- Exploring Marvão and its hill top castle offering incredible views of the area
- Staying overnight in “the most Portuguese village of Portugal” – Monsanto
- Staying in a charming Pousada built into the mountain top
- Visiting the old Roman village of Egitânia with its olive oil press
- Spending an afternoon in the remote, modern Spa of Cró with its lovely warm water pool
- Spending your final night in Almeida
Following your arrival you will be met by your local representative and transferred to your first night’s accommodation in the village of Marvão (approx 2.5 hrs if travelling from Lisbon, 4 if from Porto). Marvão is an enchanting village set on top of a granite mountain and the village is a world heritage site. Its imposing fortified walls encircle the mountain on which it sits. Here your representative will set up your hire bikes, should you be hiring, and talk you through your maps, notes and GPS routes to make sure everything is clear for the week ahead.
- Meals: Breakfast
You’ll start the day descending from Marvão, making your way to the historical town of Castelo de Vide surrounded by awe-inspiring granite landscapes. Castelo de Vide is well worth a visit, and we recommend exploring on foot. Back on your bikes the route then leads you to the biggest river on the Iberian peninsula, the River Tejo. As the day unfolds you will ride through beautiful countryside as you make your way alongside a reservoir, passing the village of Nisa, to finally meet the river in Vila Velha de Rodão, as it flows through a big stone gorge.
The River Tejo bisects the country from north to south and there are noticeable differences between the two sides of the river – the locals’ appearances and accents, as well as the architecture and the food all demonstrate the distinctions in culture found here. Your hotel in town provides rooms with amazing views of the river, the town and its surrounding meadows.
- Meals: Breakfast
Beginning this morning on the north side of the river, your route will take you through tranquil farmland and along undulating country roads. You’ll gradually wind your way up to the village of Idanha-a-Nova, another hilltop village and your destination for the evening. Your accommodation for the evening will be a peaceful country hotel, offering blissful relaxation; it’s the perfect way to relax after a day’s pedallin’!
- Meals: Breakfast
Today offers you a relatively relaxed ride through peaceful landscapes. This morning you’ll be riding on flatter, wider roads through agricultural land. For the majority of the day you will have these quiet roads to yourselves, with the untouched landscape stretching off in the distance.
One of the day’s highlights is the Roman village of Idanha-a-Velha (Egitania in Roman times) which was home to many different civilizations stretching back before the Romans invaded. You can still experience its historical wealth through the Roman remains, columns and tiled floors. The old Roman oil press deserves a visit!
But the cherry on top of the cake is still to come at the end of a great day in the saddle. Monsanto is 850m above sea level and is known in the country as “the most Portuguese village of Portugal”. The 360 degree views from the castle on the top are breathtaking! Monsanto is a jewel of tradition with its houses built around, over and below the large granite boulders. You’ll spend the night in a small, recently-renovated hotel in the village. Make sure you allow yourself time to explore Monsanto’s tight cobbled streets and marvel at the views from the castle up top.
- Meals: Breakfast
You’ll start the day descending from Monsanto to the plateau below. Cycling on quiet narrow roads you’ll eventually reach the foothill of Penamacor, another historical village. After this, you’ll head into a large valley between the remote Malcata mountains and the high Estrela mountains, and you’ll meander through agricultural fields on relatively flat land.
On the last part of today’s ride there’s a cheeky climb, as you ascend up a steep hill to take you to the historical village of Sortelha which stands at the top of the hill. Together with Sabugal, Sortelha is an icon of medieval history in the region. Its surrounding castle and stone houses allow you to take a leap into the past. You’ll spend the night in a small, traditional stone house in the village.
- Meals: Breakfast
Today you have a short and relaxed ride to allow plenty of time to visit Sabugal and spend the afternoon in the hotel spa at the end of the day.
Your first stop on the ride, will be Sabugal, famed for its fascinating castle, boasting a pentagonal centre stone tower. From Sabugal, your route meanders through tranquil landscapes on quiet narrow roads. You’ll end the day at your hotel, a modern facility built to rehabilitate the once very famous thermal waters, which provide the most relaxing treats you can think of after 5 days in the saddle. The indoor warm water swimming pool is a must, and watching the sun setting over the imposing granite landscapes through the wide glass windows, you’ll be completely relaxed.
- Meals: Breakfast
Your final day’s cycling covers the Planalto Beirão, the north-eastern high plateau, offering spectacular views throughout the day. After reaching the plateau, today’s ride is a more gentle one offering plenty of opportunities to explore the fortified towns and villages which have grown up around the region’s many castles.
Almeida, your final destination, is considered to be the jewel in the area’s crown, emblematic of the area’s architecture and historical influences. Your home for the night is a beautiful pousada which offers a great place to relax and reminisce over your journey through this beautiful and dramatic corner of Portugal.
- Meals: Breakfast
After breakfast you will be met by your local representative to begin the journey back to the airport for your flights home (4 hour transfer to Lisbon, 3 to Porto). Please note, due to the length of the transfer, pickup from your hotel in Almeida must be between 08.45 am and 12 pm.
Please see travel options below for an alternative option if you don’t fancy the long vehicle transfer.
With a lot of the most picturesque places to visit, including several of our overnight stops being perched on hill tops, inevitably there are a few climbs. These are, however, mostly rolling, rather than too long or steep. Day 3 will pose the biggest challenge, being the longest day, with some bigger climbs to tackle on days 2, 4 and 5. The route sticks 100% to asphalt so is suitable for hybrids or road bikes with slick or semi slick tyres (25mm or wider). Please note, the majority of the route is shared with traffic, but due to the remote nature of the tour, this isn’t usually too busy or fast moving.
