Cycling is one of the best ways to see the world. Many people who have done the Camino de Santiago in Spain would agree. The Camino de Santiago, which can be translated as "the Way of St. James," is a pilgrimage route that stretches across most of northern Spain. It's a popular destination for cyclists and hikers alike - and someone with a love for long-distance biking won't want to miss it!
In this article, we'll give you all the information you need to plan your own bike tour on the Camino de Santiago. We'll talk about what you can expect and how to plan your trip so that you don't feel overwhelmed by this epic journey. Don't wait any longer; read on to learn how to take on cycling's ultimate challenge!
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The Camino de Santiago
The Camino de Santiago is a pilgrimage route that traditionally goes from France to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain. There are in fact many other variants, but the Camino Francés remains one of the oldest on most popular routes. It has been an important site for Christians since the Middle Ages. The trail, which is about 800 km long, was used by medieval Christians on their way to Jerusalem. Today it's used by cyclists, hikers and other travelers who want to embark on a spiritual journey.
The route has traditionally been followed in stages, with pilgrims carrying a backpack with supplies including clothes and food. A more modern approach is to take some preparation at home as well as along the way.
Planning your trip
If you're still deciding if cycling on the Camino de Santiago is right for you, start by considering some of these questions:
Once you've answered some of these questions, it'll be easier for you to plan everything out. You'll know how long it will take and what type of experience you're looking for. You'll also be able to figure out which parts of the Camino de Santiago are better suited for biking than others. You don't want to spend hours on a long stretch of uphill biking if that's not what you wanted in the first place! And don't forget about accommodation! There are lots of different options available, depending on how much time and money you want to spend. If these thoughts have left your head spinning, don't worry! We'll cover all this information below so that it won't be such a hassle figuring out all the details as well.
What to pack
If you're cycling the Camino de Santiago, you'll need to invest in a few items before you leave. First, and most importantly, you'll need a bike! You can get a bike from a rental store, or you can buy one if you have the time to look for one. Next, you'll need some cycling gear. You should pack high-quality biking shorts and padded cycling gloves to avoid getting saddle sores and blisters. If your bike trip is going to be longer than five hours at a time (and most of them are), it's important that your shoes are good quality so they don't wear down too fast.
You'll also want to pack other basic necessities like water bottles, sunscreen and lip balm. And while we're on the topic of what not to forget--don't forget your phone charger! It's important that your phone is fully charged at all times so that if anything happens, you won't be left without help. The Camino de Santiago isn't always easy--you should be prepared for anything!
Where to stay (how much it will cost)
When you're planning to travel by bike, it's important to know where you'll be sleeping. Luckily, accommodations on the Camino de Santiago are plentiful and reasonably priced.
You can find hotels for around €30 a night in towns along the route--and sometimes even cheaper. If you're looking for more of an authentic experience, there are albergues for €6-10 per night that are usually maintained by volunteers. These albergues provide shelter and basic amenities like WiFi, breakfast, and dinner (complimentary or not).
What to eat/drink
One of the most difficult parts of any bike tour is food and drink. You can't just stop at a restaurant or store when you're on the Camino de Santiago. Pack your bags with plenty of high-energy snacks to avoid getting off your bike to search for food.
The best choice is protein bars, nuts, dried fruit, and even cereal bars. This should be enough to keep you going until you reach the next town or village.
Drinks are also important to bring on a bike tour! If you're not bringing water with you, buy bottled water from a store in towns as needed.
Another tip: bring plenty of electrolytes to prevent dehydration and muscle cramps during your cycling journey! Have an electrolyte drink handy in order to replace fluids and minerals lost through sweat.
Safety tips for cycling on the Camino de Santiago
The Camino de Santiago is a challenging adventure for even the most experienced cyclist. It's important to plan ahead and make sure you're prepared for all the conditions you might face.
