Portugal Cycling Holiday Douro Valley
7 days / 6 nights | Self guided bike tours | Wine, nature and traditions in a World Heritage region
Your biking holiday in the Douro will acquaint you with fascinating, magical natural surroundings, the best cuisine and some of the world’s finest wines including, of course, Port Wine for which the region is famous. Beginning in the Douro River Canyon and its more than 200 metres-high cliffs in the eastern part of the region, you will cycle across the highland plateau of the International Douro Nature Reserve, with its over 170 bird species, amongst which the Egyptian vulture. Leisurely follow former railway tracks through vast forests, almond groves and typical agricultural landscapes. The unique terraced vineyards, so typical of the region that is listed as a Unesco World Heritage Property, are a delight to the eye. The accommodations are chosen with the greatest care, and each in their own way offers you a taste of local life and customs. You will stay in a time-honoured hotel with a view over the river canyon, on a traditional olive oil estate, in an elegant town house, and on a quinta (wine estate), a Douro manor where you may assist the owner in the kitchen if you wish so.
Day 1: Miranda do Douro
The start of your journey. (Transfer from the airport or hotel at approx. noon.) On your way from Porto airport to the easternmost point of your holiday - Miranda do Douro, enjoy the beautiful landscape and scenery that unfold along the way like a painting of green trees and grey and brown rocks, hills and mountains, crowned by a blue sky. The Douro River Canyon and its over 200 meter-high cliffs also offers a fascinating landscape. The small town of Miranda do Douro, with its typical whitewashed houses, its Roman origins and narrow cobbled streets, deserves an exploratory walk.
Day 2: Mogadouro (Cycling 47–57 km / 30–36 miles)
Day 2, the first stage of your biking holiday takes you through some of the eastern parts of the International Douro Nature Reserve. Wilderness and radiant landscapes are its most striking characteristics. The stretch you shall cycle along is a gentle one, across a highland plateau. This is a quiet land, populated by over 170 species of birds, wild boars and the occasional Iberian wolf. Even the farmers shepherd their goats and cattle in silence. Study the skies to see an Egyptian vulture or a Bonelli's eagle.
Medium Tour: 47 km | 311 m elevation gain | 100% paved
Day 3: Torre de Moncorvo (Cycling 39–48 km / 25–30 miles)
Today you will gently follow the path of a former railway track. The ecotrail takes you past forests and across a typical agricultural landscape. The few woods you will cycle through are scattered around. Although the shepherds you meet will not be able to understand you, they are extremely friendly and happy to pose for photos. You will cycle along olive and almond groves until you reach medieval Torre de Moncorvo, the Capital of Blossoming Almond Trees. In Torre de Moncorvo, you will be warmly greeted by your host at an elegant town house. Your host takes great pride in the accommodation she offers and, if you are lucky, you will get a chance to enjoy her homemade liquors, which go beautifully with the locally-grown Moncorvo almonds.
Medium Tour: 39,3 km | 1180 m elevation gain | 49% paved
Challenging: 48 km | 414 m elevation gain | 58% paved.
Day 4: Vila Flor (Cycling 29–37 km / 18–23 miles)
On day 4, you will cycle alongside the River Douro for the first time. Prepare yourself for stunning views and a magical landscape. The descent down to the river takes you through olive groves that produce some of the best olive oil in the world. That night, you will stay on a quinta, or farming estate, producing traditional and organic olive oil. For dinner, you will be served some of the finest local cuisine – homemade cheeses, sausages, baked bread and olive oil, home-grown oranges and of course, homemade wine. Apparently in the middle of nowhere, it is so quiet, the night sky is so clear, that stargazing walk after dinner is an absolute must.
Medium Tour: 28,7 km | 271 m elevation gain | 75% paved
Challenging: 38 km | 401 m elevation gain | 60% paved.
Day 5: Sabrosa (Cycling 29–31 km / 18–19 miles)
The Alto Douro Winemaking Region is famous for its wines. First and foremost is Port Wine, but the region also produces world-famous red wines from the Touriga grape. The terraced vineyards, so typical of the region that is listed as a Unesco World Heritage Property, are a delight to the eye. The neatly-kept wine estates, or quintas, rise proudly amidst the vineyards, their names clearly visible to everyone who passes. You will enjoy arriving at the river's edge and putting your bike on a Rabelo boat that in earlier days transported barrels of wine downriver to Porto. As you relax in the sun and photograph the surrounding landscape, the Douro region will once again enfold you in its magic. Pinhão, where most of the famous Port wine estates are located, is the next stop. Don't forget to visit the beautiful train station. The seventeenth-century house where you will spend the night is located on the hillside, above the town.
Medium Tour: 29 km | 98 m elevation gain | 100% paved
Challenging: 31 km | 212 m elevation gain | 100% paved.
Day 6: Peso da Régua (Cycling 31 km/ 19 miles)
It will not be easy for you to say good-bye to your kind landlady. First, the biking route will take you through the back roads of the Douro, then you will cycle gently back to the riverside. The views are nothing less than breath-taking, as if the Douro Valley, knowing that it is the last stage of your biking holiday, wants to ensure that you will never forget its magical beauty. At the end of this beautiful day, you will arrive in Peso da Régua, the International Capital of Wine and Vineyards, at the centre of the Port wine-growing region. Here, the owner of one of the quintas will welcome you with a fine wine on the terrace and invite you to share a cooking experience with her.
Medium Tour: 31 km | 295 m elevation gain | 100% paved
Day 7: Peso da Régua – Porto
After breakfast transfer back to the airport of Porto.
Please note: All cycling distances stated above are approximate only.