A cycling adventure across the vast and scenic landscapes along Europe's oldest border between Spain and Portugal. Discover the legacy of Roman Iberia, the Moors and the land of the conquistadores. Finally we travel by train along the Douro Valley into Porto. Cycle off the beaten track - Discover the little-visited regions of Extremadura and Alentejo Seville and Porto - Explore these two fascinating and beautiful cities Douro Valley - Enjoy the scenery and relax on a train journey
Our trip starts in Seville, the capital of Andalucia and a beautiful city that overflows with life and variety. This trip spends limited time in Seville so we recommend adding additional days pre-tour if interested in seeing more. Ramparts dating back to the 13th century, the Alcázar and the Giralda, all remind us of earlier Moorish occupation and later buildings reflect the Mudejar architectural style, a mixture of Moorish and Christian styles. If you arrive early enough we suggest a visit to the Alcázar, a wonderful Moorish and Mudejar royal palace, and the impressive Cathedral with its imposing Giralda tower - originally a 13th century minaret. Our Tour Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 7pm for the welcome meeting and, slightly later, our first group dinner to get to know your fellow travellers. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you will need to arrive into Seville Airport (SVQ), which is a 30-minute drive from the hotel. There are no included excursions today and if you miss the briefing, your Tour Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up. No cycling today.
We start this morning with a two hour drive to visit the fascinating medieval town of Jerez de los Caballeros, located in the province of Extremadura. The old town is surrounded by a Moorish wall with six gates. Its staple trade is in agricultural produce, especially in ham and bacon from herds of pigs which are reared in the surrounding oak forests. Afterwards it is 1 hour drive to the start point of today's cycle ride at Cheles in Spain. On our bikes for the first time we make our way through a landscape of cork oak estates and farms to the Portuguese border town of Elvas. A well-preserved ancient settlement, still partially enclosed by medieval walls, Elvas has UNESCO World Heritage Status and is home to a Roman temple and aqueduct from a much later period. The middle section of today's ride will test your fitness with two short climbs. We finish our cycle route with a final climb to our accommodation right in front of the Amoreira aqueduct. Our total cycling distance today is approximately 55 kilometres (750 metres total accumulated ascent and 600 m descent).
Today we set off by bike directly from our accommodation and our route is mostly on very good tarmac roads and across a rolling landscape. Criss-crossing the Spanish-Portuguese border we cycle through some lovely Alentejo scenery to Marvao, a dramatic medieval hilltop village. The narrow cobbled streets are lined with whitewashed houses, some dating back as far as the 15th century, featuring characteristic terracotta roofs and decorative wooden doors and windows. The houses wind their way up along a steep ridge to one of the best preserved castles in Portugal, dating from the 13th century. We recommend a visit to the castle in your free time where the views are superb, giving a panoramic vista far over the wild rocky landscape towards Spain and the Serra da Estrela Mountains in Portugal. Today is the most challenging ride (and possibly the most rewarding!) with some hills along the way. The final 5km has an average gradient of 5% and there are a couple of steep climbs to end the day. Our total cycling distance today is approximately 87 kilometres (total accumulated ascent 1400 metres, total accumulated descent 950 metres).
After breakfast we have a scenic and undulating ride across a high plateau enjoying wide-open spaces on our way to our final destination at Alcántara (derived from the Arabic word for 'the bridge'). Alcántara is famous locally for its six-arched Roman stone bridge built across the Tajo River. The border is locally known as 'la raya' (the line) and the condition of the roads on our ride tend to be slightly better on the Spanish side. The town is also home to a hydroelectric dam and reservoir, surrounded by pretty holm oak and cork oak forests. Alcántara lost all its importance in the 19th century, when the religious order's properties were secularized. Its depopulation was halted only in the 1960s, when the dam and electricity plants were built. However, its economy was not boosted, and the town is still part of one of the less developed areas of Spain. Our total cycling distance today is approximately 82 kilometres (total accumulated ascent 850 metres, total accumulated descent 1500 metres).
Departing from Alcántara we start the day with a warm up climb and then continue to ride along the edge of the Extremadura region of Spain, an area dotted with big finca estates and farmland. In the second half of the day we encounter more hills as our cycle route leads us up into the Sierra de Gata Mountains. The ride culminates with a demanding ascent to reach our night stop in the town of San Martin de Trevejo, still in Spain and located in a beautiful valley setting between mountains against a backdrop of olive groves and oak woodland. Our total cycling distance today is approximately 77 kilometres (total accumulated ascent 1200 metres, total accumulated descent 950 metres).
Today we have a slightly more challenging ride as we pass through the Sierra de Gata Mountains, offering us excellent views as we follow the border northwards into the Spanish province of Salamanca. We start the day with a long and steep climb (9km with an average gradient of 5%). The very particular isolation of Sierra de Gata has contributed to conserve two linguistic fossils - Fala and Extremeño - and this mountainous area has remained one of the most untouched and natural areas on the Iberian peninsula. The area is also known for wild mushrooms and many locals are aficionados; heading off into the forests in season, basket in hand. Our cycling involves some harder climbs today, but there are lots of places to rest and enjoy the scenery and we will be rewarded with exhilarating downhills as we go. Tonight we will stay in a lovely hotel in the village of Aldea del Obispo in Spain. Our total cycling distance today is approximately 75 kilometres (total accumulated ascent 1000 metres, total accumulated descent 800 metres).
We start this morning with an early 2 hour bus transfer across the Portuguese border to Pocinhos. From here we take a three and a half hour train ride on a winding route amid lovely scenery along the Douro Valley past countless vineyards all the way into Porto, arriving mid-afternoon. After a short walk to our hotel we check in. After a short orientation tour on foot you will have the rest of the afternoon to explore. This evening we celebrate the end of our journey in this lovely city with a final group meal. No cycling today.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Porto. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Porto Airport (OPO), which is about 30 minutes' drive away.
7 Break Fast(s)
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