Scenic bike tour in the quiet and unspoilt eastern Algarve region. An interesting combination of beautiful countryside and a gradual descent to the coastal town of Tavira. After a caf' stop in Tavira, we cycle along one of the most scenic parts of Algarve coastline through pretty fishing villages and undeveloped coastline. The is a moderately challenging tour of around 42kms with only a few gentle hills along the way
We start in the town of Moncarapacho, with cobbled streets and traditional houses, then head out through the fields along a dirt track to join quiet, largely traffic free roads. Passing through sleepy Algarvean villages and scenic countryside, where time seems to have stood still. We climb steadily into a stunning area of pine covered hills and valleys abundant with orange trees (which form a natural barrier to the all too common summer fires in this area). We then follow the path of the river as it winds its way through the hills along tree-shaded roads and down into Tavira, one of the prettiest towns on the Algarve coast. Tavira is home to a castle, an old Roman bridge and a wealth of traditional architectural styles; it's the perfect spot for a well earned caf' break, next to the band stand, where music is often played in the summer months.
After a coffee and a cake (optional), we leave Tavira by another dirt track which keeps us away from the main road. This is a lovely shortcut to the beautiful village of Santa Luzia, famous for its Octopus fishing . We pass through Pedras del Rei, where we may spot the little train that takes sunbathers to the expansive beach of Barril and the old tuna fishing village. From here we join the Ecovia Litoral (a dedicated cycling path that spans across the Algarve from East to West). We are now in the Ria Formosa Natural Park, a UNESCO heritage site situated on low lying coastline amidst a maze of lagoons, channels, salt marshes and islands. It is home to an abundant array of wildlife and over 30,000 birds stop off here on their journey from Europe to East Africa. You can often spot kingfishers, hoopoes, bee-eaters, egrets, blue magpies and many other species. The views across the salt flats, (where salt is still cultivated using traditional methods), are simply breathtaking. It is a gentle, flat ride along the coast and we can enjoy the cooling sea breeze coming from the Atlantic ocean. Finally, we head inland again, along quiet country lanes and take a shortcut along a dirt track back into Moncarapacho and our starting point.
This is a ride of approximately 41kms, but we take it at an easy pace and, though there is a gentle climb during the first half of the route, the remainder is mostly downhill and flat. The terrain is easy to negotiate, so it is suitable for most riders. It lasts for approximately 4 hours (including cafe break and water stops).