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Portugal

Vineyards of the Douro Valley

Guided Road Cycling Holiday

Grade

1
2
3
4
5

Duration

8 days

Prices from

£2,295 P.P.
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The Douro river, Portugal’s spectacularly beautiful River of Gold, is the third largest on the Iberian peninsula. The source of the Douro is actually in Spain (where it is known as Rio Duero) and, for many of its almost 900km it forms a natural boundary between the two countries, before making its way to the north-western city of Porto where it flows into the Atlantic.
The valley, recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, that the river has carved through the north of Portugal, is one of the oldest wine regions in the world, yet whilst the region is intrinsically linked to its famously high-quality produce, it has so much more to offer than its wines alone. Here you can expect high standards of accommodation, refreshingly hospitable local hosts, excellent food and of course fantastic cycling.
The slopes of the valley are blessed with a network of secondary roads linking tiny villages on both sides of the river. Our tour weaves around these, mainly on traffic-free roads, as we make our journey upstream, exploring many a small mountain as we go.
Midway through our tour, we leave the river and rise up onto the high plateau that sits between the Douro Valley and the mountains, where we spend a few days visiting numerous charming, historic villages and crossing the border to spend an evening in Spain.
Finally we reach the Serra da Estrela Natural Park, an area of outstanding natural beauty and home to Torre Mountain which, at 1993m above sea-level, is the highest point on mainland Portugal and the setting of the most challenging stage of our tour. It’s a fitting way to end this magnificent route, which, despite not boasting the famous Grand Tour “big name” climbs of France, Italy and Spain, never disappoints.
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Holiday Highlights

  • Riding along the Douro river through immense vineyards surrounded by terraced slopes
  • Staying in the charming lodgings of wine farms, where we visit Port wine cellars and sample some port and wine
  • Riding on the N222 in the heart of the Alto Douro, considered one of the most beautiful roads in the world, with its jaw dropping scenery
  • The historic fortified village of Almeida
  • Tackling the dramatic climb to the summit of Torre in the Serra da Estrela, the highest point of mainland Portugal
  • The final hotel at Unhais da Serra, an unexpected oasis at the end of the trip

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Every day of the trip was fantastic, with the long day to Almeida a personal favourite and another highlight the climb and descent of Estrella! I would recommend this holiday to anyone, due to the rides, the support, the team and Portugal as a whole. Thank you again for a fantastic trip!

Richard, New Zealand

Itinerary

Day 1
Arrival: Porto / Cidadelhe
Non Riding Day

Porto (OPO) is the closest airport to the starting point, and it is from here that we make the 90 minute transfer to the first hotel set on a plateau close to the Douro River.

After building bikes we’ll settle in for the evening and dine together in the hotel.

Day 2
Cidadelhe to Lamego
44 Miles / 70 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1400 Metres Approx.

Often considered the most beautiful road in Portugal, the N222 is the dominant road for our first day and one which features significantly later in our tour. Riding upstream we will cross several tributary rivers as we negotiate numerous small climbs and visit dozens of villages scattered along the slopes.

Finally, we leave the N222 and start climbing to the historical town of Lamego, enjoying breath-taking views of the Douro as we rise higher above the river.

The hotel tonight is a wine production farm, a very comfortable and relaxing spot, and a perfect location to rest up after our first day on the bike.

Day 3
Lamego to Folgosa
47 Miles / 76 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,500 Metres Approx.

We begin the day on minor roads as we head to Ucanha, a small settlement famous for its beautiful medieval bridge. Moving on we pass by the convent of Salzedas before we reach Armamar, a town which appears to hang over the River Douro, and the capital of apple farming in the country. Beyond Armamar we drop down into the town of Régua, the centre of the Douro Valley wine production.

Crossing over to the other side of the valley, we tackle the longest climb of the day before enjoying an exhilarating descent back to the banks of the river. The final 10km leads us alongside the river, firstly along the north bank and then, after crossing the river via a dam, along the south bank, until we reach the tiny village of Folgosa where our hotel is located.

