Northern Portugal: Laid-back tour
Discover the North of Portugal
From the National Park along the Spanish border and on the Atlantic Ocean to Porto
Small streets in the only national park in Portugal, bike paths on a former railway track through beautiful wine growing areas and wooden stilts through the vast dune landscape on the Atlantic, these are your perfect companions in this varied tour through the north of Portugal. You start at 1000m altitude surrounded by light oak forests and roll down into the northernmost tip of Portugal to the border river Minho. Here in the valley you cycle relaxed to the sea and then follow the diverse coastline on flat paths to the Douro estuary in Porto. Small bastion-like border towns, beach resorts, down-to-earth restaurants and sun-drenched beach bars make up the cultural highlights of this journey of discovery through the mostly unknown north of Portugal on mostly flat and well-developed paths.
1. day Porto arrival
This journey begins and ends in Porto, allowing a carefree arrival and departure. From many European airports, there are inexpensive direct flights to Porto and the airport is 30 minutes by metro, directly connected to the old town. In this way you can get to know the beauties of this lively city right at the beginning of this tour. The narrow nested old town is dominated by the baroque bishop's palace and the cathedral and beautiful pedestrian streets invite you to stroll. The picturesque waterfront on the Douro attracts with many cafes, the famous bridge spans the river and the port wine cellars on the opposite side complete the cityscape.
2. day Transfer to Castro Laboreiro
The morning you spend in Porto, you have time to stroll through the city, visit monuments, shop or relax. In the afternoon the bikes are adjusted and the transfer (2.5 hours) from Porto to Castro Laboreiro in the north of the country takes place. Here you are in the middle of Portugal's only national park, the "Parque Nacional Peneda-Geres", which since 2009 is also classified as a UNESCO protected biosphere reserve. Deer, wolves and golden eagle are still at home here and the large number of streams, waterfalls and reservoirs makes the evergreen park one of the most beautiful on the Iberian Peninsula. The historic center of Castro Laboreiro is completely listed with its traditional houses with granite walls and offers with its village flair a nice contrast to the lively city of Porto.
3. day Castro Laboreiro – Monção 50 km
In Castro Laboreiro, at 1000m altitude, you start for the first stage of cycling through the wooded mountainous landscape of the National Park. The first 25 km you roll almost continuously downhill to Melgaҫo on the river Minho at 200m altitude, located in the northernmost tip of Portugal. Again, the historic center as a whole is a listed building and is determined by its medieval streets, churches and buildings. Two unusual museums in town are worth a visit, the curious museum Espaço Memória e Fronteria, which is dedicated to the history of smuggling in the border area and the in 2005 opened film museum Museu de Cinema de Melgaço - Jean Loup Passek. After this beautiful break, the route leads to the thermal bath of Peso with its beautiful Art Nouveau pavilion and the wooded spa park. From here you continue through an exceptionally green landscape dominated by the vineyards of the famous Vinho Verde. Here is the center of the cultivation of Alvarinho grape, which produces particularly full and high quality white wines and thus makes this region for wine lovers so unique. On small roads you finally cycle to the old fortified city of Monção, whose hot springs were already used by the Romans to relax and heal.
4. day Monção – Caminha 48 km
Today, the Minho characterizes the beautiful and flat cycle stage. Since Melgaҫo, this river has been the centuries-old border between Spain and Portugal and flows through the wide valley between the two countries. Historically fought over again and again, many villages were fortified defensively and especially in the places lying on the route Valença and Cerveira, the old city centers are still completely surrounded by thick fortification walls. You cycle quite relaxed through the river valley on the Minho-cycle path, which runs on a former railway line and was awarded in 2017 as an excellent example of the expansion of a cycle track in Europe. Hence you cycle in the best mood to Caminha, whose pretty old town is completely listed and is traversed by narrow streets.
5. day Caminha – Viana do Castelo 30 - 40 km
Today the first kilometers lead directly to the mouth of the Minho into the Atlantic and the contemplative river valley merges into the wide coastal landscape. In Moledo, old mansions testify to the historic splendor of this northernmost seaside resort in Portugal, and soon afterwards Vila Praia de Ancora is reached with its long promenade, which still lives on fishing today. New bike paths, the so-called 'Ecovia', run wonderfully and flat through the dune landscape and after a rather short stage, the port city of Viana do Castello is already reached, which is considered one of the prettiest cities in Portugal. The car-free old town with its numerous Renaissance palaces and charming squares has almost Italian flair and is dominated by the pilgrimage church of Santa Luzia. 742 steps lead up here and also a historic cable car - but it is also possible to ride there by bike and enjoy the view of the city, the mouth of the Lima, the wide sandy beaches and the infinite Atlantic: truly one of the most beautiful panoramas of Portugal!
