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Tours

Portugal ‘Top to Bottom’ Challenge – 2019/20

£1,199.00£1,250.00

TOUR REF: PT921/ PT922
TYPE: Road Cycling
LEVEL: Strenuous 
DATES: 
07 Sept – 17 Sept 2019
05 Sept – 15 Sept 2020
DURATION: 9 days / 8 nights (7 days cycling)
ACCOMMODATION LEVEL: High

Clear
  • Optional extras

    • 250 £
    • 60 £
    • 60 £

A more challenging version of our much lauded Iberian ‘End-to-End’ challenging version of our much lauded Iberian ‘End-to-End’.

Since its launch in 2014 our ‘end-to-end’ of Portugal had proved to be one of our most popular trips, attracting universally positive feedback. For those who are looking for an even bigger challenge with high daily mileages this new version with 6.5 days of riding is for you.

Best known as a resort/golfing destination, Portugal offers some outstanding cycling and the promise of sunshine. This trip starts on the Spanish border in Valenca and ends on the Algarve coast just east of Faro. As well as being an ‘end-to-end’ you can also bag a ‘side-to-side’ as the route touches Portugal’s western and eastern borders.

We love cycling in the sunshine and we love bagging ‘end-to-ends’ so this trip ticks all the boxes. As the icing on the cake it also counts as a ‘side to side’. With 9 hours of sunshine, temperatures in the 20’s and little rainfall, Portugal offers superb cycling conditions in the spring and autumn. It also offers convenient international airports (in Porto and Faro).

We start at the magnificent fort in Valence, with views over the river to Spain, a perfect back-drop for the start of trip photos! The day is starts in the spectacular hills of Northern Portugal, before striking the coast and following coastal paths, where we remain for the second day.

We then slowly work our way down and across the country, finally reaching the Spanish border in the northern Algarve. Riding conditions get progressively easier as the country flattens but the scenery is always great!

Our final ‘day’ is really a short half day as we strike the Algarve’s southern coast and then follow cycle trails as far as Olhao, just a few miles from Faro and its airport. There will be plenty of time to pack away the bike and take advantage of the 5* hotel’s facilities before a celebratory drink or two.

Portugal relies heavily on tourism and has a superb hotel infrastructure which we fully exploit. Accommodation is 3/4* throughout with many hotels offering pools and/or other leisure facilities.

We cover between 70 and 90 miles each day including some hilly days and this trip is for physically fit cyclists who train regularly.

If you would like to read other people’s comments on our holidays then check out the Customer Comments page.

Tour Price includes:

Hotel accommodation
Breakfast
Vehicle support
Services of leader/mechanic
Local transfers
Route information
Certificate for those that complete the trip.

Tour Price does not include:

Lunches or evening meals
Snacks or drinks required during the day
Travel to Porto/from Faro
Cost of any optional excursions, entrance fees etc.

 

Itinerary:

Itinerary

Day 0 – Arrive in Porto

From Porto it is a 90 minute drive north to our starting point in Valenca. You will be transferred by private coach or one of our own vehicles.

Day 1 – Valenca to Porto – 90 miles

The walled fort in Valenca provides a dramatic starting point and photo opportunity, with views over the Minho valley with Spain on the far bank. Despite being a large city, we are quickly out into open countryside, utilising a network of very minor roads. The morning can best be described overall as ‘rolling’ but there are several stiff climbs at the start, after which the terrain becomes gentler with long periods of relative flat. In the afternoon we head southwest to meet the coast at Condominhos and from here we follow a mix of coastal roads and cycle paths past Seixo to Porto.

Day 2 – Porto to Praia de Mira – 74 Miles

We remain, more or less, on the coast for the whole day. From Porto we pick up an excellent cycle path to the resort town of Espinho then continue ion a mix of cycle paths and quiet roads through the coastal marshlands before turning inland to skirt the lagoons of Aveira. To return to the coast we must also pass through Aveira itself, a sizeable town, before rejoining cycle paths/routes to Praia de Mir.

Day 3 – Praia de Mira to Tomar– 88 miles

We follow the coast for a further 20 miles or so, by which time we have safely cleared the worst of the northern hills and can turn inland. We are now heading southeast, towards the town of Tomar where we spend the night.

Although there are still hills to be climbed, this central portion of the trip is very manageable with splendid scenery. By the end of the day we are in the very heart of the country, approximately half way from all 4 extremities.

Day 4 – Tomar to Mora – 70

From now on every day is spent in open countryside, amongst the rolling fields, pastures and olive groves of southern Portugal. There are a couple of long but gradual climbs but overall the going is easy and with the second shortest mileage of the trip.

Day 5 – Mora to Beja – 99 Miles

A big day full of day of magnificent medieval towns. Our first stop is Arriolas with it’s hilltop castle and then the walled town of Avora for lunch. In the afternoon we enjoy even quieter roads to Beja for our overnight stop.

Day 6 – Beja to Castro Marim – 83 miles

After a very easy morning there is some climbing to be done in the afternoon as we cross a range of hills to the Guardiana River, the border separating Portugal from Spain. We follow the river for some way with views across the border, before turning inland to Castro Marim.

Day 7 – Castro Marim to Olhao – 35 miles

Really a half day and we encourage a leisurely breakfast. We are quickly onto the coast where we turn to follow it, utilising a cycle route wherever possible, through several resort towns before reaching our destination – Alhoa. A rather special hotel awaits us for a well deserved celebration.

