Cycling in the Algarve

Whether you wish to emulate the Pros and cycle parts of the renowned Volta ao Algarve stage race, or you simply want to improve your fitness in a sunny and scenic setting, it’s not difficult to see why the Algarve should be one of your ‘go to’ places.

It may primarily be known as a golf and beach destination. However, beyond this there is plenty more to impress the discerning cyclist, such as beautiful unspoilt countryside; traditional old towns and hilltop villages steeped in history; and a local culture that has retained its charm despite the dramatic increase in tourism over the last few decades.

This region boasts one of the most dependable climates in the world, with typically more than 300 days of sunshine a year. Protected by the mountains, conditions are similar to those on the coast of Northern Africa, with mild temperatures even in winter, so it’s an ideal base for early or late season training.

The 230km of dramatic coastline is undoubtedly the main attraction, but divert inland and you will not be disappointed. The varied terrain not only provides a stunning backdrop to your rides, but it also means that routes can be tailored to suit all levels. The more performance driven riders will want to tackle one of at least three major climbs (see our section on Bike Hire and Routes). But the Algarve is also perfect for those relatively new to the sport, as the virtually traffic free roads that sweep across the hinterland are relatively forgiving. Let’s face it, not everyone wants to tackle the Alps or the Pyrenees.

It’s a great place for non-cycling partners, too, as there are so many other activities available; dolphin watching, fishing, quad biking, jeep safari, local markets, cultural tours, to name a few. So, if you are looking to take time out of a family holiday, you might like to join a guided Road Bike Tour courtesy of Algarve Bike Holidays. Bike hire and transfers are included and you can clock up some decent kilometres, whilst still making it back in time to entertain the kids or chill by the pool in the afternoon.

Whilst the Algarve hasn’t quite caught on to designated cycling paths, it cannot be denied that the sport is a national passion, second only to football, so drivers and other cyclists are extremely friendly. Plus, with some of the lowest traffic density in Europe, you can ride in the country for ten minutes or so without seeing a single four-wheel vehicle (save the odd tractor or horse drawn cart!).

You can base yourself pretty much anywhere in the Central Algarve (between Faro and Lagos), depending on what your priorities are. Whether it’s the bustling atmosphere and beaches of Albufeira or the peace and quiet of a more rural Paderne that appeal, you have plenty of choice of accommodation and route options starting from various locations. 

Accommodation-wise, the Algarve literally has something for everyone. From the local ‘turismo rural’ (eco-friendly, rural homestays), bed and breakfasts, boutique hotels, to luxury five star hotels and private villas, there is a place to suit all tastes and budgets. And, compared to other European destinations, it’s remarkably inexpensive.

So what are you waiting for? 

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Comment by Michael Tarrant on March 17, 2016 at 15:14

Recently visited the Algarve at the time of the Volta ao Algarve. Watched the race on 3 out of the 5 days and saw a start, a finish and a couple of climbs including Foia and final day at Alto do Malhao. Easy access to just about everything but a high quality field, GeraintThomas, Contador, Cancellara, Tony Martin etc. 

We stayed one night at which is rural but only just outside Sao Bras Alportel. Lovely place, beautiful setting, inexpensive and an ideal base for cycling holiday. No heavy traffic to negotiate, you're straight into your ride. Hosts couldn't be more helpful and Faro airport is only 20kms away. 

Used to live in the Algarve and holidayed there consistently for decades. Still an amazing place to ride and road surfaces have improved beyond recognition. Most rural roads are considerably better than the UK now. World class beaches, friendly people and a cost of living way cheaper than UK, Spain, France and Italy. Algarve is a real gem away from the tourist hotspots.

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