- Research the terrain: The terrain along the Camino de Santiago varies from flat to mountainous, but there are some difficult stretches with steep slopes and mountain passes. Even if you plan to ride on a road or touring bike, not a mountain bike - you'll have to cycle through small villages and towns over some larger cobblestone streets. If you raide along the actual trail, be aware that walking pilgrims have priority, and some sections are not appropriate for cyclists at all.
- Pack light: You won't need many supplies on this trip; pack only what you'll need to get through the day. Make sure your water bottle is full before heading out each morning. In terms of clothing, it's best to dress in layers so that you can adapt when the weather changes throughout the day.
- Keep an eye on your belongings: Be cautious about where you store your bags when resting at albergues; never leave them unattended in public areas, as sadly, there are professional theives who have operated along the Camino since the very earliest times!
- Wear a helmet at all times: Always wear your helmet! They're essential safety gear that can protect you if anything happens. You'll also want to carry some basic first aid supplies like bandages, antibiotic cream, and painkillers in case of an accident or injury.
Cycling tips for your Camino bike tour
If you're planning to cycle the Camino de Santiago on your own, here are a few tips that will make your trip much more enjoyable:
-Pack a map and a navigation device device such as a smartphone or GPS. The route is well marked, but you'll want to be able to find your way without relying on signs every step of the way.
-Dress appropriately. If you go during the summer months, wear light clothing and sunscreen. For cooler seasons, pack warmer clothes like long underwear, tights and wool socks. And don't forget to use layers, rather than heavy jackets and the like.
-Plan for plenty of rest stops and snacks. You'll need to refuel often on this long journey!
-Bring an ample supply of food and water. You don't want to run out of anything important during your trip!
-Carry cash for your meals along the way. Most restaurants take credit cards or traveler's checks, but some do not accept them at all--and many require cash only!
Important information while you're cycling on the Camino de Santiago
Cycling on the Camino de Santiago is a journey for the adventurous cyclist. You'll be biking for about 6 days along a variety of terrains, but you'll also encounter varying climates. Depending on the time of year, you may go from hot to cold weather and vice versa. Make sure you pack accordingly!
Another important thing to keep in mind while planning your trip on the Camino de Santiago is how long it will take to get there (and back). The average cyclist can expect to bike an average of 40 kilometers per day, which means it could take up to a month to complete the entire journey! Of course, this is just an estimate based on people who are cycling at an average pace; if you're a faster rider, then it would be possible for you to cycle an average 60 to 80 km a day and finish in less than 15 days.
The Camino de Santiago is a journey most cyclist have yearned to take at least once in their lifetime. If you're an experienced cyclist and want to take on a challenge, the Camino de Santiago is for you. Plan your bike tour of the Camino de Santiago today and enjoy the journey!
Looking for the best cycling routes in Portugal? Whether you are a beginner in bike touring looking for the most beautiful views of Portugal, or a seasoned bicycle traveler looking for new routes to explore, this list has something for you.
The routes are graded on the difficulty of terrain and length. All of these cycling routes are scenic with plenty to see, so pack your bike and enjoy!
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The Best Coastal Cycling Routes In Portugal
Rota Vicentina bike route
The Rota Vicentina is one of the most popular routes in Portugal, and in the whole of Europe. The route follows the Atlantic coast through rice paddies and marshes, rolling hills, farms, fields and numerous villages.
Along the way there are plenty of opportunities to stop for a coffee break or snack or a proper meal of world class grilled fish. The route is graded as an easy-medium difficulty with an average daily distance between 35 and 65 kilometers.
Eurovelo 1 cycling route
The Costa de Prata Coastal Cycling Route runs along the picturesque coastline of southern Portugal. This route is popularly known as the Eurovelo 1, which actually starts in northern Europe.
This coast has some of the best beaches in Portugal and offers stunning views of the beach towns and wild nature. This route is graded at low to medium difficulty with flat to rolling terrain for most of the route.
