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Whether you’re looking for afternoon jaunts or wish to explore the country on a profound level, cycling in Portugal offers fantastic routes, blissful sights and fascinating landscapes. With a lengthy Atlantic coastline and two offshore archipelagos, bike rides will often provide you with astounding sea views and ample toe-dipping opportunities.
Cycle routes in Portugal have even more to offer than a beautiful, wild coastline though. With an amazingly large variety of landscapes, you can ride past rugged mountains and through glacial valleys, see rare Mediterranean forests and stop in remote villages for pasteis de nata, Portugal’s famous custard tart.
Flat, coastal cycle paths are plentiful and perfect for families as well as soloists. Many sections of coast include forest hills, rewarding your climb with exceptional views. Multi-day routes are also a wonderful choice and no two days will be the same. With a warm, maritime and Mediterranean climate, you can cycle year round.
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A varied country where every inch is worthy of exploration, choosing cycle routes in Portugal can be tricky. What better way to settle on a location than its designated nature parks? There are seven in total, with a further national park, Peneda-Gerês. You’ll find Gerês in the far north, bordering Spain, and there’s a fair chance that you’ll fall heavily in love with its lush vegetation, staggering views and crashing waterfalls. Try to glimpse the wolves that roam here.
If you’re based in or near Lisbon, you can head out to Sintra-Cascais Natural Park on the coast. Cycling in Portugal hardly gets better than this, with the UNESCO World Heritage town, Sintra, begging to be explored before you ride into the park proper. Days here are often strenuous, with challenging climbs. Dirt, gravel and asphalt trails can be found here.
While the mainland has a lifetime’s worth of cycle paths and trails, if you find yourself in one of the archipelagos, two-wheeled adventures are equally wonderful. Bike rides in Portugal’s island chains can be dramatically different, from Madeira’s tough, volcano switchbacks to the hydrangea-lined lanes of Sao Miguel in the Azores.
All with volcanic foundations, cycling is typically hilly in Portugal’s islands but the incredible views and culture make the thigh-burn worth it. Stop at volcanic lakes, try Azorean cheeses and ride the desert landscape of Porto Santo.
You can fly or ferry your bike from the mainland to the islands or to make things easy, rent one out there. Hundreds of miles into the Atlantic, Portugal’s islands have an isolated yet welcoming feel.
Mainland Portugal provides year-round cycling conditions and there’s always somewhere sporting the perfect weather. In the heat of the summer, when the south can be exhaustingly hot, head up north to Gerês, the mountains or even over to Sintra-Cascais with its cooler microclimate.
In winter, pedal down south to the jaw-dropping beauty of the Algarve coast with its endless tracks, back lanes and paths. You’ll find gloriously warm temperatures and near-deserted trails.
The archipelagos never get too cold but the Azores experience significant rainfall throughout the year while Madeira has wet winters. That’s why these wonderful islands are so unbelievably green.
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