If you’ve ever thought about visiting Portugal, don’t hesitate any longer – go and book your flight right now! My parents kindly invited us on holiday to cycle along the Portuguese coast with them for a week, and it was some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen.
Joe and I touched down in Lisbon after an 8 hour flight from Dubai, and soon met up with Mum and Dad, who’d flown in from the UK, and my brother Matt and his girlfriend Miriam, who’d come from Munich. From Lisbon airport it was around a 40 minute drive to our first stop, Sesimbra.
Day 1: Sesimbra – Setúbal
We started our days early, as we had around 35 – 40kms on average to cover each day.
The route we took was pretty hilly, but the surrounding scenery more than made up for the struggle of uphill cycling!
We stopped at a castle along the way, which had a beautiful little church which was absolutely full of blue Portuguese tiles, as well as some leftover decorations from a wedding.
With the castle being on top of the hill, the view out to sea was pretty spectacular…but nothing compared to what was to come in the following days.
Lunch was had at a beachfront restaurant, where we all shared a huge fish served simply with a squeeze of lemon, salad and potatoes.
Day 2: Setúbal – Carvalhal
Setúbal is a pretty little town with cobbled streets, garlands hanging across the rooftops, and locals sat outside drinking espressos in the sunshine.
From here it was on towards the ferry port, where we sailed across the Sado river towards the Troia peninsula. We cycled along the sand dunes, with barely another soul in sight.
Of course we had to fuel up with a coffee by the beach, and the others were brave enough to go for a swim in the icy Atlantic Ocean!
We continued on through the rice fields, accompanied by hundreds of storks and egrets, who nest in the area, before finishing up at the beach again, which is over 50km long.
Day 3: Santo André – Santiago do Cacém
The day started off at the fresh water lagoons, where wildlife is abundant and the scenery is just as pretty as the previous days.
This day involved a lot of cycling along the sand dunes, which is not the easiest, and resulted in having to push our bikes quite a bit!
Day 4: Santiago do Cacém – Porto Covo
We started the day off by visiting a tiny windmill at the top of a hill, which is still in use for grinding flour, and despite the owner not speaking a word of English, we managed to have a little tour of the inside.
We also stopped by some Roman ruins for a look around.
From here we continued cycling along the cliffs, with absolutely stunning beaches down below.
We left our bikes at the top of the cliff and clambered down onto the beaches, which had almost nobody on them. You could climb though caves to get to even more secret beaches, although we quickly climbed back when we discovered a tiny beach with a couple sunbathing in the nude!
The town of Porto Covo is ever so slightly more touristy than the others we’d been staying in, but we had a lovely stroll through town and along the beach towards the lighthouse in the evening.
Day 5: Porto Covo – Vila Nova de Milfontes
The first stop of the day was the fort that was used to protect the natural harbour against pirate attacks in the past. Now it has started to crumble, but the surrounding cliffs are still there, although you could see some huge parts of rock that had fallen.
We continued on to a small fishing port, where the local fishermen were unloading their catch of the day, and stopped for a picnic lunch (as we had been doing every day) by the sea.
This was a pretty easy day of cycling, as the route was flat and we covered less distance than the other days. We stayed at a beautiful converted farmhouse which was so serene.
Day 6: Vila Nova de Milfontes – Odeceixe
The final day of cycling, and the longest route yet – 54kms along mostly dirt roads. Once again we were surrounded by beautiful beaches, and high clifftops.
Perched on top of the rocky cliffs, are huge stork nests, the only place in the world where they build their nests on top of the rocks.
As we cycled the Atlantic mists started rolling in, and although it was still warm we could feel the mist making it’s way up to the beaches.
Our last stop of the trip was Odeceixe, a pretty little town with a windmill at the top and incredibly steep streets.
We strolled though the town to find a restaurant for the final dinner, before it was time to make our way back to Lisbon airport.
Flying on standby meant that we had to change our plans last minute, and after around a 3 hour drive back to Lisbon, we had a short hop to Madrid and then onwards back to Dubai.
I fell in love with the stunning scenery, cliffs and beaches of the Portuguese coast, and hope that one day I’ll be able to make it back to explore even more of the country.
Thank you so much mum and dad for the holiday!