Cycling in Portugal: From the Mountains to the Sea
In the far north of Portugal, on the border with Spain, lies the Minho region: a wild, rugged area of historical and cultural significance. You cycle through small villages and extensive vineyards, following the River Minho towards the Atlantic Ocean. The scenery is a stunning combination of high mountains, rolling river scenes, historic towns and dramatic coastal landscape. You will stay in authentic accommodation offering friendly Portuguese hospitality and delicious regional cuisine. There is plenty of opportunity to relax and enjoy the golden stretches of beach you cycle past, maybe accompanied by a glass of the local Vinho Verde (white wine) for which the region is well known. The ride finishes in Porto, named best European City Destination in 2013, 2014, and again for 2017.
• Cycle through rugged scenery and mountain villages
• Enjoy mouthwateringly fresh fish and seafood
• Taste the local Vinho Verde directly from the vineyards
• Relax on miles of golden sand along the Atlantic Ocean
• Stay in delightful, handpicked accommodation
• 7 nights 3 and 4-star hotels and guesthouses (see accommodation section)
• Luggage transfers
• Local bike hire
• All breakfasts and 3 wine tastings
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DAY 1 - Transfer from Porto to Moncao
An airport transfer is included to pick you up from Porto airport (please ensure you arrive before 2.10pm). By the time you reach Moncao, the fortified town on the River Minho, you will come to understand why the Portuguese are so proud of the fact that the Spanish were never able to conquer them. Upon arrival there is time to sample some of the local wine.
DAY 2 - Moncao to Caminha
On this stage you pedal westwards, along the River Minho to the Atlantic Ocean. Your journey takes you through extensive vineyards dedicated to the production of Vinho Verde (translates as young wine) which is a slightly carbonated, lower-alcohol wine; the perfect drink for a warm afternoon! You can pick up a bottle at the elegant Brejoeira Palace, which is a leading producer of top quality Vinho Verde. Along today's route you will cycle past landmarks of the battles between Portugal and Spain, such as the 17th Century stronghold at Valenca and the Vila Nova de Cerveira fort. That evening arrive in the elegant town of Caminha, located on the estuary of the River Minho, with a history dating back to pre-Roman times.
DAY 3 - Caminha to Ponte de Lima
Today you spend the morning cycling along the dramatic Atlantic Ocean coastline, through fishing villages that appear unchanged for centuries. Arriving in Viana do Castelo the peace and quiet is replaced by the buzz of this lively city, situated on the estuary of the River Lima. Viana has an impressive maritime history and the wealth created by this is demonstrated in the narrow lanes, crowded with Manueline manors and Rococo palaces. A must-see is the 19th Century Byzantine Santa Lucia Church on the hilltop overlooking the city, worth the steep climb for the breathtaking view. From here you cycle inland until you arrive in Ponte de Lima, the oldest village in Portugal. Your accommodation tonight is in a delightfully rural setting, and there is time to taste some of the wine and honey made on the estate itself.
DAY 4 - Day 4: Ponte de Lima-Ponte da barca - Arcos de Valdevez loop
Cycle along the Lima river to Ponte da Barca. The town's historical centre has a number of manor houses (some of which have been adapted to provide accommodation for tourists), as well as some beautiful monuments dating from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century. The route continues to Arcos de Valdevez, a town is situated in the valley of the River Vez and still retains much of the typical charm of the Alto Minho province - luxuriant green landscapes and the traditional architecture of its buildings, amongst which the most impressive are the manor houses. The municipality of Arcos de Valdevez is located inside the boundaries of the Peneda Geres National Park, where nature still conserves all of its original charm.
DAY 5 - Ponte de Lima to Barcelos
The ride today follows the ancient Portuguese route towards Santiago de Compostela, and whether you are religious or not, is a really special experience. It is a route that those who have walked it for centuries, do so knowing they will meet challenges, experience great joy, and learn the lesson of life. The pleasant route today is through cornfields and vineyards to the pretty town of Barcelos on the River Cavado. Barcelos is the centre of the pottery industry in Portugal. There are markets held in the town on most days and a visit to one of these is highly recommended.
DAY 6 - Barcelos to Vila do Conde
The ride back to the Atlantic today is a short stage, so why not take some extra time to enjoy a great lunch the Portuguese way: a leisurely, several course meal that reminds you again why the Portuguese people are so proud of their cuisine. You arrive in Vila do Conde where you can enjoy a walk around the manors and palaces within the town centre, and take a leisurely stroll along the beach before dinner.
DAY 7 - Vila do Conde to Porto
The last stage of your holiday takes you on quiet cycle paths along the coast; along sand dunes, and passing through fishing villages and a seabird reserve. You approach Porto, and enter via the estuary of the River Douro. A UNESCO World Heritage City and best European City destination for 2013, 2014, and again for 2017, Porto is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. The old centre boasts more than 1500 listed monuments, and the history of the traditional Port Wine can be explored by visiting many of the Port cellars which are open to the public and can be appreciated during the included Port tasting.
DAY 8 - End Porto
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