Explorer: Cycling the Algarve

Explorer: Cycling the Algarve

A paved and dirt bicycling adventure through the southernmost coastal region of Portugal, the Algarve. You will begin in Castro Marim as you pedal towards the lively, small city of Lagos, with an expansive marina filled with gorgeous yachts, numerous restaurants to choose from and a bustling shopping area. Along the way you will cycle past ocher cliffs, citrus groves, sleepy beach towns and experience the warm culture of the Algarve. Ride through valleys filled with dense cushions of Mediterranean vegetation defined by their rocky surroundings, and along clear water streams. Explore the Natural Park of Ria Formosa, a lagoon system that extends over 60 km (37 miles) of the coastline and is home to hundreds of bird species. Discover the lovely Moorish town of Silves and the cliff site of Ponta da Piedade in Lagos. Join us to cycle under sunny skies, and over a variety of paved and dirt terrain as you explore sandy shores as far as the eyes can see, soaring cliffs, whitewashed fishing villages, and a true taste of the warm Mediterranean culture. Learn more about what is included and what to expect on your Explorer tour at the Explorer Tour Style page.

Tour Dates & Prices

Date
Price
Private Room Fee
Note
May 2-8, 2021
USD$2595
USD$450
Book Now and Save $200 per person.
Oct 9-15, 2021
USD$2595
USD$450
 Book Now 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 private room charge. This charge will be collected at the time of the final payment. If a roommate assignment is available it will be refunded at the conclusion of the tour.

Tour Style: Explorer Book This Trip Now Hold-A-Space/Questions Request Custom Date Download Itinerary Tour Map
  • Trip At-A-Glance
  • Tour Summary
  • Daily Itinerary
  • Travel Information
  • Map
  • Reviews
Trip At-A-Glance

Trip At-A-Glance

  • Length / 7 Days
  • Total Distance / 228 km (141 miles)
  • Avg. Distance / 46 km (28 miles) per riding day
  • Tour Level & Tour Style / 2.5 Explorer
  • Countries / Portugal
  • Begin/End / Castro Marim / Lagos
  • Price / From USD$2595
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Tour Summary

Tour Summary

  • Highlights
    Ria Formosa - a wild Paradise, old cities, typical villages, beautiful beaches of Algarve, rural roads, Lagos and its beautiful cliffs and picture perfect views, Moorish-style architecture, Mediterranean nature and ocean landscapes

    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.

    This tour spends time on and off paved roads so support van and aid may not always be readily available. You will have the option to pedal with a guide or pedal on your own, but please be aware that if you are cycling on your own we recommend you are comfortable cycling in remote areas. Learn more about what is included and what to expect on your Explorer tour at the Explorer Tour Style page.
  • Includes
    7 days, 6 night's accommodation, meals as noted in itinerary, GPS with tracks, support vehicle and 2 bilingual tour leaders

    Learn more about what is included and what to expect on your Explorer tour at the Explorer Tour Style page.
  • Arrive / Depart
    Faro (FAO) or Lisbon (LIS)
  • Overall Tour Level
    2.5 difficulty level 2.5

    Consider that around 50% of the ride will be on dirt paths and roads sometimes with rocky or rough terrain. Your pace will be slower and the perceived effort will be greater than when you are on pavement.

  • Daily Ride Summary

    Day

    Distance/Gain
    mi/ftkm/m

    Terrain

    Day Level

    Notes

    1
    Test ride
    2
    29km / 158m
    Mostly flat
    difficulty level 1.0
    3
    53km / 700m
    Rolling hills
    difficulty level 2.5
    4
    44km / 597m
    Hilly
    difficulty level 3.0
    5
    54km / 582m
    Hilly
    difficulty level 3.0
    6
    48km / 581m
    Rolling hills
    difficulty level 2.5
    7
    Last day

Terrain Legend

Gentle Gentle

Rolling hills Rolling hills

Hilly Hilly

Very hilly Very hilly

Mountainous Mountainous

Daily Itinerary
Download Itinerary

DAY 1: Arrive in Castro Marim

Highlights: Start on the border between Spain and Portugal

Castro Marim is an ancient city with evidence of a Stone Age settlement dating to 5,000 B.C. The Romans, Phoenicians, and Moors have all left their mark here. Sadly many of the historic buildings were destroyed in the massive 1755 earthquake. The Castro Marim Nature reserve and nearby Reserva Natural do Sapal saltpans and marshland make for a unique ecological habitat particularly attractive to flamingos and other water birds. The Spanish village of Ayamonte just across the river, salt industry, fishing community and tourism all contribute to the interesting variety of interests ripe for discovery. We'll fit bikes and do a test ride this afternoon.

  • Meals: Dinner

DAY 2: Castro Marim to Tavira

Highlights: Bird Watching and Medieval Tavira

The ride to Tavira will take you through salt marshes, orchards, and you might even spot your first cork trees. Once in Tavira, we recommend taking some time to explore the architectural heritage which reflects Roman, Arab and Christian influences. Enjoy a relaxing day strolling cobbled streets, and check out some of the 22 churches in this town layered with Portuguese history. (If you only have time for one, visit the church of Santa Maria do Castelo, which was built in the 13th century on the site of what was probably one of the largest Moorish mosques in the Algarve.)  

