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CYCLING IN PORTUGAL

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WS Member Rendellstanbridge's picture
CYCLING IN PORTUGAL

HALLO WE WOULD LIKE SOME INFORMATION ON CYCLE TOURING IN PORTUGAL WEATHER PATTERN ETC WE START IN APRIL AND LIKE TO TAKE OUR TIME THINGS WE ASK ARE, PLACES TO SEE YOU RECOMMEND, PLACES TO CAMP, RECOMMENDE4D ROUTES, AND WHERE BEST TO MEET FOLK MUSIC AND DANCING.AND HOW BEST TO MEET FAMILIES THANK YOU BREIGE

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Portuguese coastal route in Sept 2004

I did this route in September 2004.

It was harder going in the north, with busier roads, bad signposting, and the campsites were a little harder to find.

The north was friendlier, but the south better looking.

Other than that, there's a "coastal plain" for much of the way that gives a steady day's riding and a cool breeze.

I would recommend the Algarve above the rest of Portugal that I saw, with the exception of the municipal campsite in Lagos.

Aljezur to Lagos

Lagos to Olhao

Bon Voyage

Rob

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portugal

Thanks for that we plan on cycling in from France, do you have any comments on route across the top were ot using camp sites as we have tent. Breige and frank

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campsites in france

if you want peaceful places to camp then look out for the " aire natural " and " camping ala ferme " campsites. these are usually very peaceful places often in lovely places and usually restrict the number of motor homes and caravans but allow as many cyclists as turn up. they are usually very cheap, it's 10 yrs now since I was there but back then you could pay as little as £1.50 a night , whereas the huge monster sites with discos and 5000 people and armed security guards ( on the coast ) charged £20 or more.
Just ask at any village or town tourist office , there are loads of " camping a la ferme " and " aire natural " sites in France ( at least they did 10yrs ago ) and the back roads ( D roads ) are a delight for cyclists.And on the whole the French have huge respect for cyclists and drive accordingly.
Jim fullwood.

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Hi,Jim in Finland here.I have

Hi,Jim in Finland here.I have spent 2 yrs cycling thru Port/Spain and morrocco. south portugal is obviously warmer than the north so you may get some rain in april coming down from north, but it will be warmer than Hastings and it could be well over 20c or more by late April. As u head south the weather shud get drier.The north is Green Portugal as it gets more rain than the baking summer plains of Alentejo. Portugal is a wonderful country to cycle, the scenery is for me varied and beautiful, there are quite a few campsites, and wild camping is possible if u have experience.It is still fairly cheap by europe standards and you may still find a double room for €20. For campsite info go to www.roteiro-campista.pt which u shud find very useful. campsites are generally half price between oct to end of march or april, but if you use this guide you will prob still find places for less than €10 for 2 people and a tent. the guy who did not like the municiple campsite in Lagos - I can see some of his point, but we have always enjoyed staying there, you are 5 to 20 mins walk away from some amazing beaches, close to the centre, the place has its own coffee shop and you wont get a sleep place for 2 people and a tent for €6 ( winter price - maybe double in summer ) anywhere else.Also the restauarant right next door is very cheap and has many locals eating there.
For the end of a long days cycle in Portugal you can buy a perfectly good bottle wine in a supermarket from € 1 and away from touristy fashoinable areas you can still find 3 course meals for €5 including half litre of wine each.
Youth hostels in Portugal tend to charge € 8 to 10 each,but in Porto and Lisbon 13 to 15.In Porto you can find double rooms in basic but nice hostals.2 min walk from main train stn, just head up the hill.
PORTUGAL DOES HAVE SOME AWFUL DRIVERS SO BE CAREFUL,THEY OVERTAKE ON BLIND CORNERS AND HILLTOPS.YOU WILL NEED TO THINK FOR THEM AS WELL.THAT SAID I NEVER HAD AN ACCIDENT OR NEAR MISS THERE.
On coming from France and Spain - have you thoguht about fllowing the Pilgrims road the " camino santaigo ". you can google it. It would be a good way to travel acrross the top of northern spain and into Mihno province of Portugal. Its a christian catholice pilgrimage but YOU DONT HAVE TO BE CHRISTIAN OR CATHOLIC TO DO IT.Many people do the camino also for sport / fun / meet great people / cheap beds etc.
The most popular French Route starts in the small french village of St.Jean Pied de Port ( near Biaritzz / Bayonne ) in the French Pyrennes and from there goes UPHILL ALL THE WAY 27KM to the abbey village of Roncevallas in Spain.the french call it Ronceveux i think. From there it is about 750km to santiago Compostela via Pamplona, Logrono, Burgos, Leon, Astorga and into Galicia and Santiago.
To do this you need to sign up and get your free pilgrim passport.This allows you access to the very cheap ( € 5 to 10 pp ) pilgrims refuge hostels along the route, so long as you walk , cycle or travel by horse ( no drivers ). The hostels are no further than 20km apart. Most cyclists do the french route in 7 or 10 days but take longer as there is much to see. each night you get to meet a nice bunch of people, use the kitchen and launry facilites etc.In the last Spanish province of galica the refuges are on a donation basis, so esentailly free if you are broke.
you can find lots of up to date camino and refuge info at the cofratenity of st james site,just google it if interested.If you do get to Santiago I would recommend doing the last few days onto the end of the world at Finnistere, from where you can follow the Rias baixas ( kind of like norwegain fjords but not really ) coastline down into Portugal.There is a lovely youth hostel in the portugues border town of Vila Nova Ceveira.
as an extra recommendation to try to inspire you to do the camino I will add that you will also pass through some of Spains finest wine producing area - 1st Navarra, then into Rioja, Ribeiro Duero ( Burgos ) and onto galicia with its famous white Ribeiros, perfect with you squid or octopus ;-)
hope some of this has been useful for you, sorry I waffled on but it's minus 20 here in finland right now and i dont have much else to do.
please dont hesitate to get in touch if i can help anymore.
may the air always be in your tyres and the wind on your back,
best wishes,
jim fullwood.

