Regardless of your ability, every cyclist should aspire to take a cycling holiday in the Algarve at some point. There’s nothing like the ocean breeze rushing past you as you ease into your ride and the gentle whirr this makes as it interacts with your wheels, as if in harmony with the sound of the Atlantic waves.
It’s moments like these that inspire you to pack your cycling attire and jump on the next flight to Portugal, or even get back on your bike if you’ve not been cycling as much as you’d like to. These are a few tips for getting on the saddle and experiencing the best on your cycling trip in the Algarve.
Cycling in the sun
Even in the off-season, the Portuguese climate is hospitable and you can ride your bike in the temperate climate without having to worry about the dreaded mid-ride downpour. Between January and March, temperatures reach up to 17°C, allowing you to cycle under a warm but not uncomfortable Algarve sky.
If you’re travelling peak season (July and August) it’ll be considerably hotter, so be sure to drink plenty of water when cycling. And don’t forget to bring sun cream! In the summer heat, there’s no denying that a dip in the pool after a long ride will be that little bit more rewarding.
Roads in the Algarve
Northern Algarve affords cyclists wide roads and minimal traffic – perfect. The tarmac is smooth enough to propel you up the short climbs and launch you down declines, tailoring it especially well for road cycling.
Meanwhile, the Monchique mountains outside of Alvor create the set up that would suit off-road cycling fans. The stunning peaks and the challenging dirt tracks give you a refreshing taste of alpine Portugal.
Choosing the right start point: Lagos
Lagos is the ideal base for any cycling holiday in Portugal, and from here you can cycle to one of Europe’s westernmost points, Cape St. Vincent, which is just over 20 miles from Lagos. A cycle here will separate the part timers from the endure-junkies. That said, you can trundle along the coast at your own pace and enjoy wistful Portuguese scenery – wherever you end up.
Also to the west of Lagos lies Cabanas Beach. Not much tops a morning ride by the cycle paths here all the way to Guadiana River. This river is a classic example of the luscious vegetation and gleaming limestone that many associate with the scenery of the Algarve.
Venturing into the Algarve countryside
As you cycle into the countryside, an entirely different side of the Algarve reveals itself, replacing sweeping waves with quaint villages and dusty farm tracks. Starting out in Vila de Santo Antonio you should make the charming town of Loulé your final destination, which will take you into the hills so you can admire the greenery.
Another destination to include in your cycling itinerary is the region of Ria Formosa, which varies from secluded farmland, to the tropical waters of the Ria Formosa lagoons. You can follow the dedicated Ecopista cycle path through the landscapes. These wetlands are a popular watering hole for birds like the Purple Swamphen and flamingos. Why not refresh with a spot of birdwatching before continuing the route?
It’s scenery and settings like that above that bring in the cyclists to the Algarve. Once you’ve ridden along the golden coastline flanked by a coating of Portuguese sun, you’ll be tempted to book yourself a holiday here, too, and either repeat the experience or see a different part of the region from your two wheels. Why not give it a try?