Bicycling the Alentejo Plus! Costa Vicentina
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, delicately framed by stunning beaches and endless blue sky. 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
- Rugged coastline, surfing and the continent's most southwestern point
***If this sounds like a great tour but you don't have enough time to do the entire ride check our Cycling the Alentejo tour which includes the first 8-days of this itinerary.***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 Estalagem de Monsaraz
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 Estalagem de Monsaraz
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: Hotel Monte das Faias
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: 79km (49 miles). Meals: B, D
Lodging: Hotel Monte das Faias
Day 8: Rural hotel
Highlights: Bicycling through lovely countryside
Of all Portugal's regions, the Alentejo is both the largest geographically and the least populated, as you'll discover as you cover long, scenic stretches of peaceful road between towns. Rolling wheat fields, scrubby cork trees, and the occasional flocks of sheep accompany you as a breeze cools your skin and your cadence settles into the comfortable rhythm of a wide-open ride. Tonight you'll stay at a beautiful hotel between central Alentejo and the Atlantic coast.
Distance: 70-85km (43-52 miles). Meals: B, D
Lodging: Hotel Dom Vasco
Day 9: Bicycle the coast of Portugal
Highlights: Costa Vicentina National Park
Coastal hills separate the central Alentejo from the North Atlantic Ocean, and you'll pedal through this rugged area today. A majority of this remote area, including its beautiful beaches and sheer cliffs, is designated as Costa Vicentina National Park, so there are just a few roads that take you to the coast. Fortunately there are plenty of options to walk on footpaths just a few kilometers to gorgeous secluded beaches. Or wait and hit the hotel pool, or take the short walk from the hotel to the ocean.
Distance: 55-65km (34-40 miles). Meals: B, D
Lodging: Herdade do Touril
Day 10: Bicycle the Costa Vicentina National Park
Highlights: Beaches, sand dunes, and surfers
Despite the attention given the Algarve in southern Portugal, many surfers would argue that the Costa Vicentina boasts some of the best surfing in Europe - and one of the most beautiful beaches on earth. Today you'll ride south, weaving across the main road, through little farm villages and larger towns, en route to the hotel, which is nestled in a valley just 10 minutes walk from the beach. There's plenty of time today to swim, walk the sandy beach, and simply enjoy the beautiful Atlantic coastline.
Distance: 61km (38 miles). Meals: B, D
Lodging: Aldeia Pedralva
Day 11: Bicycle to the "end of the world"
Highlights: Cabo San Vicente lighthouse, Sagres fortress, bicycle Algarve
A short ride today allows for plenty of time for one last walk on the beach, or an extra-leisurely ride to Cabo San Vicente - the famed "end of the world," when the world was thought to be flat. Europe's most southwestern point still features a lighthouse and a fortress. From there, it's just a few kilometers to the town of Sagres, the final destination of your cycling adventure in Portugal. Celebrate the spirit of the Alentejo and the Algarve with a lively group dinner and a restful night in another luxurious Pousada hotel, built on Sagres' promontory with a memorable view of the fortress and the beach.
Distance: 34km (21 miles). Meals: B, D
Lodging: Pousada de Sagres - Infante
Day 12: Algarve
Highlights: Tour ends
Stick around and enjoy another day (or two) at the beach, or if you must head home we wish you boa viagem! We'll offer a shuttle (approx 3 hrs) to Lisbon this morning for anyone flying out or heading back to the capitol. Expect to be at the airport by 1:00 p.m. and in the center of town shortly after that.
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 Arraiolos, Costa Vincentina National Park, Algarve, Bicycle to the "end of the world"Keep 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; 11 nights' accommodation; 11 breakfasts, 9 dinners with wine; shuttle from and back to Lisbon; 2 wine and one olive oil tasting; 2 or 3 bilingual tour leaders; van support plus "The Usual""The Usual" (Included with every ExperiencePlus! tour)
Begin/EndElvas / Algarve
Arrive/DepartLisbon, Portugal - Lisbon Portela Airport (LIS)
Total Distance601 - 626km (371 - 386 miles)
Daily DistanceAverage per riding day 55 - 57km (34 - 35 miles)
Rating201-301 Gently rolling hills, some longer days but with minimal elevation gain. 3 days have shorter steep climbs.
TermsTerms & Conditions
Dates Price Single Supplement Notes Apr 18-29, 2015 $4650 $650 Space Running Out Book it Sep 22-Oct 3, 2015 $4650 $650 One Space Available. Join this welcoming group of cycling friends. Book it Oct 6-17, 2015 $4650 $650 Sold Out. Wait List Available Book it
* 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.