Biking in the Algarve
The Algarve in Portugal is known for its warm climate, beautiful beaches and lovely food. But when it comes to activities in nature, one of the best things that you can do is biking. Biking in the Algarve is a surprising journey through beautiful landscapes and precious coastal villages. The region is perfect to explore by bicycle and is fun for both beginners and professionals. Especially in the hills of Monchique, seasoned cyclists will find great challenge, as there is plenty of elevation. There are plenty of places to mountain bike as well. In the Algarve you can also find several long-distance bicycle tracks, all the way through the region. After reading this article, you will know why the Algarve is the ultimate destination to explore on two wheels and where to go biking in the Algarve.
When to cycle in the Algarve
The Algarve is a fantastic holiday destination all year round. For cyclists, the best experience is off peak summer season. In July and August it can get too hot for cycling and the Algarve will be packed with tourists during these two months. It is better to bike in the other 10 months of the year.
If you like to bike off the beaten track, then mountain biking in the Algarve will not let you down. There are more than enough dirt roads in the Algarve for the adventurous mountain biker. Especially in the hills around Monchique, you will find plenty of challenges. It is also great to mountain bike in the Vicentina Natural Park. If you have some experience in mountain biking and want to discover new tracks with a guide, we absolutely recommend The Mountain Bike Adventure in Lagos. They will take you to new places so you can have fun and work on your skills. If you prefer to do mountain biking by yourself, check out this overview of the 9 best mountain bike routes in the Algarve.
Rent a bike (bike shops)
Do you like to cycle on your holiday, but do not wish to bring your own bike? Then you can rent a bike. You can do this at a local bike shop. Most bike shops have a website and you can rent bikes online. Bike shops often also have local knowledge of beautiful bike routes, so make sure to ask them for advice. While some bike shops only focus on their local area, there are some bike shops that can deliver bikes to any location in the Algarve. Moreover, if you have problems with your bike, a bike shop can repair your bike.
Some good bike shops to rent a bike are:
- Algarve Bike Holidays in Albufeira.
- Algarve Bike in Aljezur.
- Lisa Bikes in Estoi.
- MTBAlgarve in Faro.
- BikeRent Portugal in Quarteira.
- Coast Supply in Lagos.
- Seahorse Bike Rental in Olhão.
- Onebike in Portimão.
- Maretta Shop in Sagres.
- Abilio Bikes Shop & Rentals in Tavira.
- Bike A Wish in Vilamoura.
- Funbike Algarve in Vilamoura.
It is possible to book bike tours in many places in the Algarve. There are individual bike tours and guided bike tours. With individual bike tours, you will be given a bike and a detailed route. The advantage is of this is that you can go at your own pace and stop when you want to. Guided bike tours are often offered by bike shops or specialied companies. A guided bike tour can last from a couple of hours to more than a week, and anything in between. For example, companies like Lisa Bikes offer complete cycling holidays.
If you are interested in a bike tour, contact one of the local bike shops listed above. In addition to local bike shops, there are also some companies that specialize in bike tours. Check out the following bike tour companies:
- Volta do Mar in Lagos (for beautiful scenic views).
- The Mountain Bike Adventure in Lagos (for mountain bikers).
- Ocean Blue in Burgau.
Or you can book a guided bike tour with GetYourGuide. These are some of our favourite bike tours that you can book online:
Major biking routes in the Algarve
One of the most adventurous ways to discover the Algarve is by bike. The Algarve has four major walking and biking routes that are interconnected:
- Rota Vicentina
- Via Algarviana
- Grande Rota do Guadiana
- Ecovia do Litoral
Below you can read more about them.
The Rota Vicentina in the Vicentina natural park is a long walking trail on the west coast of Portugal. While the trail is primarily for hiking, it is also great to cycle the route. The trail is well marked in both directions. Sections of the trail vary in length between 15 and 25 kilometres. There are many options here, ranging from a trip of a couple of hours to more than a week. The best thing to do is to take the Historical Route by bike. If you want to stay on two wheels, skip the Fishermen Route, since some parts can only be done on foot. Check out the website of Rota Vicentina to plan your trip.