  • Distance: 29km (18mi)
  • Gain: 158m (518ft)
  • Terrain: Mostly flat
  • Day Level: difficulty level 1.0
  • Meals: Breakfast

DAY 3: From Tavira to Sao Bras de Alportel

Highlights: Ria Formosa, The fruits of Algarve

 Today's ride from Tavira along the incredible Ria Formosa, one of the most beautiful natural parks in Portugal. This is an absolute paradise for birdwatchers and part of the Natura 2000 Network. Breathtaking coastal views will be another of many highlights on today's ride. As you approach the destination, you will cycle inland and ride past orchards and typical villages of the region. Keep your eyes (and nose!) peeled for vast areas of orange trees along the way. Our destination is São Brás de Alportel, which was once the biggest cork producing centers in Portugal.

  • Distance: 53km (33mi)
  • Gain: 700m (2296ft)
  • Terrain: Rolling hills
  • Day Level: difficulty level 2.5
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 4: From São Bras de Alportel to Alte

Highlights: Algarve Mountains and Alte

Today's ride is challenging and well worth the effort as the scenery is even more breathtaking than the climbs as you cycle north through rolling hills close to the Algarve mountain range. A mixture of roads and trails will take you through lush green fields. The cycling is fresh with Mediterranean flora and fauna that will invigorate both your lungs and spirit. Our destination is the lovely hillside village of Alte, which is famous for its artisans, whitewashed houses and freshwater springs. The presence of water year-round in an otherwise arid region adds to the unique charm of this town.

DAY 5: Alte to Silves

Highlights: Cork tree forests, Silves

Today you’ll cycle along dirt roads and paths winding through green valleys as you head towards Arade Dam. This has to be a contender for one of the most beautiful rides ever. You'll wind your way along a reservoir and then enter a forest of cork-oak trees, and then gently cruise down the valley towards your destination, Silves. This town has a fascinating history as it was the former capital of the Kingdom of the Algarve. Take a stroll and explore the Silves castle and the Moorish architectural sites.

Road Surface: 80% gravel, 20% paved.

  • Distance: 54km (34mi)
  • Gain: 582m (1909ft)
  • Terrain: Hilly
  • Day Level: difficulty level 3.0
  • Meals: Breakfast

DAY 6: Silves to Lagos

Highlights: Beaches, Lagos

Today's ride is rewarded with great views of the Atlantic! The journey continues along the Odelouca River, enjoy this rural area and typical Portuguese villages like Odiáxere which you'll pass along the way. The path leads you to the Atlantic Ocean and an incredible beach wrapped around one of Europe's largest bays. This golden-sand beach is called "Meia Praia" (which translates to "half beach"), funny enough because it's actually one of the longest beaches of the Algarve and is renowned for its spaciousness and tranquility. After enjoying the coast, you will cycle to our final destination, the cosmopolitan city of Lagos. We'll have a special dinner tonight to celebrate our journey.

Road Surface: 35% gravel, 65% paved.

  • Distance: 48km (30mi)
  • Gain: 581m (1906ft)
  • Terrain: Rolling hills
  • Day Level: difficulty level 2.5
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 7: Tour ends - safe travels!

Highlights: Lagos

Lagos is well-connected to Faro, Lisbon, or other destinations so take an extra day or two to explore. The Ponta de Piedade cliffs and lighthouse are certainly worth a visit and the city has a variety of wonderful restaurants to tempt you. Whatever you decide enjoy!

  • Meals: Breakfast
Travel Information

Travel Information

Day 1: Arrival Information

Arrive in Castro Marim

Note: As you are planning, remember that the hotels listed in our itineraries are our primary hotels and are - in rare cases - subject to change. Before you make arrangements, check with us if your tour departure is guaranteed. If your tour departure is out further than 6 months, please also check with us as there might be slight changes to the itinerary. The below information will help you plan your arrival. For more tips or other routes, you might like Rome2Rio. The fare and timing information listed below is approximate. We recommend flying into Faro airport. From Faro you can take a train to Vila Real and then a taxi ride to Castro Marim. For more travel planning tips, including our packing lists, visit our Travel Planning Pages.

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.

This tour spends time on and off paved roads so support van and aid may not always be readily available. You will have the option to pedal with a guide or pedal on your own, but please be aware that if you are cycling on your own we recommend you are comfortable cycling in remote areas. Learn more about what is included and what to expect on your Explorer tour at the Explorer Tour Style page.

Pre-Trip Planning Checklist

To Do Today!

3–6 Months Prior to Departure

  • Reserve your flights after you know you have a confirmed tour departure. Please check with our office if you do not know if your trip is confirmed. As you make your plans refer to the Getting To and Away sent to you in your booking confirmation email it provides meeting times and the starting and ending hotels and shuttle information when applicable.
  • Book your pre and post-tour hotel nights. Please refer to the Getting To and Away sheet you received in your Reservation Confirmation Email.
  • 12 weeks before your tour begin your training program www.experienceplus.com/training.
  • Final payment is due 90 days prior to the tour start. Please refer to your Deposit Payment Invoice and the Final Payment Reminder e-mail you have received for detailed instructions.

6 Weeks–2 Weeks Prior to Departure

Day of Your Flight

Get as much sleep on the plane as you can. Pack your Getting To and Away information and one day of cycling gear in your carry-on. See you soon!

What to Expect on Tour

Explorer Tour Style

Learn more about what is included and what to expect on your Explorer tour at the Explorer page.

Map

Map

Reviews

Reviews

Awards, Memberships and Reviews