The old walled town of Évora is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with a
small-town feel but big-city ambitions. Within its ancient walls this
compact town’s narrow, winding lanes lead to impressive architectural
works: Gothic cathedral, Roman Temple, a 16th Century aquaduct and a
picturesque town square. And not for the faint of heart is the macabre
crypt of Capela dos Ossos. Built in the 16th Century, the Chapel of
Bones warns at its entrance, We, the bones that are here, await yours.
Its walls are coated with the bones and skulls of around 5,000 former
This easy ride will work out the jet lag from your head and legs and
get you ready for the week ahead. Arraiolos is world-famous for its
embroidered carpets modeled on those of Moorish artists expelled from
Lisbon, abstract motifs, azulejo designs and flower, bird and animal
depictions. There are many carpet producers in town, providing
opportunities to admire and purchase these important cultural works of
art. This region is dotted with megaliths and dolmens (including
Europe’s largest, near Valverde), built around 5,000-6,000 years ago.
Back in Evora, enjoy strolling around the historical center and dine in
one of the many great restaurants.
Cycling distance: 48km/29miles.
En route to Estremoz, today, you’ll pass through Redondo, renowned wine region and perfect place to stop for lunch.
Once the seat of the 14th Century Portuguese king, Estremoz remains
grand and regal. The streets and buildings are lined in local marble,
which gives the effect of everything appearing white and radiant. If
you’re here on a Saturday, the town market is worth a visit for local
produce and arts and crafts. The town is well known for its high-quality
white marble and red clay sculptures. You’re here for two nights,
providing plenty of time for exploration of this glimmering town.
Cycling distance: 61km/37miles
Today’s loop ride takes you east past marbel quarries and fragnant
orange groves, on to Vila Viçosa, a lovely marble town. It boasts the
Praça da República, a lazy long plaza set amid orange trees, a marble
palace, one of the country’s largest, and its castle make this small
town an impressive visit. The route also takes you to Castelo, a fine
red-roofed village, home to the oldest synagogue in Portugal, a steeped
Jewish quarter and a marble-columned fountain with supposed healing
Cycling distance: 44km/26miles
Your destination is Flor da Rosa, just north of Crato, which was
founded in the 14th Century but evidence in its ruins date it back to
Megalithic times. This region is dotted in dolmens, with Anta do Tapadão
being the most famous. En route today you’ll pass the famous stud farm,
Coudelaria de Alter, in Alter do Chão, with its prized horses and
Cycling distance: 65km/39miles
Your route today will take you along roads lined with cork trees
passing several villages including Castello de Vide, a fascinating
village with dramatic castle and then climbs to the gorgeous walled town
of Marvão (NY Times has it on the list ‘1000 places to see before you
die’) which sits on a narrow, spit of rock, overlooking the rugged
plains stretching across into Spain. From its lofty heights, Marvão
offers the best vistas of any outlook on this trip.
Cycling distance: 58km/35miles
Depart from Marvão at your leisure.
"We had a fabulous trip! The weather was perfect and the scenery never censed to be breathtaking. The bike routes were challenging in terms of hills but very pleasant because of the lack of traffic and the never-ending views. The accommodations were all good and got progressively better as we went. Same for the meals. It was an unforgettable trip."
- B. and M. Hole