Portugal & Spain Cycling: The Alentejo to Andalusia

From: $4,499

per person dbl occ

Dates: Mar-Oct - see all dates

Total Days: 10

Activity Level: 3

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Price:

2014

REI member: $4,499

Non-member: $4,799

2015

REI member: $4,599

Non-member: $4,899

Additional Fees

Single supplement: $1,599

Trip Dates:

2014

  • Apr 20–29
  • Jun 1–10
  • Sep 7–16
  • Sep 21–30
  • Oct 5–14
  • Oct 19–28

2015

  • Mar 22–31
  • Apr 19–28
  • May 31 – Jun 9
  • Sep 6–15
  • Sep 20–29
  • Oct 4–13
  • Oct 18–27

Or, book a
private departure.

Group Size: 4-14

Activity Level: 3

Activities:

  • Cycling

Accommodations:

Hotels/Inns, 9 nights

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Trip Highlights

  • Cycle from Portugal's Alentejo to Spain's Andalusia on this Iberian bike journey
  • Soak in the views of olive orchards, white-washed villages, and ancient towns
  • Adjust your mileage based on ability level, accompanied by a support vehicle
  • Visit UNESCO World Heritage Evora, picturesque Marvão, and enchanting Granada

From the romantic, medieval villages and mesmerizing landscapes of Portugal's Alentejo region to Andalusia's vibrant cities and historic palaces, our Iberian cycling odyssey features the many highlights of these alluring destinations from the best vantage point: a bike saddle.

Our tour begins in easy-going Lisbon, where we'll travel east and begin our ride through Iberia's Great Plains: Portugal's Alentejo and Spain's Extremadura. Along the way, take in views of olive orchards, white-washed cottages, and countryside panoramas. We pay visits to the lovely UNESCO World Heritage town of Evora and picturesque hilltop village of Marvão. Turning south, Spain's Sierra Morena mountains and Andalusian plain reveal the treasures of Carmona, Córdoba, and Granada. In addition to our memorable rides, we take time to explore these special places, enjoy delicious regional wine and culinary specialties,.

Our route offers longer and shorter options on some days and utilizes mostly peaceful back roads. A support vehicle follows us to tend to any needs.

Itinerary Summary

  • Day 1 - From Arraiolos, pedal past cork forests to delightful Évora.
  • Day 2 - Bike through the rolling, wide-open Alentejo to Alter do Chão.
  • Day 3 - Ride to notable sites before climbing to Marvao, set on a granite pedestal.
  • Day 4 - Cycle the wide plains of Extremadura to Mérida, founded in 25 AD.
  • Day 5 - Spin across the Sierra Morena Mountains towards walled Carmona.
  • Day 6 - Take in the olive and orange groves of Andalucía en route to Córdoba.
  • Day 7 - Explore Córdoba, an ancient Moorish city.
  • Day 8 - Ride hills blanketed with olive trees to Montefrio.
  • Day 9 - A final ride to Granada with views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
  • Day 10 - Our journey ends with an exploration of the Alhambra Palace.

See full itinerary

Trip Itinerary and Details

Important Notice: Day 1 is the day you should plan to arrive at the meeting point for the trip. This may require departing your hometown one or more days in advance and traveling on an overnight flight.

  • Day 1 - From Arraiolos, pedal past cork forests to delightful Évora.

    Our trip begins today in Lisbon, Portugal. After our 9 a.m. group rendezvous in Lisbon, we'll board our private vehicle for the 90-minute transfer to Arraiolos, a typical Alentejo village made up of white-washed cottages and renowned for its needlepoint carpets found in many a palace, convent and aristocratic home. Following a short briefing and bicycle fitting, we'll begin our warm-up ride from the village's central plaza, making our way past olive orchards along scenic back roads to delightful Évora, Alentejo's capital and once the second most important city in Portugal after Lisbon. This fascinating city, seemingly untouched by time, is a bustling university town as well as a UNESCO World Heritage site enclosed by medieval walls and filled with museums and monuments dating from the medieval to renaissance periods. Wander the streets after dark and you'll discover the 1st-century Roman temple lit up for all to admire. Overnight tonight in Évora. Dinner included.

    Cycling: 14 miles; Terrain: flat and gently rolling hills.

  • Day 2 - Bike through the rolling, wide-open Alentejo to Alter do Chão.

    After breakfast, we'll transfer to Estremoz, a medieval town surrounded by vineyards and famous for its many white marble quarries that supplied the stone for Evora's Roman temple as well as its 13th-century Sé Cathedral. Portugal is the world's second leading exporter of marble and it is this same crystalline rock that appears in many of the region's cobblestone-patterned squares, sculptures, monuments and fountains. Marble is so abundant here that even modest cottages are constructed with marble doorsteps and window frames. After a short visit to Estremoz, we'll climb on our bikes and begin cycling through the rolling, wide-open Alentejo landscape making our way to the tiny village of Alter do Chão, our destination for the evening. After taking a refreshing dip in the pool and enjoying a satisfying dinner, we can relax in our rooms in a restored 16th-century convent, now a charming hotel. Breakfast and dinner included.

