The sun sparkles in silver rays as it bounces on the water off the shores of the central coast of Portugal. As you cycle along the seashore, seagulls fly overhead in search of fishermen pulling in nets filled with fish. Women and children play in the sand nearby as men dressed in formal wear sit outside quaint coffee shops and sip their morning brew. The sun shines, but a faint breeze blowing in off the coastal waters keeps you cool as you cycle along – taking in the nature, the architecture and the people. The landscape changes rapidly – biking along coastal waters in one moment, only to be passing through a dense crowd of trees a few minutes later. Before you know it, you’re back on the beach again and silver gray glints of ethereal daylight bouncing off the waves remind you how “The Silver Coast Bike Tour” got its name.
That’s right! “The Silver Coast Bike Tour” in central Portugal is named after the silver color of sunlight that frequently bounces off the coastal waters in this unique part of the country.
Top Bike Tours Portugal (the tour company that put together “The Silver Coast Bike Tour”) has done an incredible job putting together a bicycle tour that will make for a pleasant, rewarding and memorable experience for both novice and experienced cyclists alike.
If you’re looking for an incredibly flat and scenic bike tour along the edge of coastal waters, then “The Silver Coast Bike Tour” in central Portugal may just be the cycling holiday you’ve been looking for! This week-long bike tour has it all: historic cities, incredible architecture, picturesque landscapes, scenic coastal views, beautiful bike paths, a diversity of flora and fauna, fantastically delicious food and amazingly luxurious accommodations!
Best of all, you can choose to participate in “The Silver Coast Bike Tour” at any time of year by joining one of Top Bike Tours Portugal’s self-guided bicycle tours. Just tell the company the dates you want to travel and they’ll book all the accommodations for you and work out all the details.
Or, if you wish, you may choose to participate in one of the company’s guided group bicycle tours and experience “The Silver Coast Bike Tour” with a group of people from all around the world (like I did in this review – keep reading to learn more).
Whatever way you choose to do it, Top Bike Tours Portugal has made it easy to simply book your cycling holiday and then show up in Porto, Portugal for the start of your trip. They’ll have a bicycle waiting for you when you arrive; your hotels will have all been booked in advance for you; restaurant and meal recommendations will have been made; and you are free to simply sit back and enjoy the experience of cycling down the coast of central Portugal on your bicycle.
The map above shows the approximate route you will travel over the course of “The Silver Coast Bike Tour” with Top Bike Tours Portugal – starting in the city of Porto, Portugal and ending in Coimbra.
Basic Tour Information
- Tour Name: The Silver Coast Bike Tour
- Company: Top Bike Tours Portugal
- Tour Type: Can be done as a Guided or Self-Guided tour
- Length: 7 days / 6 nights
- Total Distance: 243 km / 151 miles
- Cost: Prices start at €1,340 per person
Who Is This Bike Tour Designed For?
“The Silver Coast Bike Tour” is ideal for individuals who:
Are beginner or intermediate cyclists. This is a bicycle tour that almost anyone can complete. It’s classified as an easy bike tour because the route is almost entirely flat, with only one major (4 km) hill that you will need to climb about half-way through the tour. That being said, there are a few sections of this route that may challenge you. Getting out of the crowded city streets of Porto is the first challenge; navigating the diverse range of riding surfaces (and switching from bike paths to sidewalks to boardwalks and normal city streets) is the second challenge; and climbing the tour’s one and only major hill will be challenge number three. If you can handle those three relatively minor obstacles, then you can likely complete this bike tour with ease. Yes, you need to be in decent physical shape to complete this tour, but you don’t need to be a seasoned bicycle rider. Casual cyclists with a just a small amount of bike riding experience will be perfectly suited for this bike tour. The distances each day are rather short (with the shortest day being 40 km and the longest day being 55 km).
Want a nice bed, a warm shower and a good meal every single day. If camping in a tent or going for days on end without a shower is not your thing, then this might just be the bicycle tour you’ve been looking for. On “The Silver Coast Bike Tour” with Top Bike Tours Portugal, you get all the benefits of traveling long distances on a bicycle, but at the end of the day you’ll be able to stay in high-end accommodations, take a hot shower, eat a delicious meal, use the Internet to stay in touch with friends and family back home, and still have time to relax and enjoy the company of your fellow travel companions.
Don’t want to waste time planning a tour like this on their own. Participating in this guided or self-guided bicycle tour takes all the time, energy, and grunt work out of planning your holiday. Instead of spending countless days and hours on the computer, researching possible routes and places to stay, just call up Top Bike Tours Portugal (or send them an message) and they will do all the hard work for you. After your tour has been booked with the company, your only job is to show up for the start of the tour, follow the instructions that have been provided for you by Top Bike Tours Portugal, and enjoy a week of cycling and relaxation on the coast of central Portugal.
