World Heritage Bike Tour

Spain & Portugal – A World Heritage Grand Tour: Cycling in the Extremadura and Alentejo

A World Heritage Grand Tour: Cycling in the Great Plains, Alentejo and Sintra. On this adventure of a lifetime, visit several of the most important World Heritage sites in Iberia including Merida, Cáceres, Évora and Sintra. We’ll cycle through landscapes off the beaten track filled with charming villages and hilltop castle towns offering amazing views. Chat with the locals, visit mysterious prehistoric sites and learn about the local handcrafts and wines. Our tour culminates in Sintra, a magical mountain town, once the summer retreat of Portuguese royalty.

Country:Spain and Portugal
 Trip - Bike Tour:A World Heritage Bike Tour: Cycling in the Extremadura & Alentejo
 Dates 2013:Feb 23 - Mar 2
May 3 - 10
Jun 14 - 21
Oct 19 - 26
 Length:8 days / 7 nights
 Accommodation:Premium, charming historical hotels 
 Meals:All breakfasts, 6 dinners featuring regional cuisine with wine, 1 picnic lunch
 Single Supplement:90 USD / night
 Daily mileage:20 - 43 miles (32 - 69 km) / day, with optional distances daily
 Level:Easy / moderate
 Interests:World Heritages sites: archeology, history, culture; Spanish & Portuguese cuisine & wine, nature.
Arrive / Depart:Lisbon Airport


$US 4,495 – Premium Accommodations

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  • Monuments and ruins of Mérida, Cáceres, Évora, Marvão from Roman and other periods.
  • Bucolic scenery of rolling hills, whitewashed villages & hilltop castle towns.
  • Delicious Spanish and Portuguese regional food and red wine.
  • Local handicrafts: weaving, pottery, cork products.
  • Historic hotels: converted medieval castles and convents, often with pools.

Also includes:

  • 8 days / 7 nights in premium accommodations.
  • 6 dinners featuring regional cuisine and wines, 1 picnic lunch and all breakfasts.
  • Guilt-free mini-van support with snacks and beverages available and highly experienced, enthusiastic, multilingual guides.
  • Full use of high-quality, aluminum Trek bicycles equipped with removable pouches for handle bar and under the saddle.
  • GPS unit programmed with bike routes.
  • Gratuities for all accommodations and group meals.
  • Entrance fees to specific monuments, events or points of interest.
  • Baggage transfers and handling.

Note: for private group tours contact us about other tour dates and lengths.


We begin our tour in marvelous Merida, founded by the Romans in 25 A.D. Selected as a World Heritage site in 1993, the city is famous for its well-preserved collection of Roman ruins, including an aqueduct, circus, bridge, amphitheater and temple. We’ll meet at the Merida Palace Hotel for a trip briefing and bicycle adjustments, followed by a delectable dinner.


We’ll pedal our bicycles on backroads passing through fig, cork oak and olive groves from Merida to Cáceres, an amazing example of a medieval city, originally founded in 34 BC by the Moors. Part of today’s cycling will be along the Camiño de Santiago – Via de la Plata. Due to its many well-preserved monuments, UNESCO chose it as a World Heritage site in 1986. Stretch your legs and explore the serpentine streets and discover the judiaria (jewish quarter), palaces and cathedrals.

We stay the night at the Parador de Cáceres or the NH Boutique Hotel, in the heart of the historic district of Cáceres.

Distance: 24 miles / 40 km or 36 miles / 58 km


After spinning due west towards the Portuguese border we’ll encounter the enchanting castle village of Marvao set on a 3000 ft (1000 m) granite pedestal with panoramic views. This evening we’ll dine on Alentejo specialties, such as succulent black pork and then return to our Pousada to gaze at the overwhelming number of stars visible in the pitch black sky of the countryside.

Tonight we’ll sleep like babies in the Pousada de Santa Maria, in Marvão.

Distance: 37 m / 60 km

Watch this video of places we visit:


Breakfast means sipping fresh orange juice while overlooking the rolling plains – dare devil swallows swooping everywhere. After our descent, we’ll visit the elegant spa town of Castelo de Vide with its 14th century castle and medieval Jewish quarter. As we continue to cycle through the tranquil Alentejo landscape we’ll stop to visit a prehistoric stone burial chamber before putting up our feet at the Coudelaria de Alter do Chão where Lusitano horses have been bred for centuries.

After a refreshing dip in the pool and satisfying dinner, we’ll snuggle up in our beds in a former 16th century convent, converted into a comfortable modern hotel.

Distance: 42 m / 68 km


After breakfast we’ll cycle from the door of our hotel through fields of cork oaks and sheep, to the door of a spectacular palace. Following yet another scrumptious dinner at a local favorite, we’ll sleep like kings and queens in the Pousada de Estremoz, the 13th century palace King D. Dinis offered to his wife Isabel, a queen renowned for her generosity to the poor and who was later named a saint. Why not climb the palace’s Tower of the Three Crowns and marvel at the 360º view of the Alentejo landscape?

Distance: 33m / 53 km


Off we ride to south, through an area of the Alentejo famous for its wines and pottery towards the walled village of Monsaraz – a unique hill town made up of white-washed cottages nestled on alleys of black schist cobblestone. Wander the village and perhaps pick up some local handicrafts (blankets made from the wool of those fuzzy sheep we saw) and then hop in the van for a transfer to our hotel (either the Pousada de Lóios or the Mar d’Ar Aqueduto) in Evora, once the second most important city in Portugal after Lisboa. This fascinating and seemingly untouched city is a bustling university town as well as a UNESCO World Heritage site enclosed by medieval walls and filled with museums and monuments dating from the medieval to renaissance periods. Wander the streets tonight and you’ll discover the 1st century Roman temple lit up for all to admire. This is a city not to be missed!

Two optional distances: 43 m / 69 km or a shorter version: 29 m / 47 km


Today, relax and amble through this amazing town and visit its impressive collection of monuments and churches. Highlights include: The Chapel of Bones, Roman Temple to Diana, the gothic Cathedral and the archbishop’s palace. Of course, if you feel like biking, enjoy a beautiful loop ride to the quaint Alentejo village of Arraiolos, famous for its decorative hand-made rugs.

Distance: 30 m / 48 km if you opt for the loop bicycle ride



This is our farewell day. After breakfast we offer van transfer to Lisboa and its airport for early afternoon flights and plenty of tips and suggestions for those who plan to stay in the Lisboa area.

Sintra option: if you are interested in cycling through Sintra Natural Park, another jewel of Portugal and a World Heritage Site as well, you can add additional nights to this tour. See Days 2 & 3 of our Costa Azul Tour for a description of the possibilities.

Take a virtual World Heritage bike tour with us below. Watch our guests on their recent private World Heritage cycling tour to celebrate a special anniversary.

* alternatively, some group tours end in Sintra, another beautiful World Heritage site, with great cycling back roads.

Video of a collection of photos from a private World Heritage bike tour.

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