Rolling through beautiful Alentejo
Our self-guided tour was a wonderful experience. We were very happy with all of the rich, multi-sensory stimulation we experienced every day on the trip. Lots of variety and interest, especially for us who are very interested in history and local culture. Highlights were getting to visit up close and in a very informal and uncrowded manner the many historic sites - castles, prehistoric graves and boulder installations, village crafts workshops, medieval churches and cathedrals as well as the pleasant agricultural countryside. We particularly liked it that we experienced zero crowds of other tourists. By the way, the castle that you show in your photo was where we had lunch one day. We were the only persons there. It was our hottest and longest day, so we really needed the rest, refreshment and tranquility. Special highlights were the beautiful, historic inns where we stayed - converted palaces and convents several hundreds of years old. It almost made us feel like royalty, and for a modest price, too.
Great Introduction to Bike Touring!
I'd never done a bike tour before, so this was my first experience, and I LOVED IT! Our guide Jorge was funny and kind, the other people on the trip were lovely and encouraging. At the end of the trip I was trying to figure out what the highlight was, and I realized everything I was coming up with was the actual riding itself. The views were fantastic, I liked the varied roads, ups, downs, back roads, cobblestone villages, paved countryside. I opted for a hybrid touring bike, it was hard work in some places but I was happy with my decision instead of getting an e-bike.
We had a couple days of heavy rain where we couldn't ride at all, but I found it nice to have a little break from the saddle on my first tour ever. On those days we got to see more sites than we would have on bikes, because they took us in a van to explore monuments, wineries, museums, chapels, towns, marble quarries, palaces, castles, and more. We shared a lot of delicious meals together, my favorite being a hole in the wall tiny restaurant that you'd never be able to find on a map, and the owner makes his own wine. These are the types of places you can only find with a guide.
The pace was relaxed, I loved the unique accommodations and the restaurants. Besides the rain, the weather was comfortable and cool for riding. It was April when I went, might be a good idea to go a little later to try to avoid rain. My biggest tip is to bring your appetite and eat ALL the delicious food and wine!
Best bicycle tour company to date!
This was our 5th self guided tour to date and Portugal's Best Cycling company was the best we have had in customer service. The bikes were perfect for the terrain. We felt safe on all of the routes even the ones that had more traffic than anticipated. All of the hotels were excellent although our personal preference is to stay away from the ones that cater to the large motorcoach tours (we had 2 that fell into that category.) Self-guided is for the adventurous and that is what we got. The dirt tracks were not for the inexperienced. Area had a rough winter and it took some technical riding to manuever safely on them. There were alternative paved routes but where is the fun in that? We added an extra 20 miles on one of our days to ride out to a fortress that was not on our itinerary. It was worth it. I would add pictures but it keeps telling me images are too large. Recommend adding 2 full days in Sintra just to enjoy.
Beautiful countryside & amazing castles and wineries
We had a great time cycling through The Alentejo region where wildflowers, castles, olive and cork tree groves, and fields of grapes were abundant. The bikes were in great shape, detailed directions and tour guides helpful!
This is a fun trip
Weather in October was pretty good , but we did get one day of 90oF which was unusual. The biking is not particularly strenuous, but the road conditions vary between paved and dirt so you are going to be riding double duty touring bikes that can handle the range. These make the 30 mile days feel longer than they would on a carbon road bike. There are lots of stops along the way at small farms, cafes, businesses and museums, neolithic sites, and of course, wineries and castles. I felt like we were exposed to Portugal in a way I would not have been otherwise.
As much as I like cycling, I like food and drink even more! This is where this tour really excels. The picnics every day were great, The organized meals at night were wonderful, and when in Evora without included meals there are great restaurants everywhere. Wine flows freely and is delicous. Everwhere you turn there seems to be something from the 15th or 16th century, and you don’t have to try too hard to find things from Roman times. The hotels are very nice and usually interesting historical buildings. The towns of Evora and Monseraz are especially striking. This is a fun tour and Teresa was a great guide with loads of historical and agricultual knowledge.