Don’t want to transport their bicycle all the way to Portugal. You can leave your bike at home on this cycling trip, because Top Bike Tours Portugal will have a quality trekking bike waiting for you when you arrive in Porto at the start of the tour. If you want to bring your own saddle or pedals from home, that’s fine too! Top Bike Tours Portugal will work with you to get the bike fitted to you and your unique body type. The company also has electric bicycles available (for an additional fee).
Don’t want to carry a bunch of heavy gear on your bicycle as you ride each day. When you participate in a bicycle tour with Top Bike Tours Portugal, the company will transport your clothing, toiletries and other belongings for you – moving your things from one hotel to the next, so you don’t have to carry everything with you on your bicycle as you ride each day. This is huge bonus for individuals wanting the most enjoyable cycling experience possible. While this service is included for free as part of a guided bike tour, luggage transport is not included in the regular price of the self-guided tours. However, luggage transport is available for self-guided tour participants for an extra fee.
Enjoy experimenting with new foods and drinks. Because lunch and dinner is not included in the price of the bike tour, the overall cost of the tour is lower than many other bike tours available around the world. This also gives you the freedom each day to explore the local cuisines or eat however you choose. You’re not trapped into eating only one type of food on this bike tour. You’re free to chose whichever foods you like and spend as much or as little money on food and drinks as you so please. Check out the photo below. This is the type of food you can expect to find on route when you participate in “The Silver Coast Bike Tour” with Top Bike Tours Portugal.
Is This the Best Bike Tour in Portugal?
I have personally participated in nearly a half-dozen different bicycle tours in Portugal and this was my second time participating in a guided group bicycle tour with Top Bike Tours Portugal.
The first bike tour I did with the company was called “The Way of St. James Bike Tour,” which takes you from Porto, up the coast of northern Portugal and into northern Spain, where the tour ultimately finishes in the city of Santiago de Compostela. This is an incredible bicycle touring experience that I would highly recommend for anyone interested in cycling “The Camino” route from Porto to Santiago de Compostela. However, “The Way of St. James Bike Tour” is slightly more challenging than “The Silver Coast Bike Tour” due to traffic in some sections, lots of cobblestone roads, and a few sections where you will need to get off your bicycle and push or carry the bike up some steep terrain.
If you’re looking for the easiest bike tour in Portugal, I believe “The Silver Coast Bike Tour” is likely it. I also enjoyed the food on the central coast of Portugal a lot more than I did in northern Portugal and Spain, so that is certainly a major plus!
If, however, you are looking for a slightly more challenging and slightly more scenic bicycle touring experience, then I would recommend you participate in “The Way of St. James Bike Tour.” This tour, while it is something that almost any beginner cyclist could complete, does have a few sections that could be deemed stressful or intimidating.
Whichever bike tour you choose, “The Way of St. James Bike Tour” or “The Silver Coast Bike Tour,” you’ll see plenty of coastal views, eat tons of delicious food, and come home from your trip to Portugal with memories that will surely last a lifetime!
Hotels & Accommodation
Top Bike Tours Portugal has organized “The Silver Coast Bike Tour” in such a way that you get to stop and enjoy yourself each night in some of the best accommodations in all of central Portugal. The hotels you’ll be residing in each night are welcoming, luxurious, and unique in their own very special ways.
Portus Cale Hotel – Porto, Portugal
Located on Porto’s Avenida da Boavista, Portus Cale Hotel offers bright, air-conditioned rooms and a daily buffet breakfast. The Douro Riverfront is just 1.2 miles from the hotel, which makes it a good walk from the hotel to the city center and back again. Guests rooms at Portus Cale Inn have wood furniture and cable TV. Each room includes a private bathroom stocked with a hairdryer and free bathroom amenities. Free WiFi is available throughout the entire hotel as well.
Hotel Solverde Spa & Wellness Center – Marinha, Portugal
The beachfront Hotel Solverde is a 5-star hotel featuring a wide range of facilities, including a fitness room and tennis courts. Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the air-conditioned rooms include a flat-screen satellite TV, mini-bar and a work desk. The private bathrooms provide free toiletries, bathrobes and slippers. A continental buffet breakfast is served each morning at the property’s luminous meal area and the hotel restaurant provides tasty Portuguese meals, with dairy-free, gluten-free and vegetarian options. The hotel has its own heliport and both an indoor and outdoor swimming pool. There is also a mini golf course and massages are available, for an additional fee.