6. day Viana do Castello – Vila do Conde 57 km
A full day along the Atlantic coast awaits you today! Varied the route leads on new bike paths through nature, sometimes on small roads through the flat hinterland. In Esposende with its historic center is worth a leisurely lunch break. Then in the afternoon cycle to the place Povoa de Varzim with its 2 km long beach promenade, the old waterfront and the venerable casino that was opened in 1934 in a remarkable classicist building and since then enriches the nightlife. Right on the coast you can cycle the last few meters to Vila do Conde with its special "Museum of Wooden Shipbuilding", which also includes a walk-in old caravel in the harbor.
7. day Vila do Conde – Porto 37 km
Once again, the route runs along the flat coast and you cycle on the well-built stilts and bike paths along the beautiful sandy beaches through the vast dune landscape. The picture changes from Matosinhos and the varied route leads through the imposing harbor and then into the middle of the old harbor district with its typical and inexpensive restaurants for seafood. Here you should definitely take a break in one of the restaurant before the Douro estuary is reached in the afternoon and you will cycle always along the shore to the bustling old town of Porto.
8. day Porto departure
By now you have got to know the north of Portugal in the bicycle saddle and learned to love the national park inland, along the Minho on the Spanish border and on the Atlantic to Porto. Nice to know that you can go even further on the Atlantic to Coimbra or equal to Lisbon with Velociped!
prices & services
Individual tours: Here you decide when and with whom you would like to travel. We provide you with detailed tour documents and practical planning tips, and you enjoy our all-in, worry-free package with separate luggage transport throughout your tour.
Guided tours: You can simply get on your bike and enjoy a group holiday (8–20 participants). Your tour guide will take care of everything, and your luggage will be transported separately.
This overview shows you the grade of difficulty for our tours:
In the case of our original Velociped tours, we are the tour operator. We organise and accompany these tours personally.
So that you have an even bigger selection to choose from, we also cover additional routes in collaboration with long-standing partners. With these Velociped partner tours, we are the tour broker.
Minimum number of participants
Velociped can withdraw from the tour twenty-one days before the starting date of the tour, at the latest, in case the minimum number of participants stated under the tour description is not attained. You will duly be informed without any delay in case of a withdrawal. Velociped will of course refund the paid tour price immediately. Please note our General Terms and Conditions.
Prices are per person.
bookable additional nights
- Personal welcome meeting (day 2)
- Transfer Porto - Castro Laboreiro (day 2)
- Shuttle from the bike drop off to your hotel in Porto (day 7)
- accommodation incl. breakfast
- room with shower/bath/WC
- luggage transport
- map of bike trails with marked route
- detailed route description
- GPS tracks on request
- tips for tour preparation
- touristic information
- 7 days hotline service
Worth knowing about the bike tour "In the North of Portugal"
Below you will find specific information about the bike tour "In the North of Portugal ". If you have further questions about this trip, just call us: Tel: 06421 - 886890.
Arrival by plane
Porto can be reached from many German and European airports. From the airport in Porto you will reach downtown Porto by metro (journey time approx. 30 minutes).
The individual bike routes
This tour in the north of Portugal is the easiest of our cycling tours in Portugal. Only a few short climbs await you. You will find flat stages along the Minho River and along the Atlantic coast most of the time, which has hardly any gradients. On the first day you will roll from over 1000m down to almost sea level. You cycle 95% on paved roads, bike paths or small roads. Along the Minho runs a bike path, which won a 3rd place at the European Greenway Awards in 2017. Along the Atlantic Ocean you cycle single sections on beautiful wooden stilts through the dunes.
Available rental bikes
We provide touring bikes (unisex), hybrid bikes (females/men's) an electric bikes (unisex) with a pannier and a lock. The bikes are available with freewheeel and in different frame sizes Please specify your wishes with your booking.
Your contact person on site
Also in Portugal we offer you a reliable all-round service. Our english- and german-speaking, born in Porto partner takes care of your well-being on the spot. He welcomes you in Porto, takes care of the rental bikes, knows all the bike routes personally and is always available for advice and action if needed.
Navigation with your mobile phone
You often cycle on small roads and paths with many branches in a very varied landscape. There are only a few bike path signs or information signs. Therefore we recommend to use our GPS files in addition to our tour book with maps. We are happy to send you the GPS files free of charge by email. You can save all day tours on your smartphone to follow them easily. On request, we will also provide a GPS device with the files on site for a rental fee (50.00 EUR). GPS device is subject to availabilty, so please contact Velociped at least 1 week before your journey starts.
A short video for handling can be found here tutorial.
Starting in April, daytime temperatures are well suited for leisurely cycling, but cooler temperatures may still occur. From May is high season and then in June shady areas are already sought. The bathing season is in July and August, then even the locals are in large numbers on the waterfront. From September, the pleasant temperatures for cyclists are predominant again. Also October is still a good travel month for bike tours.
