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by Sun’s Dragon
It has now been officially recognised that cycling is becoming ever more popular in Portugal, by the Portuguese as well as expatriates and tourists. More and more cycling clubs are springing up throughout the Algarve for both casual and serious cyclists. Bikes and riding gear are also readily available in the Algarve’s many comprehensive sport shops and dedicated cycle shops.
The Ecovia do litoral is a newly updated cycle route in Portugal that links Cape St Vincent (Sagres) in the West to Vila Real de Santo António on the Spanish border in the East. It crosses 12 municipalities and runs for 214 km. The route contains trails in nature protection areas and is very popular with residents and visitors alike. The routes are marked with signs and blue arrows and are primarily on dedicated cycle paths or roads with very little traffic.
The authentic Algarve
Taking any of these routes, you will most likely stumble upon a café in a remote hamlet or village and have the opportunity to taste the local food and wine for a very reasonable price, as well as enjoy the company of the local villagers.
Be sure to take your camera as you experience the old time way of life, see the typical cottages, quintas and casas of the villagers, farmers and shepherds. Many of the local cottages have their walls covered with colourful tiles, their garden walls covered in bougainvilleas and are very picturesque.
Along the way you may also come across some local adegas (vineyards) and have a chance to taste the local wine straight from the barrel.
Free from crowds, hustle and bustle, it is a time to enjoy the simple pleasure of finding flocks of sheep and goats, gaggles of geese, rabbits and hares and ponies and traps, which you are bound to meet as you ride through the countryside.
Organised Cycling Trips
Activity Algarve are one of several companies which offer cycling holidays to both residents and visitors. Many companies offer downhill tours that drive you to the top of a mountain and you “cycle” down it at leisure. Many have picnics or other planned stops on the way down. Guides are provided and have support vehicles following behind. This is a safe and pleasurable way to spend a half or full day out and about.
There are shops located along the entire coastal region that rent cycles, mountain bikes and even tricycles for an hour, half day, a full day or by the week if you want to go it alone. All of these places will have maps and advice to offer too.
If you live near Albufeira you can rent in Galé, from where there are many beaches within one hour's cycle ride. Most of these beaches are quiet all year as many tourists just don't know they exist. From Carvoeiro heading west along the coast road it is less than 10 km to the pretty fishing village of Ferragudo with its fabulous beach and great restaurants.
European Cycle Tour
The Volta ao Algarve is a fixed part of the European Cycle Tour calendar. While it is an event for professional cyclists, leading up to the Tour de France, it is a great spectator sport as crowds turn out to line the routes of the four stages all through the Algarve.
Seasons in the Algarve
Whilst cycling though the Algarve you have a real opportunity to see and experience the Algarve of old, as you pass through Eucalyptus, cork and pine forests, orange and lemon groves and the wildlife that abounds there.
► January through February sees the breathtaking beauty of the almond blossoms on thousands of trees.
► March and April, the spring flowers carpet the fields.
► May and June, the temperature is rising and the fields are turning green.
► July and August are the hottest and busiest months, with coastal towns coming alive with tourists flocking to the Algarve for their annual holiday.
► September and October shows a cooling down and the migration of the birdlife, well worth watching as you cycle. From now until April, the orange and lemon groves are bursting with fruit.
► November and December are the quietest months and the nights are very cool but look out for the fabulous poinsettia trees in full bloom.
All in all, the Algarve offers the perfect area for families, couples or solo bikers and plenty of choices for each level of ability.
If you’re considering moving abroad, why not check out property in the Algarve?