Portugal & Spain Cycling – The Alentejo to Andalusia

Trip Length 10 Days
Group Size 4-14
Difficulty
3

Starting from

$4,899

for REI Members

$5,399 for non-members

Departure dates will be announced soon.

We can let you know as soon as they are.

Be immersed in the colors and rhythms of two of Europe’s most captivating cultures on this 10-day cycling adventure.

From medieval villages and mesmerizing landscapes to high-energy cities and historic palaces, see the best of Alentejo to Andalusia from the ultimate vantage point: a bike saddle. Our route is a peaceful one, whizzing past ancient Roman ruins, sun-soaked, whitewashed villages, and abundant olive orchards.

Our tour begins in laid-back Lisbon, where we ride east through Iberia's Great Plains: Portugal's Alentejo and Spain's Extremadura. 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. Along the way, dive into the flavors of local cuisine, wine and beer. Occasionally, we leave our bikes behind to get a better sense of the daily life in these special places. Our local guides lead the way—their expertise takes the trip from memorable to absolutely unforgettable.

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Trip highlights

  • Cycle from Portugal's Alentejo to Spain's Andalusia on our Iberian bike journey
  • Soak in the views of olive orchards, white-washed villages, and ancient towns
  • Visit UNESCO World Heritage Evora, picturesque Marvão, and enchanting Granada
  • Dine on Mediterranean cuisine, rich in seafood, olive oil, local cheeses and wines

Activities

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 to 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.

  • Road Cycling
  • Cycling

What's Included

Double-occupancy accommodations; meals as noted in the daily itinerary; wine with included dinners; bilingual guides; support vehicle; hybrid touring bikes equipped with a small handlebar bag and GPS; entrance fees as noted in the daily itinerary.

Accommodations

Hotels/Inns, 9 nights

Your Adventure Itinerary

Day 1

From Arraiolos, pedal past cork forests to delightful Évora.

Our trip begins in Lisbon, Portugal with a 9am group rendezvous in Lisbon. We'll board our private vehicle and transfer to Arraiolos, a traditional Alentejo village made up of white-washed cottages and renowned for its needlepoint carpets found in many palaces, convents and aristocratic homes. Following a bicycle fitting, we'll ride from the village's central plaza, making our way past olive orchards and along scenic back roads to the museum-city of Évora. Seemingly untouched by time, Évora is a UNESCO World Heritage city enclosed by medieval walls, filled with museums and monuments dating from the medieval to renaissance periods, and resplendent with whitewashed houses deocorated with azulejor tiling and wrought-iron balconies. Wander the streets after dark and you'll discover the 1st century Roman temple lit up for all to admire. Dinner included.

Driving: 1.5 hours; cycling: 14 miles; terrain: flat and gently rolling hills.

Day 2

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

We transfer to Estremoz, a medieval town surrounded by vineyards and famous for its many white marble quarries that supplied the stone for Évora's Roman temple, as well as its 13th century Sé Cathedral and many of the region's cobblestone-patterned squares, sculptures, monuments and fountains. Marble is so abundant here that even modest cottages use it for their doorsteps and window frames. After a short visit to Estremoz, we begin cycling through the rolling, wide-open Alentejo landscape, making our way to the tiny village of Alter do Chão. The village is famous for the Coudelaria de Alter Real, a horse stud farm founded in 1748 by King João V. The farm still breeds the rare Sorraia, considered to be the first Iberian breed of horse. Tonight's accommodations are at a restored 16th century convent, now a charming hotel. Breakfast and dinner included.

Driving: 45 minutes; cycling: 32 miles; terrain: flat and gently rolling hills.

