Start: Valença Finish: Viana do Castelo
Valença is a perfectly preserved star-shaped fortified town, built on the Spanish-Portuguese border marked by the River Minho. Valença is very popular among Spanish tourists who come to buy towels, linens and bed covers in the small shops inside the town walls. There are a few small hotels inside the walls and larger modern hotels on the outskirts of town.
The town can be easily accessed by train from O Porto (Porto Campanha station, travel time is approximately 3 hours, some services are faster) and by bus or train from Santiago de Compostela (travel time is about 2 hours).
Your hire bike will be delivered this morning, and you’ll have a chance to test it out at the car park on the east side of the fortress, a 5-minute walk from your hotel. Then you start with the first route along the Ecovía (a converted railway cycling track, which has been surfaced). Cycling across the old bridge into Spain, you pedal through the old town of Tui (coffee break) and then along the banks of the River Miño – pleasant, easy riding with very little effort. The average ascent per climb is 35 m, except for one larger ascent of 80 m as you leave the riverbank to reach the bridge at Salvaterre. After visiting the beautiful historic town of Monçao on the Portuguese side, famous for its old spa, you follow the Ecovía along the riverbank, back to Valença.
Challenge: 37.6 km, 80m ascent.
Your second day of cycling starts on the Portuguese side, as you follow the partially surfaced, practically flat Ecovía along the riverbank to reach the fortified town centre of Vilanova de Cervera, where you stop for a stroll and a drink. After Seixes, you do a short section on the busy main road, in order to cross the River Coura via the old steel bridge, designed by the French engineer Eiffel (yes, one and the same). Your cycling route ends in Caminha, another beautiful Portuguese town, located at the mouth of the River Miño, where you will stay in a specially designed hotel which rotates 35º degrees twice a day, to offer guests the best panoramas of both river and ocean !! The hotel also has a good restaurant overlooking a small courtyard and garden.
Challenge: 29 - 31.8 km
Today’s route depends on the tide.
At Caminha, the River Miño can be crossed only with the help of a tiny ferry, so this can only be done when the tide is high and NEVER on Monday when the ferryman has his day off! If the tides allow you to take the ferry both there and back, you’ll do a loop following first along a coastal gravel track, which becomes a wooden walk way just before you reach the sandy beaches of A Guarda. Though it was practically ruined by ‘modern’ architects in the 70s and 80s, the town still has a special appeal and atmosphere thanks to the use of colour and its location, built against a steep slope above a natural harbour. Cycling through the town centre (the only truly steep climb of 50m), you ride back, taking a different route to avoid as many busy roads as possible.
If the tide is too low to take the ferry, either in the morning or in the afternoon, your ride will be longer as you will have to cycle back via Vila Nova de Cerveira, about 10 km inland to cross the bridge there. From Vila Nova to Caminha you follow the same route as yesterday or take an alternate route on new terrain.
If you take ferry: 17.5 km, 180m ascent
If you DO NOT take the ferry: 42.6 km
An easy route through totally different scenery, but always with the ocean nearby. The Ecovía is not completely finished on this section of the coast, so you follow surfaced lanes, wooden walkways and tractor ruts (about 30%), but all with very little traffic. There are several beaches where you can have a swim or enjoy the views across the ocean. At the end of the route, you cross the harbour at Viana do Castelo to enter the old town centre, in this, the largest and liveliest town along your route. Spend the afternoon exploring the town, have lunch a terrace, do some shopping or take the funicular up to Santa Luzia Sanctuary, a beautiful shrine overlooking the coast. Your hotel is an impressive historic manor house in the centre, close to the railway station.
Challenge: 29 km
An interesting and varied route today. The start is bit stressful, as you leave town via the old bridge (designed by French engineer Eiffel!) crossing the River Lima on a narrow sidewalk. After that, the route is pleasant and peaceful, mostly along the riverbank with some sections among vegetable gardens and vineyards, home of the famous wine ‘Vinho Verde’. Half-way through the route, you reach Ponte de Lima, the oldest town in Portugal (founded in 1125) named after the medieval bridge you will cross, before pedalling back to Viana. Take care not to lose your way as you cycle among the tiny hamlets! If you prefer to relax at the beach, you can cross the river by ferry or bike and enjoy a day of swimming, surfing or stand-up paddling at Candeledo Beach, one of Portugal’s most popular places for kite-surfing.
Challenge: 53.6 km
Your arrangement comes to the end today after breakfast. Easy train connections to Porto or Valença (if you have parked your car there).
This programme offers special quality accommodation. These hotels are generally located in historic, carefully decorated buildings and they provide exclusive services for their clients. Some have a swimming pool or SPA and, in many cases, a restaurant with unique, sophisticated cuisine.
If a certain hotel is unable to confirm due to lack of availability, we will request another accommodation of similar characteristics and inform you about the alternative booked.
Extra nights: They can be booked at any of the accommodations along the way.
This historical hotel is located in the interior of the old fortress and offers a stunning view of the river and of Tui, on the opposite side. It opened in 1962, a project by architect João de Mello Breyner Andresen. Situated on the frontier with Spain on top of the historical centre and the fortified Valença, its 18 rooms are a treat for those who seek peace and quiet, with a classic decoration and views to the natural idyllic setting.
This Eco-Friendly hotel reconciles modernity with the built heritage. Combining innovation and boldness, combining history with modernity and tradition with technology, but always maintaining the traces of the façade of the 20th century manor house it is built in. Each room is decorated in a different and original way. It also seeks to value Portuguese wines, from north to south, offering an enoteca with independent entrance from the hotel.
Located in the historic center of Viana do Castelo, it is the oldest urban manor house in the city, built in the Manueline style in 1509. Faithfully restored, this stately home has become a comfortable and cozy hotel. There are a total of 20 rooms and suites. Its architectural heritage, historical and cultural origin was carefully preserved in the restoration process, details where enhanced and environments were created, in order to take the guest through different periods of the Portuguese architecture.
You can start on any day of the week, subject to availability, between April and the end of October.
Arrival in Valença
Valença can be easily accessed by train from Porto (Porto Campanha station, travel time is approximately 3 hrs) and by bus or train from Santiago de Compostela (travel time is about 2 hrs).
Departure from Viana do Castelo
There are good train connections to Porto or Valença from Viana do Castelo.
GPS tracks are available upon request