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Portugal and Spain

Hi Jim - you seem to know alot about the Iberian peninsula so I wanted to get your advice if possible. I plan to cycle across Europe (Lisbon-Istanbul). I am still trying to figure out the best way to traverse the Iberian peninsula from Lisbon. My initial plan is Lisbon-Salamanca-Burgos-Bilbao-San Sebastian and then intop France. I am debating whether to or not to do the Camino from Burgos into France, in lieu of San Sebastian and Bilbao. I am also not sure of the best route from Portugal into Salamanca in Spain....perhaps via Coimbra? Or marvao/castelo de vide area?

Appreciate any advice you have.

Thanks and best
Todd

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your questions

hi,
hope i am not too late replying
lisbon to salamanca wud be good way into spain.
i have done this route from coimbra, serra estrella ( moutains of the stars 2000metres asl ) into guarda then onto boredr at Vilaformosa, cuidad rodrigo and salamanca.Lots of huge granite rock scenery in boredr area.
Salamanca is a beautiful city and fromthere you cud head north to zamora and Leon.
Leon is also lovely city with amazing cathedral and fromthere you can pick up the camino santiago and do it backwards to St.Jean Pied de Port over the pyrenese in france. If you go to the pilgrim office or refuge in Leon and pick up your pilgrim "credential" this gives you the right to stay at very affordable pilgrim refuges every night, between 3 to 8 euros, average 5.
The camino is a great experience with many interseting people to meet, if you had time I would recommend doing it the right way from france to santiago.
But also do it backwards , I did that the 1st time and also had good experience.
Anywhere you go in portugal there is fine everchanging scenery, frinedlypeople and great wine.
for cheap camsite listings put " roteiro campista " into google and click on probably 1st item. its in english as well as portguese.
we spent last summer cyclingfrom poland to greece and turkey so if theres any idea i can give on those countries just get in touch.
ps you can buy i perfectly drinkable bottle of wine in portugal for 1 euroor so in shops ;-)

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hello again, marvoa, castel

hello again,
marvoa, castel do vide worth visiting , but there are so many nice laces to be in ortugal, but i am biased, i met my wife there and would tell anyone to spend as much time in portugal as possible. for example yu could lso cycle north along the coast from lisbon and before too long you would be in galicia and Santiago and then do the whole Camino backwards into France,
good luck with all your travels and also go to Bosnia and Serbia, such friendly people and happy to see you just dont pitch your tent on a land mine. go to Hungary too, great wine and cycling. time your visit to greece and turkey for autumn, cooler and cheaper. we had 32 c in late november on santorini and adouble apt for 15 euros a nite,
best wishes jim and terhi fullwood.

Unregistered anon_user's picture
Portugal

Jim,

Thank ou so much for all the great feedback and tips. Your notes prompt several more questions which, if it's not imposing, I would value your advice.

(1) Route: It seems that most people going from Lisbon to Salamanca to do so by the route you suggested, via Coimbra and then eastward. Until I received your note, I had planned to get to Salamanca from London via Santarem, Ponte de Sor, Marvao, Alcantara (Spain), and Ciudad Rodrigo. This route is a little shorter in km, but just a little. Do you have any sense whether the route I had planned is feasible/rewarding etc, or whether I should change plans and follow your route? Keep in mind I am just starting my tour, so the fewer assle in the early days, the better.

(2) Camino: I am still debating whether to take part of the Camino into France from Burgos, or whether to go to San Sebastian and Bilbao. On the Camino, what kind of cycling terrain is it? Dirt roads? Dirt paths? Paved? I will be riding a touring bike with 26" wheels, but prefer to stick to the road as much as I can.