Day 3

Visit a Lusitanian horse farm and overnight in a mountaintop village.​

We begin cycling 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. You will have the option of visiting the horse farm and its museum before we continue our ride to a prehistoric Celtic stone burial chamber which dates back over 5,000 years. As we cycle northeast towards the Spanish border, we begin a gentle climb past the Pousada de Crato where the Knights of the Order of Malta built their monastery, and the elegant spa town of Castelo de Vide with its 14th-century castle and medieval Jewish quarter. While most of our ride takes us through an undulating landscape, there in an option to add 9 miles with a challenging 1,000' climb over the last four miles to reach the medieval village of Marvão. Set on a 2,400' granite pedestal, the panoramic views from the village will be a reward for all! Tonight we dine on local specialties of the Alentejo region, which features olive oil, breads and acorn-fed black pork. Breakfast and dinner included.

Cycling: 34 miles; terrain: rolling and hilly; optional add 9 miles with climb of 1,000' in 4 miles (6% grade).

Day 4

Cycle the wide plains of Extremadura to Mérida, founded in 25 AD.

This morning we cross the border into Spain's tranquil and wildlife-rich Extremadura region and begin our ride to Mérida. Cycling part of the Via de la Plata, one of the many Camiño de Santiago routes that ultimately lead to Santiago de Compostela, we are on the lookout for the many species of birds that inhabit or migrate through this region, including eagles, vultures, owls, bustards, herons and storks. Mérida is recognized for having the finest collection of Roman ruins in Spain including an aqueduct, circus, bridge, amphitheater, temple and the longest Roman bridge still in existence. Breakfast and dinner included.

Driving: 2 hours; cycling: 37 miles; terrain: rolling hills; steepest climb: ~200' in 1.5 miles.

Day 5

Ride across the Sierra Morena mountains towards walled Carmona.

We transfer to Guadalcanal, the starting point for our ride across the picturesque Sierra Morena mountains. The Sierra Morena range stretches in an east-west direction for nearly 240 miles across south-central Spain, creating a natural border between the country's central plateau and Andalusia to the south. En route to the small city of Constantina, we pause for a picnic lunch in the Parque Natural Sierra Norte. We'll drive the remainder of the way to Carmona, a town of orange trees and church spires, once inhabited by both the Romans and Moors due to its strategic position on a ridge overlooking the Andalusian plain. There are numerous architectural treasures to see, 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. The evening if free to explore and choose from a variety of restaurants serving delicious local fare. Breakfast and lunch included.

Driving: 2.5 hours; cycling: 40 miles; terrain: rolling hills with some moderate climbs; steepest climb: 820' in 2.7 miles (5% grade).​

Day 6

Admire the Andalucia scenery of olive and orange groves en route to Córdoba.

Our ride begins near Lora del Rio (a 20 minute transfer from Carmona), or in Palma del Rio (a 40 minute transfer from Carmona). We cycle through a quintessential Andalusian landscape dotted with cotton fields, olive orchards and orange groves filled with wildflowers. The undulating route passes the village of Almódovar del Rio and its impressive castle overlooking the Guadalquivir River before reaching Córdoba, our destination for the next two nights. Córdoba is an ancient Moorish city famous for its 10th century Mezquita (Great Mosque), surrounding Jewish quarter and impressive Roman bridge. It is the former capital of Muslim Spain and is one of Andalusia's crown jewels. We spend about two hours exploring Córdoba on foot, soaking up the rich history and culture of this World Heritage Site; the tour helps us get oriented with the city's layout and make plans for tomorrow's free day in the city. Tonight's dinner is at an authentic local restaurant. Breakfast and dinner included.

Driving: 20-40 minutes; cycling options: 41 or 54 miles; hours in the saddle: 4 to 5; terrain: rolling to hilly with some moderate climbs; steepest climb: ~160' in 1/3 mile (6.5% grade).​

Day 7

Free day to explore Córdoba, an ancient Moorish city.

