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 Tavira as you pedal towards Cabo de São Vicente, also known as the end of the world. 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 or 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 3-10, 2020
USD$2695
USD$450
Space Running Out
Sep 24-Oct 1, 2020
USD$2695
USD$450
Two more to guarantee.

* 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
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Trip At-A-Glance

Trip At-A-Glance

  • Length / 8 Days
  • Total Distance / 255km (158 miles)
  • Avg. Distance / 51km (32 miles) per riding day
  • Tour Level & Tour Style / 2.5 Explorer
  • Countries / Portugal
  • Begin/End / Shuttle from Lisbon to Tavira / Shuttle from Sagres to Lisbon
  • Price / From USD$2695
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Tour Summary

Tour Summary

  • Highlights
    Ria Formosa - a wild Paradise, old cities, typical villages, beautiful beaches of Algarve and Lagos, Cape S. Vicente - once known as "the end of the world", 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.

    Learn more about what is included and what to expect on your Explorer tour at the Explorer Tour Style page.
  • Includes
    8 days, 7 night's accommodation, 7 breakfasts, 3 dinners, GPS with tracks, support vehicle and 2 bilingual tour leaders, transfer to and from Lisbon

    Learn more about what is included and what to expect on your Explorer tour at the Explorer Tour Style page.
  • Arrive / Depart
    Lisbon (LIS)
  • Overall Tour Level
  • Daily Ride Summary

    Day

    Distance/Gain
    mi/ftkm/m

    Terrain

    Day Level

    Notes

    1
    Test ride
    2
    34km / 297m
    Mostly flat
    difficulty level 1.0
    3
    61km / 915m
    Hilly
    difficulty level 3.5
    4
    51km / 466m
    Hilly
    difficulty level 2.5
    5
    50km / 459m
    Rolling hills
    difficulty level 2.0
    6
    Rest day
    7
    63km / 651m
    Hilly
    difficulty level 3.0
    8
    Last day

    Tour Level Note: 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.

Terrain Legend

Gently rolling Gently rolling hills

Rolling hills Rolling hills

Hilly Hilly

Very hilly Very hilly

Mountainous Mountainous

Daily Itinerary
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DAY 1: Pick up in Lisbon, Transfer to Tavira

Highlights:  Test ride, birds of Tavira, Medieval Tavira castle

Welcome to Portugal! We'll pick you up at our meeting point before shuttling together to Tavira. 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 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.) We'll celebrate the beginning of our adventure with a special dinner tonight.

DAY 2: Tavira to Olhão

Highlights: Ria Formosa, orange groves

After a delicious breakfast start today's journey in Tavira and ride 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 town of Olhão, you will cycle inland and ride past lush fields and typical villages of the region. Keep your eyes (and nose!) peeled for vast areas of orange trees along the way.

Road Surface: 50% gravel, 50% paved.

  • Distance: 34km (21mi)
  • Gain: 297m (974ft)
  • Terrain: Mostly flat
  • Day Level: difficulty level 1.0
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 3: Olhão to Alte

Highlights: São Brás de Alportel

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. Along the way, visit the town of São Brás de Alportel, which was once the biggest cork producing centers in Portugal. 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 whitewashed houses and freshwater springs. The presence of water year-round in an otherwise arid region adds to the unique charm of this village.

Road Surface: 40% gravel, 60% paved.

  • Distance: 61km (38mi)
  • Gain: 915m (3001ft)
  • Terrain: Hilly
  • Day Level: difficulty level 3.5
  • Meals: Breakfast

DAY 4: 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. We'll top off the day with a fabulous meal overlooking the city's castle.

Road Surface: 80% gravel, 20% paved.

  • Distance: 51km (32mi)
  • Gain: 466m (1528ft)
  • Terrain: Hilly
  • Day Level: difficulty level 2.5
  • Meals: Breakfast

DAY 5: Silves to Lagos

Highlights: Beaches, Lagos, unpack for 2 nights!

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 the cosmopolitan city of Lagos, where we'll spend two nights. Settle in at our hotel and relax as you'll have all day tomorrow to explore town.

