As a cyclist, it’s hard to choose which setting provides the best background for a bike trip. Coastal water views? Rugged mountain cliffs? Rolling valleys covered in vineyards? Well, when you go cycling in Portugal, you won’t have to choose – because you will get to experience them all!
This stunningly beautiful country is a cyclist’s dream, with diverse landscapes, endless hours of sunshine, and miles of bike-friendly trails. Whether you’re cruising along the Atlantic or trekking it up the mountains, going cycling in Portugal is guaranteed to be a worthwhile adventure.
What to Expect When Cycling in Portugal
Portugal is an incredibly diverse country with lush valleys, rugged mountain ranges, and wild coastlines, which means your cycling experience will largely depend on where you go.
This is a very bike-friendly country, which means there are plenty of well-connected and well-maintained trails and paths for all skill levels. Drivers tend to be friendly towards cyclists, although you should always take extra precautions if you’re biking through the cities or other areas with high traffic.
What is the Best Time to Go Cycling in Portugal?
Each season offers different experiences and things to see, so there’s really no wrong time to go cycling.
While winter is the coldest time of the year, you can still expect clear skies and mild temperatures, especially in the south. The Algarve is generally much warmer and drier compared to areas in the north, so it’s a great place to start your bike tour if you’re planning a winter getaway.
Depending on the region, summers can be very warm. Central Portugal tends to be hot and humid, while the coast is generally cooler and perfect for bike riding.
Autumn is also a great time to visit Portugal. Not only have the crowds and tourists returned back home from summer break, but the weather is still pleasantly warm. On the other hand, this is the start of the rainy season (especially in the north), and unpredictable weather can put a damper on your trip.
In our opinion, spring is the best time to go to Portugal. With pleasantly warm temperatures, sunny skies, and little to no rainfall, it’s the ideal climate for cycling and exploring this beautiful country.
Best Areas/Regions for Cycling in Portugal
As we mentioned, Portugal is an incredibly diverse country with plenty of different landscapes for you to choose from. Here are just a few of the best areas and regions where you can go bike touring in Portugal.
The Douro Valley may be world-famous for its lush, hillside vineyards, but it’s also one of the best places to go cycling in Portugal. The roads that wind alon the Douro River are generally flat and paved, although the ride can be more difficult if you choose to venture through the steep valleys.
Snaking along the southern coast is Portugal’s premier resort destination. The Algarve boasts beautiful views of the coastline with plenty of sun-soaked beaches where you can stop for a quick dip. You can also head to the outskirts of town for more rugged mountain biking trails if you’re looking for something more challenging.
Although not as famous as the Douro Valley, Alentejo is another excellent wine-growing region. It also has plenty of flat backroads and wide-open trails that are ideal for more laid-back cyclists. You’ll also get the chance to see some medieval towns and small-town villages that you wouldn’t normally see when cycling in Portugal along the coastal areas.
The Atlantic Coast
With over 1,794km (1,115 miles) of coastline, Portugal has some of the most scenic views in all of Europe. Whether you’re cycling past the crashing waves of the small surf towns in the south or cruising on the seaside trails by salty dunes in the north, the coast is guaranteed to be an awe-inspiring adventure for your cycling trip in Portugal.
Do’s and Don’ts
To make your cycling trip to Portugal as fun and safe as possible, there are certain rules that all cyclists should keep in mind.
Do Wear a Helmet
It doesn’t matter if you’re going on a short ride through the city or a long-distance trip through the mountains – it’s crucial that you always wear a helmet when you cycle. And although wearing a helmet isn’t mandated by Portuguese law, risking your safety by not wearing one is just plain stupid.
Do Stay Hydrated
Biking in the sweltering heat of the Portuguese sun can easily leave you dehydrated. You should always carry a water bottle while cycling in Portugal, especially if you’re traveling in a rural area where shops or gas stations aren’t as available.
Do Protect Against the Sun
On average, Portugal sees around 300 days of sunshine a year – which makes it one of the sunniest countries in all of Europe! Don’t forget to pack sunscreen, sunglasses, and even UV reflecting clothing to protect you while bike touring Portugal.
Don’t Wild Camp
Unfortunately, wild camping is strictly prohibited in Portugal. If you’re planning on spending multiple days touring the country, you’ll need to book a hotel, hostel, or registered campground for the night.
Don’t Go Too Hard on the Wine
Portugal is one of the biggest wine regions in Europe. And while it may be tempting as it is to hop back on your bike after a few glasses of port, doing so can put yourself and others in danger. Cycling drunk isn’t a good idea, and you’re better off saving your wine tasting excursions for the evening or days when you’re not riding!
What to Bring
Regardless of whether you’re on a short weekend ride or a long-distance journey, it’s important that you’re properly prepared with the right clothes, tools, and cycling gear. In addition to your bike and helmet, there are also a few must-have items that all cyclists should carry with them while traveling.
First of all, you’ll need to bring clothing that you can wear on and off the bike. Packing practical, lightweight clothing is key, especially considering you’ll likely be hauling everything on your back. You’ll also need some repair tools (in case anything were to break) and camping gear (if you’re planning on roughing it for a few nights).
As you can see, packing for a cycling trip takes a bit of planning. To help, we’ve put together an exhaustive list of all things you should bring with you on a cycling trip to Portugal (or any other part of the world, for that matter).
3 Best Bike Touring Routes in Portugal
Although there seems to be an endless number of touring routes you can take during your holidays in Portugal, we wanted to share with you our three favorite trips for cyclists.
GR22 Rota das Aldeias Históricas
This loop is the perfect mix of history, culture, and rugged mountain landscapes. Over the course of the 558km (346 miles) journey, you’ll visit the 12 Historical Villages of Portugal that are dotted along the mountains and cliff sides near the Serra da Estrela Natural Park.
It’s a challenging long-distance ride that’s full of steep inclines and rough terrain. However, it’s a great opportunity to get off-the-beaten-path and to see the breathtaking natural sites around central Portugal.
TIP: If you want to get off the bike for a day and like to do something exciting, also check out our post on the 25 most adventurous things to do in Portugal.
Portuguese Coastal Path
Meandering up the coastline from Porto to Santiago de Compostela in Spain is this 265km (164 miles) trail. Most of the journey is along wooden boardwalks that look directly out towards the Atlantic, although once you cross into Spain, you’ll see tons of small villages and charming towns as well.
This entire bike tour in Portugal and Spain should take you around a week to complete. Keep in mind that this route is also popular for pilgrims, hikers, and walkers traveling the Camino de Santiago.
Why choose between a tour in the north or south when you can have both? The EuroVelo 1 spans the entire length of Portugal, starting at the northern Spanish border and traveling south to the tip of Sagres and then east through the Algarve.
At 920km (570 miles), the EuroVelo 1 is an epic bike tour that could take you several weeks to complete. However, you’ll be able to see some of the most iconic places in Portugal, including its two main cities, Porto and Lisbon, while also seeing the ever-changing landscape along the coast.
Portugal is an amazing destination for cyclists, and we hope you enjoy your trip through one of Europe’s most beautiful countries. If you have any tips about cycling through Portugal, please let us know below!
Are you ready to discover more about Portugal? Check out more of our Portugal posts for more tips, tricks and inspiration!