Biking trip in Algarve. Exploring Portugal on two wheels.

Algarve is a perfect portugese region for holiday. There are many things to do there – sunbathing, walking, trekking, biking, paddling in the caves. Together with my fiance we decided to try a bit of everything 🙂 And today I would like  to tell you about biking in Algarve and how to plan it.

Biking in Algarve – where to go?

Before going to Portugal I found an information about a walking and biking route going through whole Algarve from St. Vincent’s Cape (the most south-western place in Europe) along the coast to the north. It is called Rota Vincentina ( http://www.rotavicentina.com ) and all together you can walk for 400 km there. Not bad – a perfect place for biking in Algarve! We were planning to check two parts of the trail:
– Cabo de S. Vincente – Vila do Bispo – 14 km ( http://www.rotavicentina.com/?pg=etapa&id=91 )
– Vila do Bispo – Carrapateira – 22 km ( http://www.rotavicentina.com/?pg=etapa&id=90 )Not too much, but to do it two-ways can already be a challenging trip for a non-advanced biker like me.
If you don’t travel with your own equipment, it’s necessary to rent a bike in Algarve. We did that in Sagres. Good mountain bikes cost 14 euro each for 24 hours. The guy who rented them to us tried to convince us to take an organized 3-4 hours trip with him as a guide. Price – “only” 40 euros. For this price we get a bike, helmet, water and certainty that we won’t get lost. Still, we decided to take the risk and go “into the wild” alone.The bikes are rented for 24 hours, so we took them already in the evening the day before and we made a short trip from Sagres to St. Vincent’s Cape. We wanted to watch the sunset from there. Unfortunately it got cloudy, the sunset wasn’t visible and on the way back we were almost eaten by mosquitoes. But! We found signs of the road we were planning to take the next day, plus the bikes passed the first test perfectly 🙂
A lighthouse on St. Vincent’s Cape (Cabo de Sao Vincente)
 The next day we started our biking in the morning. We didn’t have to lose time for looking for a place where Rota Vincentina begins because we checked it the previous evening (we almost mixed the turns anyway 🙂 ). At first it was an asphalt road but then it turned into a dirt road and Algarve strated looking a bit like an African steppe. I almost started to look for zebras.
Rota Vincentina, Cabo de Sao Vincente – Vila do Bispo
We immediately noticed that it is almost impossible to get lost on this track! Rota Vincentina is the best marked walking or biking path I have ever seen. Not only are there numerous signs showing the right way, but also every place (and I mean it!) where it is possible to get lost is marked with a cross. Amazing! And the guy who rented the bikes  to us was worried that we’ll get lost… 🙂
Signs on Rota Vincentina

The way from Sagres to Vila do Bispo

This part was quite easy. The road is wide and the height differences are not big. There are some hills, but they’re not very noticeable, it was possible to make it without getting too tired. On the first 12 kilometers the height difference was around 130 meters. Sometimes a hard road turned into sand, but it didn’t happen too often. Generally speaking, this was a very pleasant part, not too tiring and enabling us to admire the views typical for Algarve region from biker’s perspective. In my opinion this part is good for everybody, even for those who don’t ride a bike regularly or for families with children (depending on the child’s strengths of course!). The way from Sagres to Vila do Bispo was 18 km and it looked like this:
Biking in Algarve – from Sagres to Vila do Bispo
Biking in Algarve – from Sagres to Vila do Bispo
Biking in Algarve – from Sagres to Vila do Bispo
Biking in Algarve – from Sagres to Vila do Bispo

From Vila do Bispo to Carrapateira.

On the main square in Vila do Bispo we had the first and last problem during our whole biking through Algarve to find the right way. There even was a sign showing which way Carrapateira is, but simultaneously all the ways going out of this square were marked with a “wrong way” cross. Which one should we choose if each one is wrong? 🙂 On Rota Vincentina website there are some hints where to start. I remembered that in Vila do Bispo it said “at the Church, in the direction of the football field”. The church was right in front of us, but there was no football field around. We decided to follow the main road and “follow our nose”. We turned left (in the direction of Lagos), then left again into road N268, and then left again in a smaller, less crowded road. Good choice. A moment later we saw a football field and our lovely “right way” sign. Bingo!!
Next part of the trip was a bit more physically demanding. Check the reason by yourself:
Biking in Algarve – from Vila do Bispo to Carrapateira
It’s not visible on the picture how steep that was! After the hill visible in the picture, the way became very narrow, full of stones, branches and bushes. It’s hard for me to ride a bike in this kind of terrain, so I had to walk. But this hard part finished after some two kilometers (however it seemed to me that it was at least twenty!), we reached the main asphalt road. We crossed it and the way again became nice and easy (but not flat!)
Biking in Algarve – from Vila do Bispo to Carrapateira
We were passing an adorable village called Pedralva
Biking in Algarve – Pedralva
Biking in Algarve – Pedralva
After Pedralva I started to feel a bit tired. We were biking through Algarve for 30 kilometers now and we had still around 10 left to Carrapateira! Suddenly, the signs led us right into the bushes. A road wide like a biking highway was clearly marked with a wrong way cross and a right way led into prickly bushes. A narrow path was hardly visible between them, it was hard to fit in it with a bike, I got all scratched. After a moment the path got wide again, but very steep up the hill. This was to kill the tired bikers on their last kilometers, but we managed and it was worth it:
Biking in Algarve – Carrapateira
Biking in Algarve – Carrapateira
Can you see the nice and wide road down there? We turned into the bushes from it. As we realized later, it led straight to Carrapateira. Despite the awesome views from the hill, we stuck to that road on our way back 🙂
And we did it! After 40 kilometers of biking we reached Carrapateira
Biking in Algarve – Carrapateira
Well deserved reward
Going back was much quicker. We didn’t go up the hill and also at some point we decided to follow the main asphalt road. We were already tired and it was getting late. We weren’t sure if we can manage to give the bikes back on time taking the same way. This decision shortened our way back by 10 km.
This was a fantastic biking trip! It let us admire the beauty of Algarve region! However, sitting was a very painful activity for the next two days… 🙂

Statistics:

Distance: 70,82 km
Time of biking (we paused our device during the breaks): 6h38 min.
Height difference: 1090m!! (wow, I didn’t know I am able to do that much by bike – even if I walked sometimes :))
You may check the detailed track here.

If you want to discover more of the region and find the best places to take outstanding photos – check the best Algarve photo locations by Suitcase and Wanderlust 🙂


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