"Saudade" is in the air. A word that can't really be translated, it roughly means 'longing',' wanderlust' and 'world-weariness' — all wrapped up in two beautiful syllables. The best way to understand what it means is to experience it, however. Something you can only do here. So, while you ride for hours along the steep coast, let your gaze wander over the infinitely wide ocean and feel the salty breeze on your face — and say hello to saudade.
Portugal, the former world empire of seafarers, was long spared from tourism, except for golf and beach holidaymakers in the Algarve. This allowed the country to preserve its original culture. Only a few years ago, many tourists seem to have discovered the "little brother of Spain" for themselves.
In order to escape over tourism, Portugal relies on sustainable individual tourism. The cycle path network along the EuroVelo 1 cycle path is currently being extended and a long-distance hiking path system has been created in the National Park of Southwest Alentejo and the Costa Vicentina. These two long-distance routes are often part of your journey along Portugal's Atlantic coast from Lisbon to the Algarve.
In this Collection, we have split the journey from the capital to the Spanish border into ten stages, for which a certain level of fitness and cycling experience is required. And while not all paths are paved, you will experience nature and the Atlantic coast in full splendor.
You start the journey in the lively capital Lisbon and leave it with a ferry to the south. There is still a lot going on on the Setúbal Peninsula, but the further you leave Lisbon behind you, the more lonely the streets and especially the beaches will become, like rocky cliffs against which the surf whips, your constant companion.
The Alentejo coastline is popular with surfers, but it is also a paradise for cyclists who love solitary expanses of breathtaking nature and climbs. You have reached the Algarve at the most southwestern point of Europe's mainland, the Cabo de São Vicente. The narrow coastal strip in the south of the country offers you a well-developed tourist infrastructure and in the meantime some considerable cycle paths, some of which lead through the middle of the nature reserve of the lagoons and salt flats, until you reach the Spanish border after almost 400 miles (600 kilometers).
Lisbon can be easily reached by plane. From the destination Vila Real de Santo António you can take the train to Faro airport or even back to Lisbon. Thanks to the Atlantic Ocean, the climate along the coast is oceanic-Mediterranean, so it doesn't get extremely hot in summer and it doesn't freeze in winter. As many hotels are booked up during the high season and tend to close when it gets quiet, you should book your accommodation in advance.
The southern part of the Portuguese Atlantic Cycle Route starts in the charming capital of Lisbon. The bustling city with its seven hills offers a great contrast to the lonely paths that will accompany you more often during your journey along the Atlantic.Right at the beginning of your tour, you leave Lisbon as it once was for the once world-famous navigator - by boat. Thanks to the short crossing, you can once again marvel at the city from the water. The ferry runs frequently, the exact timetables can be found here: ttsl.pt/passageiros/horarios-de-ligacoes-fluviais/ligacao-cacilhas-cais-do-sodreThe actual bike ride starts in Cacilhas. Unfortunately, the port city is not known for its good network of cycle paths, but more and more bike paths are being built.After leaving the suburbs behind you, you suddenly dive into a pine forest and then find yourself on a barren, windy plateau that ends on a cliff. You arrived at the southwesternmost point of the Setúbal Peninsula. On small roads you make a few meters before you are rewarded for the effort: The descent into your stage destination Sesimbra. Here are some accommodations, a campsite, restaurants and a large beach.For this stage we also have a variant for you: If you prefer instead of the busy exit from Cacilhas rather a few climbs, you drive from Cacilhas to the west in the small and very original harbor town of Trafaria and continue on Costa da Caparica to you Rise back to the original path. Alternatively you can take the ferry to Trafaria in Lisbon at the port of Belém and start there. Timetables: ttsl.pt/passageiros/horarios-de-ligacoes-fluviais/partidas-trafaria
Your day starts with several crisp climbs in the nature reserve of Arrábida. The subsequent promising departure let you forget the effort. Once at the bottom, you drive along the coastal road between rocks and small beaches to the port city of Setúbal.The old town offers you the ideal setting for a coffee break * and in the market hall Mercado do Livramento near the port, you can stock up on provisions for the rest of the stage, which may be necessary due to long, lonely routes through the nature reserve.You will transfer from the Setúbal peninsula to the Tróia peninsula by ferry.* Portuguese coffee tastes great and has a long tradition. In all the guides it is emphasized that the espresso in Portugal is called "bica". That is not completly correct. The first coffee house, the Brasileira in Lisbon, had difficulty selling the bitter drink from the colony and put a sign on the street: "Beba Isto Com Açucar" ("drink with sugar"). The acronym of this is "bica", which is why the espresso used to be called in Lisbon. Today only tourists order a Bica. There are also a variety of other coffee specialties in Portugal: Pingado in the south or Pingo in the north (espresso with a dollop of milk), Meia de Leite (half milk, half coffee, mean foamed together) and Galão (lots of milk, little coffee).