(3) Finally, thanks for all your advice re: camping, the Adriatic region etc. Definitely in the plan.

You can read about my expedition, if you're interested, on my blog: transeuropa2011.wordpress.com

Thanks aain Jim for your advice. Really appreciate it.

Todd

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hi, did you get my rely that

hi, did you get my rely that i think i just sent to your email ?
jim

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Hi, I sent you a long reply

Hi, I sent you a long reply but i am not sure if you have got it.
If you havent I have have a copy in my email.
Maybe you can get in touch at manjarin1966@yahoo.co.uk and I can forward it on,
jim fullwood

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portugal

Wed, 18 May, 2011 15:19:33[Warmshowers.org] portugal
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Todd Miller,

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Wed, 18 May, 2011 15:06:05
Re: Warmshowers.org :: new comment for your post.
From:
james fullwood
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hello again,
no trouble,always happy to help cycling ideas.
if ur just starting ur tour and are not in peak fitness then ur plan would
prob be better, 1st along the river and then in the comparatively flatter
Alentejo province.I have cyclied a lot in Alentejo and I really enjoyed the
scenery, the cork oak forests, endless blinding white pains ( bit further
south ) and hilltop villages.From Ponte do Sur I might also suggest staying
in Portugal a bit longer and heading north to Nisa, Castelo Branco,and
Penamacor and crossing border over small pass into Valverde del Fresno.
Fromthere you can continue on small roads east and north to Cuidad Rodrigo.
Or you could head north from Castelo Branco to Fundao and Cohilha and Guarda.
There are quiet back roads so you dont have to go on the IP2. I really
enjoyed those miles and you have some nice views of the Serra Estrella.If you
felt like cycling over mainland Portugals highest mtns the take the road up
from Covilha through Pehna de Saude ( youth hostel ). Just up fromthere there
is a small road which follows a river and will take you to
Manteigas.Fromthere you can east or west and either way you will get to
Guarda eventually.
A I have said before I find all of portugal very beautiful and rewarding so
unless yr stuck on some main hwy by accident then you cant really go
wrong.Get a good map though, there are many old road.All the ones I have
mentioned are tarmaced ( not dirt, cant remeber if tarmac is english or usa
english ).
How is your Spanish and portuguese ? In 2001 stuck for a place to sleep i
went into the village bar in a little place called casilla de los Flores (
near C.R ) and just asked the village headman if they would allow me to out
my tent in the park overnight, they were friendly and dint mind.
When i cycled the camino I did so on touring bike ( 700c wheels ) and with
quite heavy pannier bags, and thus chose to mainly follow the roads that
parralled the walking camino.This was not a problem and since then the route
has been well signposted for cyclists as well. There were a couple of places
( especially from Burgos to Leon ) where I was not right next to the walking
camino but each night i would get back to the camino and sleep at the
pilgrims hostel. So you can do paved road all the way, no problem.Many
spanish bikers do it on the dirt path with the walkers but they are on mtn
bikes and carry very little. especially during the height of summer I wud
advise against this, there really are 1000s of walkers and it can be
dangerous.
I wud suggest doing Salamnca - Zamora - Leon , just so u cud pick up the
camino in Leon and spend more time on it.But if time is a problem then
Salamanca,Vallodollid,Palencia to Burgos is going to be less miles.I have
cycled this I and I hope you like the heat !
Some people think the camino between Burgos and Leon is the flat boring bit,
and granted, it is not as mountainasas other areas but I dont find it flat
and boring at all. It is the plains , and it is very hot, up to and over 45c
sometimes in summer, but the arcitchture is amazing, even in small back the
woods places, there is history everywhere and ur cycling over the road that
built europe.It must be said that i am a bit mad and ebjoy cycling in the
heat. i loved southern Arizona and 125F in august.
Some of the pilgrim refuges are more " cycling pilgrim friendly " than
others, but you should be able to find a list of them. If a place is almost
full they may make a cyclist wait till 10pm just to make sure there no
walkers stranded out there.They work on the pricipal that it easier for a
cyclist to get another 10km to the next place than it is for the walker.
Obviously there are other Hostals/Pensions where i would hope you ud geta
single room for 20 euros of u want privacy sometimes.I very much like the
atmosphere of the pilgrims refuges, i have only ever met interseting nice
people there.
the main Frech route camino from leon or Burgos into Rocevallas / St.Jean
Pied de Port will definately be busier and have most infrastructure and cheap
laces to sleep.These pilgrim hostels can be as lttle a 3 euro a bed, but on
average 5 or 6, and some of the privates 8 or 10.The other caminos (
primativo, silver route, potuguese, north coast etc ) have less cheap places
to sleep and longer kms between them, but as i understand it there are more
and more each year. I have cycled the coast though from Hendaye,San
sebastion, santander and as far as San Vincente Barquera ( west of santander
) and it is very beautiful but quite a hilly coastal route.So,if you want to
have lots of socialtime stay on the French camino and if you prefer ur own
space take the coast.If you take the coast try to stay at some spanish
campsites and see how the spanish have their holidays, its much fun and very
noisy from10pm till 4am ! But better than hanging out with old northern
europeans on the southern Costas.
take a look at the Cofratenity of St.James's website for lots of Camino info.
How will get across France, do you want mtns or avoid them ?
I will and already have taken a look at ur website, i envy you.we are going
home now after 1 yr travels.
please get in touch again whenever you like and let us know if u come to
finland
best wsihes jim and terhi fullwood.

