31 independent reviews for Portugal cycling holidays, self guided

Reviews for Portugal cycling holidays, self guided

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review 21 Nov 2017

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

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

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

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 holiday 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 holiday 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 holiday?

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

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

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 holiday 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 holiday 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 holiday?

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

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

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

3. Did you feel that your holiday 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 holiday overall?

Our holiday 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 holiday?

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 travellers booking this holiday?

For those travellers 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 holiday 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 holiday 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 holiday?

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 travellers booking this holiday?

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 holiday 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 holiday 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 holiday?

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

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

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

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

Yes we did.

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

I will do the trip again.

review 29 Sep 2016

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

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 travellers booking this holiday?

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 holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, it benefits local people

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

One of the best self guided cycling holidays 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 holiday?

The whole thing.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

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

yes

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

Excellent trip.

review 15 Apr 2015

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

Absolutely everything!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Practice some simple travel Portuguese phrases and wear biking shorts.

3. Did you feel that your holiday 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 holiday overall?

We thank our hosts and holiday 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 holiday?

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 travellers booking this holiday?

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 holiday 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 holiday 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 holiday?

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 travellers booking this holiday?

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 holiday 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 holiday 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 holiday?

The whole week was very memorable as it was so varied. Burt has put a lot of thought into this holiday 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 cafés or shops on parts of this route on this day (we could have chosen an easier option with lots of cafés 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 travellers booking this holiday?

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 holiday 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 holiday overall?

Excellent! We have been on several cycling holidays 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 holiday?

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 holiday.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Book Bert's bikes! The best bikes we've ever had on a holiday 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 holiday 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 holiday overall?

Top notch

review 15 Mar 2012

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

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 travellers booking this holiday?

Make sure that you wear padded shorts!!!

3. Did you feel that your holiday 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 holiday overall?

The holiday 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 holiday?

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 travellers booking this holiday?

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 holiday 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 holiday 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 holiday?

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 travellers booking this holiday?

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 holiday.

3. Did you feel that your holiday 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 holiday overall?

Wonderful trip in all aspects!

review 7 Jun 2012

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

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

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

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 holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

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

Read the operator's response here:

I am glad to hear you enjoyed the holiday overall but apologise that you were disappointed with one element of your holiday. 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 haven’t had anyone complain in the past. In hindsight our O Autêntico (the Responsible Travel page https://www.responsibletravel.com/holiday/4135/cycling-holiday-in-portugal-self-guided) would have been a better choice for you. This is an introductory cycling holiday. 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 Autêntico tour is our easiest cycling holiday.

review 16 Sep 2011

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

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 travellers booking this holiday?

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 holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Absolutely. Local accommodation, services and restaurants were used.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday 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 enquiries.

review 15 Sep 2010

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

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 travellers booking this holiday?

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 --it’s 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 it’s 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 holiday 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 holiday 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 holiday?

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 travellers booking this holiday?

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 holiday 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 holiday 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 holiday?

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 travellers booking this holiday?

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 holiday 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 holiday 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 holiday. Would definitely do this kind of thing again!

review 12 May 2010

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

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 travellers booking this holiday?

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 holiday 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 holiday overall?

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

review 28 Oct 2009

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

The entire trip was beyond all of our expectations! It is difficult to pinpoint just one part, from the remote and beautiful little villages in the mountains to the rugged and breathtaking west coast and then finally to the busy town of Lagos with all of its great history, wonderful marina (great shopping) and beautiful beaches, it is truly hard to believe you can see so much in such a short amount of time. The bikes themselves were excellent. The accomodations were superb, Bert has taken so much time and effort to personalize this holiday, that it makes this a truly exciting adventure. This is very important to me: Never once did I feel unsafe in any of the places we visited. Thanks Bert!! Good Job!!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

If you are looking for an active and laid-back kind of holiday and like smaller more personal accomodations a little 'off-the-beaten-path' kind of thing then this would definitely be a good choice. Ladies, leave your makeup and high heels at home! Pack your bag and then take out at least half of the stuff - you won't need it.

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

We had several conversations with the local people in the places we visited, they were usually interested in where we came from and how our way of life may differ from theirs, (Canada vs Portugal) I think we learned a lot both ways! We ate everday in small local cafes and the food is always home cooked, very delicious!

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

One of the best ideas I've ever had!! It is evident that Bert is very concerned with the safety, well being, and satisfaction of his clients. I would highly recommend this holiday.

review 14 Oct 2009

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

Without a doubt, our time at Carrapateira on the west coast - the beautiful, peaceful natural environment, vast empty beaches, dramatic sea and also our lovely accommodation there with Isabel, who couldn't have been more helpful and friendly. The round trip recommended by Bert for the second day at Carrapateira was well worth doing, probably the best ride of the week.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

If you prefer leisurely cycling and have the time, consider spending an extra day or two to give time for the beach/exploration/rest. We found Lagos a cultural shock - it seemed very touristy after the quiet places we'd been in before. If you're not into tourist resorts, Salema may be a better option for the last night.

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

Cycling is obviously the most environmentally friendly way to travel (although the luggage was being transported by car... but then if we'd had to carry it all on the bikes, I don't think I'd have chosen this holiday!) Hotels were locally owned, not big chains. We were using local shops and cafes away from the main tourist areas and out of the main season, so that would benefit local people.

