An ancient pilgrim path takes you through the quiet hills of the Serra to the amazingly beautiful and rocky south coast of the Algarve. This route for the mountain bike could not be more varied! It follows the paths taken in ancient times by pilgrims who were seeking to honour the relics of St. Vincent. The total distance is 290 km in 6 stages from the Spanish border to the Cape St. Vincent, the most south westerly point of Europe. This is a tour where the landscape is constantly changing. First you cycle through the sparsely populated and unspoilt hinterland, the Serra de Cadeirão and the Serra de Monchique. You will have wonderful views across what looks like a vast sea of hills with the coast in the far distance. The penultimate stage brings you right down to the sea. You will cycle right along the coast with its steep golden cliffs and beautiful beaches. You will also journey through Portugal’s varied history, often coming face to face with evidence of the era of the Discoveries and also of the time of the Moors. You can look forward to a very varied and unforgettable mountainbike cycling holiday!
TOUR PROFILE: The routes are varied, from flat to hilly on well-paved natural paths and MTB trails. In between, there are always steep climbs and descents to master. The outback with the route of the first stages is hardly inhabited and you cycle through the outback.
Individual arrival to Faro. Use the rest of the day for a walk through the city, before you will start the MTB-tour on the next day.
Today you will be transferred to Azinhal on the Spanish border. From there you set off on your bike and ride down to the Guadiana river which forms the border at this point. Your tour takes you along a beautiful bank by this impressive river and then into the Serra do Caldeirão, part of the Algarve hinterland, a hilly region with few inhabitants. You cycle through the narrow streets of Odeleite which is the last place of any size on today’s route. You come to a deep blue lake and then extensive pine forests and fields with some small shrubs, also broom and rock rose bushes – a magical sea of flowers in the springtime! The air is filled with the scents of aromatic herbs – wild thyme, sage and rosemary. Far in the distance and on your immediate route here will be small hamlets with whitewashed houses. This is a quiet, unspoilt area – just nature all around you! At the end of today’s route, you reach Vaqueiros, where you will spend the night.
The undulating landscape is what marks out today’s tour. The countryside has changed. You will see fig, almond and eucalyptus trees and many different bushes, particularly the medronho bush, growing by the roadside. You will reach Cachopo, a quiet village, unspoilt and unchanged in character over many years. Then your way goes towards Castelão, cycling through thick and fragrant fir tree woods and over hilltops which give wonderful views down to the coast. You ride steeply down to the Ribeira de Odeleite river, crossing an amazing old stone bridge and continuing through the river valley. This is a green and shady section of your ride with many grassy plants growing by the path. Further uphill to Parizes and along the “cork route” with its many cork oaks. This brings you to Barranco do Velho, the end of today’s ride. The Tia Bia guesthouse has a restaurant which is well known throughout this region for its excellent roast wild boar – known as Javali!
Today the MTB tour starts along a beautiful panoramic road along a chain of hilltops with spectacular views over the coastal region. You then ride down alongside the small Salir river, coming to another constantly undulating panoramic road and continuing towards Salir and Benafim. The tour leads through the lovely Ribeira de Alte river valley to the little town of Alte, one of the most beautiful places in the Algarve. After then it goes through an agricultural region with orange groves and other fruit trees. Your route brings you finally to São Bartolomeu de Messines and to your today’s accommodation.
Very soon after you set off today you cycle up to the top of a hill and have a great view of the Barragem do Funcho reservoir which nestles amidst the green hills of the Serra. A short downhill stretch through a lovely valley will aid your recovery from the climb. You will then come to a winding path alongside the bank of the reservoir. Many varieties of rich vegetation including broom, rock roses and medronho bushes grow by the path. You continue along by the reservoir to the end of the dam wall and then cross over. A steep descent then brings you down to the next reservoir, the Barragem do Arade, in an equally idyllic setting. Again, you ride along the bank and then continue small paths through a section of wooded and hilly countryside of the Ribeira de Odeluca valley. A ride through a shady valley brings you to the end of today’s ride at the spa resort of Caldas do Monchique. This little town nestles at the foot of the highest mountain of the Algarve amidst rich evergreen vegetation.
Right at the start of today’s ride you are faced with the challenge of conquering the Foia, 902 metres above sea level, the highest peak in the Algarve! Steep hairpin bends go up to the summit. You will be rewarded with a breath-taking panoramic view over the coastal region and the Serra. You then continue first on a short and then on a wonderful long descent down to the sea where there is the largest oyster farm in the Algarve. The oyster nets are attached to wooden posts which are fixed in the sea bed and are clearly visible at low tide. A very good path takes you all along by the Maia Praia beach an on to Lagos. A bridge takes you over the marina. You then come to this most historic old town. Just beyond the old town walls, the old slave market and the “Bandeira fort” you will reach the Costa d’Oro, the “gold coast”, the most beautiful section of the Algarve coastline. The strangely shaped, golden-yellow rock formations and the pointed sea stacks rising from the waves are typical of this unbelievably beautiful stretch of coast.
Today’s bike tour begins with a diversion to the Ponta de Piedade lighthouse. From there you continue a footpath along the rocky coast. You will pass some lovely bathing beaches before reaching Salema. The gradient is gently undulating. The highest point is 80 metres above sea level at Rocha Negra with its black granite cliffs. Here you have a stunning view of the whole of the coastal region. At this point you cycle briefly inland before coming back to the coast but now the route goes steeply up and down to three bathing beaches which all lie at the foot of very high cliffs. When you reach Sagres you then cross a steppe – like plateau which brings you to the Cabo de São Vicente, the most south westerly point of Europe. You then return to Sagres on a lovely coast road. Sagres is full of myths and legends. A nautical school was founded here for the education of Portugal’s best explorers of the world’s oceans. Sagres stands on a headland at the end of which you will find the Fortaleza de Sagres fortress, which has been carefully and extensively renovated.
Individual departure or extension
You will stay in typical Portuguese guesthouses and 3*** and 4**** hotels. Breakfast is included in the price.
tourist tax: approx. € 2,- per person/ day (from 13 years old) to be paid on site.
surcharge for single traveler: € 85,-
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