Luís Simões, travel sketcher around the world
The Alto Alentejo is an easy to intermediate tour that will be enjoyable week for everyone, regardless of confidence or experience. Starting from Estremoz to Nisa, it will bring you from vineyards to Forts to the biggest national coffee museum to chestnuts farms to olive farms to olive oil mill community to a little road made of clay, the Alto Alentejo tour is a great way of exploring this diversity of its region.
The Alto Alentejo tour is an easy to intermediate tour that will be an enjoyable week for everyone, regardless of confidence or experience. Situated in the south of Portugal and meandering its way to open museums, the 213-kilometer enjoyable route takes riders through a scenic and serene region. Departing from Estremoz through the Serra Alentejana until Nisa. Together with Baixo Alentejo tour, it creates 348 km (216 miles), a full week (or more) of the exploration.
How to get to Alto Alentejo
Located far east of Portugal, The Alto Alentejo has fewer tourists. But those who do will be rewarded with captivating the diversity of the environment and towns that are steep in history and spirit.
Alto Alentejo tour isn’t a loop tour, yet it can be done perfectly in a reverse way. Therefore, the easiest way from Lisbon or Porto is by bus to Estremoz or Nisa. Please keep in mind that the rule to bring a bicycle on a bus is usually different depending on each company.
Note that the area of this Alto Alentejo tour is arguably remote in Portugal, not many cars pass by (besides on the main road) or tourists in the places we mentioned below. With all of these, Luís and I felt comfortable getting around to do Bike & Sketch Portugal Tour during the pandemic.
Departing on Estremoz, this week-long tour in Alto Alentejo Portugal will take you up to Nisa through Serra da Alentejana. From vineyards to Forts to the biggest national coffee museum to chestnuts farms to olive farms to olive oil mill community to a little road made of clay, the Alto Alentejo tour is a great way of exploring this diversity of its region.
Estremoz to Herdade dos Adaens
One thing you will regret to miss is the antique market on Saturday in Estremoz. The traditional market that happens only once a week here is a highly recommended experience.
Embarking Estremoz, you will cycle to Elvas through mixed terrains, away from the main road. If you do this tour in the summer as we did, get ready for sunflowers and vineyards flourishing your eyes. Although there is no highlight and the longest stretch of this tour that you can see on the map, it is one of the best stretches we did in this region.
Approaching Elvas, the impressive aqueduct – extending a distance of 7 km and consisting of 843 arches – will greet you. Constructed by Francisco de Arruda, the same architect who built the Tower of Belém, in Lisbon. Make sure you explore the fortifications in town before you proceed to Herdade do Adens. Elvas has been a World Heritage Site since 30 June 2012 for an excellent reason.
Whenever you are ready, you will continue riding your bicycle to Herdade do Adaens through the back road. In this stretch, Campo Maior is the last town where you can stock up some snacks that you can see on the map. Once you reach the destination of the day, you deserve to indulge yourself in the organic swimming pool and refresh your body.
Herdade dos Adaens to Portalegre
From Herdade do Adaens to Portalegre, there is no back road that you have to ride through the main road – N371. It is quite a tide road with no shoulder road where the trucks come in and out of Portugal runs through. So, keep in mind that after you turn into the main road, you have to ride in full attention for 19 km before you turn right again on Arronches. At that point, you will cycle up to Portalegre through the back door that sometimes will tease you to stop to get some sugar booster from the trees next to the road.
Portalegre to Nisa
Before leaving Portalegre, make sure you have a good breakfast. On the first 5 kilometers, you will have a very good warm-up – climb up to 280 m with a max 15% of inclination. In this stretch, we packed our lunch and enjoyed it in front of the Albufeira Apartadura – km 12.
Once you reach Galegos, Marvão, the tour until Nisa, will bring you through the back roads where you will encounter fewer cars. As its region, the path will have more up and down with 100% tarred road and 100% rideable.
As much as we said that this is 6 days of the tour, the region has so much to offer that a week is definitely too short. You also don’t need to do this tour in one go. You can do the Alto Alentejo tour by parts. Here are some of our weekend tour suggestions:
- Estremoz – Elvas
- Portalegre – Marvao – Castelo de Vide
- Nisa – Castelo de Vide – Marvao
- And so much more
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Scenic countryside: The Alto Alentejo region is known for its rolling hills and picturesque landscapes, including vineyards, olive groves, and fields of wildflowers.
Historic villages: The region is dotted with charming and historic villages, such as Marvão and Castelo de Vide, that are worth visiting and exploring.
Cultural landmarks: Alto Alentejo is home to many historic landmarks, including castles, churches, and monasteries, that offer a glimpse into the region’s rich cultural heritage.
Gastronomy: Alto Alentejo is known for its traditional cuisine, which includes dishes made with local ingredients such as olive oil, cheese, and wine. There are many local restaurants and cafes where you can sample the region’s culinary offerings.
Friendly locals: The people of Alto Alentejo are known for their hospitality and warm welcome, making your bike tour an even more enjoyable experience.