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

Superb. Bert's organisation made everything work smoothly. You would certainly not find such thoughtfulness and individual attention in a larger outfit. The cycling was a joy: well-researched routes on mostly quiet roads with little traffic but good surfaces, not too hilly, not too flat, and with the accurate and detailed notes provided, you couldn't really go wrong. The bikes were excellent and it was reassuring being able to rely on Bert should there be any problems. It was very relaxing being able to go at our own pace, stop for photos, food, drink or rest when we felt like it - something you can't do so easily in an organised group. The accommodation was of a high standard with mostly good and generous breakfasts - perfect for cycling energy!

review 13 May 2009

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

Eating barbecued sardines with new potatoes and salad at an unsophisticated cafe miles from anywhere as the waitress told us that the potatoes and lettuce had come from her garden.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Do not be deterred by the thought of cycling in the foothills of Monchique. The bikes are good and with a little preparation and a willingness to walk a few short stretches even 73-year olds will enjoy it. Seek Bert's advice on where to eat; have the snails at Ponte Roma in Silves. Buy your port in England.

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

The food was all local and so was most of the wine because, despite my best endeavours, very little Port was available. Most of the nights were spent in quintas and not hotels and these were very hospitable and comfortable. The local individual who stole my bike benefited substantially but this was balanced by the loss to Bert. I was unaffected. A very low energy holiday.

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

One of the best holidays I have been on.

review 19 Sep 2008

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

The scenery - the peaceful Monchique hills and the wild beaches of the West coast, different but both beautiful and exciting. The fantastic descents on the bike going down almost traffic free roads at times. The excellent back up from the tour director, Bert Smeman. 'Bamboo' accommodation at Carrapateira stands out as our favourite place to stay, not just the fantastic location but the warmth of our host Isobel.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Book with this company, Bert Smeman, the owner of the company ensures the holiday was tailored to the individuals' needs and worry free. The tour that we were on - a basic level of fitness definite advantage. Remember to buy water and fruit/snack before you start each day, then you can stop whenever suits you for a break.

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

Absolutely. We stayed in small hotels at times, spent money in local shops/restuarants and obviously cycling has minimal impact on the environment.

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

Excellent, the bikes were first class, I developed minor problem with mine and at the next stop Bert was there to meet me with new bike! The routes were excellent, directions were detailed and easy to follow so no fear of getting lost, and the people we met along the way were great.

review 27 May 2008

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

Virtually every mile of the carefully chosen, completely safe Algarve biking route offered scenic pleasure - from countless orange, lemon and olive groves early in the week, to mountain vistas and dramatic seacoast rides later in the week, with brilliant spring flowers lining every mile each day. We personally found our two days in and around Carrapateira on the Atlantic Coast to be the single most thrilling and satisfying part of the trip.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

We trained for about six weeks prior to the bike trip, with a few hilly weekend rides of up to 30 miles. I think that extra effort paid off in our enjoyment of the trip, since we didn't find the hills more than we could handle. The temperatures in the Algarve in late April - based on our experience - are ideal for biking.

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

There is no way to have less impact on the environment than by biking. I'm sure we did benefit local people, perhaps even more so in the springtime, when the tourist season was not yet in full swing.

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

The support we received from Bert was exceptional. He simply could not have been a better host on our first - but I hope not last - trip to Portugal. Every aspect of this self-guided bike trip exceeded our expectations, and we've been on three prior bike tours in France and Italy. The care that went into planning each mile of the route was extraordinary. I'd really rate this holiday above four stars - I just shied away from your term "reborn".

review 2 Jul 2007

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

Cycling from Carrapateira to Lagos, beautiful beaches and orange trees.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Cycling in the early morning.

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

Definitely.

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

Good.

review 12 Nov 2006

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

The holiday was great - the organization of the biking was impeccable, and the lodging was well chosen and very pleasant. The best part was travelling beautiful scenic roads with essentially no traffic.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

As for tips, I will only say that early November is a great time to bike in southern Portugal. No crowds, and perfect temperatures for being on a bike. However, take good rain gear - there are several stretches with absolutely no protection from getting very wet!

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

I think using only bread as fuel is environmentally friendly, and staying and eating in small establishments is both rewarding and good business for the locals.

4. Any other comments?

I give this 4.5 stars for anyone who likes to bike - and if you don't you should!

review 4 Oct 2006

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

Experiencing the tranquillity of the Portuguese countryside was so refreshing – I recharged my batteries.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Take your own, extra panniers for the bikes: depending on the weather, you want to take extra gear, e.g. towel, hat, food, etc.

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

Cycling must be as low as you can get on the scale of environmental impact. We cycled through the countryside mostly, so our money was spent in a wide variety of Portuguese restaurants, cafés, etc. that probably don’t see the tourist euro much, so I think that is positive.

4. Any other comments?

Definitely three star and I would not hesitate to recommend it to a friend; I will spare the grandchildren the stories!

review 7 Jul 2006

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

The most memorable part of our cycling trip was definitely discovering the seaside town of Carrapateira. Staying with such friendly hosts and sleeping at night with the sound of crashing waves was just beautiful. The quiet, remote location was very special. Surprisingly, the surrounding bush was very typical of what we see in Australia.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Tips for other travellers would relate to being prepared for long haul hills on the cycling. Whilst we cycle regularly I am not particularly strong and was challenged by the number of hills. The first day is the biggest shock so expect to be hot and tired. Be patient, one's fitness improves and the routes become easier. The changing countryside makes it all very worth it. It is a well thought out trip. We particularly enjoyed the back roads and tracks. Remember to put on your sunscreen and bring a chamois towel for all swimming opportunities whilst cycling.

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

I am sure that we had little impact on the environment and we made contact with the locals by shopping in the supermarkets, eating at the small and well recommended restaurants, and staying at smaller hotels.

4. Any other comments?

I would rate this holiday with 3.5 stars. The bicycles are excellent, the service good and the tour interesting. Lots of birds, trees, beaches, fresh air, nature and good people. A lovely area to explore.

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