    Cycling: 32 miles; Terrain: flat and gently rolling hills.

  • Day 3 - Ride to notable sites before climbing to Marvao, set on a granite pedestal.

    Today we begin by cycling right from the door of our hotel to the Coudelaria de Alter do Chão, a magnificent stud farm founded in 1748 by King João V to breed the finest Lusitano horses. After a visit to the horse farm and its museum, we'll continue our ride before making a second stop at a prehistoric Celtic stone burial chamber dating back over 5000 years. As we cycle northeast towards the Spanish border, we'll climb gently passing the Pousada de Crato where the Knights of the Order of Malta built their monastery, and carry on to the elegant spa town of Castelo de Vide with its 14th-century castle and medieval Jewish quarter. While most of today's ride takes us through an undulating landscape, we'll finish the day with a challenge; a 1,000-foot climb over the last four miles to reach the enchanting village of Marvão. Set on a 2,400' granite pedestal, the panoramic views from the village will be a reward for all (even if you get there via our support van!). This evening we'll dine on Alentejo gastronomic specialties such as succulent acorn-fed black pork before returning to our hotel to gaze at the overwhelming number of stars visible in the pitch black sky of the Portuguese countryside. Breakfast and dinner included.

    Cycling: 43 miles; Terrain: rolling and hilly terrain; steepest climb: 1,000' in 4 miles (6% grade).

  • Day 4 - Cycle the wide plains of Extremadura to Mérida, founded in 25 AD.

    We say adeus to Portugal this morning and cross the border into Spain's tranquil and wildlife-rich Extremadura via a 2-hour vehicle transfer. From Torremocha, we begin cycling through the wide plains of Spain's Extremadura region to Mérida along part of the Via de la Plata, one of the many Camiño de Santiago routes that ultimately lead to Santiago de Compostela - the famous pilgrimage site in northwestern Spain. En route, we may have an opportunity to observe some of the 340 species of birds that inhabit or migrate through this region including eagles, vultures, owls, bustards, herons and storks. Mérida, founded by the Romans in 25 A.D., became the capital of the province of Lusitania and is celebrated for having the greatest collection of Roman ruins in Spain including an aqueduct, circus, bridge, amphitheater, temple and the longest Roman bridge still in existence. Overnight in Mérida. Breakfast and dinner included.

    Cycling: 37 miles; Terrain: rolling hills; steepest climb: ~200' in 1.5 miles.

  • Day 5 - Spin across the Sierra Morena Mountains towards walled Carmona.

    After breakfast we'll transfer to Guadalcanal, the starting point for our spin across the picturesque Sierra Morena mountains towards Carmona. The Sierra Morena range stretches in an east-west direction for approximately 240 miles across south-central Spain, creating a natural border between the country's central plateau and Andalusia to the south. We will stop midday for a picnic lunch next to a lovely creek in the Parque Natural Sierra Norte. After completing our ride at Constantina, we'll drive the remainder of the way to colorful Carmona, once inhabited by both the Romans and Moors due to its strategic position on a ridge overlooking the Andalusian plain. Located on the banks of the Guadalquivir River, the town is a natural fortress containing numerous architectural treasures including the Baroque-style tower of San Pedro church, soaring above the surrounding rooftops. Encircled by a Roman wall and the Cordoba and Seville gates, the town's old quarter still retains a mysterious medina-like feeling inviting us to wander its labyrinthine streets or relax in the square over tapas and drinks. Dinner is on our own tonight offering an opportunity to choose from a variety of restaurants serving delicious local fare. Breakfast and lunch included.

    Cycling: 40 miles; Terrain: rolling hills with some moderate climbs; steepest climb: 820' in 2.7 miles (5% grade).

  • Day 6 - Take in the olive and orange groves of Andalucía en route to Córdoba.

    Depending on the distance we wish to cycle today, our ride this morning begins in either Carmona, Lora del Rio (a 30-minute transfer from Carmona), or Palma del Rio (a 90-minute transfer from Carmona) and takes us through a quintessential Andalusian landscape dotted with cotton fields, olive orchards and orange groves filled with wildflowers. The terrain is rolling for the first 20 miles but becomes hillier after Palma del Rio. We continue along our undulating route this afternoon, passing the village of Almódovar del Rio and its impressive castle overlooking the Guadalquivir, before finally reaching lovely Córdoba, our destination for the next two nights (we have the option to jump in the support vehicle at Almodovar or cycle all the way to Cordoba). Córdoba, the ancient Moorish city famous for its 10th-century Mezquita (Great Mosque), surrounding Jewish quarter and impressive Roman bridge was the former capital of Muslim Spain and is one of Andalusia's crown jewels. We have dinner together tonight in an authentic local restaurant before returning to our hotel near the city's Moorish wall for a good night's sleep. Breakfast and dinner included.

    Cycling options: 41, 58 or 75 miles; Terrain: rolling to hilly with some moderate climbs; steepest climb: ~160' in 1/3 mile (6.5% grade).

  • Day 7 - Explore Córdoba, an ancient Moorish city.

