Guide to Cycling in the Algarve


Welcome to our guide to the Algarve, a sun drenched paradise for surfers and cyclists.

For some, there’s nothing more inviting than cycling alongside the deep blue Atlantic Ocean. And whilst Highway 101 is some way away, Europe, and more specifically Portugal has its own cliff-side, ocean-view routes that stretch for around 200 km, from the Spanish border to Cabo de São Vicente… let’s talk about the Algarve. 

The Algarve is Portugal’s southern-most region and is arguably best-known for its warm climate, stunning beaches and dramatic cliffs that plunge into the Atlantic. But once you engage your cycling-radar, it’s easy to see how the Algarve offers some equally fantastic riding opportunities for all levels of ability and disciplines. 

Geography of the Algarve

The region’s diverse terrain, with everything from the rolling hills nearby the coast, to the higher ground and mountains in the north, present a veritable adventure playground for anyone exploring on two wheels. The roads are smooth and well-maintained, and whilst the coastal roads can get busy in the peak seasons, once you leave the N125 and A22 highways behind and head north, the Algarve countryside offers haven of calm and miles of backroads to ride to your heart’s content. 

When to Cycle in the Algarve

Summer in the Algarve is peak season and the roads are busy with tourists and locals heading to and from the glorious beaches. Therefore, in order to enjoy cycling in the Algarve to the fullest, it is best to visit outside these summer months, in spring, autumn or even winter, as the region offers a pretty much year-round pleasant climate, with highs of 15 to 20 ºC in winter. In spring and autumn, the temperatures can reach between 25 and 30 ºC, but always pack a windbreaker as given its exposed location beside the Atlantic Ocean, the Algarve can get breezy during these shoulder seasons, and even in summer. 

Climbing in the Algarve

Whilst you won’t reach the dizzying altitudes of the Alps, the cycling in the Algarve can still get pretty challenging. The region’s highest point with an altitude of 900 m is the Serra de Monchique Foia, located in the west around 25 km from Portimão. Setting off from the village of Monchique, the ascent is 7.7 km long and climbs 456 m, with an average gradient of 5.9%. Enjoy ocean views from the top. The hills surrounding Monchique are also a haven for mountain bikers, as is the Vicentina Natural Park, with plenty of dusty trails and challenging ramps to sink your tyres into. 

Another popular climb is Alcaria do Cume, not far from the city of Tavira. It’s a 10.6 km climb with an average gradient of 3%. This ride is more about the views than it is about gaining elevation. And finally, there’s Malhão, a short but very sweet climb with an average gradient of 12%, as well as sections that reach a stinging 20%! This one is commonly featured in the Volta ao Algarve (Tour of the Algarve), and once you’ve ridden it, it’s easy to see why!

Where to Stay

There are plenty of opportunities to ride both long and short routes in the Algarve, adding in climbs as you go and gradually gaining in elevation as you traverse the endless rolling hills. Some popular ‘hubs’ among cyclists in the Algarve are Salgados (central Algarve), Tavira (in the east) and Lagos (in the west), offering great starting points for many road and mountain routes around the region that combine flatter coastal rides with more hilly inland options. These are also great stop-over options if you’re thinking of planning a cycling road trip, giving you the chance to enjoy the length and breadth of the Algarve and the wealth of the opportunities for cycling along its 200 km of stunning coastline.

Written by Jenny Drinkwater

My varied and comprehensive skillset includes English translation, proofreading, copywriting, transcreation and project management. My diligent research capabilities and keen eye for accuracy result in high-quality texts from a wide range of fields including literature, education, art, speciality coffee, cycling and travel & tourism.

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