Responses from Biketours.com
"As much as I like cycling, I like food and drink even more!"- I couldn't agree more with your sentiment. We're so glad to hear you had a great time on tour. Experiencing the best of Portugal by slow travel is hard to beat. Your pictures are fantastic, and we hope to help you again in the future!
The tour was a lot of fun. Location was great. Tour operator was very helpful. Hotels were wonderful. Only problem was that it was very hot. Probably best before June as weather is unpredictable. We had bad luck of a heat wave and riding in 100 degree heat was hard and made us rush through some of the middle towns. This was a shame as local people were very kind and towns were interesting and filled with a lot of history. Would be a perfect Spring time ride. The second to last day is very hard as is one earlier climb but overall a great trip. We plan on doing one of the other tours offered by this operator in the future.
Authentic, Beautiful and Engaging
What an authentically Portuguese experience this was! Our guide was from the area and knew all the history and culture of Portugal. There were perfect choices for historical places and the rides were lovely routes through villages and farms.....so perfect. Every day was amazing.
Very Educational and Interesting
We started this tour as "self-guided" but had difficulty with the maps. The tour company was able to provide a guide for us and what a difference that made. Not only did we not get lost, but we learned so much more than we would have on our own. Our guide was very knowledgeable and having someone translate for us was a big help. Plus we no longer had to waste time looking at maps.
We upgraded to the "charm hotels" which was amazing. Everyplace we stayed was just indescribably beautiful and serene. I highly recommend the upgrade and a guide.
We learned so much about the cork, olive, and wine harvests. We particularly enjoyed the leather and pottery factories.
Portugal is a great country with an incredible old world charm.
Downsized tour, questionable difficulty rating.
Overall we are all glad we did this tour, but we agreed that an honest review was required. Our group of 4, downsized the tour to 3 days of unguided cycling in the 4 star hotel option. Two of our group had, one month previous to this tour, completed a 7 day bike tour in France that was rated as a 1-2 in difficulty. So, expectations were to have a comparable tour since the difficulty rating was the same. This was not our experience however. Our contact person for the Alentejo tour was really great during the first day orientation, answered all our questions, checked us out on the bikes and gear and left us with her personal phone number in case of problems. Terrific! Our group range in age from 66-76, all fit (2 active bikers one runner) and ready for the challenge. The first 6 miles or so were on the main highway to Lisbon (fast drivers and trucks closely along side the shoulder used for biking). Then when we turned off to the quiet roads as in the suggested option, the dirt roads were not in the 1 or 2 difficulty category rating as outlined in the tour. These unpaved roads were more like 4-5 difficulty as they were often like mountain bike roads for at least 1/4 of the days' 35 mile route. Steep upgrades, deep ruts from recent rain, many rocky and sandy roads impeded travel. It rained much of this, the first day. Even though our tour operators could not control the rain, they should have reassessed the level of difficulty and road conditions and report honestly about current road conditions status of deteriorated due to recent rains. Two of our group opted out for day 2 due to exhaustion and lack of faith in level of tour difficulty, but the two who continued enjoyed the quieter country roads which were less harrowing than the dirt roads, but more trafficked and still above level 1-2. Day three was great, though still there were several long, lowest-gear slopes more of a 3-4 rating and still on medium trafficked roadways. This days' outlined tour was also changed--we walked the 3 miles each way to the top of the hill town, as the 'road' very steep and all jarringly cobbled (in the level 9-10 difficulty range). Safety concerns: due to roads with traffic, tour company should supply high viability vests and warning lights. Hotels were great, maps good. The personnel we dealt with was great!
Responses from Biketours.com
We're sorry for the misleading ratings and characterization of the terrain. We've increased the difficulty level to 3. For clients who are interested in this tour and would like to see detailed elevation profiles for each day, please contact our tour advisor team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a great tour operated by a top-notch Portuguese bike tour company.
excellent guided bike trip
I am participating bike trip almost 30 years and this was the best one .
The service , very good guided tour explanations in every spot we visited .
The food ,restaurants are great. Worst every penny.