It is no surprise that Portugal has become one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe. With its enviable climate, azure seas, delicious food and friendly locals it really has everything you need for a relaxing and stimulating cycling holiday.
Whether you have a long weekend or several weeks to spend, you will never be short of things to do. Situated on the south western extreme of the European mainland on the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal enjoys a long Atlantic coastline and Mediterranean climate, making it an ideal choice for beach breaks and leisurely cycling. Despite its relatively small size, Portugal is a country of great diversity offering visitors a huge range of activities and landscapes to explore.
The Capital City
Most people arriving in Portugal by air will fly into Lisbon, the country’s cosmopolitan capital. Lisbon is a vibrant city which effortlessly combines modern conveniences with traditional charm. Built on the Tejo River, you will see white-walled buildings with distinctive terracotta roofs juxtaposed with the looming, modern skyscrapers. It is this combination that helps make Lisbon one of the most strikingly beautiful cities in Europe.
Lisbon enjoys an efficient and modern public transport system and, combined with the relatively compact nature of the city, this makes it really easy for visitors to get around. There is a fast and well-maintained metro system which covers almost anywhere in the city you will want to go as well as a reliable network of trams, buses and trains.
If you only have a few days to explore the city then a good place to start is the hop-on-hop-off city tour. However, don’t buy a ticket, just follow it on your bike and see the City at length.
No visit to Lisbon is complete without taking in the panoramic views from St. George’s Castle. Built atop the highest of Lisbon’s seven hills, the castle provides an interesting insight into the country’s history. Located in the Alfama area, the castle itself dates back to the Moorish occupation of the region although much of it was destroyed in the earthquake of 1755.
Portugal’s most popular holiday destination is the stunning Algarve region, famous for its pristine golf courses, warm blue sea and stunning beaches. If you want to get away from it all and just relax with friends or family then head for the Algarve. Your visit can be as active or as relaxing as you wish and due to the highly developed tourist industry here it’s a great place to take children as you will find kids clubs and crèches in almost all the main resort towns, letting you take some valuable time out for yourself.
Taking at least one or two days to go beyond the beaches and restaurants is highly recommend and will really help you make a lasting connection with the region and its people. Most hotels can arrange all sorts of day trips and activities and a great way to explore the region is by bike, heading off to explore independently. The traditional architecture and winding, cobbled streets of the Algarve villages provides a wonderful setting to discover. Chat to the locals and really get to understand the culture of this fascinating region.
Cycling Holidays in the Portuguese Countryside
Beyond the main tourist centres of Lisbon and the Algarve, the rest of the country has a lot to offer visitors prepared to make the journey. Sintra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site is an incredibly beautiful town situated among wooded hillsides and housing the former summer residence of the Portuguese royalty. Or why not take a trip to Coimbra, home of Portugal’s oldest and most prestigious university? Steeped in culture and tradition this beautiful medieval town contrasts historic churches with a vibrant, modern student scene.
Portugal’s only national park, Peneda-Gerês, is definitely worth a visit. Comprising 170,000 acres of imposing mountain landscapes and traditional stone villages, the park is a paradise for outdoor adventure enthusiasts. Hiking, climbing, mountain biking and so much more are on offer here making this region well worth the trip for anyone whose idea of a great holiday is getting the adrenalin pumping.
Throughout Portugal you will find a great range of accommodation to suit every budget and holiday. If you are planning a short city break then there is a great range of hip hotels to choose from in Lisbon, most of which can help organise trips and excursions within the city or further afield. For those heading to the Algarve or any of Portugal’s other fabulous beach resorts, you will be truly spoilt for choice in accommodation. From huge hotel complexes right on the beach to cosy, self-catering apartments, ideal for families, you will find something to suit you. Search online before you go as most accommodation options now offer online booking and often discounts can be found this way.