In the far north of Portugal, on the border with Spain, lies the Minho region: a wild, rugged area of historical and cultural significance. Starting from the Geres National Park, you cycle downhill through small villages and extensive vineyards, following the River Minho towards the Atlantic Ocean. The scenery is a stunning combination of high mountains, rolling river scenes, historic towns and dramatic coastal landscape. You will stay in authentic accommodation offering friendly Portuguese hospitality and delicious regional cuisine. There is plenty of opportunity to relax and enjoy the golden stretches of beach you cycle past, maybe accompanied by a glass of the local Vinho Verde (white wine) for which the region is well known. The ride finishes in Porto, named best European City Destination in 2013, 2014, and again for 2017.
Eating and Drinking
A typical hotel breakfast consists of: toast/bread with jam,or honey, cheese and ham, served with coffee, tea, milk, orange juice, fruit, cake and yoghurt.
Portuguese people are very proud of their cuisine, and the deliciously fresh seafood is a real highlight. You will find fresh fish on most menus, usually sardines, sea bream, hake, sea bass and sole, cooked in a variety of ways. Bacalhau (cured codfish) is a national dish although it can vary depending on the region - there are up to 365 recipes to cook it! Caldo Verde (green soup) is made with potatoes, olive oil and salt, sometimes with garlic and onion, and is typical in the northern region of Portugal. For meat lovers the barrosa meat (steak) is often served grilled and roasted just to it's naturally delicious flavour. There are also several stew dishes to sample, delicacies being Tripas a Moda do Porto (tripe & white bean stew) and Rojoes a Minhota (chunks of pork usually cooked with potatoes). 'Francesinha' is an iconic dish originating from Porto and involves layers of different meats (usually beef, ham, grilled pork, linguica (smoke cured pork sausage) and sausage), between two slices of bread, covered by melted cheese and immersed in a spicy beer & tomato sauce, often topped with a fried egg and surrounded by chips. It is not for the faint hearted!
To drink you will find plenty of the local Sagres and Superbock beer. Vinho Verde is available from the supermarket and directly from the producers. It is a young, medium alcohol white wine with an almost carbonated quality. Port needs no introduction and a glass (or two) of the fortified wine will generally follow a hearty Portuguese meal!
Porto has a temperate maritime climate with a strong Mediterranean influence. The climate here is long, warm summers and mild winters, with most rain falling in the winter months, but possible in all other months. Seasons are marked, with pleasant temperatures in the spring, in the summer and in the autumn. Heat waves can push up temperatures occasionally. Summers are warmer and drier in the interior and moderated by the sea, as winters are cooler inland and mild by the sea. At Porto, the average maximum temperatures in August -the hottest month - is 25 degrees Celsius, and the average maximum temperatures in January -the coolest month - is 14 degrees Celsius. May and October have an average midday temperatures of 20 Celsius, and even April and November have an average midday temperatures around 17 and 18 Celsius.
An airport transfer is included to pick you up from Porto airport (please ensure you arrive before 3pm). Driving from the coast into the Serra de Laboreiro mountains you will enter a tiny hamlet and your home for the night. Staying in Hotel Castrum Villae or similar, Breakfast only
A pleasant journey today as you cycle across the northern regions of the Geres National Park; one of the last natural refuges in Portugal for wolves and golden eagles. Passing through silent villages you notice the traditional espigueiros, the granite maize stores on stilts. By the time you reach Moncao, the fortified town on the River Minho, you will come to understand why the Portuguese are so proud of the fact that the Spanish were never able to conquer them. Upon arrival it is time to sample some of the local wine, a perfect end to your first day of cycling. Staying in Solar De Serrade or similar, Breakfast only.
