Contrasts of the Alentejo Cycling

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****# Based on 10 customer reviews
Contrasts of the Alentejo Cycling 35 10
  • Gloriously easy cycling: coastal paths, country trails, orange groves and poppy-strewn fields
  • Wild deserted beaches untouched by tourism; small coves, high cliffs, fine sand dunes
  • Lovely warm climate - around 300 days of sunshine a year
  • Rugged coastal castles, colourful fishing harbours, tiny white villages unchanged for centuries
  • Exquisite hotels; wonderfully friendly people; swimming possibilities every day

At a glance...

  • 7 nights, hotel-to-hotel
  • Departs Selected dates from 9 Mar '14 to 25 May '14
  • Continental breakfast, 5 picnic lunches (3 for Spring 2013 dates) and 5 evening meals
  • Route notes and maps provided
  • High quality bikes provided

Excellent for...

  • Varied routes for nature lovers and botanists.
  • Destinations with bird watching opportunities.
  • Lots of swimming opportunities.
  • Great vegetarian meal options.
  • Eco-friendly holidays.
  • Perfect for couples.
  • Follow stunning coastal routes.

Contrasts of the Alentejo Cycling

In the far south-west corner of the Iberian Peninsula between Lisbon and the Algarve is a genuine hidden treasure. The Parque Natural Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina is the largest protected coastal Natural Park in Europe, encompassing a rolling sea of verdant hills and river valleys, and over 100km of wild and pristine beaches and coast.

This is a rural region of tiny white villages and wheat fields, the breadbasket of the nation, where ruined windmills crumble on sun-drenched hilltops, and sheepskin jacketed shepherds with silver tipped canes stride over fields full of lavender. People have lived here since Paleolithic times, but today's population is very small and you often seem to have the coast and countryside to yourself!

Our cycling holiday here begins inland with three nights in our stylish hotel nestling amid fragrant meadows of white rockrose. It's then a spin downhill towards the turquoise ocean into the Natural Park for the rest of the week. Two days are spent discovering rugged castles, wild beaches and whitewashed fishing villages near Vila Nova de Milfontes, before heading further south for your final two nights on a real smugglers' coast of steep bays and bluffs, cycling along river valleys to meet the ocean.

We were amazed by the quality of the accommodation we found miles out in the countryside. The three exclusive rural properties (two rustic, one modern, the largest with 8 rooms) have all been stylishly transformed by their charismatic and enthusiastic English speaking owners who are so welcoming it is like staying with friends!


Not quite what you're looking for - then why not take a look at some of our similar holidays?

Prefer to speak to someone?

Call us on: 1-800-567-6286 or email us: info@breakaway-adventures.com.
We are open 9:00-5:30 Mon-Fri, 9:00-12:00 Sat.

Day-by-day itinerary

Day 1 - Arrive in Alentejo

We meet you at Funcheira station and transfer you to your Casas Novas hotel in time for a swim in the pool before dinner. (Private transfers from airport to hotel available on request.)

Day 2 - Artisans and Market Towns 21km/13mi or 31km/19mi

A circular southern route through lavender and eucalyptus give an extraordinary insight into ways of life unchanged for centuries! Buy home produced cheese from Dona Mariana's family shop, open since 1876, and look out for dapper shepherds - they wear beautiful sheepskin cloaks that could be tailored on Savile Row! Drop into Cercal - a bustling market town - to admire Senor Godinho's intricate leatherwork, then cycle back for a candlelit dinner on the garden terrace.

Day 3 - Casas Novas Northern Circuit 18km/11mi or 46km/29mi

Amazing - paddy fields of rice in Portugal? Pedal through them to follow the verdant River Campilhas for a short ride, or carry on to complete a longer loop. You can stop at tiny cafes en route (even if locals stare like you're an astronaut!) and it is gorgeously easy riding as you coast through white villages to Sao Domingos with its shady plazas and orange trees, before meandering back past black pigs snoozing under olive trees.

Day 4 - Casas Novas to Ribeira da Azenha 37km/23mi

Leaving Casas Novas behind, the countryside gradually changes from cork oak meadows to poppy strewn wheat fields as you cycle west. Catch your first glimpse of blue ocean on a fantastic 3km freewheel downhill breathing in great gusts of scented rockrose as you enter the protected Natural Park. You'll receive a warm welcome from Balt (and his pets - three donkeys and two ostrich!) at his sophisticated cutting edge hotel just 2km from the sea.

Day 5 - Beaches, Castles and Harbours Circuit 29km/18mi or 33km/21mi

Pedal past lemon trees and vineyards to a C16 coastal fortress - Forte da Ilha - where wild, deserted beaches go on for miles! Lunch in a restaurant with views of offshore islands, then take the coastal track below high dunes to the bright boats and palm trees of Porto Covo harbour. Join local fishermen for a medronho in a seafront cafe, then cycle back past ancient windmills and enjoy a stargazing chat with Balt tonight - he's a keen astronomer.

