Your Quick Guide to Cycling Holidays in Portugal
We know many people don’t like change. I see many cyclists return to the same cycling holiday destination year after year, as is the case with say Mallorca.
However, other cyclists love to go out a discover new cycling gems. It’s good to get out of your comfort zone, especially if you can discover and explore new amazing new cycling holiday destinations.
If that’s you, then you’ll want to stick around and check out this short guide about cycling holidays in Portugal.
Portugal is already a well-known active travel destination, but mainly amongst golfers, surfers and hikers.
But it’s becoming increasingly popular with road cyclists. The locals have picked up on this trend and are offering many services to cyclists including premium bike rentals, cycling cafés and guided tours. Even many Pro teams now head to Portugal for their training camps.
But there is more. I’m convinced it has the potential to be Europe’s next hot cycling destination.
What Cycling in Portugal Can Offer You
I could go on! But if you ask me if Portugal can be the next hot cycling holiday destination in Europe, then I would say yes!
I’ve lived in Portugal for many years, and I have a lot of love for the country and its people. So, you could argue that my opinion is a bit biased.
So, don’t just take it from me. Instead, have a look at this little teaser review from a cycling club from the UK that had to say about their cycling holiday in Portugal experience.
The Best Cycling Regions in Portugal
The truth is, all of Portugal is great for road cycling, and ticks most, if not all the boxes mentioned above. Despite being a relatively small country, there is huge diversity in scenery, architecture and gastronomy.
If you’re a mountain goat, perhaps Portugal isn’t the right choice for you. Although there are many challenging climbs, generally speaking, it’s fairly flat with rolling hills.
To not overwhelm you with choices, I will focus on three main regions of Portugal which I think you should consider for your self-guided cycling holidays in Portugal. These are regions that are easily accessible from the main International Airports of Faro, Lisbon or Porto.
Oh yes, you read the bike hotel bit right. Hotels in Portugal have picked up on the fact that Portugal is becoming increasing more popular amongst cyclists and have started to cater to them.
These bike hotels offer on-site services for cyclists including secure bike storage at the hotel and you have the local support you need may have any mechanical issues with your bike, cycling route suggestions, or anything else.
I mention my favourite bike hotels in each of the regions below.
Cycling in The Algarve
The Algarve is the most southern region of Portugal and is a popular beach, golf, and sun holiday destination. The Algarve is best reached by its own International Airport in Faro (FAO).
Despite being the most touristic region of Portugal, you can easily access more rural areas by heading slightly inland. This is where time has almost stood still, and where you’ll find some of the best cycling in the Algarve.
The highest point of the Algarve is Fóia, which is the summit of the Serra da Monchique, at 902 metres above sea level.
If you’d like to get an idea of what the Algarve has to offer to cyclists, then download a FREE PDF of cycling routes in the Algarve by clicking here. It doesn’t contain hardcore road cycling routes but it will at least give you a good impression of how the region is preparing for the arrival of cyclists.
This a great destination to combine with a family holiday. With so much to do, the non-cyclists in your group can enjoy their Active Holidays in the Algarve.
Sights: Cycling In The Algarve
Recommended Algarve Bike Hotels - Portugal
Cycling near Lisbon
Head towards the towns of Cascais and Sintra. These are located by the coast of Portugal’s capital, Lisbon. Cascais and Sintra are easily accessed from Lisbon’s International Airport (LIS) in just a 30-minute drive.
I would recommend staying in Quinta da Marinha, near Cascais. Here you’ll find some great bike-friendly hotels, which I have recommended below.
From here you’ll have access to some great cycling routes. You can head up along the coast on the Guincho road, probably the most cycled route in this area. It’s very well maintained with cycling lanes and breath-taking sea-views.
You can pick routes along the coast up towards picturesque towns like Azenhas do Mar and the famous surf spot of Ericeira. Or head inland and discover the lush Sintra national park where you can cycle past the beautiful Palácio de Pena. Although the highest point in Sintra is only 529 metres, there are numerous routes with some good gradients.
This is a great destination for a short cycling break or can even be combined with a cultural trip to Lisbon, which you should not miss.
Sights: Cycling In Cascais & Sintra
Recommended Cascais Bike Hotels - Portugal
Cycling in Central Portugal
The areas near the cities of Coimbra and Covilhã are also highly recommended for road cycling.
The Coimbra area offers great cycling routes in the Serra da Lousã passing by picturesque little towns including Piódão.
If you’re a mountain goat you will probably want to stay closer to Covilhã. From here you’ll have access to the Serra da Estrela, the highest mountain in Portugal with its summit at 1993 metres.
Both areas of Coimbra and Covilhã can be accessed from either Lisbon Airport (LIS) or Porto Airport (OPO) in under 2 hours drive.
Below are two bike-friendly hotels near Coimbra that I can highly recommend.
Sights: Cycling In Coimbra & Covilhã
Recommended Coimbra Bike Hotels - Portugal
Cycling in Portugal FAQ’s
Like most Southern European destinations, the best time for cycling holidays in Portugal is in Spring and Autumn. July and August can get hot and the roads have higher traffic density. The winters are generally very mild, but have higher chances of rain.
People are always pleasantly surprised at how smooth the roads are in Portugal. Thanks EU!
Portugal won’t offer you climbs like in say the Dolomites. Here you’ll find mainly flat routes with rolling hills. However, there are still a number of challenging climbs in Portugal’s main cycling regions.
Yes! With the growing demand for cycling in Portugal, local bike suppliers are continuosly expanding their fleet. Book in advance for specific models and larger frames!
Despite Portugal not being an established cycling destination, the feedback I’ve received is that drivers are very respectful of cyclists. That is also my own experience, too.
This depends on the time of the year and if you plan to up in to the mountains. Download a cycling holiday packing by clicking here.
If you plan to have the occasional day or afternoon off from riding, I would definitely recommend renting a car in Portugal. It’s great to visit points of interest you didn’t reach by bike plus it’s the best way to get to and from the airport.
Yes! You generally won’t find hotels with bike centres like you do in established cycling destinations. However, many hotels are bike-friendly and will store bikes free of charge.
I would always recommend eating out. Not only is Portuguese cuisine amazing, but it’s also cheap. Plus you’ll have a more local and authentic experience. Check out some of my favourite dishes below.
I’m a bit of a foodie and if you ask me, Portugal is worth visiting for the food alone.
I always recommend people to eat out. Heading out again in the evenings after a long ride may be tough, but you won’t regret it!
Have a look at just some of my favourite Portuguese dishes.
Still haven’t found what you’re looking for?
Perhaps you’re looking for something a bit more extreme. Something long-distance. Something without being based in the same region during your cycling holidays.
Well then you’ll want to consider Portugal’s very own Route 66 – the N2 cycling route. It runs from the very North to the very South of Portugal.
Find out more about the N2 cycling route by clicking here.
Be a trend setter then come and join the new wave of cyclists who have discovered this hot new cycling gem!
I’ve been helping individuals as well as groups put together personalised packages for their cycling holidays in Portugal! This can include bike-friendly hotels, premium road bike rentals, airport transfers, route suggestions and more.
Would you like some help or ideas for your self-guided cycling holiday in Portugal?
Reach out to me below and let’s talk!