    Today is a free day for us to leave our bikes behind and discover marvelous Córdoba, soaking up the rich history and culture of this World Heritage Site. Our guides will lead a 90-minute walking tour this morning in order to help us get oriented with the city's layout. Once we're on our own, numerous options include a visit to the famous mosque, a climb to the top of the Tower of Calahorra for panoramic views of the city, a stop in one of the city's fine museums, or simply strolling through various neighborhoods and peeking into the numerous flower-filled courtyard patios (local residents have traditionally been very proud of their patios and welcome visitors' inquisitive gazes). The Romans originally founded Córdoba due to its strategic position at the highest navigable point on the Guadalquivir River, using the port to ship olive oil, wheat and wine to Ancient Rome. The city reached its peak of importance in the 10th century when it became the capital of the Moorish kingdom of Al-Andaluz. At the time, it was one of the most advanced cities in the world and an important political, economic, financial and cultural center (it had what was then the largest library on earth). Córdoba was also for a period of time an example of religious harmony and diversity. In addition to the famous mosque, the city contains many significant religious monuments from different eras including the Córdoba Synagogue Museum (14th century) and innumerous Fernandine and Alphonsine-style churches (13th century). After our day of exploration, we'll eat dinner independently tonight, choosing from Córdoba's many excellent tapas bars and restaurants serving Andalusian, Moorish or Mediterranean cuisine. The evening also offers a great opportunity to mingle with the locals and watch some fantastic Flamenco dancing or listen to an Andalusian music performance. Breakfast included.

  • Day 8 - Ride hills blanketed with olive trees to Montefrio.

    Back in the saddle again! We depart Córdoba this morning for an hour-long transfer to the village of Luque where we begin our ride among olive orchards and through a patch of hillier terrain directly to the door of our hotel in Montefrio, a friendly village built on a dramatic rocky outcropping. During the Moorish period, this area was frequently at war with the Christians who had settled Alcala la Real nearby. An impregnable fortress, Montefrio was valuable to the kingdom of Granada and relied on an extraordinary network of watchtowers to communicate with surrounding villages and control important transportation and trade routes on the Granada plain. We'll glide past many of these towers during our ride today. Breakfast and dinner included.

    Cycling: 40 miles; Terrain: rolling to hilly with some moderate climbs; steepest climb: ~ 800' in 3 miles (5% grade).

  • Day 9 - A final ride to Granada with views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

    What an exciting and scenic day of cycling to finish our tour! As we cruise on our bicycles through the Andalusian countryside towards Granada, we'll have splendid views of the Sierra Nevada mountain range – the home of Spain's highest peaks – towering in the distance. Granada itself, at the foot of the Sierra Nevada, is a World Heritage city whose origins date back to 5th century B.C. Our final ride ends with us rolling directly into the city this afternoon with some free time to relax before meeting our traveling companions later this evening for a scrumptious farewell dinner. We'll spend the night at the fantastic Alhambra Palace Hotel. Breakfast and dinner included.

    Cycling: 40 miles; Terrain: rolling to hilly with some moderate climbs; steepest climb: ~ 600' in 1.5 miles (7% grade).

  • Day 10 - Our journey ends with an exploration of the Alhambra Palace.

    Although we've packed our helmets and cycling clothing away, our visit to Andalusia would not be complete without a tour of Granada's pride and joy, the ornate Alhambra Palace. A sublime example of Moorish architecture and landscaping, the Alhambra is an enormous palace/fortress complex constructed mainly during the 14th century by Spain's Muslim rulers. Considered by many to be one of the world's architectural wonders, we'll have time this morning to appreciate the remarkable ingenuity and aesthetic of its builders. At lunchtime, our trip draws to an end and guests have the option to extend their stay in Granada independently, transfer to the train station or airport, or ride back with our guides in the support vehicle to Lisbon, Portugal (8 hours) where our epic adventure began. Breakfast included.

Note on Itinerary

Although we do our very best to adhere to the schedule above, the itinerary is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control, including weather and terrain conditions.

Bicycles

Our trip price includes bicycles perfectly designed for the terrain we encounter during our two-wheeled tour of Portugal and Spain: High-quality, reliable Trek 7.3 FX aluminum-frame hybrid bikes. Bikes are equipped with handlebar bag, map case and a GPS unit, which is loaded nightly by our guides with the next day's route. Should you wish to bring your own seat and pedals, your guides will gladly mount them on your bike at the beginning of the trip.

Price Includes

All accommodations; meals as noted in the daily itinerary (wine included with most dinners); tri-lingual cycling guides; support vehicle; bikes (Trek 24 speed hybrid touring bikes, equipped with a small handlebar bag and GPS); sightseeing as noted in the itinerary including entrance fee to the Alhambra Palace.

Not Included

Round-trip airfare, airport/hotel transfers, 7 lunches and 2 dinners, travel insurance, excess baggage charges, alcoholic beverages (apart from wine with dinners) and items of a personal nature. Please bring your own bike helmet.