On this stage you pedal westwards, along the River Minho to the Atlantic Ocean. Your journey takes you through extensive vineyards dedicated to the production of Vinho Verde (translates as young wine) which is a slightly carbonated, lower-alcohol wine; the perfect drink for a warm afternoon! You can pick up a bottle at the elegant Brejoeira Palace, which is a leading producer of top quality Vinho Verde. Along today's route you will cycle past landmarks of the battles between Portugal and Spain, such as the 17th Century stronghold at Valenca and the Vila Nova de Cerveira fort. That evening arrive in the elegant town of Caminha, located on the estuary of the River Minho, with a history dating back to pre-Roman times. Staying in Design & Wine Hotel or similar, Breakfast only
Today you spend the morning cycling along the dramatic Atlantic Ocean coastline, through fishing villages that appear unchanged for centuries. Arriving in Viana do Castelo the peace and quiet is replaced by the buzz of this lively city, situated on the estuary of the River Lima. Viana has an impressive maritime history and the wealth created by this is demonstrated in the narrow lanes, crowded with Manueline manors and Rococo palaces. A must-see is the 19th Century Byzantine Santa Lucia Church on the hilltop overlooking the city, worth the steep climb for the breathtaking view. From here you cycle inland until you arrive in Ponte de Lima, the oldest village in Portugal. Your accommodation tonight is in a delightfully rural setting, and there is time to taste some of the wine and honey made on the estate itself. Staying in Quinta da Agra or similar, Breakfast only (please note this accommodation is approx. 5km from the centre of Ponte de Lima)
The ride today follows the ancient Portuguese route towards Santiago de Compostela, and whether you are religious or not, is a really special experience. It is a route that those who have walked it for centuries, do so knowing they will meet challenges, experience great joy, and learn the lesson of life. The pleasant route today is through cornfields and vineyards to the pretty town of Barcelos on the River Cavado. Barcelos is the centre of the pottery industry in Portugal. There are markets held in the town on most days and a visit to one of these is highly recommended. Staying in Hotel Bagoeira or similar, Breakfast only
The ride back to the Atlantic today is a short stage, so why not take some extra time to enjoy a great lunch the Portuguese way: a leisurely, several course meal that reminds you again why the Portuguese people are so proud of their cuisine. You arrive in Vila do Conde where you can enjoy a walk around the manors and palaces within the town centre, and take a leisurely stroll along the beach before dinner. Staying in Hotel Brazao or similar, Breakfast only
The last stage of your holiday takes you on quiet cycle paths along the coast; along sand dunes, and passing through fishing villages and a seabird reserve. You approach Porto, and enter via the estuary of the River Douro. A UNESCO World Heritage City and best European City destination for 2013, 2014, and again for 2017, Porto is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. The old centre boasts more than 1500 listed monuments, and the history of the traditional Port Wine can be explored by visited many of the Port cellars which are open to the public and can be appreciated during the included Port tasting. Staying in Dom Henrique Hotel or similar, Breakfast only
This is a self-guided cycling trip for those who like to cycle independently, but with back up to take out the hard work and planning. We arrange your accommodations, provide you with a map and route notes so that you can cycle at your own pace, while your bags are transported from one hotel to the next.
Activity Level: 2 (Leisurely/Moderate)
Please see the introductory pages of the cycling holidays brochure or our website for more important information on classification and grading.
Average daily ride: 42km (26 miles). There is also the opportunity to increase the daily distance by taking the slightly harder option - you can decide this on the day.
No. of days cycling: 6
Terrain & route: Mostly on cycle paths or roads. Whilst the majority of the cycling is on paved roads there will also be times you are cycling on cycle paths - these can be of mixed terrain and are sometimes affected by adverse weather conditions (i.e. they can get muddy). You will be warned at the introductory briefing if there are any sections of the route where you need to take extra care because of this. We would also like to point out that cobbled roads are included in our description of 'paved roads'; something you should take into consideration when booking.The route is mainly flat or downhill with the occasional small climb. Vehicle Support: A representative will be there to meet you, make sure the bikes are all set up and will be on call throughout the trip should you need. You are also provided with a GPS device loaded with the tracks and a prepaid mobile phone for emergencies.
It is very common to keep pet dogs in Northern Portugal for guarding rural properties. Whilst on the cycle route, you may encounter dogs barking or running alongside your bike. In most cases, dogs are confined to properties for this trip.
It is important that you are happy reading maps and following route notes, we make these as accurate as possible and they are regularly checked. Where possible we stick to cycle tracks and quiet roads to make the journey as pleasant as possible, however, on occasion we have to use busier routes.
As this is a self-guided holiday there is no group and no leader. There may be others on the same departure date as you, but you will not be organised together. The route notes contain an emergency assistance telephone number should you need it and in emergencies, the local representative is normally able to dispatch a taxi or pick you up themselves. They may wish to charge for this service.
Self-guided cycling holidays are a perfect option for families as they offer the freedom for you to take your holiday at your own pace. You can stop as and when you want and need, at the cafes and restaurants that suit your family and the sites that interest you. As a guide we have suggested that 14 years is the minimum age for this trip, but as it is self-guided and you will be leading your own family we will ultimately leave this decision up to you. The daily distances are all published in the trip notes along with a description of each days cycling so you have a good idea of what to expect. On this trip, children should be expected to ride on roads with traffic. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact one of our experts. The principle idea is that these holidays can be as flexible as you like, with logistical support but no group or leader to dictate the daily activities.