Options for exploring Córdoba​ include visiting the Great Mosque (also called La Mezquita), climbing to the top of the Tower of Calahorra for panoramic views of the city, taking in the history at 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. In addition to the famous mosque, the city contains many significant religious monuments from different eras including the 14th century Córdoba Synagogue Museum and innumerous 13th century Fernandine and Alphonsine-style churches. Dinner is on your own; choices include excellent tapas bars or restaurants serving Andalusian, Moorish or Mediterranean cuisine. There may be opportunities to watch Flamenco, a rhythmic and vigorous style of dancing with hand clapping and foot stomping that is characteristic of the Andalusian Gypsies. Breakfast included.​

Day 8

Ride through hills blanketed with olive trees to Montefrio.

Departing Córdoba, we transfer to the village of Luque where we begin our ride among olive orchards and through a section of hillier terrain. We'll cycle to our hotel in Montefrio, a lovely, picturesque 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 see many of these towers during today's ride. Breakfast and dinner included.

Driving: 1 hour; 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.

We cruise on our bicycles through the Andalusian countryside towards Granada. Located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Granada is a World Heritage city whose origins date back to 5th century BC. A short transfer from the Cubillas Reservoir brings us to the unique and elegant Hotel Alhambra Palace. We'll change out of our cycling clothes and set out on foot to see the Alhambra Palace and Gardens. 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 take time to appreciate the remarkable ingenuity and aesthetic of its builders. (Note: If entrance tickets to the Alhambra are not available today, we will tour the palace on the morning of Day 10). We complete our day with an excellent farewell dinner. ​Breakfast and dinner included.

Driving: 15 minutes; cycling: 32 miles; terrain: rolling to hilly with some moderate climbs; steepest climb: ~600' in 1.5 miles (7% grade).

Day 10

Our cycling journey ends in Granada, Spain.

The trip concludes following breakfast, unless the tour of the Alhambra is provided this morning (see note on Day 9).

We provide one group transfer to the Granada airport at 10am; we plan to arrive at the airport by 10:30am. International departures should be booked after 12:30pm. Any guests returning to Lisbon, Portugal are welcome to transfer with the guides; it is an 8-hour drive, with meals and hotels on your own. Breakfast included.​​​​​

Portugal & Spain Cycling – The Alentejo to Andalusia

Member: from $4,899

Non-member: from $5,399

Departure dates will be announced soon.
We can let you know as soon as they are.

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 choose the proper equipment. Try to bring only what is necessary; this will help you and the field staff.

Bicycles

We provide 27-speed Trek 7.4 FX aluminum-frame hybrid bicycles on this trip. These bikes are perfectly suited for the terrain we’ll encounter along our route and will fit riders from 4’ 8” up to 6’ 6”.

Bikes are equipped with a small handlebar bag, which has a shoulder strap so you can carry it with you when touring on foot; it will hold a compact camera, mobile phone, a packable lightweight jacket and a snack item. Bikes are also equipped with one water bottle cage and GPS.

You are welcome to bring your own pedal and shoe system and/or saddle (but not the post). Our guides will install your pedals and/or saddle prior to your initial warm-up ride. In order to size the bike prior to your arrival, please complete the sizing information in your Online Traveler Profile. Bicycle helmets are required, so please bring your own.​

What to pack

Packed by REI

  • 27 Speed Hybrid Bike
  • GPS and Route Map
  • Handlebar Bag
  • Water Bottle Cages

Packed by you (Required)

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Travel Documents

  • Airline Tickets (Confirmation and Itinerary)
  • Final Bulletin (Emailed Prior to Departure Date)
  • Valid Passport

Contact Us

Feel free to give us a call at 1-800-622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (1-800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out REI Expert Advice, which has great information to help you prepare for your trip.

Adventure Expert

Janel

It's more than an epic cycling trip in Spain and Portugal...Never ending olive groves, Iberian black pigs grazing under the cork trees, the preserved Roman city of Merida, and unforgettable views of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Gweir

The perfect first-time bike


I loved the small size of our group. Everyone was companionable and yet everyone could go at their own pace. I also loved the mix of quiet rural countryside riding along with fascinating historical sites that ranged f...

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