Cycling in the Algarve

Roller-coaster days; road-bashing or backwater biking, the brisk hills, peaceful roads and meandering byways around Casa Ferrobo offer endless excuses to include a few days two-wheeled exploration during your holiday in the Algarve – and with village bars and cafes still very much part of the rural scene here, there’s every excuse to linger longer in this slice of paradise! A word to the wise, though – much of the area is remote, so always ride within your capabilities and exercise caution where appropriate!


Mountain bike country near Barranco do VelhoWhilst the mountains – high hills, really - of the Algarve’s interior are generally modest in scale, the sheer variety of the countryside within easy reach of Casa Ferrobo is breathtaking and the range of challenges available to mountain bikers is unparalleled. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie with a penchance for single-track adventure, a dirt-track lover with a yearning for speed, a fan of forestry roads or simply looking for an introduction to two-wheeled adventure, there’s a wealth of informal routes to sate the appetite of even the most discerning thrill-seeker. This is ideal mountain biking country, laced by a complex web of largely traffic-free roads and tracks.

In the hills, countless bold ridges take trails to the stars before plummeting into hidden valleys, some on dirt roads and cork-oak tracks, others as simply goat-tracks plunging through the scrub, oak and eucalyptus woods. From our gate, the modest Arroteia hill offers a variety of challenges, but the real adventure is just a mile or so to the north. At Fonte Ferrera countless ways rise into the enfolding hills; a championship course here is claimed one of Portugal’s best challenges, with leading annual competitions held each autumn.

Further into the hills towards Barranco do Velho, Bispo or over to Cova da Muda, switchback trails using cork-oak harvesting tracks, streambeds and the steepest of goat paths string through the enticing landscapes. Further north still, the remote countryside of the secluded valleys and chasms of the rivers Foupana, Odeleite and their countless tributaries beyond Parizes, Montes Novos, Javali and Feiteria holds much uncharted ground to discover. Not a land for beginners, this!


But it’s certainly not just an area for off-road fans. Slightly (!) more sedate excursions can be enjoyed on-road - most country roads here are the equivalent of graded forestry roads in Britain, so not completely tarred, but generally well-surfaced. A tremendous day can be had by taking good tarred roads west via Amondoeira to the white hill village of Querença (great for lunch!) before returning on a marvellously peaceful lane along the utterly tranquil valley of the Ribeira das Merçes, around 20 miles of perfection. Or perhaps take a tour around our local villages; inter-linked by good, quiet tarred roads and generously sprinkled with places to take refreshment. Another option is to head east from Casa Ferrobo via Almargens to Bengado on a lovely mix of tar and good cycling tracks, then return via Mesquita, an undulating route with plenty of relatively short hills and the reward of several cafes and bars along the way!

Endurance rides and challenging cycle routes

It’s not all recreational pootling, however. There are plenty of routes offering endurance and challenging cycle rides for cyclists looking for serious training. The main roads up into the hills here include the N2 (which passes within 200yds of Casa Ferrobo). This extraordinarily scenic, twisting tarred road – it’s the main road north, but astonishingly quiet - rises and falls around countless bends, with steep grades and fast straights which attract not only the National teams of several European countries for regular training sessions, but also from some of the leading commercial sponsors, some of which spend the winters hereabout keeping in competition readiness.

From the pretty little hill town of Barranco do Velho (8 mile up N2 from Casa Ferrobo), the N124 can be joined to create a challenging road route of around 30 miles, with enough climbing to gain a spotted jersey, all on tarred roads and with very little traffic to contend with. And there’s a great restaurant to finish at; the Tia Bia!