Day 8 – Depart Faro

Faro airport is a 20 minute drive away and we will provide a choice of transfers to suit your flight arrangements.

 

HOLIDAY DETAILS:

The Country: Portugal is a country of great contrast. In the north there are many hills, with small villages and hamlets and the vegetation is very green, even after a long hot summer.  In the south the going is much flatter with vast olive groves separating larger communities. And, of course, along the Atlantic coast and on the Algarve there are large resort complexes. English has become the second language of the Portuguese and everywhere you go you will find a friendly welcome with at least a few words of English. 

The Tour: This is a Fully Supported Cycling Holiday with a leader/mechanic, and support vehicle to carry all the luggage and provide any necessary assistance. The holiday is designed to offer you the challenge of riding the length of Portugal, while at the same time taking you through the great variety of scenery that the country has to offer. The distance from Valenca to Faro is about 600 miles.

The ride starts in the north, in Valenca on the Spanish border and, for the first day, the terrain is hilly but very beautiful. We then quickly work our way to the Atlantic coast where we enjoy 3 days of flat coastal riding. For the second half of the trip we return to the interior where enjoy quiet roads, magnificent views as well as the occasional hill!

As well as heading south we head somewhat east and, on the penultimate day, arrive at another Spanish border, before following the river south into the Algarve and our final destination just outside Faro.

Road quality in Portugal varies greatly. In the north the centre of many villages remain cobbled and even some longer stretches of road (sometimes a mile or two) are cobbled, particularly in the suburbs of major towns. Elsewhere the surface varies from superb to poor, though as we head south the road quality generally improves.

The average daily distance is just over 51 miles.

Accommodation & Food: This holiday is hotel-based. Accommodation in Portugal is of a high standard and the hotels will be graded 3* – 4* or similar, offering clean and comfortable rooms. In many hotels there will be swimming pools and other leisure options. Single people travelling alone will be booked into a twin bedded room with another person of the same sex – unless the additional single supplement has been paid. We book rooms with en-suite facilities where available, but this cannot always be guaranteed. Breakfast is provided at the accommodation and most hotels also have a restaurant attached for an evening meal, or there is at least one other restaurant nearby. Note that Portuguese breakfast is continental but usually offers cold cheese and meats as well as cereal, bread/jam, pastries and often yoghurt and fruit.

Start: The holiday starts in Porto and we will collect guests from the airport for transfer to the hotel (provided your flight arrives no later than 6pm). Flights to Porto are currently operated by several carriers. Note: The cost of the outbound flight is not included in the price of the holiday. You must book the flight yourself (or make your own alternative arrangements).

Finish: The holiday ends in Faro, from where there is a good choice of carriers. Transport will be provided to Faro airport. Note: The cost of the return flight is not included in the price of the holiday. You must book the flight yourself (or make your own alternative arrangements).

Cycle Transport:  If required, and for an additional fee, we can also arrange for your cycle to be transported to the start at Porto and/or to return your bike from Faro to anywhere in the UK.

Documents: You require a passport to visit Portugal. Nationals of some other countries also require a Visa. Non EU passport holders should check with the nearest Portuguese Embassy. You are also required to have travel insurance for the duration of the holiday and you will be required to provide evidence of a suitable travel insurance policy. 

Bikes: All types of cycle are suitable for the trip. The most important thing is that the bike functions properly and that you are comfortable riding it. However you should make sure that your bike has suitable gears as parts of the route are hilly, with some quite long climbs. Most people will require a cycle with a triple chainset. If you are riding a mountain bike then you should fit it with narrow ‘slick’ tyres.  You should also make sure that you are able to carry some spare food and clothing with you on the bike.

As someone who had done Bike Adventures trips before , this was my first trip under the “New Management”. I am very pleased to say that the trip was brilliant.

The information and contact leading up to the trip was spot on. I’ve always liked the Bike Adventures formula, the bike transported to the start, ride at your own pace using precise instructions, bags transported each day to the next hotel (and often put in the room) and full support each day. Best of all, a team of leaders who want nothing more than to see people just enjoying being on a bike. It was an unusually large group of 28 but that did not phase the leaders one bit.

We all met at Porto Airport so this gave me and a friend, the chance to travel the day before and have 24 hours exploring Porto before a cheap 3 Euro and 35 minute transfer back to the Airport.

The route provided a complete mix of the real Portugal. Green in the North then olive groves, cork plantations and countless quaint rural villages. We saw dramatic coastline, bird sanctuaries and even crossed the river in Porto where two days before I had stood on the magnificent bridge.

Most of the roads are a sheer delight with very littler traffic and beautiful tarmac. However, be warned, there are stretches of cobbles and rough road to keep your attention and qualify you to be a Pro rider! We never climbed to alpine heights and the climbs were not overly long but they did contain some challenging short sections that the Group Leaders took some friendly banter over.

The Portugese language seemed incomprehensible to most and very few mastered the basic words even for coffee and cake but a bit of pointing and smiling produced both, frequently for just one Euro. A beer was just as cheap! The natives were always friendly and helpful.

The standard of accommodation was the best of any trip I have ever done. Superb hotels and great locations. More evidence of the value for money Portugal offers.

Any downsides? Only one – we did not have the 10 full days of sunshine promised! Hardly the fault of the Leaders but it was never cold.

I have twice ridden with other companies and in both cases I was disappointed by some aspects. This was my seventh trip with bike Adventures so I think that says it all.

– Jeff Tipper

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