Road Surface: 35% gravel, 65% paved.

  • Distance: 50km (31mi)
  • Gain: 459m (1506ft)
  • Terrain: Rolling hills
  • Day Level: difficulty level 2.0
  • Meals: Breakfast

DAY 6: Rest day in Lagos

Highlights: Historic Lagos, Ponta de Piedade cliffs

One of the oldest towns in the Algarve, Lagos is a historic center of the Portuguese age of discoveries and frequent home of Henry the Navigator. Lagos was home to a historic shipyard and at one point in history, the center of the European slave trade. Save some time to walk around downtown and enjoy a meal in one of the cities wonderful restaurants. We'll also suggest a walk to the beautiful Ponta de Piedade cliffs and it's picturesque lighthouse. This headland just south of town is home to some of the most iconic sandstone cliffs off the coast and on a clear day you'll have views of Carvoeiro to the east and Sagres to the west.

  • Meals: Breakfast

DAY 7: Lagos to Sagres

Highlights: Sagres - "the-end-of the world", Cabo de São Vicente

Today you will follow some beautiful trails along the coastline to Ponta da Piedade. The route then heads west and passes through stunning scenery and quaint coastal villages to Sagres. Upon your arrival in Sagres you will be greeted with cliffs and rocks featuring an amazing array of colors. Sagres, " the end of the world" not only has dramatic coastal scenery there is also a fascinating nautical past as you'll see at the Sagres Fortress. Continue a short distance to the edge of Europe, Cabo de São Vicente - the south-westernmost point of continental Europe.

Road Surface: 20% gravel, 80% paved.

  • Distance: 63km (39mi)
  • Gain: 651m (2135ft)
  • Terrain: Hilly
  • Day Level: difficulty level 3.0
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 8: Tour ends - safe travels!

Highlights: transfer to Lisbon

We'll transfer back to Lisbon this morning, a 3 to 4 hour shuttle. We hope you join us again soon to discover more of Portugal's nature trails!

  • Meals: Breakfast
Travel Information

Travel Information

Day 1: Arrival Information

Pick up in Lisbon, Transfer to Tavira

Lodging: Vila Galé Tavira

Your tour starts with a shuttle pick-up on Day 1 (your spot is already reserved on this shuttle):

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 Lisbon Airport. (LIS)

Getting to the Meeting Hotel in Lisbon from the Lisbon Airport

  • Taxi or Uber (25 min/EUR 15-20)
  • or Aerobus (stop Tivoli Theater, right in front of the hotel) (50 min/EUR 3-4)

For more travel planning tips, including our packing lists, visit our Travel Planning Pages.

Day 8: Departure Information

Tour ends - safe travels!

We spend our last night of the tour in Sagres, about 200 miles from Lisbon. If you wish to stay in Sagres, where the tour ends, or head to other locations, note that Sagres is poorly connected by public transportation. The best option is to rent a car and the hotel can assist with this option. Buses are available but seasonal schedules apply and most schedules are restricted to morning hours as opposed to the afternoon. 

The tour ends on the final day with an ExperiencePlus! shuttle drop-off at either 

Shuttle reservations 30 days prior to the tour start are required. Reserve by emailing us. If you can't make the shuttle, you will be responsible for your own transportation.

*Note: Book your flight out of LIS after 4:30 p.m.

What's Included

For a full list of what's included before, during and after your bike tour, visit our What's Included page.

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.

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 right after you booked!

6 to 3 Months Prior to Tour Start Date

  • Check the online itinerary of your trip and review the arrival and departure information under the "Travel Information" tab to see meeting place and time, if a reservation on a complimentary ExperiencePlus! Shuttle (if applicable) is required, and other important information to help you plan your arrival and 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.
  • Book your pre and post-tour hotel nights.
  • Begin your chosen training program.
  • Final payment is due 90 days (120 days for Bike &Barge/Boat tours) prior to the tour start. Please refer to your Invoice and the Final Payment Reminder e-mail you have received for detailed instructions.