Extra costs which are not included in the price
A possibly applicable city tax is not part of the price and has to be paid at the hotel locally
7 days hotline service
If the bike chain is torn, flooding makes it impossible to continue or any other unpleasant surprises await you: we are available for you 7 days a week and will help you as soon as possible.
Passport and visa requirements, health regulations
For EU citizens, there are no special passport or visa requirements and no health formalities to be considered for this trip.
Corona travel information:
Before booking your trip, please inform yourself about the measures in place to contain the Corona pandemic.
An up-to-date overview of applicable measures and travel and safety advice regarding Covid-19 for all countries in the EU and Switzerland can be found here:
You can also find more information on our website at:
Corona virus and holiday planning
The tour price already includes the statutory insolvency insurance. In addition, we recommend that you take out travel cancellation insurance upon receipt of your travel confirmation in order to protect yourself against financial disadvantages in the event of travel cancellation, interruption of travel, illness or accident.
Old town of Porto
Known as the Ribeira the old town of Porto starts right on the river banks of the Douro and is since 1996 part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition to numerous winding streets and alleys, there are especially many Baroque churches in the old town, that is why Porto is also known as the baroque city. The special feature of the old town is that it is less influenced by individual interest, but rather by their contiguous charm. This becomes clear especially from the other side of the riverbank, from where you have a beautiful view over the old town and thereby the overall pictures from buildings, roads and churches is shown. At the same time there are today many shopping streets and cafés in the old town, which invite you to a long stroll.
Ponte Dom Luis
The impressive Dom Luis Bridge with 172 m span is a filigree steel-arch bridge in two levels above the Douro and connects Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. It was built from 1881 until 1888, after plans of the engineer Théophile Seyrig. Seyrig already been completed along with Gustav Eiffel the 500 meters further upstream located bridge "Ponte Maria Pia". The bridge belongs to the territorially historic center of Porto, and therefore since 1996 to the "World Heritage Site". The upper part of the bridge is used by the Metro, cyclists and pedestrians, the part underneath is used by car traffic, cyclists and pedestrians.
National park Geres
The national park "Parque Nacional da Peneda Gerês" is located in the northwest and is deemed to be a protected biosphere reserve by UNESCO. Deer, wolves and golden eagle are still at home here and the large number of creeks, waterfalls and reservoirs makes the park one of the most beautiful on the Iberian Peninsula. You can watch wild horses (Garranos), running around the mountains.
In the middle of the National Park you can admire the idyllic mountain village of Castro Laboreiro, which is famous for the dark-fur Castro Laboreiro dogs that tend the herds. Near the village you will find the impressive waterfall "Cascata do Laboreiro" and the medieval castle ruins "Castelo de Castro Laboreiro".
Melgaço is a small town in the far north of Portugal, at the border to Spain. Worth seeing is the granite-built castle "Castelo de Melgaço" from 1170 with stunning views over the mountainous landscape. Also worth a visit is the subterranean tunnel system from the Middle Ages beneath the square República, which was built to recapture the city previously occupied by the Spanish. Inside you can admire catapults and other munitions.
A walk through the streets is also worthwhile in Monção. Time seems to stand still and other values are maintained. The place is known for its green white wine, the Vinho Verde. You should not miss a taste. It is also recommended to visit the thermal baths outside Monção, which are known for the healing power of their water.
Church of Caminha
The pretty old town of Caminha is traversed by narrow streets and under a preservation order. There you will find the "Igreja Matriz de Caminha", which is considered one of the most important churches in northern Portugal. Built inside the medieval city walls, it shows a mixture of styles and influences, with Gothic, Manueline and Renaissance elements.
Viana do Castelo
The town of Viana do Castelo is located north of the mouth of the Rio Lima in the Atlantic Ocean. The heart of the old town is the Praça da República, one of the most beautiful medieval squares in Portugal. Particularly worth mentioning is the three-shell Renaissance fountain. For several centuries, the fountain in front of the old town hall served not only as source of drinking water, but as the social center of the city. Above the city, on the hill of Santa Luzia, you will find the imposing Santa Luzia Basilica.
Santa Luzia Basilica
Perched high above the city of Viana do Castelo, the basilica of Santa Luzia offers a unique panorama, which National Geographic Magazine described as the third most beautiful in the world! The Sacré-Coeur Basilica on Montmartre in Paris is considered the be the inspiration for this pilgrimage church. However this idea is controversial. The mountain of Santa Luzia can be climbed by the rack railway "Funicular de Santa Luzia" from the outskirts of Viana do Castelos to enjoy the beautiful view of the river Minho and the beaches of the Atlatntic Ocean.
Caravel in Vila do Conde
Vila do Conde in northwestern Portugal, attracts with its "Museum of Wooden Shipbuilding", which also includes an old walk-in caravel in the harbor. The caravel is still functional, but was moored as a tourist attraction without sails on the quayside. Interested visitors can visit the ship's quarters, look at the captain's cabin and the cargo space.