Travel advice & practical information for travelogue:
'Bicyle trip Alentejo, Portugal'
Consulate General of Portugal
630 Fifth Avenue, 8th Floor, Suite 801
New York, NY 10111
Tel.: 212-246 4580
Fax: 212-459 0190
Consulate General of Portugal
3 Portland Place
London W1B 1HR
Tel.: 020-7581 8722
Fax: 020-7291 3799
Consulat Gén&eacture;ral de Portugal
6/8, Rue Georges Berger
Tel.: 01-5633 8100 (standard)
Tel.: 01-5633 8102 (Chancellerie)
Fax: 01-4766 9335
Web site: Consulat Général de Portugal en Paris
Many towns and cities have a local tourist office, called Turismo. They can help with finding accomodation. They also have free city maps, usually with convenient walking tours which will take you along the highlights, so you won't have to look for them. Very convenient if you make a stop on the way for a few hours and don't have time to look up everything in your guide book. More information can be found on The official tourism web site of Portugal
Especially in small villages French, German of English don't cut it. Some knowledge of Spanish is helpful, but keep in mind that they are not the same language. It's best to bring a phrase book.
Outside the tourist season it's easy to find a room in a Bed and Breakfast or small hotel, even in small villages. A double room with shower and toilet sets you back 25-30 euro, in small villages often even less.
Roads and traffic
Most roads in Portugal are in good condition. Busy roads are of course not suitable for bikers; one recognizes them by their IP or E number. Outside these roads we haven't noticed any of the proverbal kamikaze style of driving of the Portuguese. Usually people wait before they overtake until there is room on the other side of the road and then honk to warn you. It's partly in your own control: riding on the edge of the roadside invites cars to overtake you on your side of the road. Show you're there by riding a little bit toward the center of the road, which moreover gives you some room to swerve without landing on the roadside.
In general, only dead-end roads to remote villages are in bad condition. Very small roads can be bumpy, because they're patched time and again. Watch out for potholes with sharp edges, but it's safe to bicycle on these roads, that is, if you keep your tires as hard as stones.
To LisbonWe bicycled from Evora to Lisbon. We took a route that avoids the busy traffic around the capital as much as possible: from Evora to Alcácer do Sal and then around the nature reserve on the estuary of the Rio Sado. Here one bicycles between ricefields and salt lakes. A narrow peninsula takes you to the tourist resort of Tróia, where you take the ferry to Setúbal.
In Setúbal one can choose between continuing via Pinhal Novo to Montijo and taking the ferry to Lisbon there, or taking a few days to relax on the beach. In that case, it's best to bicycle to Sesimbra via the nature reserve of Serra Arrábida. Sesimbra is a nice port town, a little touristic, but mainly visited by Portuguese tourists. From Sesimbra, one continues to Seixal for the ferry to Lisbon.
All these ferries go frequently (once per hour) every day and it's no problem to take your bike. Sometimes you have pay for the bike, sometimes it's free. The ferries dock at the Estação Fluvial, directly by the Praça de Comércio, which is downtown Lisbon.
Michelin nr. 940 Portugal, scale 1:400,000 is the most reliable map when it comes to road condition (paved/unpaved, good/bad).
Falk Easy Driver Portugal, scale 1:300,000 has broad indications of differences in altitude.
There are no usable maps of Portugal with altitudes. A good rule of thumb: towards rivers one descends into river valleys, away from the river one climbs out of the valley. The landscape is always rolling, except in a few mountain regions there are no long slopes. Usually one doesn't even notice, as the road climbs and descends gradually over a long distance.
Plan your trip to Portugal online
Through online reservation systems like À la Carte Vacations you can book airline tickets, hotels, rental cars and holiday houses. You can build a fly-drive itinerary with maximum flexibility, book a flight plus a hotel hotel for a night or weekend. Without the limitations of package deals from travel organisations and most times for a much better price.
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