If you enjoy cycling and walking, then visit the Algarve and discover the vast network of routes and trails on offer in the region.
Not only will you have an unforgettable experience but you are sure to have the sun for company because the Algarve has sunshine almost all year round. As a result the climate is very pleasant, especially from September to June, the best months for cycling and walking. And as an added bonus, the scenery is very varied: winding trails through hills and valleys inland; a steep and almost completely unspoiled western coast; and to the south and east, flatter routes alongside the seashore or in the tranquil settings of the Ria Formosa and River Guadiana.
Among the top choices for you to try are four major routes that interconnect with each other, allowing you to explore the entire region: Rota Vicentina, Via Algarviana, Grande Rota do Guadiana and Ecovia do Litoral. Cyclists or walkers taking any of these routes will discover a challenge appropriate to their fitness level, since there are stretches of varying degrees of difficulty.
To the west, along one of the most beautiful and well-preserved coastal areas in Europe, the Rota Vicentina totals over 340km from Santiago do Cacém in the Alentejo to Cape St Vincent in the Algarve. The starting point on this route in the Algarve is Aljezur. This route is divided into two parts that complement one another: the Caminho Histórico, or "Historical Route", which stretches for 241km and takes you through various localities, is suitable for walkers and mountain bikers; and the Trilho dos Pescadores, or "Fishermen's Trail", which goes all the way from Odeceixe to Sagres along the coast of the Southwest Alentejo and Costa Vicentina Nature Park. As this part is more difficult, it is only for walkers.
Connecting Cape St Vincent and Alcoutim in the easternmost part of the Algarve, the Via Algarviana stretches for some 300km. It cuts lengthways across the region, mostly going through the heart of the Algarve uplands. Suitable for walkers and mountain bikers, this route, perfumed with the scents of the countryside, lets you explore a virtually unknown Algarve, where farming and country life are the norm. With everyone's comfort and convenience in mind, the Via Algarviana is divided into 14 sections, always starting and finishing in a town or village offering accommodation and eating places.
Alcoutim is where the Grande Rota do Guadiana begins. This route stretches for around 65km and ends in Vila Real de Santo António. The main attraction here is the River Guadiana, which offers beautiful panoramic views. Suitable for both walkers and cyclists, the route takes you through upland scenery and finishes beside the beaches on the south coast. Along the way, you can discover the fauna, flora and historical heritage of this little corner of the Algarve.
Completing the network is the Ecovia do Litoral, which is part of the EuroVelo European Atlantic Coast Route. It connects Vila Real de Santo António to Sagres, taking you along 241km of the Algarve's southern coast. Along the way, you will pass through towns, cities and areas of unspoiled nature, such as the Ria Formosa Nature Park. Comprising a continuous series of distinct stretches that include areas exclusively for non-motorised vehicles and others where the quiet roads and tracks are shared by all vehicles, this route is suitable for walkers and cyclists.
With such a huge variety, the hardest thing is deciding where to start... but whichever route you choose, you will definitely have the opportunity to appreciate the best that the Algarve has to offer: scenery, climate, cuisine and the hospitality of the local people.