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Off the Beaten Track in the Algarve: A Three-Day Mountain Bike Tour

6 June 2017


For the ultimate cycling experience, set off on a 3-day, coast-to-mountain ride across the Algarve

Two-wheels will take you places where four wheels could never go. And the Algarve coast is heaving with extreme routes. Challenge yourself to some daring mountain-biking on a steep mountain peak climb, a hair raising descent to sandy beaches, and  trail rides through villages. 

Penina Hotel & Golf Resort is pleased to help arrange any bike hire or route planning… so don’t hesitate to speak to us today about how we can deliver the mountain bike holiday of a lifetime.

Day 1 The Algarve Coast-to-Coast Route

From Lagos to Quarteira (Around 11-hours long)

The Algarve coast-to-coast is an epic mountain-bike route for moderately experienced riders. This is a planned 11-hour ride from Lagos to Quarteira following derelict railways, horse tracks, bike routes, coastal footpaths, and, inevitably, sections of road. In the early morning, pedal out of Lagos along the Ecovia cycle path. At the estuary, cross the railway bridge over the tan-brown Alvor river. Approaching the rugged cliffs, you will catch the first glimpses of the ochre, seaweed-clad rocks, which soar in solitary splendour from the golden sands of Prainha beach. The perfect spot to take photos and reward progress with a packed lunch.

Continue rolling along the 3km of paths across the cliff tops to Praia do Vau beach. The gulf of Joao Arans Point gives way to gold-tinted sands, ochre cliffs and several coves. Beside the Fort of Santa Catarina, head along the river Odelouca, passing flocks of gull, white storks and a few waders. On the other side, look out for turtles and otters of Ferragudo. From here, you may wish to cycle back to the hotel or continue on to Quarteira.

From the Castle of Arade, pedal along the access road to the fishing village of Carvoeiro.  Descending steep-sided Armação de Pêra, the intensity redoubles with a detour across the Alcantarilha River. Then make your way across the footbridge of Salgados Lagoon for views of the setting sun. At Albufeira, a picturesque fishing village overlooking the Atlantic, the track improves dramatically, and with the scent of the taverns, hurtle through the last leg to Quarteira. Cruise by local markets and perhaps enjoy a local speciality at one of the restaurants.

Praia Da Rocha Portimão Fisherman
Rock formations

EVENING

Thankfully, after a long day in the saddle, there’s absolute luxury to fall back on. Arriving back at Penina, you will be treated to five-star service and attention by the dedicated staff. Devour that well-earned dinner at Le Grill, knowing that soon you will be burning through calories at speed. 

Day 2 Up-Hill Challenge of Monchique

From Mexilhoeira Grande to Fóia (Around 7-hours long)

The Monchique Bike Route is nothing short of a masterpiece. Starting in the rural village of Mexilhoeira Grande, the route climbs 902 metres up the dusty road before traversing the craggy mountains that stand high above sea level. Cyclist and Algarve resident Andy Smallwood says many cyclists use the route of Fóia as a training ride. For an easier option, the downhill route is serene and accompanied by some outstanding views.

Take the local bus or drive to the village, and start off from the plains with an easy cycle through a stretch of blossom-covered meadows… before beginning a ferocious uphill climb on the N266. After about 8km, you reach the small spa centre of Caldas de Monchique, set in grand 19th-century buildings, 240 metres above sea level. Forego the spa’s fluoride-rich massage and continue up-hill for around 200m of climbing to a retreat even more secluded: Monchique, a small hill town famous for its smoked ham. After lunch at one of the small restaurants, set off on the 4km round trip to the summit of Fóia for stellar views. On a clear day you can see from Cape St. Vincent in the west, to Faro in the east, and the Serra de Arrabida to the north.

Descending to Monchique, retrace the route to the N267 junction towards the village of Marmelete. At 4km, the run down is incredible: fast in some sections, tough in others, and all the while dusty, secluded and beautiful. Pass derelict houses, fields full of flowers before turning south towards the lake, Barragem de Bravura. You may also pass the ancient ruins of the Monastery Nossa, which dates back to 1632. At the end there’s a selection of amazing restaurants in Odiaxere village, then go along the tiny lanes back to the start.

Downhill Monchique 11393649475
Downhill ride from Monchique

EVENING

To rid of any knots before the next bike challenge, Penina Hotel can arrange a massage at the hands of a professional soigneur. After, head to the Sir Henry Cotton Bar for its resplendent wine-list paired with wonderful views of the fairways. Enjoy an early night in your seductively luxurious room, ready for the final day of extreme biking.

Day 3 Scenic Cycle Route from Portimão

From Portimão to Burgau (Around 2-hours long)

The fishing village of Burgau is the perfect destination for solitude-seekers. Refuelled with a delicious breakfast, start the ride from Portimão, on more fun trails – with some uphill tread. Cycle down the west bank of the river, with the Atlantic rushing at the sea-front broadwalk towards Praia de Rocha. A challenging climb up the quaint streets of Alvor takes you to the Ecovia do Litoral cycle path. Follow the route around the mouth of the river into the marshy bird reserve, with the birdwatchers astounded that such a wild landscape can sit so close to the polished hotels of the Algarve. The trail winds down slowly with each bend to reveal stunning views of the rocky, secluded coves below.

Cycling out of Alvor, keep a look out for the turn off left towards a rickety bridge that will take you over the river. The route flattens to a quiet landscape with just you and a few anglers before coming to a V-shaped scrubby meadow that lies between two branches of river. Turn onto the narrow path along the riverside, until reaching the tip of the V and then back up the western side of it. This point is difficult as the path is about the width of a bike. As you hit the railway line, a wider trail will take you to a road that goes through a hamlet, south of Mexilhoriera Grande railway station. After a short, steady ride along the Ecovia, you come to Lagos, a surfer’s paradise, where you will find tapas restaurants and plenty of hidden bars. After lunch, press on and roll along the winding tracks, finally into Burgau and your finish point on the sandy beach under craggy cliffs.

Burgau Algarve Portugal
Burgau, Algarve, Portugal

EVENING

The perfect post-bike indulgence? A glass of wine at the Dunas Beach Bar overlooking the Atlantic before heading to dinner at L'arlecchino Restaurant. If relaxation is what you’re after, take a dip in the outdoor swimming pool nestled beneath the majesty of Penina. Of course the beauty of doing a cycle excursion at Penina is that with six restaurants and bars, three golf courses, tennis courts and the largest outdoor swimming pool in the Algarve… we’ve got everything else you need for the perfect getway.

Call us Today…

If the idea of a stunning biking holiday under the Portuguese sun sounds appealing, call our team today and let us help you plan everything from car and bike hire, to all the fun little extras that come from a luxury break at Penina Hotel & Golf Resort.

Call on +351 282 420 200 today

Cycling © fgmsp | CC License   ‘Burgau’© Francisco Santos| CC License

‘Downhill – Monchique’ © Tiago J. G. Fernandes| CC License

Praia da Rocha, Portimão © | CC License

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Po Box 146, Penina, Portimao, 8501-952, Portugal, Tel: +351 282 420 200 , Fax: +351 282 420 300 , penina@jjwhotels.com