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Endless open spaces, every now and then a homestead, here a few cork oaks, as a few pines, ... So you can describe the Alentejo very well. It accounts for one-third of Portugal's area, but is inhabited by only seven percent of the population. The first 30 kilometers you are alone with your bike, so take enough water with you.In Melides you have again the opportunity to shop and have a coffee. And here is the flat half of the stage over. The route takes you now a bit away from the Atlantic Ocean into a hilly and attractive landscape.The first highlight of both cultural and altitude is Santiago do Cacém. The city can look back on a rich history. Here you will find evidence of the megalithic culture as well as remains of a Roman settlement. In addition, the first automobile in Portugal was registered in this city in 1895.After the small sightseeing tour continue hilly and after a descent you will reach Sines. In the harbor you have summarized the eventful history of the place in one view. At the top is the medieval castle, in the background you can see the huge oil port, while in the fishing port the small nutshells of the local fishermen wiggle their waves. The sandy beach in the middle of the city is named after the town's most famous son, the navigator Vasco da Gama, explorer of the sea route to India around the Cape of Good Hope.In Sines you will find several accommodation and restaurants. You can find a campsite a few kilometers south of the city.
After a few challenging stages, a day with fewer kilometers and less gradients follows today for a change.You leave Sines along the shore and immediately after the industrial area begins a magnificent route on the Atlantic. The well paved coastal road leads along the beach, sometimes between the sand dunes.The ocean accompanies you throughout the day. Soon you will reach the coastal town of Porto Covo, which despite tourism has preserved much of its character. This is where the fishing path begins, part of the Rota Vicentina hiking trail system.The rest of the stage takes you along the path that will encourage gentle individual tourism, to Vila Nova de Milfontes. The landmark of the place is the striking fortress, which was built against pirate attacks. In the old town with its typical white-yellow and white-and-blue houses, it is worth making a short exploration stop before tackling the last stretch on a slightly larger road.Less than 10 kilometers later you reach your destination Almograve, where you will find a few accommodations. Camping sites are in Vila Nova de Milfontes or further south in Zambujeira.A few minutes west of Almograve awaits you again a beautiful beach for your Feierabendkkühlung.
On small paved roads, it continues for you to the south. From the Cabo Sardão, an ideal place to observe storks, you have the alternative opportunity to drive directly along the coast, if you believe it and allow your bike, since the track is quite bumpy. Here you can find the route: komoot.de/highlight/363912Once you arrive in Zambujeira, you have already completed a third of your day's stage. The town is located on the seafront and is known for its beach and the largest annual rock festival in Portugal.From the beach you meander uphill, sometimes downhill to Odeceixe. The small town is dominated by a fully functioning windmill.From Odeceixe you follow the river to its extraordinary estuary on the beach of Odeceixe, where the Seixe River flows between the cliffs on a sandy beach into the ocean.Your destination today is Aljezur, whose old town was built on a steep slope and overlooked by a 10th-century Moorish castle ruin. Here are next to a few guest houses also a nice campsite (campingserrao.com).