6 to 2 Weeks Prior to Tour Start Date

Day of Your Flight

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

What to Expect on Tour

Bicycles

Your bike will be equipped with: a men's or women's saddle, a quick release style seat post adjustment, rear rack and expandable pack, pump, patch kit, spare tube, cable lock, cyclometer, rear lights, a water bottle cage (or two), one water bottle , and a bell. If you would like to bring your own pedals and shoes we recommend doing so—your tour leaders will install them during the bike fitting. We have flat pedals with or without cages available. For safety and hygiene reasons you are responsible for bringing a helmet.

Daysheets

Each day you'll receive a daysheet with information on the day's activities, meals and ride. These also include Tour Leader phone numbers, hotel information and interesting historical and cultural information about sites that you may want to stop and see along the route. Your Tour Leaders will also post daily announcements in the hotel lobby with information about sightseeing in town or restaurant recommendations for dinners on your own as well as important information about breakfast, luggage down and "arrows down" time.

Navigating on Tour

Each day we will provide you with a route map with the day's ride highlighted route. Of course, we also mark the route every day with our signature chalk dust arrows. Our arrows make navigating very easy—you may never need to look at the map! The arrows also allow you to ride at your own pace. There is no need to "keep up" with the group—this is your ride!

But what if it rains? What happens to the arrows? In a light rain, the arrows actually "set up" and become more permanent. In a heavy rain, they do wash away. If that happens, we'll re-group to cycle together for those who want to continue cycling while those who prefer to stay dry can shuttle.

For the tech-loving riders out there we offer the opportunity to download GPS tracks of most tour routes to your personal GPS device using RideWithGPS.com.

Van Support

The van carries luggage and supports cyclists. It also has water, fruit and snacks. Though the van has snacks, we encourage you to stop and enjoy markets and find your own favorite local specialty.

Hotels

We have carefully chosen all of our accommodations for their charm and location. They are typically small, family run hotels that offer you a glimpse into the local culture.

We prefer hotels near interesting sites in the center of town located along the best cycling route in the area. Because many of the hotels are small not all of the rooms will be exactly the same. We keep this in mind and do our best to distribute rooms fairly by the end of the tour. Our itinerary lists our primary hotels. On rare occasions, listed hotels are subject to change.

Meals and Restaurants

Breakfasts: we work hard to arrange complete breakfasts but some hotels still serve continental style breakfasts; cycling is energy intensive so we do recommend you plan for a morning or mid-morning snack on the road at a local café or market.

Water is OK in almost all hotels and in country fountains; if there is a problem, we will advise you.

We'll recommend lunch locations en route and most itineraries include a few group picnics. We limit the number of picnics so you don't feel pressured to be at a certain place in the middle of your ride.

Dinners together are often pre-planned and pre-ordered. We'll ask you prior to your trip if you have special dietary requirements. Preplanned meals allow us to provide a variety of regional specialties and facilitate efficient service. Water, wine and beer are included.

Tipping Your Tour Leader Team

If you feel your tour leader team has demonstrated great expertise and service, common practice within the travel industry is to tip. Tipping is voluntary and greatly appreciated, and gratuity amounts vary widely. Should you decide to leave a tip, as a guideline, we suggest 5% of the tour cost per traveler – this for the entire tour leader team, not each Tour Leader. If you’d like to show your gratitude for your Tour Leaders’ excellent service you can give the tip to any member of the tour leader team, as they share it evenly. In order to avoid social tensions, we encourage you to tip as individuals and not as a group. If you feel your Tour Leaders did not quite meet your expectations, then we would like to know about it. You will also have the opportunity to leave your comments in our evaluation survey which we email to you after your trip.

Photos

By reserving space on tour, you agree that ExperiencePlus! Bicycle Tours may use, re-use and reproduce any images, photos or videos that you send to us, or that are taken by our guides and/or other travelers of you individually or in a group, in any medium, including but not limited to print, electronic media, or Internet, free of charge and without your right to inspection, for promoting and publicizing our travel products and services worldwide. If you do not want us to use any images of you that are taken by us or other participants during the tour, you must inform us or your tour leader in writing at the start of the tour.

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