This is a great choice for beginners or people who want to take it easy on their first bike tour in Portugal, with an average daily mileage of between 45 and 65 km. If you are looking for a tougher challenge, you can always ride 2 days back to back!
The Best Bike Touring Routes In The Mountains Of Portugal
Douro Valley bike route
You would be hard pressed to find more exceptional rides than what the Douro has to offer. The Douro valley cycling route is one of the very best bike routes in Portugal!
With excellent roads and near zero traffic for the most part, the Douro valley bike route will take you through the most stunning landscapes with breathtaking views of this unique valley.
This UNESCO heritage site owes as much to the labors of man in making the remarkable terraced vineyards as with the beauty of the valley itself.
A unique micro-climate and varying solar exposure ensure that no two hillsides are alike and the result are the wonderful wines of the region, as well as turn after turn of sublime vistas.
The rides are as challenging as they are rewarding, with most climbs being taken on the saddle, as they wind round the contours of the slopes rather than straight up them. Daily average mileage ranges between 35 and 65 km.
Even so, this is a more challenging route and it's important that you're in good shape to take it on - or you can always consider an ebike to get a little extra help on the hill climbs!
Camino Português bike route
The Camino Portugues cycling route follows one of the official pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostella, in the footsteps of the Way of St James.
The cycling route follows closely the walking path, along ancient Roman roads of Lusitania and is the second most traveled route after the Camino Frances.
Whichever route you take, the incredible beauty of its varied landscapes, charming villages and monuments to the glory of St James will instill unexpected awe in you.
Due to the hilly and mountainous terrain of northern Portugal, this is a more challenging route, so you need to be in good shape to undertake this adventurous bike tour. Expect to ride between 35 and 65 km per day.
As mentioned above, don't be put off considering the Camino Portugues, as an ebike can certainly help on the hills and make this route accessible to more riders!
The Best Bike Touring Routes In Portugal For Beginners
If you are new to bike touring, these routes are the best to start with. They are less difficult than the other routes and still offer beautiful views and an in depth experience of Portugal.
Alentejo wine country bike route
Relaxing, Self Guided bike tour across the rolling fields of the Alentejo in Southern Portugal, cycling past wild flowers, vineyards, ancient castles and cork trees along the way.
Medieval walled villages, white-washed and trimmed in blue, dot the hilltops while plains of wheat and oats spread out below, freckled with small flocks of sheep and goats grazing under majestic cork trees.
With traffic free roads and beautiful landscapes it is no surprise that the Alentejo is one of my very favourite regions in Portugal. This is an easy to moderate route with a daily average mileage of between 40 and 70 km on mostly rolling terrain.
Algarve interior bike route
The Algarve is famous for it's sunshine and sparkling beaches, but the often overlooked interior offers rustic tranquility and outstanding cycling on very low traffic roads.
Departing from Tavira, not far from the Spanish border and cycling to Lagos, near the south-westernmost point of Portugal, the Algarve route follows little traveled inland country roads, passing fragrant orange groves and fields of fig, almond and carob as we cycle back to the sparkling beaches the Algarve famous for.
This part of Southern Portugal gets around 300 days of sunshine a year and offers some of the finest cycling conditions in Europe. The cycling is easy to moderate with a daily average of between 40 and 60 km.
This warm, sunny bike tour route offers great rides, the unbeatable Portuguese hospitality, superb food (particularly fresh grilled fish!) beautiful beaches and plenty of reasonably priced accommodation.
If you are looking for a fun and easy bike tour, this is a great choice!
Conclusion: My Favourite Cycling Routes In Portugal
The popularity of cycling in Portugal is on the rise, and with good reason. The country has some of the most beautiful routes for cyclists, with scenery that ranges from iconic coastal routes to picturesque mountains.
Whether you're a novice cyclist or an expert, Portugal has the perfect cycling routes for you.
