28 independent reviews for Portugal cycling vacations, self guided

Reviews for Portugal cycling vacations, self guided

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review 31 May 2019

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The electric bikes were an incredible luxury and good quality. They allowed us to enjoy the mountains. The roads were quiet and the distances each day were just right for us. The smells of eucalyptus and orange groves were memorable. The accommodations were very good too. The walk at Carrapateira was something we will never forget. The accommodation at Lagos was the icing on the cake.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Take good walking shoes for the hikes along the cliff tops. It might be worthwhile to take your own bicycle seat for your comfort.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

The walk at Carrapateira was spectacular and showed how the local people are preserving that environment.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Excellent.

review 10 Mar 2019

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The overall relaxed feeling I got each day. Bert's superb organisation Great routes, Superb over night stops, cafe suggestions meant the rider only had to cycle through orange groves and seemingly natural countryside between delightful white villages. Being out of season the roads were empty and the hotels quiet

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

book it Even at this time February March the weather was warm enough for cycling Even during the rain it was a cooling shower.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Cycling is environmentally friendly and I carried all my own luggage, I used local cafes for my breaks and obviously local restaurants along with local hotels and B&Bs at night Going so early in the year can only have helped the local economy

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Cycling alone I was completely my own master, the distances were within my capabilites even with some of the longer options So I found it one of the most relaxing vacations I have had.

review 7 Oct 2018

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Arriving at beautiful beaches

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Just know you won't be biking on bike paths, but on back roads, mostly, with minimal traffic. Occasionally a bigger highway, but not for long

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Absolutely

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Loved riding through villages and winding through the Algarve on back roads. Wonderful bike trip on great bikes, well maintained and really interesting routes

review 5 Jun 2018

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

When you are on a bike you always wonder what adventure is just around the corner. Caldas de Monchique was a lovely surprise nestled in the trees. Spring was an amazing time of year because of all flowers lining the roadsides, and the temperatures were perfect. We loved stopping and visiting with the local people.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

I would highly suggest an ebike even if you are fit. You can still make the ride as challenging as you like, but for us having the choice of sailing up a steep hill while enjoying the beautiful scenery kept me in vacation mode. Also less chance of acquiring a knee issue and having to take days off of your ride because itís very hilly. Donít speed through,slow down and enjoy ride!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Well you are not in a motorized vehicle. Bert did a great job winding us through villages where we purchased our foods and drink.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

We would highly recommend this vacation and you canít beat the price.

review 3 Jun 2018

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The riding was excellent on quiet picturesque roads. The spring flowers were in full bloom. The weather was perfect and the small towns and their accommodations were lovely.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Take your time to really enjoy the area and don't fret about the hills. You get it all back in the end.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes....we tried to support small cafes and merchants in their mini mercados. Cycling without support vehicles is the most environmental way to go.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

The vacation was excellent. Bert was really nice to work with on planning the trip. His routes are well thought out and being a small businessman he is very attentive to his clients and obviously loves the area.

review 27 May 2018

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Having everything work like clockwork. We got up in the morning had a great breakfast and onto our bikes-all we had to do was appreciate the beautiful scenery and decide where to stop for coffee. Lunch was a picnic along the way and with nothing else to think about, it made for a very relaxing vacation. Bertís organisation was superb. From the moment we initially contacted him months ago to the departure from Faro his attention to detail was first class.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Definitely take the trip. Being of English stock, but living in Australia we do like a cup of tea as soon as we wake up. Apparently, it is not common to have a kettle in the rooms. We would invest in a couple of plastic cups and one of those water boiling coils that you pop in the cup to boil water and some teabags. Anne highly recommends the e bike option, not a lot more money and well worth it for all those hills. Also meant that she could carry what we needed for the day without extra effort. We added an extra day, staying in Carrapateira 2 nights instead of 1. This allowed us to cycle to Cape Sao Vicente and back which we can definitely recommend.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Well, we spent eight days on pedal power, using not one litre of oil based product. We had lunches snacks and dinners at roadside cafes in villages which supported local economies.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Normally we like to do traveling on the cheap using our own resources and planning. This bike tour was carefree and provided the beautiful outdoors experience with Burtís vast knowledge of local highlights, track conditions, best places to eat, along with some welcome luxury at the end of the day. Each days accommodation is carefully picked by Burt. The bikes were well maintained and appropriate for the conditions. Anne had an amazing E-bike to assist her up a few hills. yes, we would do this trip again!

review 21 Nov 2017

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Waking up each morning to a new adventure, and not quite knowing what was in store.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

We followed the Terra de Caldas route. It is best to be prepared for some challenging cycling, and would perhaps use an ebike in future.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

We felt we had supported the local economy by using cafes, restaurants and convenience stores.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

We are already looking to do something similar, and have given the links to friends who have an expressed an interest.

review 2 Nov 2017

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Silves Castle and Silves itself was definitely the most memorable. And the hills. Oh my, the hills.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Be prepared to work on those hills. Wear proper, breathable clothes. Accept you are unlikely to have the energy to be too touristy and give yourself a couple of days on the back end to shop, relax, etc.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, as I ate and slept in local places. Since my luggage was driven, maybe not totally environmentally neutral, but it sure felt good not to be in a car or bus!

