The idea of making my own little training camp in spring existed for some months.
So I started to plan a bikepacking adventure in Portugal. As some of my friends wanted to visit the Fallas in Valencia (Spain) and asked me to join them for some fun days the route got clearer. I booked a flight to Lissabon where I had one day off and started on the next day, cycling along the coastline with the final destination Malaga, from where I took the train to Valencia.
I planned the route quite exact this time. I informed myself where to take ferries and where to make border crossings. I also spent quite some time in front of Streetview and had a look on which roads I will go and if these roads are very busy. I ended up with the following tour: Lissabon to Faro along the coast line, crossing the border in the inland heading to Sevilla and than cycle down to Gibraltar, which is only about 100km away from Malaga.
Lisboa – Aljezur
220 km 1835 hm
In the beginning everything worked out fine. My bike arrived in the same condition as I packed it and I started very early on Friday, cycling down the coastline in the direction of faro, as far as my feet will carry me. While waiting for the second ferry from Setubal to Troia I met Vítor, a local cyclist, who gave me some great company for the next 50km.
After the dark set and i already rode 220k I started to search for a camping spot. I managed to find one quite close to Aljezur from where in anyway I wanted to start the next day continuing to Faro.
Aljezur – Monchique – Faro
149 km 1900 hm
After a quick breakfast with some Natas and other small pastries i headed on in the direction of Monchique. Besides some heavy winds, the road was beautiful and very slow but steady ascending until a height of 350m in Monchique, which is a quite popular and lovely small city. In Monchique I made a little detour to the Foia, a mountain with a radar station on top and of course a beautiful view over the whole country. Being back in Monchique I had a short lunch and continued on less frequent roads down to the coast line until Faro, where I took a room in some cheap hostel.
Faro – Huelva
152 km 706 hm
On the morning of day three, still in Faro, I decided to change the plan for the first time. After a lot of climbing during the last two days, I decided to continue along the coast line in the direction of Huelva. In this moment i haven’t decided how to continue when arriving in Huelva, but there where plenty of options. As it turned out, the route I took was really nice. It led me through olive and orange fields from one small village to the next. The ferry to cross the border between Portugal and Spain starts in Villa Real de Santo Antonio and end in Ayamonte. As it was Sunday I’ve been afraid of all the stores being closed in Spain. Thats why I bought a lot of supplies in Villa Real, the last portugues city before the border crossing. It already was late afternoon when I arrived in Huelva and i decided to leave it behind me and search for a spot to camp right on the coastline, as long as I can see where to put my tent. I found a nice entrance to the coast right at the beginning of the national park Parque Nacional de Doñana with a perfect view over the Costa de la Luz.
Huelva – Sevilla
110 km 355 hm
I´ve already been looking forward to my next tour stop, Sevilla. During the day the weather changed and from time to time a light rain started. The roads from Huelva to Sevilla where most of the time just straight roads with no end in sight. Which is also nice, because you just can keep pedaling forever without concentrating on the navigation. Quite in the middle of the tour i reached El Rocio, a crazy small town without real streets. The whole transport is managed with horse drawn buggies or jeeps, because of loose sand roads. If you are close just spend some minutes there to discover the little village and its church. Usually El Rocio has about 800 inhabitans but as it is a famous place of pilgrimage during Whitsun (04.–05.06.2017) over a million people visit the town for the Romería de El Rocío.
Sevilla – Cordoba
165 km 1000 hm
As it turned out that the weather won´t get any better, I built a couple of alternatives for the next days. In the morning I decided to continue to Cordoba and not to go to Gibraltar. After I started in Sevilla the weather got worse and I had rain for the next 4-5 hours. As i got closer to Cordoba, the weather got better and in the end I reached the hostel try again. The route strava built was good, I even got some honk-Kudos, maybe for fighting against the rain. The route led through very calm streets between loads of orange fields where you only see a car very unfrequent.
Cordoba – Fuente de Pedra
140 km 1567 hm
After visiting the most popular and impressing sights of the city like the Great Mosque of Córdoba, the Roman temple of Córdoba I left the city over the old Roman bridge, which was already used for the Long Bridge of Volantis in Game of Thrones. The routes out of Cordoba where really freestyle and through a contiues up and down and searching for the right road very exhausting. The landside along the road was beautiful. Very scenic roads with no traffic. After the dark set I found a camping spot close to Fuente de Pedra, from where i would continue to Malaga the next day.
Fuente de Pedra – Antequera
37 km 243 hm
This should be the last day of cycling and the end of this little bikewander journey. At the end of the day I have to reach Malaga, which is a 85km ride from where I was. After cycling for the first one and half hours I started to feel tired of searching for the right streets again and made a quick decision to take some public transportaion to Malaga. As I had to prepare my bike for the train ride from Malaga to Valencia, this saved me half a day of cycling and helped me to catch up for the preparation. In Antequera it was easy to find the Bus and the bus drivers were really friendly and had no problem with throwing the bike in the trunk. So one hour later I reached Malaga, where I even had time to cycle up on to the Castle of Gibralfaro overlooking Málaga city and the Mediterranean Sea.