can take an optional loop ride, along the towering aqueduct and serene bike path, to the famous town of Arraiolos. Though it is mostly known for its tapestries and the recently opened tapestry museum Arraiolos' quiet streets invite you to stroll. This evening you'll enjoy a private wine-tasting and visit to a local winery with the group.
Distance: 58km (36 miles). Meals: B
Lodging: Hotel E'vora
Day 6: Bicycle Evora to Central Alentejo
Highlights: Rolling hills of the Alentejo, olive oil and wine tasting
As you leave the city you'll pass through several small towns and the ancient castles that safeguarded them during the 13th century. Your destination for tonight offers the opportunity to explore the nearly empty Castelo de Portel and take in the view of the town's white, tile-roofed buildings. Tonight's hotel is also a cooking school so prepare yourself for a variety of gastronomic experiences beginning with an olive oil and wine tasting before indulging in some Alentejo acorda, the region's typical peasant dish, and other delicacies presented by the restaurant.
Distance: 64km (40 miles). Meals: B, D
Lodging: Refugio da Vila
Day 7: Bicycle to Beja
Highlights: Quiet roads, lakes, sheep, and white-washed villages
As the hills gradually become gentler south of Portel toward Beja, you start to see more vineyards and larger plots agricultural land. The second-largest town in the Alentejo, Beja is a Roman-built town featuring a Medieval castle. Despite being the region's economic hub, Beja is best known in European history for the Five Love Letters of a Portuguese Nun, a scandalous love affair between a nun from the local convent and a French count. Tonight's Pousada hotel is another restored convent which was also once used to house army officers during WWII. Can you tell which room they used as a gym?
Distance: 79m (49 miles). Meals: B, D
Lodging: Pousada de Beja
Day 8: Tour Ends
Highlights: Transfer to Lisbon or stick around and enjoy Beja
Your bicycling adventure ends today. Whether you have connecting plans out of Beja, or plan to take the 2-hour ExperiencePlus! shuttle back to Lisbon (schedule flights after 2:00P.M.). Boa viagem!
HighlightsRoman cities, Undiscovered roads, Olive oil and wine tastings, Portugal's historic Pousada luxury hotels, Marble museum, Star-gazing, The ceramics of São Pedro do Corval, Medieval town of Evora, Tapestries of ArraiolosKeep in Mind: We work hard to maintain consistency across all of our tours, but some trips have unique differences. Here are some things to keep in mind about this tour.
IncludesUse of a quality 27-30 speed bicycle; 7 nights' accommodation; 7 breakfasts, 5 dinners with wine; shuttle to and from Lisbon; 2 wine and 1 olive oil tasting; two to three bilingual tour leaders; van support plus "The Usual""The Usual" (Included with every ExperiencePlus! tour)
Begin/EndElvas / Beja
Arrive/DepartLisbon, Portugal - Lisbon Portela Airport (LIS).
Total Distance323 - 381km (200 - 235 miles)
Daily DistanceAverage 54km (34 miles) per riding day
Rating201 Flat and gently rolling hills with 30 - 40 mile days. Two short steep climbs on two days.
TermsTerms & Conditions
Dates Price Single Supplement Notes Apr 18-25, 2015 $3595 $550
Confirmed.Book by November 15th and Save $200, per person.
Book it Oct 6-13, 2015 $3595 $550
Confirmed. Call for availabilityBook by November 15th and Save $200, per person.
* We are happy to match solo travelers who would like to share a room with someone of the same gender. If no match exists, due to hotel pricing, we will charge 50% of the single supplement rate. This fee will be collected at the time of the final payment. If a roommate assignment is available this fee will be refunded at the conclusion of the tour.