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Excellent. Each accommodation was great, the instructions each day were pretty clear (once I got used to them), and it was very empowering to conquer those hills. Most days the roads had little traffic and even when they did the motorists were very cautious.

review 4 Oct 2017

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

A nicely challenging ride culminating with the views from the cliffs at Carrapateira

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Be prepared for climbs! Can be tough but rewarding. Also, great stops each night.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Local food was delicious. We loved the markets, the bakeries, and the cafes.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Our vacation was excellent in every regard. It was challenging and rewarding. We discovered the beauty of the Algarve region, ate too much excellent food, but worked it off in the mountains! Support from the ride organizer, Bert, was excellent.

review 26 Mar 2017

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Arriving in Carrapateria, the beaches were beautiful!! All the rides had wonderful scenery, lovely small towns to explore and the rides were challenging yet fun and gave us a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

For those travelers taking the same tour, and going to the Thermal Springs, booking ahead for any spa treatments is strongly advised. Apparently the spa is booked days in advance.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, cycling tours by nature reduce environmental impact. In any of the towns/cities we stayed in we ate in local restaurants, stopped for coffee on route in small cafes. Directions and maps were laminated for use for other tours.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

We would highly recommend our tour operator. Everything ran smoothly, our luggage always arrived on time. The hotels were comfortable and accommodated any of our needs. The bicycles were in very good condition, instructions were clear and easy to understand. Any taxi or car transportation needed to trains or airport was taken care of and arrived on time. And from the beginning planning stages, Burt Smeman answered all our questions completely and promptly, it was easy and a pleasure to work with Burt.

review 2 Nov 2017

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The variable surroundings we were in on any one day. The surrounding hills of the Algarve, The beautiful rugged South and West coast. The sunset and sunrise on Salema beach. The Portuguese tarts!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Take your euros with you! You can only get cash out from ATMs, not banks and sometimes at hotels. But the exchange rate was terrible . One Pound to one Euro (exchange rate was 1=1.11 at the time). Cards are not widely accepted. We did all the extra loops suggested by Bert and reached our next destination by early afternoon -so time to look around the area by foot. (we're generally fit but not big cyclists). Be prepared for some down time in Carrapateira. (Where you stay for two nights). It's a fairly quite place. The suggested cycle loop suggested included a big chunk of the cycle out on the following day so we chose not to do it. WE did enjoy a long walk on the coast (suggested in the pack) - make sure you walk along the cliffs and not just on the road as you will miss some beautiful geology! Our last stop was in Salema. (There is a choice of this or Lagos). We chose to cycle down from Carrapateira to Sagres and out to the South-West tip of Portugal (Sao Vincente) before heading on to Salema. Around 60 km and well worth it. Salema is beautiful so we would recommend aiming to arrive in time to enjoy it in the daylight. The local fish dishes are plentiful and delicious but worthy of note is that it was very easy to get Vegetarian food and even some Vegan dishes in many restaurants.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

In all apart from the last day we were in less visited areas by tourists. So by staying at their, eating in their restaurants and cafes we feel we are contributing to the locals. Of course, cycling has less of an impact than driving on the environment.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Bert's instructions were very clear with mileage added where decisions on routes needed to be made. The hotels and B&Bs we stayed at were very good with lovely views in most cases. There was either a swimming pool or the sea close by everywhere we stayed -a little bit chilly for us at the end of October but probably a very welcome dip at the end of a day's cycling most of the year.

review 20 Sep 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The trip route planned by Bert Smeman - Terra de Caldas.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Everything was great. The accommodation and the recommendations for restaurants was outstanding.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes we did.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

I will do the trip again.

review 29 Sep 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The whole cycling trip was memorable as we got to see the real Algarve with its variety of landscapes - from mountains inland to the west and south coast - often away from the tourist hot spots. All the arranged overnight accommodation was first class particularly with the locations.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

The end of Sept was a good time to go, not too hot for cycling but you can still enjoy the beach and swimming.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, it benefits local people