Qualifications

This trip is rated Moderate [3]. Although a support vehicle will be available for each day's ride, participants should enjoy spending much of the day (4-6 hours) on their bikes. Most of our cycling route is along quiet, scenic back roads with little vehicle traffic. The countryside in Portugal and Spain is hilly so a regular conditioning program beginning at least 3-6 months prior to departure is strongly recommended. Anticipate daily hill climbs of varying inclines to last anywhere from 10 – 40 minutes. Cycling, walking/running and a daily stretching regimen are all great ways to prepare for this adventure.

Weather

Springtime and early autumn temperatures typically range in the 60s and 70s (F) during the day, with nighttime temperatures in the 50s and 60s. Although sunshine is generally abundant, rainfall is a possibility during any month of the year making adequate raingear a necessity.

Single Travelers

If you are traveling alone and specifically request single accommodations, you will be asked to pay the single supplement fee. There is no single supplement fee for those willing to share accommodations, and we will assign you a roommate of the same gender if possible. Please be advised that there are a limited number of single accommodations available.

General Information

This trip is subject to the booking information set forth in the current REI Adventures Reservation Information. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A full gear list and pre-departure information is sent upon sign-up. We highly recommend the purchase of travel insurance through REI Adventures. If coverage is purchased at the time of your initial reservation, the 'Pre-existing Conditions Exclusion' is waived (certain exclusions apply).

We look forward to having you join us for the trip of a lifetime! Why wait? Space is limited, reserve your adventure today.

Portugal & Spain Cycling: The Alentejo to Andalusia Video

Portugal & Spain Cycling: The Alentejo to Andalusia Gear List

The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To get maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. This gear list has been created to help you in choosing your equipment for the trip. Try to bring only what is necessary, as this will help you and the field staff.

Gear Checklist

Provided Gear
  • 24-speed Trek 7.3 FX hybrid bicycles with flat pedals
  • Small handlebar bag
  • Water bottle cage
  • GPS and route map
Required Gear
  • Helmet
Official Papers
  • Valid passport
  • Airline tickets
Luggage
  • One piece of luggage, wheels and a retractable handle are recommended
  • Daypack, for sightseeing or to hold your spare gear in the support van
  • Luggage tags and luggage locks
  • Security wallet or money belt
Footwear
  • Cycling shoes
  • Comfortable walking shoes/sandals
City Clothing
  • Sweater and/or light jacket
  • T-shirts
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • Shorts
  • Long pants
  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Swimsuit
Clothing Accessories
  • Sun hat
  • Bandana
Cycling Clothing
  • Cycling jerseys, short and long sleeve
  • Cycling tights or pants
  • Cycling shorts
  • Cycling raingear, jacket and pants, waterproof and breathable
  • Cycling gloves, both short and long fingered
  • Headband or sweatband
  • Cycling socks
Travel Accessories
  • Sport/cycling sunglasses
  • Sunblock and lip balm
  • Toiletry kit
  • Personal first-aid kit
  • Water bottle(s) or hydration pack
Optional Field Gear
  • Camera, memory and batteries
  • Electrical adapter plug/converter
  • Ear plugs
  • Reading and writing materials
  • Watch with alarm or travel clock
  • Rear view mirror
  • Bike computer
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Saddle (without the post)
  • ¨ Pedal and shoe system (see “Things to Consider”)
  • ¨ Cycling shoe covers
  • ¨ Energy snacks and/or drink mixes – provided, but bring your own if you have preferences

Things to Consider

  • Always pack essential items such as your passport, REI Adventures trip final bulletin, money, eyewear, medications, camera and cycling helmet in your carry-on baggage, in case your luggage is delayed.
  • We recommend bright-colored bicycle clothing for visibility and safety.
  • Always test your clothing layers before a trip. Your outer layer should fit easily over the inside ones without binding.
  • If you are not bringing a shoe and pedal system (optional), you will need a shoe designed for cycling or cross training to be used with the provided flat pedals. Consider these features: lightweight, closed toe, designed with stiffer soles to provide more efficient energy transfer as you pedal. Stiff soles protect your feet while riding and support the full length of your foot to reduce cramping and fatigue.
  • If you bring your own saddle, please bring only the seat and not the seat post. Seat posts are not universal and will likely not fit the bike you’ll be riding.
  • Formal attire is not required at restaurants. Comfortable, casual clothes are appropriate for sit-down meals. We suggest bringing slacks, shorts that are mid-thigh or longer, skirts, or summer dresses in fabrics that are easy to wash and wear.

Feel free to give us a call at (800) 622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out www.rei.com/learn. The Expert Advice section on our "Learn" page has great information to help you prepare for your trip.

REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
REI AdventuresPortugal & Spain Cycling: The Alentejo to Andalusia
 
5.0

(based on 14 reviews)

100%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Guides (14)
  • Well organized itinerary (14)
  • Accommodations (13)
  • Exceeded expectations (13)
  • Food (13)

Cons

    Best Uses

        • Reviewer Profile:
        • Casual adventurer (11)
        • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
        • I liked the itinerary (13), Destination (11), Travel with like-minded outdoor enthusiasts (11), Active adventures (9), All the details planned for me (8)

      Reviewed by 14 customers

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      (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

       
      5.0

      Don't Miss This Trip!

