Exploring Western Iberia
Southern Portugal to Santiago de Compostela Spain
Date: May 2 - 20, 2021
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Portugal is well known as a popular vacation destination. As a cyclist you can see so much more of this country – home to an abundance of nature and wildlife, with stunning natural beauty. Portugal is geographically fascinating with remnants of ancient volcanic activity like rugged rock formations, wondrous caves and cliff faces. You’ll bike through beautifully tended olive groves and cork plantations and bike along sandy beaches, which sprawl for miles on end on the fringes of the Atlantic Ocean. Cyclists have the opportunity to experience the rich history, beautiful architecture and strong religious influence while enjoying, for the most part of the year, lovely sunshine. The Portuguese are also well known for their warmth, hospitality, and vibrant culture.
Our magnificent 'end to end' trip takes riders from the southernmost tip of Portugal all the way to Valenca in the very north, before crossing into northern Spain to finish in Santiago de Compostela. We’ll start in the city of Faro, ancient and rich with touches of Phoenician, Roman, and Moorish culture still sprinkled around the city. From there we head north, briefly joining the Guadiana River, with views across to Spain, before riding through the Guadiano Valley Natural Park and the completely unspoiled interior of southern Portugal. Our direction gradually bears northwest until we reach the coastal town of Figueira Da Foz for 2 days of beautifully flat, coastal riding. Then you’ll delight spending an extra day in Porto, Portugal's 2nd largest city. Porto is a coastal city known for its stately bridges and port wine production. In the medieval Ribeira (riverside) district, narrow cobbled streets wind past merchants’ houses and cafes. São Francisco Church is known for its lavish baroque interior with ornate gilded carvings. Leaving Porto we’ll enjoy 2 days riding in the stunning hills of northern Portugal before crossing the Minho River into Spain.
As we head towards Santiago de Compostela we will see more and more “pilgrims”. More than 300,000 pilgrims complete the journey to Santiago each year; mostly on foot but a growing number by bike and even some on a donkey! In places we share our route with the walkers, but in order to retain good paved surfaces, we pick our way between villages on a mix of quiet country roads.
Any cycle ride of more than 200km ending at the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela constitutes a ‘camino’ (or pilgrimage). Regardless of your faith or religious convictions be sure to obtain and carry your Credencial and get it stamped at each stopping point along the way in order to receive your Compostela (certificate of completion) in Santiago. Regardless of your faith, attending the evening service in the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela is a moving experience and a fitting end to an epic journey!
We have included regular 'choice' days along the way. On choice days you’ll have two nights in the same location to allow for sightseeing or just for rest and relaxation. Accommodation in western Iberia is generally of a high standard, as the region relies heavily on tourism, and our hotels are all rated 3 star or higher, including some 5 star accommodations. Many hotels offer excellent facilities including spas and swimming pools.