Cyclotourism is gaining greater significance in Tourism of Portugal’s strategy for promoting Portugal’s touristic offer, with routes for road cycling and mountain biking found throughout the whole country.
The Algarve, known for some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, or for its award winning golf courses, also has much to offer cycle tourists.
Between architectural and historical cities, to cultural and entertainment centres, the Algarve is recommended for the replenishment of one’s energies, delighting in the delicacies of the sea, and picturesque fishing towns, excellent scenery and sandy beaches with warm and calm waters, areas of protected bird species, as well as castles and defence walls along trails that are characteristic of a past that is still very much present.
In this southern region, where the ocean accompanies you along the cliffs cut out of one of the most beautiful and well preserved coastal areas of Europe, you can enjoy a fabulous climate and discover the network of cycling routes that the Algarve offers.
If your passion involves a bicycle and nature, you can combine distance and climbs and descents on roads with little traffic along the ever varied landscape. You can do the whole route, or small sections that will allow you to discover the towns and cities of the Algarve coast along cycling paths.
You can opt for the proposed routes below, which cover green landscapes, bodies of water - from which salt is extracted - a rural and authentic Algarve, not far from the Atlantic coast.
Atlantic Coast Route
Crossing the whole of the Algarve, from the East (Vila Real de Santo António) to the West (Cabo de S. Vicente), known as ‘Ecovia do Litoral’, it has a length of 214km, and goes up 50km to Aljezur, crossing 12 counties along the southern coastal strip.
The Great Guadiana Route
The Great Guadiana Route (GR15), between Vila Real de Santo António and Alcoutim, runs along the course of the Guadiana River, and covers 65 km through mountain zones, the barrocal valleys and the coast.
Road Cycling Routes
There are 41 routes available for all types of cyclists, totalling 4,336 km, including routes along low-traffic roads, and 8 routes that include ascents for specific training for competitive athletes or more experienced cyclists. The courses are classified into four levels of difficulty, defined by their distance and the altimetry of the courses, and are divided by three zones:
- East zone integrates Tavira, Olhão and part of São Brás de Alportel;
- Central zone that includes Faro, Loulé, Albufeira and Silves;
- West zone that covers Portimão, Monchique, Lagos, Vila do Bispo and Aljezur.
In the Vicentina Route that crosses the Algarve and Alentejo regions, two specific routes are highlighted:
- "Historic Route" - 230 km, between Santiago do Cacém and Cabo de São Vicente, is a rural itinerary, with 12 steps that can be programmed, for example, by one step per day with a maximum of 25 km.
- "Fisherman's Trail" - 111 km which connects Porto Covo to Odeceixe, which can also be traversed exclusively on foot.
The Historic Trail of the Vicentina Route is distinguished with the European Certification "Leading Quality Trails - Best of Europe", by the European Ramblers Association (ERA) – exclusively assigned as having the best destinations for walking in Europe.
The Via Algarviana connects the Cape of São Vicente to Alcoutim, and extends about 300 km, crossing the region longitudinally, for the most part across the Algarve Sierra. Also known as the Great Walking Route, it is possible to traverse it on foot or by bicycle (90%), and is divided into 14 sections. It is recommended that a GPS is used and that the route is undertaken over a minimum of five days.
It is now up to you to decide how you want to discover the Algarve by bike, suited to your own tourist profile! The hard part is deciding what to visit first, with so many unmissable stops to admire the best views of the Algarve coast. Do not miss Cabo S. Vicente - the most western point in Europe.
Source: Portuguese Trails.