You left the Alentejo and continue cycling in the Algarve. Not least, you notice that it is getting hilly again.Since the northwest, unlike the south of the Algarve, is less well developed, please always remember to replenish your water reserves and pack a bar or fruit in good time.Ascents, fantastic views, descents and dream beaches alternate constantly, but the scenery is so breathtaking that you will not be bored.It is especially beautiful on the beach of Carrapateira. The route will take you around the pretty little town where you will find a small supermarket. From the cliffs you can see the Praia da Bordeira, the beach popular with surfers and known for its meter-high waves.Your stage ends today in Vila do Bispo, further inland, where you will find some accommodations. A few kilometers further south or east you will also find campsites.If you want to be more comfortable after six stages, it is a good idea to share the next stage and have a double night in Vila do Bispo, as the next stage is a round trip to Sagres, Capo de São Vicente and back to Vila do Bispo before we head east.
Your day begins with the journey to the end of the world, to the Cabo de São Vicente. If you start early enough, you have good chances to arrive before the bus tourists and leave the view across the Atlantic in peace.Along the EuroVelo 1 route, you will sail to the seafaring town of Sagres, which is also home to the delicious Portuguese beer. The place is especially known for the fortress at the southern tip of the village, in which a mysterious wind rose was discovered.After a detour to the romantic fishing port of Sagres you cycle back to Vila do Bispo and your travel direction changes from south to east.Your hilly stage with several short and crisp climbs leads you over and over beautiful beaches and viewpoints. Here is a bit more going on than in the lonely Alentejo, but especially in the low season you will always find bays just for you alone.Shortly after the seaside resort Luz with its famous beach you will reach Lagos, your destination of the day. If you still have some reserve power in your calves, the detour to the cliffs south of the city center is worthwhile, especially to the Ponta da Piedade, at the southern tip of the coast.In Lagos you will find different accommodations and several campsites. For strengthening after the hilly stage, there are a variety of restaurants and pubs in Lagos.
From Lagos you drive around a large, very scenic lagoon, which you cross shortly before the fishing village of Alvor on small paths. To experience the fertile area even more intensively and watch the game of ebb and flow, you can make a detour to the estuary in the west of Alvor.The path will take you past one of the Algarve's most famous beaches, Praia da Rocha, to the lively port city of Portimão.You follow the EuroVelo 1 cycle path through the hilly inland, before you reach the Atlantic again in a very beautiful chapel.Small roads with only moderate grades lead you to your stage destination Albufeira, where many overnight stays and a campsite are available.
The coast on the eastern Algarve is no longer characterized by high rocks from here but of interesting wetlands and lagoons. This also means that no high gradients are more in front of you.The first few kilometers are only slightly hilly. Little bays, lagoons and harbors are always your way to Faro. Especially beautiful are the wetlands around Quarteira, which are surrounded by pine forests.A remarkable bike ride will take you around the airport of Faro. On a beautifully landscaped bike path, an ecovia-leveled piste, you'll pass through the lagoon and salt pans of Faro and, shortly after, you'll be in the city center of the Algarve's capital.A little exploration of downtown and the marina is worthwhile before tackling the last ten kilometers to your final destination Olhão. There you will find a variety of accommodation again.
The final stage of your journey along the Portuguese Atlantic coast is dedicated to the natural park of the Ria Formosa lagoon. You can see how the different currents of the tides and the estuaries formed the landscapes.You drive large parts of the stage on so-called EcoVias. These are natural bike paths on leveled pistes leading through the middle of nature.On your way is the enchanting fishing port of Fuseta, with its small houses and narrow streets reminiscent of a Moorish village.The wonderful EcoVia you follow partly through citrus orchards, partly right on the lagoon to the historic town of Tavira. The once most important port of the Algarve was destroyed in the great earthquake in 1755 and its importance as a fishing port decreased. Due to tourism, the town experienced a new upswing with its beautifully renovated old town and the Roman bridge.The second half of your last stage meanders through salt pans and wetlands and you will always find some beautiful stretches of beach.After driving through a pine forest, you almost unexpectedly reach a small town with a checkerboard-like layout on the banks of the Guadiana: Vila Real de Santo António. The opposite bank is already Spain, so you have arrived at your destination.From here you can take a boat to Spain and continue cycling or you can take the train to Faro or Lisbon.