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Costa Vicentina and Southwest of Alentejo by Bike


For 2 days, almost always on top of the cliffs, we cycled in the Costa Vicentina and Southwestos Alentejo Natural Park, between Cabo Sardão and Aljezur.

With about 50% of the borders (+/- 900 km) facing the Atlantic Ocean, in Portugal there are beaches from North to South and from East to West of the country.

 

 

There are small beaches carved into huge cliffs, there are beaches with extensive sands, some located next to big cities, others next to small fishing villages and others still inserted in wonderful natural parks, such as Sintra, Arrábida and Costa Vicentina.

Some have big waves, sometimes with more than 30 meters, like Nazaré, and others where the sea is calm, looking like huge lakes. The water temperature is also diverse, normally cooler on the west coast and more temperate on the south coast (Algarve).

 

The diversity is very large and some places are difficult to access, so exploring the Portuguese coast by bicycle is an exciting and permanent challenge. On the Portuguese coast there are always new “treasures” to discover.

A few days ago, enjoying the wonderful sunshine, we spent 2 days exploring by bike rhe area  between Aljezur and Cabo Sardão.

We stayed in a small, very friendly rural tourism facility, consisting of 4 or 5 small traditional houses, Cerro das Fontinhas, near Bergões.

It isn't a luxury complex, it's a very welcoming, clean place, well inserted in the landscape and its owners are very friendly, they make us feel as if we were at home. Furthermore, something that is very important to me, great breakfast.

 

On both days we made a circular circuit, as the starting point and arrival point would have to be the same.

 We were always lucky (it's winter) to ride without wind, with a wonderful sun and a sky painted in intense blue.

Always on unpaved roads and secondary roads with little traffic, flanked by the immensity of the sea and agricultural fields. We feel in paradise.

1st Day

Carvalhal - Zambujeira - Cabo Sardão

On the first day, we headed north, the first destination was Carvalhal beach. 

Dug in the middle of huge cliffs of dark color, contrasting with a white sand and various shades of blue produced by the sea and the sky, with waves and a stream that flows here, this beach has a unique beauty. 

We arrived accompanied by two very friendly girls we met on the way, who coincidentally were also cycling in this area. 

The beach was deserted, just us (4), we felt on a private beach and we stayed there for some time, each in our own way, enjoying this stunning scenery.

 

Lunch time was approaching, we weren't hungry, but we needed a beer, so we headed to Zambujeira do Mar, where in addition to a nice beach, there is also a small village, the ideal place to find the much-desired beer.

With small whitewashed houses on top of a cliff, this village, in this time of th year free from the thousands of summer tourists, was also practically deserted. It was the ideal place for two beers before heading to the final destination of this first day on the Costa Vicentina – Cabo Sardão.

Cabo Sardão is the most western point of the Alentejo Coast between Sines and Sagres (Cape São Vicente), on top of the cliff there is a lighthouse, which is part of the national network of lighthouses and which serves to signal the presence of land to all the boats that circulate in the region. 

The dirt trail, always over the cliff, until reaching this place is absolutely stunning, one of the most beautiful routes I've ever done by bike.

On our left side, always the sea, on our right side, the landscape alternates between cultivated fields and natural flora. We came across different animals, goats, sheep, cows, chickens, horses, donkeys and observed numerous birds, of which we obviously highlight the countless seagulls and hundreds of huge storks. 

Sometimes we stopped to contemplate the huge cliffs, the effects produced on the rocks by the force of waves and winds over the years.

The sea, the Atlantic Ocean, always on the horizon, also gave us the feeling of limitless immensity.

 We continued to feel like we were in paradise, far from everything, from everyone, free and relaxed!

And so, without haste, we cycled to the Cabo Sardão.  

In winter the days are shorter, the night arrives earlier and for safety I don't like to cycle at night, for that reason after a little tour in this area we started to cycle towards the place where we were staying.  

Because the sunset is famous in this area, we still aimed to see the end of the day close to the sea, something we managed to do in Zambujeira do Mar and at a good time we did it. 

To be quicker, we took another road, this time paved, a secondary road, with little traffic, but with a very different landscape, where huge extensions of agricultural fields and hundreds of hectares with greenhouses for fruit production stand out. 

The surprise on this route was that we passed through a place where, with only a net to separate us, were animals that are unusual in Portugal, bison, ostriches and zebras. 

We ended this day with dinner at Taberna do Largo, a wonderful local restaurant, not expensive (+/- 20€). In addition to the delicious starters, we ate a fabulous fish kebab cooked on charcoal, accompanied by sangria.

Here, after coffee it's mandatory to order a Medronho.

2nd Day

Zambujeira do Mar - Aljezur

On the second day we took an equally circular tour, this time heading south, until we reached Aljezur, in the Algarve region. Another day where we passed by equally wonderful places, but where walking on top of the cliffs is more difficult, some parts of the route had a lot of sand.

The highlight of this day is the visit to Amália, Odeceixe, Carreagem and Amoreira beaches. 

For dinner we chose a restaurant (Várzea) that had been recommended to us by the owners of the house where we stayed and where we also ate very well.

Definitely, the entire area that we traveled during two days, is in fact wonderful for nature, beach and bicycle lovers. 

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