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Jewels of Lima Valley by Bike  The Natural Adventure Company 2

Cycling in Portugal’s Lima Valley

Overview

While it’s the River Minho that gives the region its name, it’s another river, Lima, which arguably bears the true spirit and authenticity of Minho. From the foothills of the Peneda-Gerês mountain to the Viana do Castelo, where the river meets the sea, this self guided cycling itinerary will reveal you the many ancient towns and Romanesque churches dotting the pristine Lima Valley, where you will have the chance to meet the local warm-hearted people and taste some great food and wines. You will explore the many minor roads along the north and south sides of the river, connecting a cluster of peaceful little settlements preserving the local culture and a proud sense of tradition, as well as the crown jewels of the Minho: Ponte de Lima, known for its vibrant market and historic centre, and Viana do Castelo with its pearly white, neo-Byzantine Santa Luzia church.

Based in three comfortable hotels, this tour is accessible and suitable for beginner and expert cyclists looking for a mix of adventure and cultural exploration and families looking to have some great time together amid beautiful unspoiled nature.

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Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival Porto/Ponte da Barca

Arriving in Porto, a private transfer will take you to Ponte da Barca, where you will be able to explore the town’s idyllic, willow-shaded riverfront, a handsome 16th-century bridge, and charming old centre.

Day 2: Circular Route to Crasto | 20 km

On the first day visit the “Land of Nobrega” and discover the landscape of the Lima Valley interior and two of the most important medieval monasteries in the region, Crasto Monastery and Bravães Monastery, before returning to your hotel in Ponte da Barca.

Day 3: Ponte Da Barca to Ponte De Lima | 18 km

On the second day, you will follow the river downstream, leaving Ponte da Barca and arriving in Ponte de Lima via the riverside cycle path. The town springs to life on weekends, when Portuguese tourists descend in droves, and every other Monday, when a vast market spreads along the riverbank. Even if you can’t make the market, Ponte de Lima’s small, historic centre dotted with cafes and vast riverside gardens is great for strolling around.

Day 4: Circular Route to the Bertiandos Lagoons | 30 km

Explore the medieval town of Ponte de Lima and the Lagoas nature reserve. You will pass a famous watermill in Estorãos, and the medieval chapel of Espirito Santo in Moreira do Lima.

Day 5: Circular Route to Freixo | 35 km

Today’s tour takes you along secondary roads to the village of Freixo, known for its houses, built with the stones from a Roman town. From there it’s just a short distance to reach the Way of St. James, where the yellow arrows will guide you through Correlhã to end the journey back in Ponte de Lima.

Day 6: Ponte De Lima to Viana Do Castelo | 25 km

This cycling day links the towns of Ponte the Lima and Viana do Castelo, located at the mouth of the River Lima. Cross the Eiffel bridge to arrive in the city centre, allowing plenty of time to discover the treasures of this medieval city. The old quarter showcases leafy 19th-century boulevards and narrow lanes crowded with Manueline manors and rococo palaces; all dramatically presided over by the majestic Santa Luzia church on the hilltop high above the town. 

  • Cycling for the day: 34 km
  • Accommodation: Hotel Rali or similar

Day 7: Circular Route to Montedor | 30 km

This section follows part of the Atlantic Route to the Montedor Lighthouse. From there, you’ll climb to the top of the iconic Santa Luzia mountain, from where you can admire the entire Lima Valley and the town of Viana do Castelo. Some people say that is the best viewing spot in Portugal.

  • Cycling for the day: 30 km
  • Accommodation: Hotel Rali or similar

Day 8: Departure

After breakfast, a private transfer will take you to Porto Airport, or city centre (in case you would add additional nights or continue your journey).

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodation is on a bed and breakfast basis using nice, mainly 3-star hotels. They all have private en-suite rooms and offer a warm welcome to cyclists, traditional hospitality and delicious local food. We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour. Please note that many rooms with en-suite/private facilities have a shower rather than a bath, usually because of limited space.

Click to view our default hotels for this trip

Hotels are subject to availability. In case a hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a property of equal standard. We will provide full accommodation details upon booking confirmation.

Meals

Breakfast is included (usually buffet breakfast/coffee and toast/bread/croissant). When no restaurant location is available on the route, lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or packed lunch can be pre-ordered from your hotel the night before.

Difficulty & terrain

This is an easy trip with daily distances ranging between 20 and 35 km, going on river and forest paths with almost no elevation gain (read more about difficulty grades). We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime.

When to go

This trip is available from March until the end of October. The flexibility of self-guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates, and you can start your trip on any date during the season. There is a higher chance for rain in the spring and autumn months, but the temperatures are cooler (nicer for cycling).

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Our recommended airport for this tour is Porto.

Inclusions

Included

  • 7 overnights with breakfast as detailed in the itinerary
  • 6 days bike rental, with pannier bags and helmet
  • Luggage transfer between accommodations (1 bag per person, up to 15kg/bag)
  • Telephone support for emergencies
  • Detailed route notes (1 set per room)
  • Private transfer from Porto Airport to Ponte da Barca on Day 1
  • Private transfer from Viana do Castelo to Porto Airport on Day 8
  • 24/7 phone support by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Airfare
  • Lunches, dinners, drinks and snacks
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Local tourist taxes
  • Any items not specifically mentioned as included in the programme

Options, extras & supplements

  • Single room supplement for members of a group
  • Half board meal plan (including 7 dinners)
  • Additional nights along the route
  • E-bike upgrade

Complimentary bike rental

We offer complimentary standard 29″ hard-tail mountain bikes that are most suitable for the paths you will be riding on. The bikes come with pannier bags and helmet, and you can order additional handlebar bag, gel pad for the saddle, and GPS device with the route (upon request). The bike you will receive is regularly checked; still, basic knowledge on bike maintenance is highly recommended, as you will be cycling by yourself. E-bikes are also available at an extra charge.

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