Day 4
Folgosa to Aldea del Obispo (Spain)
85 Miles / 137 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 2,300 Metres Approx.

Today is our longest day and one which we spend almost entirely on the fantastically scenic N222 road. We begin with a welcome flat section along the river to warm our legs. Soon the road turns away from the river and leads us onto a lengthy, yet gentle, climb Sao Joao da Pesqueira, a town situated high up on the plateau above.

Following the N222 to its end near the historical village of Almendra, we ride through an undulating landscape until we reach the deep valley of the River Coa where we have to drop sharply down to cross its the bridge, before climbing back up onto the plateau on the other side.

The terrain becomes a somewhat softer as we approach the walled town of Almeida, an important historical location which was of particular significance during the French invasions of the Iberian Peninsula. Our comfortable hotel, built inside the ruins of an old XVIII century fort on the Spanish side of the border, is the perfect location to relax after an amazing day in the saddle.

Day 5
Aldea del Obispo (Spain) to Cro
59 Miles / 95 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,200 Metres Approx.

Today’s ride is the gentlest of the tour as we continue to explore the plateau, where the terrain is characterised by gentle undulations on open landscapes and where granite is dominant and oak forests complement the scenery.

Beginning on a flat road, it isn’t long before we find ourselves descending towards the village of Castelo Bom from where quiet, secondary roads deliver us to the village of Freineda, once the residence of Lord Wellington during his campaign, helping to defeat Napoleon’s troops in the beginning of the 19th century.

Finally, we find ourselves part of riding north along the undulating roads of the Coa Valley.

Day 6
Cro to Penhas Douradas
42 Miles / 67 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,100 Metres Approx.

A more challenging day awaits as we make our way into the Serra da Estrala mountain range.

The Serra da Estrela is home to the highest peaks of continental Portugal, including the infamous Torre, which we will encounter up close tomorrow.

Today though we have an opportunity to immerse ourselves in the peaceful landscape and absorb the beauty of its diverse flora and fauna.

We end the day at 1500m above sea level where we can acclimatise a little and prepare ourselves for the “big one” tomorrow.

Day 7
Penhas Douradas to Unhais da Serra
46 Miles / 74 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,700 Metres Approx.

We start our final the day on the bikes with a descent dropping us down to the village of Sabugueiro where we begin the 17km climb to the summit of the Torre, the signature climb of our tour.

It’s a climb of two halves, the first of which ascends to the Lagoa Comprida reservoir, where it is possible to stop for a breather and a coffee at a road side café. Beyond the reservoir the gradient kicks up a little and things become more challenging. From here the full scale of the mountain starts becoming obvious.

Having reached the summit and celebrated our achievements with obligatory photographs at the viewpoint, we begin a magnificent 22km descent through beautiful mountain scenery of small lakes, mountain huts and seemingly never-ending forests.

Our reward for our efforts is an evening in one of the best hotels in Portugal which boasts a spa and invigorating thermal waters. The hotel’s cuisine is also outstanding and perfect for our celebratory dinner!

Day 8
Departure: Unhais da Serra / Lisbon
Non Riding Day
  • Meals: Breakfast

Following breakfast in the hotel, we make our way to Lisbon airport (LIS) for return flights.

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The Cycling

Terrain

The Douro Valley is known for its high-sloped banks. The difference in level between the river and the top of the slopes ranges between 300m/1,000ft and 600m/2,000ft.

The climbs are generally long and gentle and on well-paved, quiet secondary roads. Descents are as frequent and long as the ascents and often feature switchbacks and technical sections.

Midway, the tour moves into a slightly less rugged region with wider yet still quiet roads. Finally, the latter stages are characterised by longer, higher and generally, more challenging climbs.

Surfaces throughout are generally very good although harsh winter weather conditions can affect road quality in some regions.

