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Rota Vicentina Complete 3

Cycling in South Portugal: Santiago do Cacém to Lagos

Overview

South Portugal is full of authentic villages and spectacular coastal areas, and travelling by bike will allow you to enjoy all its highlights within a fairly short amount of time. This is a comprehensive itinerary, that will take you through the best places of the two very distinct regions of Alentejo and Algarve, on quiet country roads, suitable for both beginner and intermediate cyclists. You will have the chance to enjoy many spectacular viewpoints and sandy beaches along the Atlantic Ocean and venture inland where you will experience the local hospitality in the authentic villages where you will stay for the overnights. Your adventure will be spiced up by the local cuisine, offering great seafood, fish and black pork, as well as the local wines, so characteristic of South Portugal. The trip ends in Lagos, where you have very convenient connections to both Lisbon and Faro airports.

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Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Santiago do Cacém

Once you arrive on your own at the hotel in Santiago do Cacém, you will meet our local representative who will deliver the bikes and brief you about the tour.

Day 2: Santiago do Cacém to Cercal do Alentejo | 37 km

On your first day of cycling, you will leave Santiago towards Cercal do Alentejo, cycling on countryside roads surrounded by Cork-Oak forests. Passing by Vale das Éguas village, you will be able to try and buy some of the best local wines at the Herdade do Cebolal wine cellar. A few kilometres ahead you will find Campilhas reservoir, a nice place to freshen up, just 10 km from your final destination.

  • Cycling for the day: 37 km, ↑519 m ↓554 m
  • Accommodation: Solar do Alentejo or similar
  • Included Meals: Breakfast in the hotel

Day 3: Cercal do Alentejo to Vila Nova de Milfontes | 33 km

The route today takes you inland to the hills of São Luis exploring the rural landscape. São Luis village is a non-touristic village that allows you to peek at the local people’s everyday lives. Leaving São and heading towards the sea, you will climb the highest point by the coast (Cerro de São Domingos), enjoying the great downhill almost until the pearl of Alentejo (Vila Nova de Milfontes). A village surrounded by the Atlantic and the River Mira, a favourite destination for many Portuguese tourists. You will have enough time to explore Milfontes on foot or go and lay down at one of the nice beaches there.

  • Cycling for the day: 33 km, ↑461 m ↓596 m
  • Accommodation: Mil Réis or similar

Day 4: Vila Nova de Milfontes to Zambujeira do Mar | 36 km

The route today will take you through beautiful coastal villages. We recommend you a short detour north to Milfontes fishing harbour before heading towards Zambujeira, crossing the bridge over the River Mira and passing the villages of Longueira and Almograve, peddling on dirt tracks through the cork oaks and vineyards. The detour to Almograve beach is also worth the effort. After reaching the village of Cavaleiro you will get to the most famous lighthouse in the region, the Cabo Sardão, were the beautiful path along the cliffs will allow you to enjoy the maritime breeze and views, just before reaching Zambujeira do Mar, and it´s beautiful beach reachable by foot.

  • Cycling for the day: 36 km, ↑433 m ↓415 m
  • Accommodation: Rosa dos Ventos or similar
  • Included Meals: Breakfast in the hotel

Day 5: Zambujeira do Mar to Aljezur | 48 km

As you leave Baiona behind, the scenery becomes more rural with intermittent villages and some forested areas. After a short section on a busy road, you’ll cycle through yet another set of villages as the city of Vigo appears in front of you. Ride through Castrelos Park to avoid the busy city centre.

  • Cycling for the day: 48 km, ↑666 m ↓692 m
  • Accommodation: Vicentina Hotel or similar

Day 6: Aljezur to Carrapateira | 51 km

Leaving the hotel in Aljezur, you head to the Moorish Castle to enjoy the stunning views of Amoreira Valley and continue pedalling towards the coast. Today you will pass through two beaches (and favourite surf spots for the locals): Amoreira and Arrifana. You will also explore the countryside of these lands, until the Village of Carrapateira, where a final loop near the Ocean will take you to your hotel.

  • Cycling for the day: 51 km, ↑784 m ↓776 m
  • Accommodation: Pensão das Dunas or similar
  • Included Meals: Breakfast in the hotel

Day 7: Carrapateira to Sagres | 40 km

Today’s route starts in Carrapateira and heads south stopping at one of the highlights of this trip: Saint Vincent’s Cape, the southwesternmost point of Portugal and mainland Europe. After enjoying the place, and reflecting on its significance for the Portuguese golden era of discoveries, you continue to your hotel in Sagres.

  • Cycling for the day: 40 km, ↑530 m ↓541 m
  • Accommodation: Mareta View or similar

Day 8: Sagres to Lagos | 42 km

The last part of the tour will take you through one of the most popular holiday areas in the region, crossing several beaches and small villages, and arriving at the legendary city of Lagos, the place where Infante Dom Henrique has planned his maritime discoveries and expansion. It is a perfect place to finish your active challenge and maybe add extra nights to explore the surroundings or go to the beach to enjoy the warm water.

  • Cycling for the day: 42 km, ↑776 m ↓798 m
  • Accommodation: Tivoli or similar

Day 9: Departure

Departure on your own, or extension upon request.

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodation is on a bed and breakfast basis using nice, mainly 3-star hotels. All of them have private en-suite rooms and offer a warm welcome to walkers, 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 default hotels

Hotel D.Nuno (Santiago do Cacém) 
Solar do Alentejo (Cercal)
Mil Réis (Vila Nova de Milfontes) 
Rosa dos Ventos (Zambujeira) 
Vicentina Hotel (Aljezur) 
Pensão das Dunas (Carrapateira) 
Mareta View (Sagres) 
Tivoli (Lagos)

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

We rate the difficulty level as easy to moderate, with daily distances ranging between 35 and 50 km, going on quiet coastal and forest asphalt paths with limited car traffic, and a few occasional climbs (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 February till the end of June and September until the end of October. It can be organised in July and August upon request, but there might be changes in the itinerary and the pricing. 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

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By plane

Our recommended airport for this tour is Lisbon.

By train or bus

Inclusions

Included

  • 8 overnights with breakfast, as detailed in the itinerary
  • 7 days bike rental, with panniers, lock, pump, and tools included
  • Luggage transfer between accommodations (1 bag per person, up to 15kg/bag)
  • Detailed route notes (1 x per room)
  • GPS device with pre-loaded tracks
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • 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 (or solo travellers)
  • Mandatory surcharge in case you are travelling during the Easter period
  • Extra nights along the route
  • E-bike upgrade
  • Private airport transfers

Complimentary bike rental

We offer complimentary standard trekking bikes that are most suitable for the paths you will be riding on. The bikes come with pannier bags, lock, pump, and repair tools. 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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