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Escape: cycling in the North of Portugal, an untouched gem.

And just like that the first Moloko Portugal Escape has come to an end. We're back in London but already dreaming about the next trip to this gem of a region: Viana. Here's a day-by-day account of our unforgettable cycling adventure.

cycling holidays in the north of Portugal

Day 1: Arriving in Portugal

Our adventure begins with our arrival in Viana, where we are greeted at the charming hotel which will be our base for the next several days. After a lunch of tasty fresh fish, we head to pick up the bike rentals and get set up for the days ahead. 

To test our bikes and shake off the travel fatigue, we take a leisurely spin into the beautiful town of Viana do Castelo. With its pastel houses adorned with azulejos, numerous churches and monasteries, and inviting cafes serving pasteis de nata, Viana is a must-visit town.

We then finish the day with a delicious, authentic three-course dinner and an early night to rest up for the first big ride tomorrow.

Day 2: Along the coast

After an ample breakfast on the sunny terrace, we roll-out in 3 groups: “speedy road”, “chatty road” and “gravel crew”.

Gravel Route:

The gravel crew first heads to Basilica Santa Lucia, an iconic mountaintop church offering breathtaking views of the coast and Viana do Castelo. 

They then navigate trails and rocky descents, encountering wild horses along the way. Half way through the ride, a coffee stop at a charming spot by a meadow provides the perfect break before continuing on the paved trails of the iconic Camino de Santiago. 

The last stretch is a trail along the beach with the soothing sound of breaking waves: an excellent gravel taster.

Road Route:

Meanwhile, the road groups head to Galicia (Spain) for some tapas. The ride takes us out of town through green, lush, and scenic roads with vineyards and flowers in abundance. After some steady climbs and flowing descents, we reach the Spanish border and cross the Rio Minho in a river taxi — a mini boat ride that is super entertaining!

Once in Spain, the climb to Castro de Santa Trega offers smooth winding roads, switchbacks, and incredible views of both Portugal and Spain. After a fantastic descent, we enjoy a bib dip and a seafood lunch in the fisherman village of A Guarda, known for its signature dish: grilled octopus.

We cross back into Portugal via a bridge, enjoying the open border and cycling along the Minho River to Caminha, where we indulge in fresh pasteis de nata.

Day 3: Along the Rio Lima

It's a beautiful sunny morning today and we can already feel the heat rising. All groups are heading to Ponte de Lima, the oldest town in Portugal, famous for its medieval architecture, vibrant festivals, lush riverside scenery, and rich cultural heritage.

Gravel Route:

The gravel crew cycles along the Rio Lima, on the south shore first. It's a flat ride, but the trail can be quite technical due to the many cobblestone paths. The views are stunning and the iconic medieval bridge makes the arrival in Ponte de Lima pretty spectacular.

The group enjoys a guided tour of the town with Ricardo, and settles in on a terrace by the river for lunch before heading back along the north shore of the river.

Road Route:

It's a climbing day on the road, and it begins through pine forests to warm up. We are then propelled back in time with untouched roads and scenes of country life.

Hydrangeas, roses, vines, citrus and olive trees dominate the landscape. The smell is simply delightful!

After 30km we attack the main climb of the day: Boalhosa, a 12km ascent with 800m elevation gain, offering magnificent views on the mountains of Geres National Park.

We then roll back down to Ponte da Barca for a fountain refill and coffee refuel to replenish our energy for the final stretch that takes us through picturesque Portuguese countryside to lunch in Ponte de Lima.

cyclist in the countryside in the north of Portugal

It's now getting pretty toasty so we refresh in the water-fountain (a full dip is pretty tempting but, sadly, socially not acceptable...!) and form a train for the 25km ride back to the hotel, where the inviting pool awaits us.

Day 4: Serra de Arga & beach gravel loop

Today most of us want to give gravel a go so we swap our road bikes for gravel or MTB bikes to go for a spin through the forest and along the coast.

Gravel Route:

The route includes climbing on Camino de Santiago cobbles, spotting churches and pilgrims, and a refreshing river dip on a very hot day. The ride continues along the beach with an ice-cream stop, making for a fun off-road adventure.

Road Route:

An early start helps the group avoid the heat in order to complete their mission of the day: tackling the infamous Cerquido, a challenging 6km climb averaging 10%. The beautiful switchbacks and views of Serra d'Arga make it worthwhile - don't miss it if you enjoy climbing, it's one of the best in the area.

road cycling the famous Cerquido in Serra d'Arga in Portugal

After an epic descent, everyone is back to Viana early afternoon for lunch and a relaxing recovery swim, sauna, and dinner.

Day 5: Rest Day

Today starts with a well-deserved lie-in and an indulgent top-quality breakfast. After a morning yoga class, we have a great surf lesson with Fernando. Surfing is so much fun even when you are an absolute beginner: it feels like being a child again.

A well-deserved lunch followed by poolside chats, massages, and spa time fills the rest of the day. We end with another yoga session and our last dinner together.

Day 6: See you soon Portugal!

Our final day begins with a buffet breakfast, followed by a beach stroll and a last dip in the ocean. As we prepare to leave, we are already looking forward to our next adventure in this beautiful region.

Praia do Cabedelo in the north of  Portugal

Until next time, Viana do Castelo!

Our next trips to Viana will be the EVERYbody retreat (cycling, water-sports, yoga & wellness this October) and the annual Moloko Escape in May 2025.  

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