Day 6 - Ribeira da Azenha to Brejao 32km/20mi

You head south today deeper into the Natural Park - empty, scenic roads lead you to scarlet Cabo Sardao Lighthouse and the most incredible stretch of coastal cycling yet. This is the only place in the world you can see storks nesting precariously on cliffs below your picnic spot! Beach-hop down the coast to Zambujeira village before arriving at Miguel and Rita's pretty cottages in Brejao just 3km from the beach. You'll eat out in the village for the next two nights.

Day 7 - Odeceixe Valley Route 28km/17mi

Watch fishermen landing their catch in Azenha do Mar harbour, then head south through strawberry fields to Odeceixe - a river valley full of snowy egrets, wheat fields and vine terraces. You follow the river to a glorious sweeping yellow sand beach with views to the corner of Europe! It's a spectacular place to end the week. Back at the hotel, cool off with a swim in the private lake, and enjoy dinner in the village again tonight.

Day 8 - Leave Alentejo

Return home after breakfast.


For a longer tour, why not consider combining this with our Cycling in 'The Real Algarve'

Where you stay

During your holiday you stay at the following hotels. If you'd like to extend your time at any of these or, if you'd like to enhance your stay with an upgraded room, just let us know at the time of booking.

If you'd like to keep your bikes with you for any extra nights we can arrange this for you for just £22 per adult per day and £16 per child per day. Please contact us for further details.

Verdemar Hotel , Casas Novas   (4 Acorn)

Verdemar is a converted farm in a tiny white village of Casas Novas in the heart of the Alentejo countryside. Verdemar means ‘Green Sea' in Portuguese, and is a reference to the rolling green hills that characterise the area.

There are 7 rooms - four in the main building where there is also a lounge with a selection of books, an open plan kitchen and a seating area. Two rooms can be found in one building at the bottom of the garden, and one other stands alone 15m from the main house.

The dining room is an attractive conservatory adjacent to the lounge with views out over the enormous garden. In the centre of the garden is a lovely pool area, and hammocks are thoughtfully slung between the olive, pear, prune, plum peach, fig and orange trees! (Home made jam makes regular appearances at breakfast).

Each of the rooms has it's own character. All the rooms but one have air conditioning - the one that doesn't has thick walls and stays cool without it, but temperatures while you are there will not be excessive.

Further details on the hotel website, and independent reviews on Trip Advisor.

Local facilities:

  • Visa cards accepted
  • Mastercard accepted
  • Swimming pool
  • Air conditioning

Tres Marias Hotel, Ribeira da Azenha   (4 acorn)

Set on the coastal plain just 2km or so from the ocean, Tres Marias began as an ostrich farm, (they still have two), then became a restaurant run by Baltz that gradually evolved into a small hotel.

The present accommodation is in two buildings around 300m apart. The main building is a fusion of Alentejo décor and avant garde architecture mainly in modern concrete.

Each room has its own terrace, and inside sharp lines are softened with muted colours, and huge windows provide masses of natural light. Several rooms have the bed on a balcony above a small living room.

Six rooms are in this building along with the dining and lounge area, and two further rooms are in a separate farm building a short walk away. Rooms are classically presented with reed matting, stripped wooden doors and mosquito netting over soft white beds and duvets - they look like something out of a magazine.

Further details on the hotel website, and independent reviews on Trip Advisor.

Local facilities:

  • Visa cards accepted
  • Mastercard accepted

Cerro da Fontinha, Brejao   (4 Acorn)

Cerro da Fontinha is a pretty original farm in a eucalyptus grove next to a natural swimming lake. It is only about 2km from the nearest beach, and is surrounded by farmland that produces prodigious amounts of lettuce, watercress and strawberries to name but a few.

There are six cottages here, all of them include a small kitchenette. Because the houses are self catering breakfast is provided to your room.

All the cottages are spacious and light, with wooden beams and exposed original walls in places to show you how the old building was made. This is very much an eco lodge where everything is recycled and everything runs on solar power.

Further details on the hotel website, and independent reviews on Trip Advisor.

Local facilities:

  • Visa cards accepted
  • Mastercard accepted

Nearby facilities:

  • Shops
  • Banking / cheques cashed



Extra nights and stop over hotels

If you'd like to extend your trip with extra nights at the start or end, or if you'd like to arrange a stop off point en-route, then we recommend the following hotels.

Hotel Lisboa Plaza, Lisbon   (4 star)

Hotel Lisboa Plaza, Lisbon

Owned by the same family since 1953, the 4-star Hotel Lisboa Plaza is an imaginatively designed hotel, just off the famous Avenida da Liberdade. All rooms have en-suite marble floored bathrooms, air conditioning, satellite television, direct dial telephones, hairdryers and mini-bar. The public rooms are elegantly furnished and there is a pleasant bar and dining room.