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

One of the best self guided cycling vacations we have been on. We were very impressed with the overall organisation by Bert and nothing seemed too much trouble. His trip notes were perfect so we did not get lost (which can be stressful). We were supplied with good quality hired bikes.

review 14 Jun 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The whole thing.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

yes

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Excellent trip.

review 15 Apr 2015

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Absolutely everything!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Practice some simple travel Portuguese phrases and wear biking shorts.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Cycling through the countryside is a wonderful way to reduce your environmental impact while at the same time maximizing your experience with local flora and fauna. Everyone we encountered was so friendly and helpful.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

We thank our hosts and vacation company for what has proven to be one of our most favorite vacations ever! It was truly a trip for all the senses. From the melodic birdsong, delicious cuisine, and the intoxicating scents of the blossoms to the lovely villages and people along the way- we loved it all. Thank you, Bert, for making it happen. The bikes and hotels were top quality and his suggestions for additional itineraries and restaurants were spot on. We found the directions to be explicit and easy to follow and appreciated the many routes that took us off the beaten path.

review 23 Oct 2014

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

We have uesd Responsible Travel before so knew what to expect. Bert, our contact/ tour manager was very helpful and the maps and instructions given were first class. Our ride was a challenging one (translated means many hills!) but we thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Cycling through and seeing the normal, everyday parts of the country gives you a feel of the real Portugal and not the flashy, tourist hotspots. Hotels were good,food was good, everything was how we wanted it and what we expected.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Take good, wet weather gear for the higher parts of the ride, we were drenched through! Expect a testing ride for ordinary cyclists but you will feel that you have achived something by the end of the journey.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Definitely, eating out in local eateries at lunch and dinner plus no cars involved helps everyone.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Very good. I would, and already have, recommended Responsible Travel to people. Knowing that having a very enjoyable experience supports local communities makes it so much better. Thanks once again.

review 23 Jun 2014

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

We are six participants with varying biking abilities. Answers to this question include: traveling by bike got us to wonderful places we never would have seen otherwise. Nicest destination was Caldes de Monchique. Varied terrain was a plus, a good blend of good pavement, minimal traffic, nice vistas. It was helpful to have suggestions for food stops along the way. It was a well laid out challenging route. Carrapatiera was a favorite spot to spend two nights.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Start early in the day so you arrive at the destination in time to enjoy the hotel, town and beaches. Plan ahead for each day's ride. Take distances, elevation profiles and availability of food and water into account before setting out. Bring a GPS device if possible to aid with navigation, and to provide backup with the excellent directions provided by the tour.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

We hope so. We certainly think the ride had a low carbon footprint.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

We had a great time. All six of us enjoyed the rides, and think the perspective we enjoyed from the seat of a bike was special.

review 17 Jun 2014

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The whole week was very memorable as it was so varied. Burt has put a lot of thought into this vacation and has made it very personal. We really liked the various options of rides that were given for each of the days (pending fitness, weather, mood etc ) and his descriptions and directions for each route are great. From a 'cycling experience' view, maybe the trip from Silves to Caldas de Monchique (3rd day) was the most amazing (but challenging!) experience - the views were out of this world when reaching the heights. Burt's descriptions of the routes were excellent - he even provided us with 'food and drink provisions' for the day as ether were no cafťs or shops on parts of this route on this day (we could have chosen an easier option with lots of cafťs if we have wanted to). Every area and village that we cycled through was memorable but maybe the most stunning scenery was at Carrapateira and the surrounding coastline. Also, cycling through the orange and lemon groves (and so many of them!) is something else we will always remember .

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Don't miss the 10km short round trip around Carrapateira - either walking or cycling) - beautiful! The first day (from Loule to Alte we opted for the extra extension to Paderne. This was a gorgeous ride but a very hot day and we had not planned for the 700 meter climb to the hotel on the hillside in Alte at the end of the day! This made the first day very challenging in the heat, however, Burt's description of the route is very clear so entirely down to us that maybe we had been a bit too ambitious on the first day.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Most of the cycling was 'off the beaten track' and as such was away fron the tourist trail. All our stops on route would have benefitted the local economy.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Excellent! We have been on several cycling vacations but this has been the most personal to date with the best service and descriptions of routes, the accommodation has also been very well thought through and we really enjoyed having pool facilities at the end of the day whilst cycling inland on hot days. Burt also made some recommendations of local restaurants - most of which we tried and which were excellent.