      By Tim of San Diego

      from San Diego, California

      About Me Casual Adventurer

      Site Member

      Pros

      • Accommodations
      • Exceeded Expectations
      • Food
      • Group Camaraderie
      • Guides
      • Quality Equipment Provided
      • Well Organized Itinerary

      Cons

        Best Uses

          Comments about REI Adventures Portugal & Spain Cycling: The Alentejo to Andalusia:

          If I could recommend the guides for an award this group would get it. They left such a great impression I would take this ride again with them. The one down side to the trip was I never got to use any of my rain gear or find out how waterproof my camera really is. I guess if the only down side was the weather was perfect it must have been one of the best trips.

          • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
          • Destination, Good Value, I Liked the Itinerary
          • Why did you choose this trip?:
          • I had never been to Portugal or southwest Spain before and I was looking for a bike ride in Europe. This trip seemed to fit my what I wanted so I jumped in.
          • What was the highlight of your trip?:
          • I am not sure I can pick just one highlight and would say that the guides, the company, and the food made this ride amazing. There is something about riding through ancient towns and ruins and then dinning on some of the best food Portugal and Spain have to offer.
          • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
          • Spend time getting ready for the ride and you will not be disappointed. I likely went beyond most folks and rode everyday for 6 months until I was easily able to do a 40-50 mile ride. You do not need to be a speed demon, but you will enjoy the trip a lot just by getting your endurance up. One last suggestion, take a good light weight camera with you.

          (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

           
          5.0

          Fabulous Trip

          By Auntie B

          from Seattle, WA

          About Me Casual Adventurer

          Pros

          • Accommodations
          • Activity Level
          • Exceeded Expectations
          • Food
          • Group Camaraderie
          • Guides
          • Quality Equipment Provided
          • Well Organized Itinerary

          Cons

            Best Uses

              Comments about REI Adventures Portugal & Spain Cycling: The Alentejo to Andalusia:

              This is clearly a well-thought out adn well-planned itinerary. Each day provided different scenery and experiences. Although we rode the quiet backroads, the tarmac was almost always smooth. Many of our stops were small hill towns with World Heritage sites. THe food was varied and delicious with well -selected wines. Pedro Martin, the head guide, invested a great deal of time and effort in creating an itinerary that showed off the beauty, history and culture of Portugal and Spain. THe guides were fabulous - friendly, always helpful, funny and warm. And the group camaraderie was great and added so much to the whole experience

              • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
              • Active Adventures, Destination, I Liked the Itinerary, Travel with Like-minded Outdoor Enthusiasts
              • Why did you choose this trip?:
              • I have not traveled in Portugal or Spain before. Also, I'd never done a bike trip of this type. The two friends I traveled with both thought this would be a great trip - and it was.
              • What was the highlight of your trip?:
              • There were many highlights so its hard to choose. One was climb to the hill town of Marvao and late evening tour of its Moorish castle to view the Milky Way. Another was the views (and lovely, long downhill run) from Moclin.
              • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
              • Practice longer climbs if their not part of your usual bike routes.

              (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

               
              5.0

              Ride to Eat or Eat to Ride?

              By JerseyBiker

              from Summit NJ

              About Me Casual Adventurer

              Site Member

              Pros

              • Accommodations
              • Activity Level
              • Bike Rides
              • Companions
              • Exceeded Expectations
              • Food
              • Group Camaraderie
              • Guides
              • Hotels
              • Well Organized Itinerary

              Cons

                Best Uses

                  Comments about REI Adventures Portugal & Spain Cycling: The Alentejo to Andalusia:

                  An impressive amount of care went into route selection, hotels, and restaurants, showcasing Portuguese and Spanish life. Planning was meticulous (down to prepacking gorp bags in each bicycle). The guides were both very proud of the trip and incredibly patient with the clients.

                  • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
                  • Active Adventures, I Liked the Itinerary, Travel with Like-minded Outdoor Enthusiasts
                  • Why did you choose this trip?:
                  • Active biking vacation in an interesting part of the world
                  • What was the highlight of your trip?:
                  • No single highlight: Wonderful guides (Pedro, Eva, Luis) were meticulously organized, eager to help, and very knowledgeable; well-selected biking itinerary; charming, unique hotels every night in extraordinary locations; fantastic local food; good set of companions; tours of Merida, Cordoba, and Granada.
                  • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
                  • You do need to be comfortable biking 40 miles a day with (at the end) a couple thousand feet of climbing per day. We could manage (and you can always take the van) but we sometimes napped post-ride, cutting into exploration time. Bikes are hybrids, a little heavy and slow, but necessary for the variety of roads (particulary cobblestones in towns).

                  (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

                   
                  5.0

                  Great Adventure!