Hotel Moliceiro – Aveiro, Portugal
This charming 4-star hotel in Aveiro features gigantic views of the Ria de Aveiro. Free WiFi is available throughout the hotel and each room is equipped with a flat-screen TV and a tea/coffee maker. Some rooms are decorated with classical furnishings, while other rooms have a more modern touch. In the mornings, the Moliceiro serves a rich buffet breakfast prepared with seasonal ingredients. After a day of sightseeing, guests can relax while enjoying a refreshing drink at the hotel’s elegant bar.
Macarico Beach Hotel – Praia de Mira, Portugal
Located on the beachfront of Praia de Mira, Maçarico Beach Hotel features a rooftop swimming pool and offers modern rooms with air conditioning, soundproofing and free WiFi in all areas. The comfortable rooms of Maçarico Beach Hotel all have balconies – some of which have views looking out over the Atlantic Ocean. The rooms include a flat-screen TV and private modern bathrooms.
Sweet Atlantic Hotel & Spa – Figueira da Foz, Portugal
This 4-star beachfront hotel features a restaurant with stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. It has a spa and wellness center, at an extra fee, and free WiFi throughout. The bright, stylish rooms at the Sweet Atlantic Hotel include modern décor and wooden flooring. They also have a spacious seating area with couches, a flat-screen TV, refrigerator and a microwave. Some rooms feature a balcony with panoramic ocean views.
Tivoli Coimbra – Coimbra, Portugal
This modern 4-star hotel is located near the Mondego River in historic Coimbra. Its modern rooms feature a flat-screen TV with satellite and paid movie channels. All the rooms at Tivoli Coimbra featurewindows, a seating area and a mini-bar. Breakfast can be delivered to the rooms or enjoyed in the hotel Coffee Shop. This hotel is the perfect place to finish a week-long bicycle tour down the coastline of central Portugal. Consider staying here for an extra night at the end of your tour if you really want to take in the city of Coimbra.
Important Things You Should Know
- “The Silver Coast Bike Tour” with Top Bike Tours Portugal can be booked as either a guided bicycle touring experience (where you are escorted along the route by two or more experienced guides – as you see in my written/photographic review here) or the tour can be done as a self-guided cycling experience (where you will be traveling on your own, without a guide). Either way, this is a bike tour that can be done alone, with a family member, loved one, co-worker or a friend. If you choose to do the bike tour as a guided cycling experience, you will be subject to riding with the group and cycling at their pace. Whereas, if you chose the self-guided cycling experience, you get to choose the pace at which you travel. You can sleep in late or wake up early. You can cycle super fast or pedal really slow, while stopping to see and explore things throughout your ride. The choice is up to you – guided or self-guided?
- In addition to the cost of the bike tour itself, you will need to get yourself to Porto, Portugal for the start of the tour. Top Bike Tours Portugal will provide you with all the information you need to get to the start of the trip and may even be able to arrange for transfer to your hotel when you either fly into the city or arrive by train.
- At the start of “The Silver Coast Bike Tour” you will be given a packet of papers containing all the information you need for the duration of the trip. This packet of papers contains maps of the routes you will be cycling each day, information on the sights you can expect to see throughout the tour, your hotel information each night, and contact details for the tour company in case of an emergency.
- You can choose to bring your own bicycle with you on this bike tour, but most people simply opt to use one of the bikes provided by the touring company. This way you can simply show up in Porto, Portugal at the start of the tour and have a bicycle waiting for you when you arrive. There is no cost associated with renting a bicycle from the company when you book this tour as a guided group experience, but there is an extra fee for renting the bike when you book this trip as a self-guided bicycle tour.
- While breakfasts are included at each of the hotels you’ll be staying at throughout your bike tour, you’ll be responsible for finding your own lunch, dinner and snacks each day (so make sure you budget that in to the overall cost of your trip). Luckily, food and drinks are relatively inexpensive in Portugal (when compared to much of western Europe), and Top Bike Tours Portugal does a good job of telling you in advance where you can find food and drinks along your route each day.
- You will need to pay for everything on the bike tour in Euros (EUR). Obtaining this currency in Potugal is easy, as ATMs are available at multiple locations along the route. Paying with a credit card is extremely common, although having a small amount of cash on hand is a good idea – especially when paying for items in small shops and restaurants.
- Every hotel on the bike tour has free WiFi Internet access. Internet speeds in Portugal are quite good (usually 5 Mbps or higher at most of the hotels).
- If you have any additional questions about participating in this unique bicycle touring holiday, contact Top Bike Tours Portugal directly. I found that they are quick to respond to any messages you send them and, while their English is not always the best via email communication, they will go out of their way to help you in any way they can.