Leisure Cycling Grade
Distances generally between 20-45 miles / 32-72 kms per day
For the leisure cyclist with a good level of physical fitness
May include some steeper, cheeky climbs
Possibly sections of varying terrain (eg. forest tracks, gravel paths etc).
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?
Although you may not cycle everyday, you do keep yourself relatively fit and maybe enjoy an afternoon out on your bike at the weekend. Your preference is perhaps for flatter terrain but you don’t mind tackling some hills, and the occasional steep climb if you can take it at your own pace. For those happy to tackle some ups and downs, and possibly some sections of varying terrain (eg. forest tracks, gravel paths etc) we’d recommend our grade 3 trips. We’d generally expect those on a Grade 3 trip to have a decent level of physical fitness and be comfortable with some longer days in the saddle.
Dates & Prices
Daily departures available. The season prices below are applicable for all start dates between and inclusive of the stated dates.
2022 01 Mar to 30 Nov (excluding departures in July and August).
A) Hotel accommodation (shared twin / double en suite rooms)
B) Meals as per the itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
C) Local representative (with welcome meeting)
D) Detailed route notes, maps and GPS
E) Luggage transfers
F) Airport transfer on scheduled arrival day from Lisbon airport (LIS)
G) Airport transfer on scheduled departure day to Lisbon airport (LIS)
What's not Included
A) Bike hire (available if required)
B) Flights and charges for travelling with your bike (if applicable)
C) Single room (available if required)
D) Travel insurance
E) Meals not stated in the itinerary
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
Portugal - exploring this gem by bike
Here's why we love it so much! Enjoy the stunning beaches, wine, food and culture of this beautiful country...
Get fit for your cycling holiday
Once you have booked your holiday, it’s time to think about preparing yourself for multiple days in the saddle...
10 tips for how to be a better traveller by bike
How can our cycling holiday have a positive impact on the places and people we visit? Here's some tips...
Harold, CanadaA first rate crew!
I would recommend the Historic Villages Self-Guided to any cyclist. Your local partners were the best. We really appreciated their positive attitude – attention to detail and local knowledge. A first rate crew!
Graham, York, UKExcellent...
This was another excellent chance to visit another country with travel, accommodation & local information all provided.
Good variety of terrain; lovely countryside; amazing wild flowers; so many birds singing & the overall scent of flowers & tree vegetation in the air. The sun was shining & lots of downhills to enjoy! The variety of terrain was exactly as had been described to us. This was our first taste of route navigation with GPS ; no family “consultations” at junctions; no maps and directions to turn over in whatever the weather. What a difference.
Antonio Malvar gave us probably the best service we have received from all our Skedaddle cycling holidays. The holiday pack of information was comprehensive & had everything we needed; our week’s route & accommodation stops were explained to us in detail at our initial hotel venue. Antonio made sure we understood the use of the bike GPS devices and he followed up the next day to check the level of battery power remaining & our route & day’s holiday had been OK. Having A’s company for dinner the first evening helped to explain some of the Portuguese services and what we were likely to find as we went from place to place. A’s partner, Tiago, who joined us for the end of the holiday & drove us back to Lisbon was again as discrete or as helpful as we wished. They both clearly enjoyed cycling themselves; their work and made “customer care” their business and they were proud of their country.
Anne, Cambridgeshire, UKLoved every moment.
Loved every moment. My favourite day was probably day 2 just because we felt such a sense of achievement after. I also liked Sortelha very much. We were happy with the variety, and our tour guides were fantastic. The notes were great especially the maps and elevations. It was a great holiday. We visited a beautiful part of Portugal which we would never have found on our own. The variety of route was a lovely surprise each day.
Lucy, Bath, UKGreat scenery...
We enjoyed the ride to Monsanto very much and Sortelha was a great destination with great scenery en route. We very much enjoyed the quiet and remoteness of this ride. Antonio and Alfredo both gave us insights into the country which were very helpful. The villages that we stayed in were very interesting and the festival at Monsanto had amazingly skilled performers and was great fun.
Helen, East Sussex, UKI'd highly recommend this trip!
Our representatives were full of useful information and recommendations, for example; what restaurants to eat at in the evening, lunch stops and places to see en-route and were always happy to help or advise. The routes were lovely – we experienced the great countryside with challenging and well chosen quiet routes. I’d highly recommend Antonio to anyone.
Robert, Cambridgeshire, UKBoth guides were very supportive...
I liked all days but probably the most enjoyable was day 3 where we had less distance to cover and could spend some time in Idaho a Velha (Egitanea) were I enjoyed the Roman buildings and we had time for a meal at the restaurant. The small country roads were particularly nice. The road up to Monsanto was very hard but it was worth it to be up there.
Both guides were very supportive throughout and we had the pleasure of their company on several evenings. I left a hat at one of the hotels (Vila Velha de Rodao) and one guide was able to arrange for us to drop by to collect it on the way back to Lisbon. A small thing but I was pleased to get it back. The gift of oranges from the taxi driver was also particularly enjoyed! Overall I felt we got a lot of extra service on this holiday which I was not expecting. The Garmin navigation devices provided also worked well.
Tucker, Leeds, UKWe love Skedaddling...
Excellent service by the Skedaddle – Rui was very attentive and when he was transfering bags he always stopped for a chat and to check we were ok. He couldn’t do enough for us.