                  By RandyJon

                  from Seattle, WA

                  About Me Casual Adventurer

                  Pros

                  • Accommodations
                  • Activity Level
                  • Exceeded Expectations
                  • Food
                  • Group Camaraderie
                  • Guides
                  • Once in a Lifetime Experience
                  • Well Organized Itinerary

                  Cons

                    Best Uses

                      Comments about REI Adventures Portugal & Spain Cycling: The Alentejo to Andalusia:

                      Portugal and Spain offer not only great cycling and great weather (on our trip in October), they offer some really great food and a lot of history and culture. You will learn a lot about Moorish architecture and art and how Granada and Cordoba were the world's leading artistic and intellectual centers during parts of the Middle Ages. Some highlights: successfully biking some awesome hills, eating the best pork I've ever had, walking the narrow streets of Cordoba, meeting a really interesting and accomplished group of fellow travelers, extending our vacation by arriving early and spending a few days in Lisbon and leaving late and spending a few days in Seville and Madrid. A minor complaint: the hybrid bikes REI supplies are good but not great. The gear shifting was less than precise and the bikes felt "loose", perhaps because this was the last trip of the season and they had taken something of a beating. Getting back on my (much more expensive, custom-fit) bike at home felt like a big upgrade. That said, you will adjust to the bikes and the joy of riding on these incredible routes will overshadow any minor complaints you have about the bikes. Finally, we cannot say enough about how hard the guides worked to make this trip enjoyable and safe. Pedro, Luis, and Eva worked their butts off in preparing this trip and guiding it and went the extra mile whenever someone had a problem during the trip.

                      • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
                      • Active Adventures, All the Details Planned for Me, Commitment to Sustainability, Destination, Good Value, I Liked the Itinerary, Travel with Like-minded Outdoor Enthusiasts
                      • Why did you choose this trip?:
                      • We chose this as our first "empty nest" trip after dropping our youngest son off at college. We went in October and saw it as a way to extend our summer, and the weather was fantastic -- not a drop of rain. Temps were in the mid-60s to mid-80s with low humidity. Beautiful warm nights. We also assumed that an REI trip would be well-organized and feature high quality guides; this was the case.
                      • What was the highlight of your trip?:
                      • The guides were fantastic. In addition to being really great, warm human beings, they put a lot of effort into choosing routes, hotels, restaurants, cultural attractions, etc. You can't duplicate this on your own. The cycling was first class -- the roads often felt deserted, the pavement was usually smooth, and the scenery beautiful. The group experience was also a lot of fun.
                      • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
                      • Do some training for this trip, especially hills on your bike. Some of the hills are very challenging. I would recommend at least a few outings with 3000+ foot elevation gain and 30-50 miles. There is no shame in taking the sag wagon but you will feel better if you start the trip prepared.

                      (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

                       
                      5.0

                      The best of the Iberian Peninsula!

                      By MI Biker

                      from Michigan

                      About Me Avid Adventurer

                      See all my reviews

                      Site Member

                      Pros

                      • Activity Level
                      • Exceeded Expectations
                      • Food
                      • Group Camaraderie
                      • Guides
                      • Well Organized Itinerary

                      Cons

                        Best Uses

                          Comments about REI Adventures Portugal & Spain Cycling: The Alentejo to Andalusia:

                          This was a monumental trip. Wonderful weather. Perfect length of rides each day (the first 2 days, the rides were mild, then got a little more difficult as the trip went on and we got more fit!) Loved every place we stayed; most were modest , all were meticulously clean and well kept. Breakfasts were perfect to prepare for the day in the saddle. But, the best part were our guides, who kept us informed on each day's trip, made sure the bikes and GPS units worked, and gave us a native's unique inside view of the local culture and history. There are many companies that offer bike trips. But I have been completely satisfied with the REI experience!

                          • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
                          • I Liked the Itinerary
                          • Why did you choose this trip?:
                          • This was our third REI bicycling trip (also did Vienna to Prague and Loire Valley) and had a great experience. We had hoped to cycle Tuscany, but when the trip was a "no go", chose this trip. What a delight! Perfect itinerary. Wonderful guides. All we had to do was show up, pedal , and eat!
                          • What was the highlight of your trip?:
                          • We loved every stop, but the Mezquita (Cordoba) and Alhambra Palace (Granada) were most memorable. The last evening spent in Granada, dining at a small carmen restaurant, with a view of the illuminated Alhambra was incredible. We had many monumental hill climbs, particularly to Marvao and Montefrio.
                          • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
                          • Keep an open mind and embrace the culture! Be outgoing and enthusiastic, and enjoy the new found friends you will make. Realize that you will visit very old towns , some very small, so don't expect that you will be staying in a Marriott! Instead, enjoy the quaint, clean and comfortable pensions. Pack efficiently and leave the dressy clothes at home! This is a comfy casual vacation!

                          (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

                           
                          5.0

                          Couldn't have been better!

                          By John and Rita

                          from Logan, Utah

                          About Me Avid Adventurer

                          Site Member

                          Pros

                          • Accommodations
                          • Activity Level
                          • Exceeded Expectations
                          • Food
                          • Group Camaraderie
                          • Guides
                          • Quality Equipment Provided
                          • Well Organized Itinerary

                          Cons

                            Best Uses

                              Comments about REI Adventures Portugal & Spain Cycling: The Alentejo to Andalusia:

                              We have done about 30 previous "active adventures," most of them bike trips. This one was as good as any of them ... maybe the best. Pedro and his team (Carlos and Luis) were so knowledgeable, dedicated and attentive. The daily routes on the handlebar mounted GPSrs were perfect! We were lucky to have great weather to go with a totally satisfying itinerary. Did I mention how good the guides were? Couldn't have been better!

