The Algarve is a great destination for those who enjoy cycling and seeing its wide-ranging landscapes and coastal scenery. The best time to cycle is between September and June as it can get extremely hot in the summer months.
Much like walking, there are various cycling routes to choose from that vary in difficulty. You have more challenging mountainous trails as well as more flat terrain but both allow you to visit towns and villages on your journey, you can also opt for a more coastal route where you can enjoy the breath-taking Atlantic coast views
The four major cycling routes are Rota Vicentina, Via Algarviana, Grande Rota do Guadiana and Ecovia do Litoral. Rota Vicentina is known for being a hiking trail, it also makes for a great cycling route. The Via Algarviana is perfect for mountain biking and also cycling. The Via Algarviana will allow you to discover the interior of the Algarve. Grande Rota do Guadiana is a cycling trail in the Eastern Algarve from Vila Real de Santo António all the way to Alcoutim called the Grande Rota do Guadiana that follows the Guadiana River.
The Ecovia do litoral is a 214 km cycle route which completely runs in the Algarve region, South Portugal. It connects Cabo de São Vincente, on the Atlantic Ocean, to Villa Real de Santo Antonio, on the Spanish border. Ecovia do Litoral is a biking route from the east to the west of the Algarve which is a particular favourite amongst cyclists. It is actually part of Eurovelo and you can discover the Algarve’s unique coastline.
Eastern Algarve Routes
Visit Algarve includes an easier route starting in Republic Square in Tavira which parallels the Ecovia do Litoral. “Ride alongside the Ria Formosa and then Tavira behind you, the route takes you northwards to Santa Rita and the Mata Nacional de Conceição (Conceição National Scrubland). Crossing the scrubland, you will head downhill to Fonte Salgada and then turn westwards, passing the Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Saúde (Our Lady of Health). After crossing the River Gilão, in close proximity to Pego do Inferno, your ride will take you uphill to the village of Santo Estêvão. On your way back downhill towards the coast, and before finishing the route in Tavira, you will ride through the octopus capital, the town of Santa Luzia.”
“The Ria Formosa is the irrefutable highlight of the Olhão route. Starting at the Jardim Pescador Olhanense, heading eastwards take the opportunity to enjoy the delightful scenery of the Ria Formosa and the islands. Heading northwards, you will ride through the villages of Moncarapacho, Quelfes and Pechão before making your way back to the coast and encountering the Ria Formosa again, to the west of the city of Olhão.”
Central Algarve Routes
Vilamoura is an easier route which is perfect for beginners, following cycling around Vilamoura Marina, there are cycle routes where you can head to Boliqueime or towards Albufeira where Praia da Falésia beach.
The Lagoa route is a more difficult route in comparison to Vilamoura because of the steep uphill and downhill sections but it is definitely worthwhile for those coastal panoramic views. If you set off from the centre of Lagoa, you can cycle towards Carvoeiro until you reach Benagil Beach then you can continue along the coast where you will go through Carvoeiro followed by Ferragudo which are great places to stop for some much-deserved food. If you head northwards, you will reach Estômbar where you can visit Church Matriz de Estômbar and Sítio das Fontes.
Western Algarve Routes
One of the most famous cycling climbs includes Serra de Monchique Foia which is the highest point of the region and undoubtedly a demanding terrain, nevertheless, it allows cyclists to experience nature to its fullest extent and it has the most captivating scenery.
“Another route is that of Aljezur, where you start in the centre and the first part goes through the hills and valleys of the municipality’s interior. A long, steep downhill section brings you to the Seixe Stream, which you then ride alongside until you reach the border with the neighbouring Alentejo region and the picturesque village of Odeceixe.”
The Algarve hosts a number of annual cycling events which includes the professional race “Volta ao Algarve” which is the Tour of the Algarve, the Algarve Granfondo, Algarve Bike Challenge. The Tour of the Algarve takes place in February every year with five stages and it attracts some of the top professional riders from around the world with Remco Evenepoel winning the Tour of the Algarve both in 2020 and 2022. The Algarve Granfondo includes a professional and amateur race held alongside it. It attracts around 1,000 road cyclists with two route choices which start and finish in Lagos, with Granfondo taking in the Alto de Fóia, which is one of the biggest climbs in the region. The Algarve Bike Challenge is a mountain bike event that runs over three days and includes a night time trial through Tavira. It is an amateur race but some professionals like to get involved too. The route explores Tavira and the surrounding Barrocal area further inland.