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.
NEARBY:The Hotel Castrum Villae, located in the heart of the Peneda-Gerês National Park, allows guests to enjoy immense landscapes as well as the pure air and the silence of the local mountain range. The diversity of the fauna and flora is amazing and allows you immerse yourself in nature through the cycling activity in the local area. Breakfast is served buffet-style or can be ordered to your room. There is a convivial bar area and a games room.
NEARBY:The Solar de Serrade is a beautifully preserved mid-17th century manor house offering a privileged look at the typical neo-classical architecture of the Alto Minho region. The manor house holds a vast collection of tasteful objects consisting of furniture, tapestry and dishware, coupled with an unusually rich collection of Portuguese tiles. With just 6 rooms and 2 suites this is a delightfully traditional property surrounded by vineyards.
NEARBY:The Design & Wine Hotel combines the facade of an 18th century manor with contemporary design. The sleek interiors flow from the lobby to the bedrooms and include individual decor and quotes doted around the walls. There is a solar heated swimming pool and a small spa facility offering massages as well as a jacuzzi, sauna, Turkish bath and gym. The hotel also has an enoteca for wine tastings and a restaurant serving cuisine of the Alto Minho region.
NEARBY:The Quinta da Agra is a former 17th century agricultural property located in a lovely rural setting. Originally 2 buildings with an underground wine cellar and upper floors for accommodation, the property has been thoughfully restored and is now focussed on tourism and nature. The property offers a swimming pool, a small gym and massage room.
NEARBY:The Hotel Bagoeira is located in the historic centre of Barcelos and offers modern accommodations with ensuite facilities, satellite TV and internet access. There is a traditionally decorated restaurant with stone walls and separate dining rooms and a bar on the 4th floor with panoramic views of Barcelos.
NEARBY:The Hotel Brazoa, located in the heart of historic Vila do Conde, has 30 bedrooms that have been refurbushed in acontemporary style from the original 17th century property. Close to the river and with plenty to do in the local area, the hotel offers a bar, a living room with pool table and free Wi-Fi.
NEARBY:Centrally located, the Dom Henrique Hotel has recently been refurbished to offer classic comfort in the bedrooms. The hotel also has a fitness centre, a breakfast restaurant and terrace on the ground floor as well as a panoramic restaurant and bar on the top floor, with fabulous views across the city.
Please call our sales team on 1-800-267-3347 or email email@example.com to arrange flights and connecting transfers to your hotel.
Here at Headwater we thrive on feedback from our customers. It's the only way we can continue to develop, and where necessary improve, our services and ensure our holidays continue to be the best they can be. However, as this is a relatively new holiday, we don't yet have any customer reviews available.
You can be confident that our pricing includes all the standard requirements of your holiday and many additional extras. Always ensure that you are comparing like for like when booking your holiday. Find out about The Headwater Price Promise to ensure you're getting the very best value for money.
We do not currently have departure dates and prices available on-line. The season may have ended for this tour, or we are still in the process of adding these details to our website. Please contact us for further details.
Please contact us for child prices.
Self-guided cycling Managed by our sister company, Exodus.
It is possible to hire electric bikes for this holiday at a supplement of £130 per person. As these are available on a first come first served basis, we recommend early booking to avoid disappointment. Please call us for further details.
7 nights spent in an array of diverse comfortable accommodations, handpicked for their character and location. Highlights include a 17th Century manor house set in extensive vineyards, a luxurious modern hotel with individually decorated rooms set in the middle of town, and a rustic locally owned heritage property where all food is farmed by the charismatic owner.
Due to the tailor-made nature of our holidays, we need a little more information in order for us to check availability for . Simply complete the form below and a member of our sales team will contact you (when it's most convenient for you) to provide availability information, travel options and an accurate price. Of course there's no obligation, but if you do wish to proceed with a booking they will be on-hand to assist you throughout the process.
Alternatively, you can call our sales team on 1-800-267-3347 to discuss your requirements in more detail.
We've been creating high-quality relaxed activity holidays since 1985 and our wealth of experience means we're able to build the perfect tailor-made tour for you. Our 'Gold Trusted' rating on Feefo, the independent review site, underlines our exceptional levels of customer service, and our ATOL bonding and ABTA membership guarantees your holiday is safe with us.