Valentin on the roads of Spain and Portugal by bike
22 January 2021
By Valentin Chapalain, Advisor at Abicyclette Voyages
In November 2019, I decided to go on a cycling trip to Spain and Portugal with my friend Aurélien. Together, we left Valladolid to reach Seville, the beautiful Andalusian city, via the south of Portugal. In three weeks we have covered 950 kilometers on the roads and paths of the Iberian Peninsula.
At this time of year, the weather was not always good. Indeed, we had to face the cold in Castile and Leon and in the mountains around Madrid; then brave the showers and gusts of wind in Extremadura and Alentejo. Leaving in October would probably have been better. However, scarred by these unpredictable weather conditions, we fully savored the mildness and the sun of southern Portugal and Andalusia at the end of the adventure. In addition, the warmth of the people we encountered also warmed our sometimes cold bodies and hearts. In line with my previous getaways, I favored wild camping over conventional accommodation. We found it easy to pitch the tent in these sparsely populated areas. While the landscapes weren’t as awe-inspiring as in Scandinavia, we still discovered beautiful wilderness, sumptuous beaches on the Algarve coastline and alluring towns like Trujillo, Evora, Tavira and of course Seville.
Spain and Portugal by bike: some key figures
21 days of on-site travel,
950 kilometers in total: 465 in Spain and 485 in Portugal,
Long stages of 15 to 100 kilometers,
Variable temperatures: from -3 ° C to 20 ° C,
1005 meters, the altitude of the city of Segovia, the highest point of the trip,
A ton of pastels de nata tasted,
1 swim in Praia da Marinha, one of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal,
0 theft or assault
- 21 days of on-site travel,
- 950 kilometers in total: 465 in Spain and 485 in Portugal,
- Long stages of 15 to 100 kilometers,
- Variable temperatures: from -3 ° C to 20 ° C,
- 1005 meters, the altitude of the city of Segovia, the highest point of the trip,
- A ton of pastels de nata tasted,
- 5 campfires,
- 1 swim in Praia da Marinha, one of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal,
- 0 theft or assault
Spain by bike: Castile and Leon, Extremadura and Andalusia
With the exception of a few getaways, I had little knowledge of Spain before leaving. This cycling trip was the perfect opportunity to get to know my Spanish neighbor better. Deliberately, I wanted to discover less touristy regions in order to grasp a part of the country less known to visitors. In the end, we cycled 465 kilometers on the roads and paths of Spain. Among the regions we crossed, Extremadura enchanted us the most.
With its untamed landscapes, its hills covered with cork oaks, eucalyptus and olive trees, and its small winding roads, Extremadura is ideal for cycling. Regarding human warmth and encounters, we fell in love with Castile and Leon, where we were really well received with “café caliente” and tapas. At the end of the trip, we discovered a tiny part of Andalusia. Seville, the Andalusian capital charmed us with the beauty of its architecture, its festive and cheerful atmosphere.
Camping in Spain
Quick note about camping in Spain. Before the start, some people had warned me that it was forbidden and frowned upon by our Spanish friends. However, in the untamed lands that we crossed, we found that it was, on the contrary, easy to camp and sometimes the locals showed us spots to spend the night in peace. Without a doubt, it is probably easier and more tolerated in November in Extremadura than in July in Catalonia. On the road, we found the Spaniards to be courteous and cautious with us. In general, they overtook us with a substantial safety distance and at a moderate pace. On the other hand, in Portugal it was more random… We are happy with our cycling trip in Spain. Enough to consider future cycling trips! Discovering the rest of Andalusia or perhaps the Canary Islands?
OUR FAVORITES OF OUR BIKE TRIP IN SPAIN:
- Extremadura, its undulating countryside, its vast spaces carpeted with cork oaks, olive trees and eucalyptus. A harsh region with an atmosphere of its own,
- the beauty of Seville (atmosphere, architecture, weather, flamenco),
- the kindness of the Spaniards. Courteous to cyclists on the road, welcoming and always ready to help,
- gastronomy: ham from Extremadura, sangria and tapas from Seville,
- The wild expanses of Castile and Leon with the snow-capped mountains of the Sierra de Guadarrama in the background,
- the harvest of lemons, oranges, pomegranates and clementines along the way.
Portugal by bike: Alentejo and Algarve
Following Spain, we spent 8 days in Portugal for a total of 485 kilometers. On our mounts, we crisscrossed the two southernmost regions of the country: Alentejo and Algarve. In Portugal, several things charmed us. First of all, the warmth of southern Portugal was good for morale. In the Algarve, at Praia da Marinha, one of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal, we even took a dip in the ocean. A bit chilly but invigorating! Then, the delicious Portuguese pastries, the most famous of which is pastel de nata, brought a touch of sweetness at each stage. Finally, we enjoyed going through villages with all white houses, especially in Alentejo. We fell in love with Evora, the charming capital of the region.
In the Algarve, we particularly liked the hinterland. We keep in mind the winding and fragrant roads lined with eucalyptus trees to reach the spa town of Monchique. Regarding the wild camping, no particular difficulty in Portugal even if the campsites were less pleasant than in Spain. Special mention to the abandoned Evoramonte train station where we spent one night.
We enjoyed our cycling trip to Portugal. For a future trip to Portugal, I would like to explore the mountainous north of the country.
OUR FAVORITES DURING OUR BIKE TRIP TO PORTUGAL:
- Evora, a beautiful city of character classified as a UNESCO heritage.
- Its architecture, its cobbled streets, its relaxed rhythm of life.
- Praia da Marinha, one of the most beautiful beaches in Algarve and Portugal
- the smooth pastels de Nata and Portuguese pastries in general
- the mountainous hinterland of the Algarve, around Monchique
- the beauty of small Portuguese villages (Tavira, Monforte, Arronches …)