2020 Explorer: Cycling the Algarve

2020 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.

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Tour Style: Explorer Hold A Space Request Private Departure 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 / 8 Days
  • Total Distance / 255 km (158 miles)
  • Avg. Distance / 52 km (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, meals as noted in itinerary, 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
    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 Level


    Test ride
    53km / 616m
    Rolling hills
    difficulty level 2.0
    44km / 532m
    difficulty level 3.5
    54km / 582m
    difficulty level 3.0
    48km / 581m
    Rolling hills
    difficulty level 2.5
    Rest day
    54km / 616m
    difficulty level 3.0
    Last day

Terrain Legend

Gentle Gentle

Rolling hills Rolling hills

Hilly Hilly

Very hilly Very hilly

Mountainous Mountainous

Daily Itinerary
Download Itinerary

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: 53km (33mi)
  • Gain: 616m (2020ft)
  • Terrain: Rolling hills
  • Day Level: difficulty level 2.0
  • 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: 44km (28mi)
  • Gain: 532m (1745ft)
  • 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.

Road Surface: 80% gravel, 20% paved.

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

DAY 5: 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
  • Lodging:

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: 54km (34mi)
  • Gain: 616m (2020ft)
  • Terrain: Hilly
  • Day Level: difficulty level 3.0
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 8: 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

Pick up in Lisbon, Transfer to Tavira

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


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.

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

  • Refer to your Tour Packet/Itinerary to see step-by-step arrival and departure information for your tour, 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 we send 10 days prior to the due date for detailed instructions.

6 to 2 Weeks Prior to Tour Start Date

  • Start reading one of the books or watching one of the movies from our Reading and Movie Lists: https://www.experienceplus.com/blog/travel-planning/
  • Plan what you are going to pack and start packing! Refer to the Packing Lists on our website at https://www.experienceplus.com/blog/travel-planning/packing/.
  • We'll email you your access code to Digital Daysheets, Hotel Itinerary, Participant Roster, names and contact information of your Tour Leaders, emergency phone numbers, and other important departure information about 2 weeks prior to your tour start date. All this will be provided to you via a feature called Experiences via the RideWithGPS App (tracks available but not necessary for navigation on Classic, Expedition and Bike & Boat tours).

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

Explorer Tour Style

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





  • Sailing the boat, every afternoon relaxing on the boat after biking and swimming, lovely dinners, hearty breakfasts, bee keepers, traditional dinner out, rides through the islands (up and down!), guides, fellow passengers, crew on the boat-- really it was ALL great.

    Cheryl A., Colchester, VT - June 2021

Awards, Memberships and Reviews