I just got back from a couple of weeks in the Algarve, Portugal with my family. I took my bike, of course, and managed to sneak out most days for ride of between 40 and 120km.
The weather in the Algarve in April is like a nice day in July in England. So, somewhere between 20 and 30 degrees and perfect for cycling. The smell of the pine trees in the sunshine is amazing.
We flew EasyJet from Luton to Faro which when booked in advance is inexpensive and fortunately went without a hitch. We were based near Lagos for two weeks, which is at the western end of the Algarve on the southern coast.
Heading out on day one the first thing that struck me was how green everything was. I’ve cycled in Spain a few times at this time of year and, even in Spring, it’s almost desert like in places. Portugal is different, it was as green as an English midsummer. I guess it rains a bit in winter.
Before we left the UK, I bought a local map online - which turned out to be total rubbish. It was missing almost all the local roads. However, Portugal’s 4G coverage was excellent so I decided to use the maps app on my phone for getting around. This covered everything but struggled to distinguish between tarmacked roads and the gravel tracks that locals use with their 4x4s. These roads aren’t ideal for road bikes but are passable. I never used them in the wet and can imagine they get quite muddy.
On day 2 the maps app stitched me up when the road changed from tarmac to gravel, the app showed it emerging on a larger road a few km ahead so I decided to press on. Then I came to a river without a bridge. The ford didn’t look very deep so I decided to cross. This was a mistake and a sharp stone ripped through the sidewall of my rear tyre and buckled the wheel. The tubeless gunk couldn’t plug the hole and I had to fit a tube. It also meant I needed to find a cycle shop to get a new tyre.
There aren’t all that many cycle shops in the Algarve so the good one I found is worth a mention. They couldn’t fix the carbon wheel on my SLR but sold me a reasonable pair of Shimano wheels and agreed to ship my Giant wheel back to the UK. Here’s a link. It’s a good shop, they spoke excellent English and were very helpful. http://bikesul.pt/
On refection, I enjoyed my two weeks in Portugal. If I was just there for the cycling then staying further inland nearer the hills would be a better option. The tarmacked roads are, overall, pretty decent, better than most in the UK in fact. The main coast road is very busy, but head north to the hills and there’s virtually zero traffic. There weren’t that many cyclists either, which surprised me. The mountains around Monchique offer the best riding, lots of long forested climbs which aren’t too steep, rising to Fóia, which is the region’s highest point at 902m.
My family loved Lagos and the beaches, and even in April the sea was warm enough to swim in. A great holiday all round. Definitely recommended.