Portugal: mountain biking routes for adventurous holiday makers
Sun, sea, sand, and a whole new world of culture and cuisine – Portugal certainly has a lot going for it. Many people dream of jetting off to the Portuguese coast to sunbathe and sip cocktails, and really, who can blame them? But it’s also a fantastic destination for activity holidays, especially if you’re a keen cyclist.
In Portugal, mountain biking routes can be found everywhere, although the best are in the Algarve region. If you’re planning a biking holiday here, there are plenty of tracks to suit all abilities and a self-catered villa is perfect for using as a base camp for them. Without further ado, let’s start with mount Foia…
Downhill cycling in Monchique
The highest mountain in the Algarve is called Foia and it’s a popular spot for cyclists. For a fun family day that will suit older children with some cycling experience, hitch a ride to the top of Foia and cycle back down through the Serra de Monchique hills. From the mountain peak to the town of Mexilhoeira Grande (just outside Lagos), this quiet, rural and visually stunning route runs for a little over 20 miles.
Albufeira via the Algibre River
This route takes you from the coastal town of Albufeira, then north through the Quarteira river valley and on to Paderne, home to a Moorish castle. The arm of the Quarteira river that spills into Paderne from the northeast is known as the Algibre, an area of great natural beauty with an extensive network singletrack path network. From Paderne you can cycle west, looping back down to Albufeira through the rocky trails and orange groves of Tunes.
Albufeira countryside and coastal ride
For a sightseeing tour of Albufeira for all the family, start in the centre of town and head northwest to Guia, famous for its vineyards. Afterwards, move south towards the coast, where you can explore the Salgados Lagoon – a popular wildlife hotspot – via specially constructed boardwalks.
From Salgados you can begin to go east back to Albufeira, moving inland from the coast at particularly rocky areas. Coming into the town from the west you can admire the marina, the central stretch of beach and Albufeira’s charming cobbled old town.
Algarve coastal tour
If you really want to make the most of your time in the Algarve, why not take a full-day bike tour along the coast? Setting off from Vila Real de Santo Antonio, start with a flat, scenic stretch west through the resorts of Altura and onto the seaside hamlets of Cacela Velha and Fabrica. Taking a break in historic Tavira, continue on to Luz and the Ria Formosa Natural Park, a huge area of lagoons and marshes which its famed for its bird population. From here, you can trundle back to Luz before unwinding to a classic Algarve sunset.
Regardless of where you’re cycling to, remember to pack plenty of sun lotion and water. That way, you’ll be free to really enjoy Portugal’s renowned cycling routes.
Look at Villa Plus accommodation in the Algarve and make that biking getaway you’ve always dreamt of a reality.
By Isabella Perkins, a freelance travel writer best known for writing about self-catering holidays. Her writing tends to have a family focus, and she is in the middle of writing a new travel guide due to be published next year.