Further details on the hotel website, and independent reviews on Trip Advisor.

Local facilities:

  • Shops
  • Market
  • Banking / cheques cashed
  • ATM / Cash machine
  • Visa cards accepted
  • Mastercard accepted
  • American Express accepted
  • Hairdryer
  • Wifi hotspot
  • Television
  • Minibar
  • Air conditioning
  • Safe

Travel options

Starting point for this holiday

Transfers included from Funcheira train station at 16:09, and back to Funcheira train station at 10:30. Station and luggage transfers are subject to at least 2 people (in total) booked on each departure. Please call our sales team on 1-800-567-6286 or email info@breakaway-adventures.com to arrange connecting flights.

Customer reviews

Everyone who goes on a Headwater holiday will be emailed a link to our post-holiday questionnaire where they can give us an honest assesment of all aspects of their holiday - everything from how quickly we answer the phone to how clean the hotels were - plus, of course, an overall rating and comments about their holiday.

Any feedback collected is posted straight to our website - totally unedited. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of our holidays, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.

Reviewed by MR THOMPSON on 11/10/2013

***#.
The staff at all three hotels were delightful. Though the dinners at Tres Marias were very enjoyable, those at Verdemar were excellent. Miguel at Cerro da Fontinha obviously has a good relationship with Octavio at Cafe Central so we were well looked after there and Miguel's taxi service was most helpful. The Garmin was a great help as it meant that one did not need to keep looking at the map. On the occasion when the battery ran down the notes proved their worth. Ricardo (the bike & bag man) was most helpful on day 6 when we went from Tres Marias to Cerro - there was heavy rain and we would have been cycling into a very strong headwind so he checked how long the storm would last and took us about 2/3 of the way and left us at a good restaurant so we could wait till the weather improved. Conversationally he was most informative on a whole range of subjects. The only downside to the holiday was the cycling itself - thought the coastal sections were spectacular, some of the inland sections were a bit tedious, specifically on Day 2 the longer route and Day 3, the 16km straight slog from Sao Domingos. Apparently Kristina (at Verdemar) knows of an alternative route which was mentioned in the Blue Book, but we did not see this till too late. Given that Alantejo is so sparsely populated, there are few roads and those that there are, tend to be quite narrow, so planning routes cannot be easy,. However, the journey back to Funcheira from Cerro took us through some absolutely wonderful and varied countryside, but whether it would be possible to plan cycling routes there I have no idea.

Reviewed by MRS KILL on 27/09/2013

***#.
Without an intimate knowledge of places worth visiting, the terrain, the whereabouts of good accommodation and food, it would be extremely difficult to plan a cycling or walking trip abroad. Headwater does all this for you and rarely disappoints.

Reviewed by MR COSTA on 23/09/2013

*****
An interesting and varied trip in a mainly rural and undeveloped part of Portugal. The rides through cork forests, past agricultural farms, and along the coastal track were all highlights. Greetings to locals along the route were always returned warmly. Take plenty of cash; cards are not accepted in many places.

Reviewed by MR MCENERY on 01/06/2013

***#.
Friendly and helpful hosts, beautiful meadows and beaches, excellent weather, Cycling perhaps not as easy as expected and some of the roads too busy. But a wonderful time was had. Looking forward to our next one. Sheila and Eddie McEnery

Reviewed by MR BENNER on 23/07/2012

*****
excellent and very professional. equipment with bikes especially Garmin,mobibe ,etc. was great

Reviewed by MS ALLARD on 19/05/2012

*****
good variety of places to visit and types of accommodation; good scenery. Enjoyed despite cool weather, showers and rain!

Reviewed by MR FRANKLIN on 17/04/2012

***#.
Very enjoyable trip

Reviewed by MRS BELL on 16/11/2011

*****
Very enjoyable

Reviewed by MRS CHURCH on 06/10/2011

***#.
Very enjoyable cycling although we did feel threatened by dogs running loose and chasing the bikes.

Reviewed by MR HARPER on 16/06/2011

*****
Very enjoyable

Departure dates & prices

We do not have on-line prices available at this time, please call 1-800-567-6286 for further details.

Holiday details

Holiday type

Self-guided cycling, hotel-to-hotel. Managed by Headwater appointed agent.

Departures

Selected dates from 9 Mar '14 to 25 May '14, for 8 days (7 nights).

Meals

Continental breakfast, 5 picnic lunches (3 for Spring 2013 dates) and 5 evening meals.

Other details

Please see our Planning your holiday and What's included in the price? pages for additional information. Please call us for single room supplements, room upgrade options and child prices.

Starting your tour

Transfers included from Funcheira train station at 16:09, and back to Funcheira train station at 10:30. Station and luggage transfers are subject to at least 2 people (in total) booked on each departure.

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call us: 1-800-567-6286 or email: info@breakaway-adventures.com

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