Cycling has never been more popular, particularly in the UK, where the recent successes of British cyclists in the Olympics and the Tour de France have inspired men and women of all ages to squeeze into their Lycra and head out on the open road. So it’s no surprise that cycling holidays are becoming increasingly popular, with tourists hopping on a plane to explore the dizzying heights, thrilling corners and stunning vistas on routes across Europe. And where better to experience this than in the sunny Algarve?
The Algarve has much to offer to cyclists of all levels. With its vast open roads and hilly terrain, it offers a wide variety of challenging yet safe routes, ranging from gentle coastal roads to hidden off-road tracks – so whether you’re into road or mountain biking, you’ll find a route to suit, whatever your level of expertise.
A year-round sunny climate makes the Algarve a popular choice for cycling holidays in any season, with temperatures rarely dropping below 16°C even in January and February, and the clear blue skies giving you uninterrupted views of the region’s stunning and diverse scenery.
Popular cycling routes include the Rota Vicentina, which takes you down the west coast, or you can take a rural route through the Algarve, along quiet roads and tracks, from Aljezur down to Portimão and Lagos or towards Silves via Marmelete and Monchique. And it’s here you’ll find some of the region’s most diverse cycling terrain. The quiet roads, tracks and mountain trails around Monchique provide great descents and ascents, and many road cyclists come here during the first few months of the year for a pre-season warm-up.
A cycling holiday in this undiscovered part of the Algarve takes you away from the well-known tourist spots, and you can take your time exploring the area on two wheels, passing through charming hilltop villages, eucalyptus and cork forests and farms.
Cyclists looking for a challenge can start around Odiaxere in the south of the region, and begin the steady climb towards the Caldas de Monchique, then on to the small mountain town of Monchique, which sits at an elevation of around 450m. It’s then a steeper 14km climb to the highest point in the Algarve, Fóia, which is 902m at its summit.
From here you’ll have breathtaking panoramic views across the mountains towards the sea on both the south and west coasts. And once at the top, there’s only one way to come down…
The adrenalin-fuelled pastime of downhill mountain biking is also hugely popular in Monchique, with cyclists being dropped off at Fóia before descending on a suspension bike over dusty, remote mountain tracks at speed, with rarely any need to pedal. Braking is of course optional on this fun downhill route, but if you want to take it easy you’ll enjoy beautiful scenery all the way down, and families or novice cyclists can follow smooth, quiet roads and easy paths, learning more about the diverse flora and fauna in this charming region.
A clear indication of the Algarve’s increasing status as a serious cycling destination is the number of significant on- and off-road cycling events that now take place here, such as the Volta ao Algarve, now in its 43rd year and this year running from 15th to 19th February. The event will welcome 25 teams – 12 of them from WorldTour level ¬– including Great Britain’s Team Sky and Spain’s Movistar Team, who will compete over five stages and a total of 770.2km. On the second day they’ll pass through Monchique for the most testing part of the event – a 189.3km race from Lagoa to Foia – and Monchique Resort & Spa is delighted to be hosting seven of the teams for the duration of the event.
We are delighted to have received Bikotel accreditation, which means the resort offers essential facilities for cyclists – from secure parking, bike-washing facilities and repair stations to overnight laundry facilities and special dinner menus. And what could be better after a day in the saddle than a muscle-soothing sports massage in our Sensorial Spa, followed by a good night’s sleep in one of our luxurious suites?