Cycling the Douro Valley

Cycling in northern Portugal and the Douro Valley is varied, picturesque and has something to offer for everyone. The countryside is breathtaking and cycling through it is an unforgettable experience.  

Beginning in the north, Vidago is a small spa town famed for its miraculous springs with medicinal carbonated waters. In the 19th century, the spa was popular with the royal court and became the most visited spa in Portugal. The waters here have been bottled since 1873. 

Around Vidago and Chaves, the roads are quiet, and you roll along from village to village. The countryside is dotted with farmlands with their espigueiros (drying huts for corn), crystal-clear rivers, cobbled villages, and medieval towns.

Heading into Chaves, the route follows the beautiful Tâmega bike path that travels alongside the Tâmega River. The path is flat, and cyclists are treated to beautiful views of the river and its wildlife. Chaves is a historic northern defense town, famed for its hot water springs. The routes south to Vila Real use a reclaimed railway track that feels remote and removed from the road traffic. The views are typical for north Portugal with rocky outcrops, ferns and forested sections. 

Vila Real is a compact, university town on the Corgo River. As the name suggests, the city has a royal heritage with many grand palaces from the 16th and 17th centuries. There are also interesting museums, churches, and gardens. The river here runs through a steep-sided gorge that has scenic walking trails along the riverbank. 

From Vila Real to Pinhão, cyclists head into the Douro valley, taking you through some of the region’s most beautiful scenery. Along the way, you will pass by vineyards, olive groves, and quaint little villages, where you can stop for a bite to eat or a glass of wine. 

Known as the home of port wine, Pinhão sits on a picturesque bend of the Douro River. Wine is the key attraction and there are many quintas to visit where you can tour and taste port as well as many other regional wines. There are also boat and train tours out of this attractive little town.

There are many loop rides from Pinhão, often the hardest part is climbing up from the river. It’s worth it though as the views of the valley and the surrounding region are breathtaking. Another option is to take a gentle tour of the surrounding quintas, trying the wines, touring the vineyards, and tasting the local delicacies.  

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The route from Pinhão to Peso da Régua can be started with a train ride to Covelinhas. The routes follow the winding Douro River through the heart of the valley, the center of the wine-growing region where the views are unprecedented.

Situated in the heart of the Douro Valley, Peso da Régua has a rich history dating back to Roman times. In the 18th century, the town became the main trading post for port wine and is now home to some of the best restaurants in the area as well as being the starting point for scenic train rides and river cruises. 

For an exceptional final day cycling, cyclists can ride from Peso da Régua in a loop to Lamego, known for its rich history and cultural heritage. The city is home to several important landmarks, including the Castelo de Lamego, a medieval castle, and the Nossa Senhora dos Remédios Sanctuary. Lamego is also famous for its religious significance, as the Nossa Senhora dos Remédios Sanctuary is a revered pilgrimage site. In addition, the city boasts beautiful parks, plazas, and gardens, as well as a vibrant food and wine culture. Lamego offers visitors a unique blend of historical, religious, and cultural experiences. 

With its stunning scenery, warm hospitality, and world-class wines, the Douro Valley and Northern Portugal are a must-visit destination for anyone who loves cycling and adventure. The cycling is rated as intermediate / challenging so we recommend an electric bicycle for anyone uncertain of how much climbing they’d enjoy.  

We look forward to welcoming you to Portugal soon. To request an itinerary for any of our destinations, click here or email or call us to chat about destinations, routes, and your next cycling adventure.