My personal favourite bike touring routes in Portugal include the Rota Vicentina, for it's perfect blend of seascapes and bucolic landscapes, as well as the daily option to wet your feet in the Atlantic - before or after a delicious seafood meal. I can never tire of this route!
Another personal favourite is the Camino Portugues, although it's not exclusively in Portugal, it covers some of my favourite regions in northern Portugal; the Minho and the Douro.
This is where you experience some of the warmest hospitality I've encountered in my travels and the cherry on top is arriving in Santiago de Compostella - always a jubilant triumph, no matter the weather!
While the previous two favourites tick all the boxes for an inspiring and exciting bike tour adventure, perhaps my very favouirte cycling route in Portugal remains the Alentejo wine country, for it's very simplicity and tranquility in our hectic times.
For someone who loves wine and food as much as they love cycling, the Alentejo is hard to beat - anywhere in the world. It's also a perfect place to unplug, unwind and get far from the crowds.
How about you? Have you cycled in Portugal, and if so what is your favourite cycling route or region? You can share your bike touring stories or submit your photos and videos with like minded cyclists right here!
If you're looking for an unforgettable experience, self guided bike tours are just the thing. Self-guided bike tours are a great way to explore the world around you because you have greater opportunity to interact with your environment.
You can also take time to stop and explore an area that otherwise might not have captured your attention.
It might sound intimidating, but don't worry! This beginner’s guide will give you all the information you need to go on a self-guided bike tour. From what route is best for beginners, to what you need for safety, this guide has it all!
The basics of self-guided bike tours
Self-guided bike tours are a great way to explore the world around you because you have greater opportunity to interact with your environment. You can also take time to stop and explore an area that otherwise might not have captured your attention.
You don't need a lot of experience to embark on a self-guided bike tour! In fact, if you're new to biking, this is a great way to start out.
The first thing you'll want to do is read up on how to use your bike properly. It's important that you know how it should feel to ride it with some luggage and on different terrain.
There's a difference between the feel of a road or mountain bike, so make sure you understand which type of bike will suit your route, before departure.
Once you have an understanding of the appropriate bicycle for your type of bike tour, find the perfect route for beginners.
A good beginner's self guided bike tour should have you cycling between three to five hours hours a day, with a straightforward route and with easy turns and limited hill climbing.
Aim to avoid busy roads and areas where cars may come from different directions unexpectedly.
What route is best for beginners?
When you're preparing for a self-guided bike tour, one of the most important decisions you'll have to make is what route to take. There are many factors that will go into this decision including how much time you have, your fitness level, and your preference.
If you're just getting started with bike tours, then it's often best to start out with a loop ride route. Loop routes provide a great introductory experience because they typically have a low amount of elevation gains and can be completed in about four hours.
Loop ride tours are great for beginners because they simplify arrival and departure logistics considerably and therefore may not require as much time commitment – so, if you need to stop riding halfway through because it's too difficult or you tire out before reaching the end then there's no pressure!
Loop ride bike tours also come with an opportunity for exploration. If there's something along the way that catches your eye (like a scenic viewpoint), then you can take some time to explore it. This gives beginners the chance to gain experience without feeling like they're abandoning their original plan.
What to wear
No matter your destination, you're going to want to pack for an adventure!
When it comes to clothing, it's important to dress in layers. You never know what the weather will be like or how active you'll get while on your bike.
It may sound obvious, but do pack cycling clothes that are appropriate for biking, but also pack after riding clothes that can get dirty or that are easy to wash and dry.
You'll also want to wear light colors so you don't get overheated while cycling in the sun. And if you plan on riding at night, make sure that your clothes are reflective and easy-to-see.
Pack the right gear
Before you start your tour, make sure you've got the right gear:
When you're planning what to pack, think about what items might be essential based on where you're going.
For example, if you'll be in a hot climate, sunscreen is an absolute must! If you're going somewhere with snow and ice, bring appropriate clothing and traction devices. You can find a detailed bike tour packing list here.
