Eurovelo 1 Portugal

I think I've mentioned it before but I find maps showing long routes crossing continents particularly attractive.  I've got a map showing all the Eurovelo routes and its constantly triggering ideas for the next cycling adventure.  You do have to be careful though - not only are these routes massive - they often don't exist.

If you go to the Eurovelo website you'll find all the Eurovelo routes are graded according to progress towards full certification. Green routes have made it, yellow routes are nearly there and are supposed to have signs, and there are three levels of red, from planning through to developed. After cycling Eurovelo 1, which is graded yellow, from Porto all the way down the Atlantic coast and through the Algarve to the Spanish border, I've learnt that the designation has to be treated with a pinch of salt.
The team

Cycling the whole of the Eurovelo 1 would be an epic undertaking. It's called the Atlantic Route and as well as the Portuguese coast, travels along the west coast of France, the SW of the UK, the west coast of Ireland, across Scotland and along the west coast of Norway. On the Iberian Peninsula, the Atlantic Route is oddly configured and instead of starting somewhere near Gibraltar and heading west around the Atlantic coast, starts at the northern end of Portugal, heads south and then has to cross Spain to reconnect with the Atlantic on the French coast. The route through Spain is brilliant, I cycled a great chunk of it on the Ruta Vía de la Plata, but it's definitely not a coastal route.
Tide's in - near Perniche

I started my trip in mid-May 2017 in Porto and it took 17 days to cycle the 1200kms to the Spanish border. After cycling alone to Lisbon, my wife Christine joined me and we cycled all the way to Seville before taking a short break. From there we continued along the Ruta Vía de la Plata to the north coast.
San Pedro de Moel
Although I can thank my Eurovelo map for the inspiration, the fact that I was cycling the Eurovelo 1 didn't add much to the experience.  I downloaded the route from the official Portuguese Eurovelo website and according to the designation the route was supposed to be signed.  Well it was wasn't, at least the route I was following wasn't, and at times it took me to places where I should have been on a mountain bike. When you don't see any signs and the surface doesn't feel right you soon start to lose confidence in the route and question whether the route you downloaded was the right one.  It was, but I don't think it gets used that much - if it did the mistakes would have ironed out.
The Eel Fishing Fleet

Despite the frustrations, I enjoyed cycling through Portugal.  The weather was a massive bonus. Apart from one wet windy day when we sheltered in Sagres, where apparently it's always windy, we enjoyed perfect weather and given that the roads (and tracks) were nearly always quiet, it was stress-free relaxed cycling.  Like all coastal routes, there are a few ups and downs but, apart from the distance, this is not a challenging cycle ride.
If you like fish

Finding accommodation was very straightforward.  The holiday season hadn't really started so it was cheap and plentiful.  There were plenty of places to stop and refuel and the food was good particularly if you like fish.

Porto and Lisbon, the only two towns of any size on the route, are cycling friendly and getting through Lisbon and to and from the airport to pick up Christine, proved very straightforward. I particularly liked Porto, a place I'd definitely like to visit again.
Cycling along empty roads

It is a coastal cycle ride but don't expect to see the sea all the time.  For long stretches, the sea is frustratingly close but out of sight often on the other side of a sand dune or behind endless pine trees.

It is, of course, difficult not to compare our cycling trip in Portugal with the one we did next, the Ruta Vía de la Plata, in Spain.  The big difference was the places visited on each trip.  In Portugal, we were cycling from one little seaside town to the next.  They were nice places to stop but not really memorable.
Catching the ferry to Spain

When I think about all the trips I've done, the places I've walked or cycled through - they break down into three groups.  There are trips I wish I hadn't bothered to do (there are hardly any); trips I enjoyed but don't need to do again; and, trips and can't wait to go back to. Cycling through Portugal was good, I'm glad I did it but I won't be rushing to do it again.

If you want to see how the trip went - warts and all  - then follow the links below and read the daily diary entries.

