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.
Distance: 48 km, elevation gain 295 m.*
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.
Distance: 66 km, elevation gain 850 m.*
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 waters.
Distance: 44 km, elevation gain 245 m or 13 km, gain 200 m.*
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 informative museum.
Distance: 66 km, elevation gain 580 m.*
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.
Distance: 62 km, elevation gain 954 m or 39 km, gain 756 m.*
Depart from Marvão at your leisure.
*Distance and elevation gains may vary depending on hotels chosen for specific departure.
"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