review 6 Jun 2013

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Cycling through orange groves in the sunshine and stopping to feast on big juicy oranges! Fabulous downhill sections rewarding the effort of dragging our bikes to the top. Fantastic scents from the forests of warm eucalyptus will always remind us of Portugal. Also some outstanding fresh fish was eaten on this vacation.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Book Bert's bikes! The best bikes we've ever had on a vacation and we carried our own luggage without trouble. His maps were good and his routes were a lovely mix of quiet fast roads and farm roads remarkably low in traffic

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes we stayed in small hotels and ate in small local restaurants and didn't contribute to pollution or traffic.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Top notch

review 15 Mar 2012

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The range of beautiful places that you visit - cycling through gorgeous countryside with orange trees all along the way, stunning beaches, pretty villages, interesting towns and bright blue skies every day.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Make sure that you wear padded shorts!!!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

It certainly felt like it - we never got in a car and used local shops and markets to buy food for lunch and ate in local restaurants.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

The vacation was fantastic in every way - Bert gives personal service all the way, the route details were faultless and the accommodation was always either very good or sometimes stunning. He even sends information about the towns and hotels to you in advance of the trip so that you can look forward to it even more. It is good value for money and good to feel that it was a personal affair.

review 3 Jan 2012

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

We enjoyed the riding through the hills and the extra trip out to the lighthouse and westernmost part of Portugal. Terrific!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Make sure you arrive in time in Monchique (to enjoy the spa); get away early each day to spend some time in each town to look around.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes. We stayed all at small, local places and took our own clothes which eliminated the driving of our bags around.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Excellent. It was well planned out by Bert; the bikes were in good shape and drove well; the hotels were perfect; and he even arranged great weather :-).

review 13 Nov 2012

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

From the first time we met Bert to get fitted for our bikes, it was clear how passionate he is about sharing his love of cycling in Portugal. The bikes were well maintained and he made certain that we had everything we needed for a safe and enjoyable journey. The best part of the trip was following Bert's route maps through the beautiful Portugal countryside. We had a chance to explore areas we would never have found on our own! We found the Portuguese people to be warm and engaging. We loved the fresh seafood!!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

We wished that we had read more about the rich history of Portugal. We also wished we had learned more conversational Portuguese! I think that the areas in Southern Portugal where we traveled were a great combination of small inland hill towns and all that you would expect from more tourist geared coastal retreats such as Lagos. We enjoyed exploring Lisbon before taking the train to begin our bike vacation.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

All of the accommodations selected by Bert were small and locally owned. The proprietors were anxious to share their knowledge and enthusiasm about the people and places in proximity to our lodging.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Wonderful trip in all aspects!

review 7 Jun 2012

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Cycling through the beautiful countryside of Portugal and spending it with 5 awesome friends.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

This cycling trip is described on the website as having "some small climbs" well this is simply not true, the opposite in fact is what it was, should have read "many steep relentless hills". It should be described as "very challenging" and I would not recommend it to the average cyclist.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Read the operator's response here:

I am glad to hear you enjoyed the vacation overall but apologise that you were disappointed with one element of your vacation. The classification given on the Responsible Travel page is set to moderate/adventurous and the tour is experienced as such by the average cyclist. We havenít had anyone complain in the past. In hindsight our O AutÍntico (the Responsible Travel page https://www.responsibletravel.com/vacation/4135/cycling-vacation-in-portugal-self-guided) would have been a better choice for you. This is an introductory cycling vacation. We thank you for your comments and will take your feedback on board by from now on always specifically mentioning in the e-mail correspondence, that our O AutÍntico tour is our easiest cycling vacation.

review 16 Sep 2011

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

There is no one moment that stands out - it was all so well organised. The routes, well planned, the scenery beautiful, the accommodation excellent.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Ensure you are willing and fit to cycle the whole route - though not horribly challenging there are definitely a few hilly sections!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Absolutely. Local accommodation, services and restaurants were used.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

10 out of 10. Bert was incredibly detailed, set up a great cycling route, gave great, detailed advice regarding accommodation, each area we visited, restaurants and was efficient and friendly in dealing with all inquiries.

