PT GT - Portugal Grand Tour
If you are a road cycling enthusiast and would like to know the best of Portugal in one go, this is the tour for you. You’ll explore the country form North to South, without compromise. We’ll ride along the beaches of the Atlantic coastline, climb to the highest point of Continental Portugal, explore and taste the wine countries, marvel at historical cities and villages, soak in the beauty of the natural parks and visit the most vibrant cities of Portugal – Lisboa and Porto – in a non-stop road cycling adventure, taking in the best our country has to offer. Explore the diversity of landscapes, gastronomies and wines, as well as the different types of terrain, from challenging climbs to rolling hills and flat river roads. Don’t skip anything, including a visit to the two main cities of Porto and Lisboa.
/ Discover the amazing history, culture and traditions the wine regions have to offer. Alentejo is a picturesque and charming place, where you’ll fall in love with the whitewashed villages, medieval castles, sunbathed plains and the secular traditions and lifestyle. Visit the UNESCO world heritage sites in Évora, the former Palace of the Portuguese Kings and the rural lifestyle of the local homesteads; The Douro’s beautiful landscapes and vantage points over the Douro River, also a UNESCO world heritage, with its trademark "socalcos" or terraced vineyards; The undiscovered paradise of one of the most remote areas in Portugal, the Douro International Park: never-ending olive oil and orange fields, river beaches and animal life.
/ Ride the never-ending rolling hills, the iconic mountains or the amazing scenery of the terraced vineyards or the bare and lunar mountainous landscape of the inner North. The car-free roads of inland Portugal provide you the conditions, safety and great atmosphere for cycling tours. Its varied topography will challenge you and make you a better cyclist.
/ Dine and sleep in local charming hotels, once wineries or medieval castles, but now fully equipped hotels with their very own spas and amazing amenities to make you feel comfortable. Climb aboard a boat and sail in the Douro or Alentejo to discover the region from a different perspective
/ With its trademark gastronomy, wine, and great hotels, this is the bike tour to experience the best of Portugal, where luxury meets tradition. You’ll get to sleep in castles, convents, wine farms and dine in some of the world’s best restaurants, harmonizing every meal with amazing wines;
Flat and rolling stages: Along the Douro valley and the Douro International Park. Great descending towards the big dams across the river and in the Douro International park but not technically difficult.
Mountain and hilly stages: Long climbs to the vantage points alongside the river, they make good challenges for those who wish to push themselves a little harder;
Landscape: A good mixture between the typical wine country landscape of the Douro, the rough nature and car-free roads of the Douro Valley and International park and the urban but traditional city of Porto.
Pick up in Porto airport or your hotel and transfer to Chaves. Bike setup and briefing of your tour.
Free afternoon to explore Chaves historic old town and monuments. Chaves is a very old medieval town on the banks of the Tâmega River and with roots dating back to the Roman Empire where it was known as Aqua Flaviae, due to the thermal baths and name of its Roman ruling family. Vestiges of Roman, Arabic and medieval Christian buildings and bridges are still present all over the old town.
After the breakfast at your hotel you’ll start your 1st ride of this tour. Today you’ll leave Chaves, heading to Peso da Régua, along the N2 road, the oldest road in Portugal, and one that crosses Portugal from the northern tip of the country in Chaves all the way down to the southern tip in Faro, Algarve. You’ll ride most of the day on this road, first along the highlands and going through the thermal baths city of Vidago, followed by Vila Pouca de Aguiar and then Vila Real the region capital of Trás-os-Montes.
From Vila Real you will have 1 very long downhill section, interrupted by a short hill, that will be your entrance gate to the magnificent wine country region of the Douro. Enjoy the amazing downhill along the vineyards and that will take you to the Douro River and Peso da Régua the riverside village, important commercial port of this wine country.
Check in at your riverside hotel and either relax enjoying the river views or walk to town to visit the Douro museum to learn about the wine heritage and traditions of this region.
