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From its mild climate to its varied landscapes, Portugal stands as a perfect place for cycling exploration. With everything from mountains and beaches to ancient villages and forests close to one another, it offers something for every cycling enthusiast. Whether you’re in for an intense long-haul or a scenic casual ride, here are five cycling paths to consider.
- Coastal Camino Português
Stretching 173 miles, the Coastal Camino Português serves as a less crowded option compared to the Central Camino Português in the official Camino de Santiago. The route begins in Porto, a UNESCO heritage city, weaving through the northern seaside and fishing communities of Portugal, before entering Spain via the Rías Baixas estuaries. A considerable portion of the coastal route north of Porto consists of dedicated bike lanes and is part of the extensive European cycling path, EuroVelo 1 or the Atlantic Coast Route.
- Guadiana Grande Randonnée
Winding 40 miles alongside the Spanish border, the Guadiana Grande Randonnée explores the three key zones of the Algarve: the southern coast, the inner barrocal with its clay and limestone hills, and the mountainous north. Notable points include the view of Castro Marim’s saltpans, known as Algarve’s ‘white gold’, and Guerreiros do Rio, with its River Museum celebrating the fishing culture. This route can be joined with the Coastal Ecovia route that traces the Algarve’s eastern shoreline.
- Rota Vicentina
Primarily skirting the Atlantic coast, the Rota Vicentina offers a long-distance network of bike paths that also pass through charming villages. Both mountain and gravel bikes can be easily rented locally, and the trail’s combination of quiet roads and shared paths suits all levels of cyclists. The Touring Bike itinerary, a non-signposted 310-mile GPS-only track, is a great option, and much of the Rota Vicentina is part of EuroVelo 1.
Praia do Salto, a secluded naturist beach on the Rota Vicentina, is hidden by towering cliffs. PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANA COTA.
- Ecopista do Dão
Experience the beauty of the Ecopista do Dão, a transformed railway route that once housed one of Portugal’s initial narrow-gauge railways, opened in 1890. This 31-mile paved, car-free path is arguably one of Portugal’s most accessible and stunning routes, great for family outings. It meanders through the Centro region, past vineyards, farms, and historic locales, providing insight into the Dão railway’s rich history, with former stations integrated into the path.
- Grande Rota das Aldeias Historicas
The trail between the villages of Castelo Mendo and Almeida is a fascinating segment of the Grande Rota das Aldeiras Historicas. This 373-mile circuit links 12 historical villages in eastern Portugal. Following plateaus over the Côa river, the 12-mile section is marked by rocky landscapes and periodic ancient structures like houses and bridges. A blend of unpaved and paved roads, this rolling trail requires a mountain bike and moderate fitness, allowing for a multi-day journey if desired.
This article was featured in the September 2023 edition of National Geographic Traveller (UK).
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about fokus keyword: Portugal bike routes
What are some notable bike routes to explore in Portugal?
Portugal offers diverse and unique bike routes suitable for various fitness levels. Some highlights include the Coastal Camino Português, which follows a 173-mile coastal path and is part of the EuroVelo 1; the Guadiana Grande Randonnée, which explores the Algarve’s landscapes; the scenic Rota Vicentina along the Atlantic coastline; the family-friendly Ecopista do Dão, a converted railway route; and the Grande Rota das Aldeias Historicas, a 373-mile circuit connecting 12 historical villages in eastern Portugal.
What types of landscapes can cyclists expect to see in Portugal?
Cyclists in Portugal can expect to see a wide variety of landscapes including mountains, beaches, ancient villages, forests, seaside towns, fishing villages, vineyards, farms, historic locales, and unique geological formations like clay and limestone hills. The routes often encompass views of saltpans, river estuaries, and rocky landscapes.
Are there cycling routes suitable for families in Portugal?
Yes, there are cycling routes suitable for families in Portugal. For instance, the Ecopista do Dão is a 31-mile paved, car-free path that runs through Portugal’s inner Centro region. It’s one of the country’s most accessible cycling routes, ideal for families exploring together.
Where can the detailed information about these bike routes be found?
The detailed information about these bike routes was featured in the September 2023 edition of National Geographic Traveller (UK). The article includes the routes’ lengths, landscapes, highlights, and how they connect with broader European cycling paths like EuroVelo 1.
Can cyclists explore parts of these routes if they don’t wish to cycle the entire distance?
Yes, many of these routes, such as the Rota Vicentina and the Ecopista do Dão, can be cycled in segments, making them suitable for different fitness levels and preferences. Cyclists can choose sections that match their interests, abilities, and available time.
Is there any connection between the different cycling routes in Portugal?
Some of the cycling routes in Portugal are connected to broader networks. For example, the Coastal Camino Português and the Rota Vicentina form part of the long-distance European cycling route EuroVelo 1, also known as the Atlantic Coast Route. Additionally, certain itineraries, like the Guadiana Grande Randonnée, can be combined with other local routes, such as the Coastal Ecovia.
More about fokus keyword: Portugal bike routes
- National Geographic Traveller (UK)
- EuroVelo 1 – Atlantic Coast Route
- Official Portugal Tourism Website
- Rota Vicentina Official Site
- Ecopista do Dão Information Page