                              • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
                              • Active Adventures, All the Details Planned for Me, Destination, I Liked the Itinerary, Travel with Like-minded Outdoor Enthusiasts
                              • Why did you choose this trip?:
                              • Very entincing itinerary, and it fit our schedule.
                              • What was the highlight of your trip?:
                              • This was a fabulous trip in all respects.
                              • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
                              • Get yourselves in shape for cycling. Spinning once a week won't do it!

                              (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

                               
                              5.0

                              EXcellent planning & attention to detail

                              By seamane

                              from Seattle, WA

                              About Me Casual Adventurer

                              Site Member

                              Pros

                              • Accommodations
                              • Activity Level
                              • Exceeded Expectations
                              • Food
                              • Group Camaraderie
                              • Guides
                              • Quality Equipment Provided
                              • Well Organized Itinerary

                              Cons

                                Best Uses

                                  Comments about REI Adventures Portugal & Spain Cycling: The Alentejo to Andalusia:

                                  From beginning to end every thing about the trip was very high quality. The guides were wonderful, hard-working, seemed to enjoy their guests, bent over backwards to make every thing perfect. One day our room was inadequate (no hot water). We got changed to room #2 which was way too hot (after a long hot climb)and we requested another room. We were embarrassed that we did this but felt the second room was also inadequate. The guides gave us THEIR room!! Way above and beyond the call of duty. The routes were well chosen. The roads were scenic and had very little automobile traffic. The bikes were very good and in good condition. The restaurants were well chosen. When the rides became challenging, the guides were there to cheer us on. They were always at the right place at the right time with water and snacks.

                                  • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
                                  • Active Adventures, All the Details Planned for Me, Commitment to Sustainability, Destination, Good Value, I Liked the Itinerary, Travel with Like-minded Outdoor Enthusiasts

                                  (5 of 5 customers found this review helpful)

                                   
                                  5.0

                                  Enchanting,Ride In Spain, Portugal

                                  By bennettroth

                                  from Washington DC

                                  About Me Casual Adventurer

                                  Pros

                                  • Accommodations
                                  • Educational
                                  • Exceeded Expectations
                                  • Food
                                  • Group Camaraderie
                                  • Guides
                                  • Once in a Lifetime Experience
                                  • Quality Equipment Provided
                                  • Well Organized Itinerary

                                  Cons

                                    Best Uses

                                      Comments about REI Adventures Portugal & Spain Cycling: The Alentejo to Andalusia:

                                      The trip was incredible for a number of reasons, probably the top reason is the location. You can't beat spending ten days in Portugal and Spain, which despite their current economic difficulties are still charming, friendly countries with picture postcard landscapes and villages, a rich history and good food. But lots could have gone wrong if the trip hadn't been so well organized and run by our guides Pedro, Eva and Luis who ensured that we always had well functioning bikes, well planned tour routes and a comfortable place to sleep and eat at the end of the day. They also planned in advance to ensure we had tickets to key historic sites such as the Alhambra Palace in Grenada. Luis' knowledge about the environment was invaluable in helping us identify the trees and animals along the way. Pedro and Eva also had masterful grasp of the culture, history and economy of the two countries. It would have been nice to have included Seville in the tour and spend a little more time in Granada - but that's a minor quibble. One warning: while the trip itinerary says some of the longer rides are optional most of the participants are fairly competitive and are likely to opt for the more challenging routes. So definitely get some practice. It'll be worth it.

                                      • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
                                      • Active Adventures, All the Details Planned for Me, Destination, I Liked the Itinerary, Travel with Like-minded Outdoor Enthusiasts
                                      • Why did you choose this trip?:
                                      • I had originally planned to do the Tuscany bike trip but when that was cancelled the REI coordinators recommended that I try the Portugal and Spain trip. I am glad I took their advice. It was an enchanting, challenging and sensual trip organized by expert and friendly guides, Pedro, Eva and Luis. It introduced me to part of southern Europe that I was unfamiliar with but now have a yearning to visit again.
                                      • What was the highlight of your trip?:
                                      • There was no one highlight but a series of exciting experiences such as reaching the end of a 7K climb to the mountainside fortress town of Marvao in Portugal, zooming down the mountains filled with olive trees, drinking copious amounts of red wine and supping on seafood at charming restaurants, and enjoying victory beers at the end of a long day of riding with funny and interesting cycling comrades.
                                      • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
                                      • Enjoy the journey and not just use the trip to see how fast you can race from point A to B. Be willing to stop along the way and take in the landscape, villages and historical sites which stretch from Roman times through the Moorish period and Christian conquests. There is plenty of climbing so take some long practice trips out in the country with some challenging hills. Also if you don't like red meat be sure to let organizers know. The menu has lots of pork, pork pork.