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Road Cycling Grade

1
2
3
4
5
Grade 3 - 4: Moderate/ Challenging

Moderate to Challenging. For more regular riders who like to push themselves a little from time to time. Not extreme but certainly challenging on occasions with some good climbing opportunities. Distances between 80-120km per day.

Our grading guidelines have been carefully created based on our many years of cycling experience, as well as customer feedback from our trips. Of course, if you're still struggling to figure out where you fit on the scale, do feel free to give us a quick call and we'll be more than happy to help!

For more information about our grading system click here.

Is this suitable for you?

You’re an enthusiast. Road cycling is probably your main hobby and you ride regularly at weekends, staying on the bike for much of the day. You’re in pretty good shape, and you might also participate in cylo-sportive events. You also love a challenge and are looking for a tour with some good climbing, preferably with an opportunity to tick off some famous Tour de France cols, or the like. You’re a competent descender, and you’re not afraid of speed, but you ride safely and within your limits at all times. You understand road etiquette and you’re comfortable riding in a bunch. You might even take a stint at the front of the pack if the need arises.

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This was probably the best-organised tour I’ve done. Our tour leader’s tour dossier was outstanding! My favourite day was probably the second day of riding, from Lamego to Folgosa – fun descents. Lunches were great, and the level of the hotels was high!

Kent, USA

Dates & Prices

Private Departures

Private Departures

Are you keen to only travel with your family or friends? Struggling to find the right date? Well, we can organise a private departure for this tour and tailor aspects to suit your group's specific needs. Contact our friendly team and we'll help you turn your dream into reality.

Start Date
End Date
Duration
Price p.p.
Start Date
15/04/2023
Return Date
22/04/2023
Duration
8 days
Price
£2,295.00
Start Date
07/10/2023
Return Date
14/10/2023
Duration
8 days
Price
£2,295.00

Whats Included Tick

A) Accommodation (shared twin / double en-suite rooms)

B) Meals as per the itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)

C) Full tour service, including Skedaddle guides

D) Unless stated, at least one leader qualified in first aid

E) Support vehicle and luggage transfers

F) GPS unit with GPX route files installed

G) Airport transfer on scheduled arrival day from Porto airport (OPO)

H) Airport transfer on scheduled departure day to Lisbon airport (LIS)

What's not Included Cross

A) Bike rental (available if required)

B) Flights and charges for travelling with your bike (if applicable)

C) Meals not stated in the itinerary

D) Single room (available if required)

E) Travel insurance

F) Personal clothing and equipment

G) Personal expenditure (souvenirs, bar bills, hotel facilities etc)

H) Entrance fees to museums and other attractions en route

I) Airport transfers on days other than the scheduled arrival/departure days

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The Essentials

Travel Options

Your tour starts in Cidadelhe and finishes in Unhais da Serra.

Group airport transfers are included in the cost of your holiday and both the arrival transfer from Porto airport (OPO) and return transfer to Lisbon airport (LIS) will be co-ordinated with the group flight schedule.

We will provide you with details of suitable flight/arrival/departure schedules as flight timetables become available.

Please check with us before making any travel arrangements to ensure we have reached the minimum number required to guarantee your holiday and to make sure your arrangements fit with our scheduled transfers.

Please note If you make travel arrangements that fall outside of the scheduled transfer windows, there may be an additional charge for individual transfers.

Accommodation

Accommodation (shared twin or double rooms) will usually be en-suite in 4 and 5 star hotels or guesthouses.

Bike Hire

If you don’t own a suitable bike or would prefer to avoid bringing your own we have bikes available to hire. These bikes are typically KTM Revelator or alternative brand equivalent, great bikes with good quality components. If you do decide to hire we can include a helmet and all necessary spares for the trip. Please request helmets when booking. The bikes will come with flat pedals as standard, so please do bring your own pedals if you use clip-in pedals.

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