review 15 Sep 2010

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The trip was a pure and delightful adventure - The route was challenging in places and yet it was balanced overall and allowed us to spend time not only on the bikes (no more than 4 h-5 hours a day depending upon that section of the route) but it also gave us ample time in the towns we got to visit. Ours was a self guided tour so Kudos on the directions - they were great and with all the little side roads and various turns they were written so that even if you went the wrong way you knew it within 2 km or less - which obviously can save a lot of time and energy. We never got lost. Hotels were great - they were above average -- they had great pools and the staffs were very accommodating. The attention to those details as well as the equipment provided, support available if something happened , was very much appreciated and better than what we had experienced with other tours in the past.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Review the towns you will be going through and make sure you target some of the "off path" points of interest or a beach you want to swim at as the distance between towns is not that great thus giving you the time for side trips. Brush up on the local cuisine --itís great as long as you know what to order. If you take the trip that ends in Lagos get Bert to book you at least one more day there-Beaches are great --Town has a lot to offer and itís a great place to wind down in. Even 2 days would not be out of the question. Go to Sagres --you will have the opportunity to do it as you will be staying over at one hotel for 2 nights -See the fort where Henry the Navigator taught all the early Portugal explorers navigation and which is located on the most SW portion of Europe -- about 50Km roundtrip -- fairly easy ride and well worth it. Final tip --If you can start early in the morning especially in mid to later July. It can get hot once the sun comes over the mountains --but an early morning start not only gives you that cool morning air , but a very limited traffic flow if any and the chance to explore or enjoy the beach during the heat of the day and not having to be out on the road.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

We were on bicycles so there was no impact on the environment in our opinion and we contributed to the local economy of each cafe and village we visited not only financially but interacted with the people who were wonderful.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

4.5 Stars---Bert knows what he's doing and understands the concept of mixing a bicycle trip with the opportunity to explore Southern Portugal --Have Fun

review 18 Oct 2010

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Cycling through beautiful countryside with the roads to ourselves. Arriving on the west coast for dramatic scenery, crashing waves and relaxed hanging out.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Enjoy the scenery around you. The distances are just right and it doesn't take too long to get from one place to the next. There is plenty of time for swimming, relaxing, exploring and eating! It's a good mix.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

The accommodation and places we ate in all were owned by local people, so all money spent went back into the local community.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

We had a brilliant time. It's amazing how hungry you get cycling! We ate some really really good food - lots of seafood and drank very good wine the whole week.

review 23 Sep 2010

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The Portuguese Countryside is breathtaking and the scenery from a bike was wonderful. It was such a privilege to see this side of the country.... of the beaten track and generally unseen by the tourist. Absolutely loved the challenge of riding each day in the hills. So exhilarating, made you feel glad to be alive.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Perhaps only to be sure that you have enough food and water with you. This kind of bike riding uses lots of fuel. Also try and have some idea of where your actual accommodation is ...... at the end of the ride you can feel very tired and trying to find you digs can make you feel a little fraught after a long days ride. Regular stops for refreshment are a must!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Perhaps, cycling is kind on the environment and we did benefit the local people in that we were still spending money on the journey. That was not really the main issue. We love cycling and wanted to spend time doing that and taking advantage of new experiences and changing scenery.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Fantastic. We did not know what to expect and how things would work, but it was a totally wonderful experience. We were given maps and instructions which helped us arrive at each destination. Our luggage was collected and delivered for us. Each Bed and Breakfast was very comfortable and the breakfasts were everything we could want.. Very well organised and we absolutely loved everything about the vacation. Would definitely do this kind of thing again!

review 12 May 2010

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

What we found most memorable was the sense of history to be found in the ancient, cobblestoned, fortified old towns. So much of the tour was through beautiful, pastoral countryside, with cork trees, olive groves, wild flowers and sweet-smelling citrus blossoms. The roads chosen were mostly quiet, scenic and well-paved, with the occasional hill - OK, maybe there was more than the occasional hill. We enjoyed the diversity in accommodations, which were all very good to excellent. One of our very favorites was 'Bamboo', in a tiny West Coast beach community, just outside the town of Carrapateira. It was a learning experience to see how Portugal is so much more advanced in terms of energy conservation than North America.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Although this operator lists standard tours, we found than Bert was willing to work with us to create a customized tour, based on his standard tours, extensive knowledge of cycling and the countryside of Southern Portugal. We found Bert very easy and pleasant to work with, both by e-mail and in person. Our tour was in the spring, after the March rains, but before the summer heat. It was the perfect time to avoid the crowds. Consider the relative cycling abilities of your group. If some cyclists are faster than others, it would be a good idea to request individual daily route instructions.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

We stayed in small hotels or B&B's, and ate in local restaurants, so yes, we believe that our presence benefited the local people. We elected to carry our own gear, thus eliminating the need for shuttling of our bags each day. We feel that this makes bicycle touring more environmentally friendly, but it does reduce the taxi operators' and drivers' incomes. It is also our thought that the more intimate contact afforded by self-propelled travel benefits both travelers and local people. Sadly, the biggest impact on the environment is the international air travel, and carbon offsets should be seriously considered.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

It was delightful and very successful. We would certainly recommend this tour operator to friends, without hesitation.

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