Safety on a bike tour
Safety should always be your number one priority and nothing should ever deter you from taking the necessary precautions. It's important to wear a helmet, follow traffic laws, and make sure you can be seen on or off the bike. I recommend wearing a bright colored jersey, wind breaker or helmet.
If you follow the rules of the road and use some common sense, bike tours are very safe if you just take these few small precautions.
Self-guided bike tours are a great way to explore the world's most beautiful destinations. Here are 3 broad and simple tips for beginner cyclists to make their first self-guided bike tour a success:
1) Start with an easy and travel friendly destination, you can find some of our favourite and recommended bicycle tour routes in Spain and Portugal here.
2) Look for routes that avoid major roads and highways, to avoid traffic hazards, but that lead you to interesting destinations so you never feel too far from civilization or that all you do is pedal!
3) Consider Points of Interest, distance and elevation gain. What is there to see? How far do you want to cycle each day? How much do you want to climb each day? Also think about terrain (paved or unpaved), time available, and weather conditions.
You need to be sure you are fit enough to cycle the full distance of the tour, while taking into account that the challenge level is not just the distance cycled, but also the elevation gain for the days ride.
I also recommend allowing sufficient time to actually enjoy the rides and also your overnight destinations - and points of interest along the way!
Although most people prefer spring and summer for the better weather conditions, we have many experienced cyclists who prefer cycling in autumn and winter, and risking a little rain so they can avoid crowds.
Cycling Rentals has been designing and operating bike tours for nearly 20 years, and we can help you choose or plan your perfect self guided bike tour - get in touch. In the mean time, click below for some inspiration!
Some of the best bike touring stories are not all about the bike or even the ride, but about the people you meet along the way, and the experiences you have, the emotions you feel and the memories you forge!
Do you have an exciting tale to tell of your two wheeled journeys? Share your inspiring experience with the world right here!
A classic bike tour that never fails to elicit all of the above is of course the epic Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, but some of my own unforgettable rides have been much closer to home. How about you?
Below are a few of my favourite and most inspirational bike tour stories, that simply put the joy of pedaling in me. But we would love to hear about your most memorable experiences on a bicycle!
Due to the dynamic nature of the coronavirus pandemic, the rules and regulations adopted by each country vary and are subject to change at very short notice, so Cycling Rentals has altered its Term and Conditions to allow you maximum travel flexibility.
Read on to understand the current Coronavirus Bicycle Travel Restrictions for Portugal and Spain - updated September 2021.
Portugal Covid-19 Travel Restrictions
To enter Portugal, travelers must present either an E.U. Digital Vaccination Certificate or a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours before departure or negative antigen test taken within 48 hours of departure.
Once in Portugal, travelers must show proof of vaccination or a recent negative test to stay at a hotel or vacation rental property. Travelers who test positive for Covid while in Portugal will face a 10-day quarantine at their own expense.
General behavior guidelines have been enacted, in which all people must adopt the following rules:
- Social distancing;
- Frequent hand washing;
- Mandatory use of mask;
- Respiratory etiquette.
In order to prevent the spread of the virus and the possibility of contagion, all services should take hygiene measures according to the indications of the Directorate-General for Health, with specific recommendations for various sectors of activity.
In tourism, the “Clean & Safe” seal, defined by Turismo de Portugal, was implemented, which allows tourists to have greater security and confidence in the use of accommodation establishments, in the various tourist services and tourist attractions.
You can find full details and requirements for travel to Portugal on the VisitPortugal coronavirus travel advisory page.
Spain Covid-19 Travel Restrictions
Since September 6, Spain requires either proof of full vaccination, a negative COVID-19 test or proof of recovery from Covid-19.
To enter Spain, all travelers must submit health information to the Spain Travel Health portal, which generates a QR code to show when entering the country. The system also sends each traveler an email with the QR code.
Full details at Spain Travel Health FAQs