Breakfast at your hotel. Start your ride entereing the EN222 road that runs along the Douro River for 20km in direction of the village of Pinhão. Just before Pinhão, take a right turn to São João da Pequeira, tackling the 13km climb to the top with some of the most wonderful views of both the Torto and the Douro Rivers, as well as the vineyards full valleys. At the top, continue riding the same EN222 road further inland to the Côa River valley. It will be a bit of up and down ride through the small village of Fonte Longa where you can consider a road side stop for refreshments and the on to Mêda, a short 5km to either of the hotels in Longroiva, where you’ll just ride downhill to arrive at your hotel, or Marialva where you’ll have to tackle and extra climb to the top of the village. In either of the villages take some time to visit the castles and surrounding countryside.
Hotel: Longroiva Thermal Hotel or Casas do Côro (premium option)
Enjoy a big breakfast because you’ll need to climb plenty to get to Penhas Douradas today! Start your ride along the Côa Valley with its long and gentle hills, seeing from afar Trancoso, with its castle atop of the hill. After Trancoso you the next town will be Celorico da Beira right at the edge of the Serra da Estrela Natural Park and probably the best place to taste the typical and tasty Da Serra Cheese, a creamy and pungent goat cheese of this mountainous area. Entering the natural park you’ll gently start to climb and as you pass Folgosinho, a nice place to stop and refill, in case you haven’t, you’ll start the long climb to Penhas Douradas. You’ll face a steeper start taking you roughly to 1/3 of the climb and then you’ll have a long flat and downhill section until you’ll enter the gentler 9km climb taking you to your hotel in Penhas Douradas. Relax and enjoy the views from the top in these spectacular mountain retreats.
Breakfast at your mountain retreat and start of your day ride. Even if you didn’t choose to ride the optional day to get to the top of Serra da Estrela, you still have a big day ahead of you, with the longest distance of the tour and some climbing involved too. Start riding downhill to the village of Manteigas that sits at the start of one of the nicest climbs to the top of the Sierra and prepare to ride up the glacier valley starting in Manteigas and ending at Penhas da Saúde. This is a long tough climb of 9km and 8% average incline starting at the Zêzere river, leading you through the beautiful glacier valley and up to the Viriato Lake. Here you’ll start long downhill section, first to Penhas da Saúde, and the to Covilhã, a large city standing at the south edge of the Sierra. After Covilhã the hard climbing is done as the rest of the ride is in flat-ish and rolling hill terrain, with one longer climb along the Fundão area. This frontier area of the country has plenty of small villages along the route where you can stop and refill or have a coffee and you’ll pass through one larger city along the way, Castelo Branco, a good opportunity to rest your legs around a comfort food lunch. From Castelo Branco you still have 30km to ride to get to Vila Velha de Rodão but roughly half are gently downhill towards the Tejo River where your riverside hotel sits.
Hotel: Hotel Vila Portuguesa (upgrade to superior room in premium option)
Breakfast at your hotel and start of your ride, leaving the highlands towards the rolling hills of Alto Alentejo. Your ride starts with a 5km climb from the banks of the Tejo River to the surrounding hill and after a short downhill another gentler but longer 7km climb to Nisa. Once you get to Nisa you are already in Alentejo and in rolling hills terrain, which will constitute most to today’s ride. You’ll ride through Alpalhão, Flor da Rosa, Crato, Alter do Chão and Fronteira, all small villages where you can stop and enjoy a coffee, refill you water bottles and grab a bite while noticing the different architecture and slower pace of this province. The landscape, trees and terrain will be quite different also, as if you entered a new country. After the short climb to Fronteira the rest of the route will be in flat-ish roads with a very gentle climbing approach to Estremoz and then the short and sharp hill to get you to the top of the village. If you’re staying in Estremoz enjoy the views from the top of the Castle Tower and make sure to visit the great restaurants in town. If you’re staying at the Convento de São Paulo you still have to ride 18km more to your mountain retreat in the Ossa Sierra, a beautiful old convent now a hotel. From Estremoz you’ll ride downhill to the base of the mountain and then tackle the remaining 7km at 6% incline that will lead you to your hotel. Relax by the pool and have dinner at the great restaurant in the Convent Courtyard.
