The Costa Azul, also known as the Blue Coast, is a long and beautiful stretch in southwest Portugal. The pristine countryside follows the Atlantic coast where caravels sailed off to make the greatest of the 15th and 16th century New World discoveries. The remarkable history of the area is just one of the charms of this stunning corner of the world. There is the quiet beauty of the uninterrupted beaches, lagoons and fishing villages.
For a week our gay Portugal trip will have us riding through the virgin landscape across vast valleys and along the Atlantic shore, staying at remarkable inns that each reflect the ambiance of their corner of the Alentejo region. Along with the unique accommodations will be culinary feasts and a chance to sample the best port wines in the world. Portugal, often overlooked by travelers, is being discovered and celebrated by visitors, but it still retains its off-the-beaten-track charm. A fun and moderately challenging bike trip, fine food, and comfortable, unique accommodations make this a trip of a lifetime.
June 2 to 9, 2018 – US $4,198.00
Optional Tour Choices:
$900 Single Supplement (for solo travelers who wish to enjoy a private bedroom and bathroom)
$180 Opt for an Electric Assisted Bicycle
Comfortable and interesting hotels each night; All breakfasts, 6 lunches, and 5 dinners; Services of two tour guides; Van support to get luggage (and tired riders!) to destination; Use of helmet and bike (your choice of hybrid or road bike); Map and detailed route instructions; Guided tours of historic sites; Transfer from Lagos, Portugal to Faro Airport on last morning of tour to meet 11 am or later flights (guides can assist in reserving earlier transfers if need be). HE Travel provides complimentary Medical & Evacuation Insurance for every US Resident on our group tours who does not have other coverage.
Transportation to Lisbon and from Lagos or Faro; Transfer from Lisbon Airport or train station to hotel at start of tour; Transportation from Lagos if not traveling with group on last morning of tour; 2 Dinners; Personal items such as souvenirs, snacks, faxes, telephone calls and personal beverages; Admissions not described as included in the itinerary; Gratuities for guides.
We’ll then hop over to one of the oldest wine estates in the country; José Maria Fonseca, housed in a beautiful 19th C manor house where we will taste among others the famous moscatel! With your appetites opened from the wine sampling will stop in the coastal town of Sesimbra for some lunch on the waterfront before going southeast to our night’s destination the large seaport town of Setúbal. We will take a Zodiac along the stunning Arrabida coastline to seek out some of the very rare river dolphins that inhabit these waters.
This evening take some time to explore the old quarter, said to have been founded by Noah’s Grandson! Dinner is on your own, with several restaurant suggestions from our Portuguese guides.
Riding on southwards, through the lower part of Portugal’s largest and most rural province, the Alentejo, you’ll pass many little farms that still use centuries old methods of farming. There’ll be many little cafés along the way (circled on your map) where you can always stop for a refreshing drink and give the locals something to discuss for days to come.
Santiago do Cacém, your night’s destination is an interesting town with a castle, built by the Knights Templars in the 13th century upon an earlier Moorish fortress. You’ll be spending the night just outside Santiago in a recently restored manor house with a wonderful pool. After a well-deserved dip we will all dine together like Lords of the Manor!
In season, Vila Nova is a popular water sports center, but it still retains its quiet village charm. There’s so much to see and appreciate that we will spend two nights here. You’ll find beautiful coastal walks, unspoiled beaches, and many tascas and cafes where you can enjoy drinks and local cuisine. In ancient times this town is said to have harbored Hannibal and his Carthaginians during a storm. Tonight we will dine together in a local tasca.
Back on your bikes, you’ll cross the Rio Seixe about 18km/11m later. This marks the boundary between the Alentejo and the Algarve provinces. “Algarve” is a Moorish word meaning “the land of the beyond”. It was the last part of Portugal to be reconquered by the Christians. This province, more than any other in Portugal, bears the unmistakable marks left by 500yrs. of Moorish domination.
From Zambujeira do Mar it’s only another 15km/9m on a fairly flat road to your destination. We’ll dine together at our quaint guesthouse tonight in the countryside.
Before exploring the town we are going to explore it’s waters with an afternoon sail on the BOM DIA. This two-masted sailing boat will take us out along the incredible Algarvian coast with its vast number of grottoes. In the afternoon you can enjoy Lagos, a quaint town that manages to be both funky touristy and historically touristy at the same time without losing its old-world charm.
Tonight we will meet in the lobby for our farewell dinner at Lagos’ premier restaurant.