Day 1 - The Big Iberian Tour - Porto
Day 2 The Big Iberian Tour - Aveira
Day 3 The Big Iberian Tour - Figueira da Foz
Day 4 The Big Iberian Tour - San Pedro de Moel
Day 5 - The Big Iberian Tour - Foz do Arelho
Day 6 The Big Iberian Tour - Perniche
Day 7 The Big Iberian Tour - Santa Cruz
Day 8  The Big Iberian Tour - Praia das Maçás
Day 9 The Big Iberian Tour - Cascais
Day 10 - The Big Iberian Trip - Sesimbra
Day 11 The Big Iberian Trip - Near the back of beyond
Day 12 - The Big Iberian Trip - Vila Nova de Milfontes
Day 13 The Big Iberian Trip - Odeciexe
Day 14 - The Big Iberian Trip - Sagres
Days 15 and 16, The Big Iberian Trip - Lagos
Day 17 - The Big Iberian Trip - Tavira


  1. Hello John, this might be an old post. You might even not notice my comment. I am planing to make the Eurovelo 1, from Porto to Lisbon. But I have never done such trip. I jog almost everyday and use the bike on the gym. I even go running on those street run. However, I don't have any idea how to plan the distance and the days. How many kilometers do you consider alright to plan for a day? And how many hours should I consider cycling. You see, I will not only cycle, but also do some things around the cities. Did you plan how many kilometers per day you would cycle and booked the hotels? Also, what are you opinions on hostel?
    Sorry for so many questions, hope you understand. I was looking for a blog like that and you were the first one that I found.
    Cheers mate.

    1. Hi there

      The more cycling you do the further you will be able to go. I'm happy to cycle 6 or 7 hours a day and 80kms or more is about right but if you haven't done much before this could be a challenge. So do some cycling before you go, keep the first few days short, and then build up. The good news is that the cycling is fairly flat.

      You do need to get to places where there is accommodation but when I went it was plentiful.


    2. Thanks for the reply. Your advice is much appreciated. I consider myself fit, but definitely will do some cycling as training before I go.

  2. Planning to ride from Faro to Lison next week on this route. I have the option of fitting mtn bike wheels(650bx42) rather than the 700x28mm I had planned to use. Would you suggest I swap the wheels as you suggest some parts of teh route are not suitable for a road bike?

    1. Hi

      Good trip. You don't need big tyres. There are one or two short off road bits but these can be avoided. I would use something like a schwabe marathon rather than a road tyre

      Have a good trip


  3. Dear John, we are planning to do a bike tour in Portugal, likely on the Eurovelo1 route. We plan to bike max 250 km. Which section do you recommend the most on this route? Also, you talked about the 3 groups of bike tours you did in your live. Which ones were in your group 3 (the ones, you can't wait to go back)? Thank you in advance for your feedback. Cécile

    1. Hi there Cécile, on the Eurovelo 1, I enjoyed the cycling between Porto and Lisbon the most. South of Lisbon was a bit frustrating because you didn't get that close to the coast.

      In terms of rides I would like to do again than definitely Roscof to Nantes across Brittany.

      Hope that helps


  4. Dear John, we are planning to do a bike tour in Portugal and likely on the Euroroute1. We plan to cycle 250 km may (in 6 days). Which part of the Euroroute1 do you recommend? which one is the nicest?
    Also, what are the cycling routes you can't wait to go back? I am curious! Thanks for your feedback

    Kind regards from Belgium
    Cécile Thonar

  5. perfect! I was hesitating with going back to the French part of the Eurovelo route 1. We did the last section between Arcachon and Hendaye. Maybe we go to Britany instead of Portugal! Or maybe to somewhere else, on another bike route, not necessarily to Euro1. Have you cycled on other European routes? and that you would recommend?

    Thank you John, your blog is inspiring!!

  6. Hi mate,

    Great blog full of information. I'm looking to do the Porto to Lisbon route mid September solo. I'm a confident cyclist & Planning on doing it on a decent gravel bike carrying everything but was wondering how easy the route is to navigate and how did you manage accommodation? Did you plan forward or did you turn up and book somewhere on the day you arrived?

  7. Hi there

    It's particularly easy to follow from Porto to Lisbon although I did have the route loaded onto a GPS. There will be plenty of accommodation. A good approach is to check on, if it's available there it will definitely be available on the ground, turn up and you should get a better price on the day.

    Have a great trip


  8. Your unique experiences in Portugal have indeed nudged me to apply for a Portugal Visa from UK instead of visiting other nearby countries. However, my wife has been insisting on me getting a Schengen visa so I will have to see about that. But, to be honest, your blog made me love Portugal and its cities like Lisbon even more. I would love to take some tips from your blog to make my Portugal trip even more delightful. I hope my wife likes our Portugal travel itinerary.