Enjoy your breakfast in either of the the high ceiling dining rooms of both historical buildings and head out to ride the plains and rolling hills of Alentejo. If you haven’t ridden it the day before you will ride it today, up the Serra D’Ossa and then down to Redondo, a long 7km climb and then a 5km downhill section. If you stated at Convento de São Paulo you just have to roll downhill and then ride the flat area till Redondo. From here you’ll enter the rolling hills and plains of Alentejo, riding really quiet roads and passing the very small villages of São Manços and Torre de Coelheiros, before going through the more populated Viana do Alentejo. If you are staying at Pousada do Alvito the latter is only 10km from this historic castle and hotel. If you’re staying in Vale do Gaio then you still have 35km of you ride to complete it, mostly in gentle downhill roads that will take you to this hotel just at the edge of the Vale do Gaio reservoir. Relax at the pool and enjoy dinner outside if the weather is favourable.
After your breakfast at the hotel, you’ll start your ride that will take you from the plains to the coast and the beaches of Alentejo. Exiting your hotel you’ll have a downhill section to take you to the banks of the Sado River and its rice fields. After a short sharp climb from the river bank you’ll enter a long flat section that will take you to the village of Grândola, a good place to stop at a café and refill your water bottles. Once you leave Grandola you’ll have to head up the Grandola Sierra, riding the plateau to Santiago do Cacém and then the downhill section to Morgavel Reservoir and thus entering the protected area of the Vicentina Coast, or Southwest Coast as we call it. From here the terrain is flat, in a road parallel to the Coast, passing near Porto Covo and the arriving in Vila Nova de Milfontes, where your seaside or riverside hotel is located.
Hotel: HS Milfontes Hotel or Monte do Zambujeiro (premium option)
Breakfast at your hotel and start of the last ride of this tour that will take you to the southwestern most point of Portugal, Sagres, full of significance due to the Nautical School said to be founded there in the 15th Century a.C. by D. Henrique while preparing expeditions to the African coast. Today’s route is mostly flat with a couple of short climbs along the way as you approach the coast and then get back inland. From Vila Nova de Milfontes you’ll ride south to Odeceixe, where a detour to the beach is highly recommended, it’s just an amazing view the confluence of the beach, the Seixe river mouth and the rugged coastal cliffs of this area. From here you continue to Aljezur, where a stop for coffee or snacks might be in order as you’ll have to ride up the last climb of the tour, a 3km climb that will take you to Vila do Bispo. From here it’s all flat or downhill until the edge of the continent at St. Vincent’s Lighthouse. Trace back to Sagres and check-in at your hotel. Relax and enjoy the city and don’t forget to visit one of the local restaurant to enjoy the marvellous fresh fish and seafood of this coast.
Enjoy your breakfast at your hotel and after check in you’ll be transferred to Lisbon airport or your hotel in the city. End of the tour.
After breakfast at the hotel, this optional day will let you ride up to the highest point of continental Portugal, the snow station of Torre, which sits at 2000m high up the Sierra da Estrela and will let you know the western side of this mountain range.
Start by riding downhill from your hotel towards Sabugeiro and from there ride up to Torre, a long 18km climb with an average 8% incline but with a flat 2km section along Lagoa Comprida Reservoir. It’s a tough climb that will get you to 2000m high with amazing views from the top. At the top enjoy some coffee or refreshments and snacks and trace back downhill to the crossing to Loriga, a long 20km downhill section and the fiercest climb to the top if you were riding it that way. From Loriga you have roughly 40km to ride around the Estrela Natural Park with 2 climbs: one of 3km right after Loriga and the next one of 6 km as you reach the EN230 road. From the EN 230 road to your hotel there’s 20km of gentle downhill. Make sure to visit the thermal baths and pools at your hotel to relax and prepare for another long day ahead.
Hotel: H20 Hotel (upgrade to superior room in premium option)