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, and one that creates a perfect route for cycling in Portugal. From the foothills of the Peneda-Gerês mountain to the Viana do Castelo, where the river meets the sea, this self-guided cycling itinerary takes you to many ancient towns and Romanesque churches dotting the pristine Lima Valley, where you have the chance to meet the local warm-hearted people and taste some great food and wines.
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.
Please note: the 2024 itinerary will alter slightly in order to explore more off the beaten path areas. Please enquire for more details.
Click to view map
Day 2: Arcos de Valdevez circular route | 24.5km
On your first cycling day, leave the village of Ponta da Barca to enter quiet agricultural land, interspersed with tiny hamlets and patches of woodland. Cross the River Lima via the Touvedo dam and continue through the countryside to cross the River Vez and reach the attractive and exciting town of Arcos de Valdevez. Take some time to explore the town, before returning to your hotel in Ponte da Barca.
Day 3: Ponte Da Barca to Ponte De Lima | 26km
On the second day, make your way into the “Land of Nobrega” for amazing views and the chance to see two of the most important medieval monasteries, Crasto Monastery and Bravães Monastery. Then follow the riverside cycle path along the River Lima to the gorgeous historical town of Ponte de Lima, accompanied by fields and trees, until you reach the town’s ancient Roman bridge.
Day 4: Bertiandos Lagoons circular route | 31.6km
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: Freixo circular route | 38km
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.
- Cycling for the day: 38km
- Accommodation: Hotel OCA Ipanema or similar
Day 6: Ponte De Lima to Viana Do Castelo | 25km
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: 25km
- Accommodation: Dona Aninhas or similar
Day 7: Montedor circular route | 30km
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: 30km
- Accommodation: Dona Aninhas or similar
Day 8: Departure
Individual departure after breakfast.
What to expect
Accommodation is on a bed and breakfast basis staying in 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
- Hotel Fonte Velha (Ponte da Barca)
- Hotel Imperio do Norte (Ponte de Lima)
- Dona Aninhas (Viana do Castelo)
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.
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 and terrain
This is an easy trip with daily distances ranging between 20 and 35km, 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).
- 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 (one set per room)
- Private transfer from Porto Airport to Ponte da Barca on Day 1
- 24/7 phone support by our local office/representative
- Transfer from Viana do Castelo to Porto on day 8
- 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 and supplements
- Single room supplement for members of a group (supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room / single use of a double room
- This holiday is NOT available for solo travellers
- Half board meal plan (including 7 dinners)
- Additional nights along the route
- Transfer from Viana do Castelo to Porto
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.