From: WarmShowers.org
To: manjarin1966@yahoo.co.uk
Sent: Wed, 18 May, 2011 2:51:09
Subject: Warmshowers.org :: new comment for your post.

Hi jim fullwood,

toddysing has commented on: "CYCLING IN PORTUGAL":

Jim,

Thank ou so much for all the great feedback and tips. Your notes prompt
several more questions which, if it's not imposing, I would value your
advice.

(1) Route: It seems that most people going from Lisbon to Salamanca to do so
by the route you suggested, via Coimbra and then eastward. Until I received
your note, I had planned to get to Salamanca from London via Santarem, Ponte
de Sor, Marvao, Alcantara (Spain), and Ciudad Rodrigo. This route is a little
shorter in km, but just a little. Do you have any sense whether the route I
had planned is feasible/rewarding etc, or whether I should change plans and
follow your route? Keep in mind I am just starting my tour, so the fewer
assle in the early days, the better.

(2) Camino: I am still debating whether to take part of the Camino into
France from Burgos, or whether to go to San Sebastian and Bilbao. On the
Camino, what kind of cycling terrain is it? Dirt roads? Dirt paths? Paved? I
will be riding a touring bike with 26" wheels, but prefer to stick to the
road as much as I can.

(3) Finally, thanks for all your advice re: camping, the Adriatic region etc.
Definitely in the plan.

You can read about my expedition, if you're interested, on my blog:
transeuropa2011.wordpress.com

Thanks aain Jim for your advice. Really appreciate it.

Todd

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Warmshowers.org webmasters

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for folk music go to COIMBRA

for folk music go to COIMBRA to listen to the famous portuguese FADO music. it is a beautiful old university town - the oxford or cambridge of portugal.get friendly witha bunch of students at bars or where they live in the REPUBLICAS.You could check out Republica Bota Baixo ( on top of hill ), take a bottle of homemade Bagacoa ( local firewater ) and see if anyone remembers english cyclist Jim from 2000, and ask if they have abed for the nite.there is also campsite in Coimbra,about 2 or 3 km from centre,easy bike ride away.
If you want a beautiful peaceful nearby village in hills, head for a place called GOIS ,about 30km eastish of coimbra.
jim.

WS Member WS Member's picture
I'd second that

I'd second that recommendation to do the Camino. I also did it in 2004, but started in Perpignan, crossed the Pyrennes at Somport and turned west at Jaca. It's a beautiful route following medieval churches and villages for much if not most of the way.

However, getting to Portugal from Santiago de Compostelle was tough going in places - namely Pontevedra.

Santiago to Sanxenxo

Sanxenxo to Caminha - Portugal

A visit to Sanxenxo is definitely recommended.

@Jim - Lagos is all yours buddy - you can have my pitch, no worries...

WS Member WS Member's picture
Lagos

Thanks Rob ;-)
It does feel a bit prison like and as I understand it I would not want to be there in summer - I have heard about the drug dealers there.We always go in october and novemebr when the masses have left and you can have the beaches to yourself, the prices cut in half and it can still be easily 25 - 30 c in the shade.By then the site is usually full of european olds who are down for the winter and mostly cool alternative lifestyle bunch ( no ,not swingers ).
On site cafe is friendly and handy, but yes it is hard to get your tent pegs in , possibly a bit easier if there has been some autumn rain, but i usually get in done in 10 mins without bending any - buy some good pegs ;-)
I have not worked for 5 years and am tight as old nick so am happy to omly pay €6 for 2 people. Usually plenty of old ladies hanging around for bus and train arrivals to offer rooms. if you haggel you can still probably get a double from €20 from october to end march.
I would never go to Algarve in summer ( for anyone reading this ) - I would recommend staying in north and central portugal, the provinces of Tras o Monte ( behind the mountains ) , El Mihno ( named after river of same name ) and Beiras ( Serra Estrella or Mountain of the Stars province ). If you dont mind cycling in up to 40c in summer then also head for the famous baking hot plains of Alentejo famous for it's marble town , hilltop villages and exellent red wine.
enjoy portugal

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Portugal

fail...one year late!