The Via Algarviana is a long-distance walking trail from the Cape of St. Vincent to Alcoutim. The trail is also perfect for cycling (especially mountain biking). It has a length of about 300 kilometres. You don’t have to cycle everything of course: you can also just cycle a small part of it. The Via Algarviana is a beautiful track, that will let you discover the interior of the Algarve. At the Cape of St. Vincent, the trail is linked to the Ecovia do Litoral.
Grande Rota do Guadiana
There is a nice walking and cycling trail in the eastern Algarve, from Vila Real de Santo António all the way to Alcoutim, called the Grande Rota do Guadiana. It follows the Guadiana river. The trail is surrounded by beautiful nature. This trail is perfect for mountain biking as well. In Alcoutim, this route is connected to the Via Algarviana. In Vila Real de Santo António, the Grande Rota do Guadiana is connected to the Ecovia do Litoral.
Ecovia do Litoral
The Ecovia do Litoral is a biking route all the way from the east to the west of the Algarve. This route is a favourite among cyclists. The bike route stretches over a distance of around 214 kilometres and takes about 18 hours to fully complete. The Ecovia do Litoral starts in Vila Real de Santo António and ends at the Cape of St. Vincent in Sagres. It is actually part of Eurovelo, a European network of biking tracks. Literally, the Portuguese word litoral can be translated as coast. It is no surprise that the Ecovia do Litoral route goes along the entire southern coastline of Portugal. Along the way, you will see stunning beaches, beautiful cliffs and natural parks. It is a beautiful route, and will let you discover the Algarve in a very unique way.
Riding the Ecovia do Litoral is done in six stages. Before doing this route, check out the website of Ecovia do Litoral to plan your trip.
Stage 1: from Vila Real de Santo António to Tavira
You begin your journey in the far east of the Algarve, in a town called Vila Real de Santo António. Vila Real de Santo António is situated next to the Guadiana river, which divides Portugal from Spain. From the start of the Ecovia you will continue your trip to beautiful small villages, such as Altura and the spectacular Cacela Velha. This town offers a great view over the natural park of Ria Formosa. Move ahead to Cabanas de Tavira, crossing the salt pans and finally arrive in Tavira. Tavira is one of the most beautiful towns in the entire Algarve.
Stage 2: from Tavira to Faro
After Tavira you will reach the fishermen town of Santa Luzia. This is the octopus capital of the Algarve. Around Santa Luzia you will find yourself in one the most beautiful parts of the Ecovia do Litoral. This part alone makes cycling in the Algarve worthwhile. From Santa Luzia you are heading to the towns of Torre D’Aires and Olhão. Next stop is the capital of the Algarve: Faro. In this historical city you can still find Roman and Arab ruins.
Stage 3: from Faro to Albufeira
Leaving Faro, you wil see the landscape change, as you ride off to the west of the Algarve. From here on, the beaches are decorated by impressive steep cliffs. Marvel at the rock formations near the beaches of Falésia and Olhos de Água and notice how different they are from the beaches in the east of the Algarve. After a while you will arrive in Albufeira. This popular touristic town is full of restaurants, clubs and bars.
Stage 4: from Albufeira to Portimão
Next stop: Portimão. The roads are not bad, but the signs of the Ecovia need improvement, and it is possible that you might get lost on some roads. If you do, you can always ask directions to someone. Locals are usually very willing to help.
Stage 5: from Portimão to Lagos
Continuing your journey, you will arrive in the popular city of Lagos. Near the town of Lagos you can find beautiful rock formations, breathtaking caves and spectacular turquoise waters.
Stage 6: from Lagos to Sagres
Leaving Lagos, you will find yourself in the remarkable town of Sagres after about 30 kilometres. Enjoy the beautiful cliff views around this area. The impressive cliffs rise about 75 metres vertically above the Atlantic Ocean. From Sagres it takes you only a couple of kilometres towards your final destination: the Cape of St. Vincent. You have now arrived at the most southwestern part of Europe. The sea here is extremely ferocious, due to the strong winds. You have now successfully completed the entire Ecovia do Litoral track. If you can’t stop cycling, you can continue your journey on the Via Algarviana or the Rota Vicentina.