                                      (5 of 5 customers found this review helpful)

                                       
                                      5.0

                                      Mike and Mike's Excellent Adventure!

                                      By AstroDoc

                                      from Estes Park, Colorado

                                      About Me Casual Adventurer

                                      Site Member

                                      Pros

                                      • Accommodations
                                      • Activity Level
                                      • Exceeded Expectations
                                      • Food
                                      • Group Camaraderie
                                      • Guides
                                      • Once in a Lifetime Experience
                                      • Quality Equipment Provided
                                      • Well Organized Itinerary

                                      Cons

                                      • Weather during our trip

                                      Best Uses

                                        Comments about REI Adventures Portugal & Spain Cycling: The Alentejo to Andalusia:

                                        I planned this trip with a friend of mine from high school (another Mike) and we had a blast! Spain and Portugal were amazing and I'm still raving about our trip to friends and family. The Iberian penninsula is a meat lover's paradise (they eat tons of pork) which meant a significant dietary change for me. However, the food was excellently prepared, and part of getting to know a culture is adjusting to their habits and diet. Despite the cycling, I actually gained a couple of pounds on this trip! If you enjoy meat and are a wine afficianado, you will not be disappointed. Our guides did let us know that they have accommodated vegetarians on this tour in the past, but I would think that this would involve some difficulty on their part.

                                        • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
                                        • Active Adventures, All the Details Planned for Me, Destination, Good Value, I Liked the Itinerary, Travel with Like-minded Outdoor Enthusiasts
                                        • Why did you choose this trip?:
                                        • I have travelled much of Europe in the past, but Spain and Portugal were new to me. I had done some cycling in Ireland (and loved the experience), so I thought this would be an excellent way to see these two countries.
                                        • What was the highlight of your trip?:
                                        • The amazing scenery! The olive groves and cork oak plantations stretch for miles. Picturesque vistas and villages were around every corner (I shot over 1K photos on this trip). Pedro, Jorge and Luis were amazing guides with a wealth of knowledge about the local history, geology, flora & fauna, and culture. They love what they do and their enthusiasm was contagious. The history in this area is amazing! Roman ruins and Moorish architecture abound. The villages were fascinating and friendly. The food (and especially the wine) was to die for - much exceeding my expectations. The accomodations were comfortable and a couple of times were downright amazing (4-5 star luxury hotels). The cycling itinerary was excellent and well thought out, with the distances being reasonable with plenty of time for enjoying the towns and villages in the latter part of the afternoon before a late dinner. Very little traffic on most of the back roads we primarily rode on. If other REI trips are anywhere near this good, I will be doing these tours until I'm too old and decrepit to cycle or walk anymore!
                                        • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
                                        • Train, train, train! Be comfortable with riding 40 miles per day for several days in a row, with some steep ascents in places (and more gradual ascents for 2-3 miles). Begin riding almost daily for 3-4 mos. before the trip (Winter prevented me from doing this in Colorado, so I was "weak" on this trip). I should have done a spinning class beforehand. Also, be sure to pack for variable weather. I was expecting hot weather and only packed one long-sleeved jersey, arm and leg warmers, and one pair of tights. It rained and was somewhat chilly for the first 6 days of our tour (very unusual per our guides), and I had to wash that same jersey, warmers, and tights every night. I wish I would have brought 2 of each of them along.

                                        (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

                                         
                                        5.0

                                        High bar set by this trip

                                        By Runnervet

                                        from Albuquerque, NM

                                        About Me Casual Adventurer

                                        Site Member

                                        Pros

                                        • Accommodations
                                        • Activity Level
                                        • Exceeded Expectations
                                        • Food
                                        • Group Camaraderie
                                        • Guides
                                        • Quality Equipment Provided
                                        • Well Organized Itinerary

                                        Cons

                                          Best Uses

                                            Comments about REI Adventures Portugal & Spain Cycling: The Alentejo to Andalusia:

                                            The guides were the best thing about this trip. They went out of their way to make sure that everyone had a good experience regardless of their cycling level. Though it presented extra effort on their part, they worked hard to keep tabs on a group spread widely over the road. The 'guilt-free' sag wagon was just that for those looking for an easier day. This trip might be better rated as a 3-4 due to the pitch and timing of some of the climbs.

                                            • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
                                            • All the Details Planned for Me, Destination, Didn't sound too stuffy, I Liked the Itinerary, Travel with Like-minded Outdoor Enthusiasts
                                            • Why did you choose this trip?:
                                            • We were looking for a cycling trip in mid-October and liked the level and itinerary.
                                            • What was the highlight of your trip?:
                                            • Having all of the details well-planned for us. I loved the variety of lodging spots, the beautiful scenery and the effort made to have us visit important sites in Andalusia. Although not every meal was memorable, the overall quality of the food was excellent and several meals had us maneuvering for the last bite.
                                            • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
                                            • I agree that training on hills will make the trip more enjoyable, as several days are spent going either up or down. Though we ride road bikes at home we were surprised by the quality of the bikes and found the hybrids reasonably light, well-maintained and perfect for the variety of surfaces that we rode on.

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