To learn more about “The Silver Coast Bike Tour” or any of the other cycling holidays available in Portugal, be sure to visit the official Top Bike Tours Portugal website at: www.topbiketoursportugal.com
My Experience On The Silver Coast Bike Tour
In September of 2019, I had the pleasure of participating in “The Silver Coast Bike Tour” with Top Bike Tours Portugal. I flew into Porto, Portugal from the United States and was picked up at the airport by Tiago – one of the Top Bike Tours Portugal tour leaders. The Porto airport is located approximately 15 kilometers from the city center, so it was nice to step off the airplane and instantly be greeted by someone from the tour company who was able to help me load my bags into the van and drive me to the center of beautiful Porto, Portugal – a stress free start to the tour!
Top Bike Tours Portugal operates out of a very small and almost completely non-nondescript building on a narrow street near the Trindade metro station in the north-central part of Porto. Inside this small commercial space, dozens and dozens of bicycles are packed in and lined up next to one another… and in the back of the building is a small office that doubles as a repair bench and workstation for the company’s many bicycles.
After arriving at the Top Bike Tours Portugal headquarters, I was instantly fitted with a bicycle that I would ride for the duration of the bike tour. This is one of the many nice things about participating in “The Silver Coast Bike Tour” (or any bike tour, really) with Top Bike Tours Portugal – there’s no need to fly your own bicycle all the way to Portugal. Flying with a bicycle is a huge pain… and can be quite costly! Instead, simply travel to Porto on your own with a few changes of clothes and your toiletries, and the rest will be taken care of for you! There will be a bicycle waiting for you when you arrive, and all the rest of the tour details (such as nightly accommodations, the route you’ll cycle, etc) will have been arranged for you in advance. All you have to do is get on the bike you’re provided with, follow the recommended route, and check into your per-arranged hotels each night.
After getting my bicycle all set up, I was taken to the Portus Cale Hotel and given some time to shower and clean up before our orientation meeting began.
After a quick nap and shower, I took the elevator down to the hotel lobby and was met by the tour leaders and the rest of the people in my tour group. There were three tour leaders present: Sergio – the company owner; Henrique – our tour leader; and Tiago – an assistant tour leader. In addition to the tour leaders, there were twelve tour participants and myself, making for a group of sixteen total people.
Our main tour leader, Henrique, handed out some paperwork and walked us through a day-by-day account of what we could expect to encounter throughout “The Silver Coast Bike Tour.” We also had a moment here to introduce ourselves and meet the other people in the group. There were three couples on the tour and six single individuals.
After our orientation meeting was over and everyone on the tour had been given the opportunity to get their bicycle in working order, we were led across the city on a three-hour walking tour of Porto. This tour was led by Henrique, our mountain tour leader, and included a fascinating look at Porto’s history, architecture and popular tourist attractions.
Churches are a common sight in Porto, as there are hundreds of them scattered throughout the city. Blue porcelain tiles, known as “azulejos” are also commonly seen on the front of houses, the sides of churches and even inside the city’s train station walls.
Narrow homes packed tightly together, with bright colors muted only by the dirt and grime of big city life, are what you can expect to see when walking the streets of Porto. Many of these homes feature small balconies or terraces on which an occasional person will step out to smoke a cigarette.
In the São Bento Railway Station, the azulejo tiles play a significant role, as they line the main entryway between the street and the railway lines inside. The upper parts of the railway station frieze are lined with azulejos depicting a chronology of the various forms of transport used by man in Portugal. On the south wall of the atrium is a painting of the entrance to Porto of King John I and Philippa of Lancaster, on horseback, to celebrate their wedding.
Eventually, we made our way down to the waterfront, where we were able to take in the incredible rooftop view of the city and the boats slowly floating their way up and down the Douro river. This view is one of the main reasons you need to come to see Porto, Portugal for yourself!
At the end of our guided walking tour of Porto, we strolled across the Luís I Bridge and entered the Burmester Wine Cellars, where we were given a short tour of the winery and learned why Port wines (and other wines made in the Douro region of Portugal) are so special.
Eventually, we were taken to a large tasting hall where we were given the opportunity to taste several of the wines we had just learned about. Some individuals on the tour even bought a bottle of wine or two to take home with them as a souvenir of their trip to Porto.
After our tour of the winery, we walked a short distance down the riverfront and found a restaurant located just a few steps away from the water. It was here that we ordered our first major meal of the tour and had our first opportunity to really sit down with the other members of our group and get to know one another.
After dinner, we took a taxi back to our hotel and fell instantly asleep. It had been a long day and we knew that the following day would be a big one as well.
Around 7:00 AM the following morning we were treated to a delicious buffet breakfast in the hotel dining room. Then we returned to our rooms, grabbed out things, and then made our way out onto the street, where we were greeted by Sergio and Henrique, our tour leaders from Top Bike Tours Portugal.
We loaded our luggage into the van (so we wouldn’t have to carry it all on our bicycles as we cycled) and were then given the bicycle that we would ride for the duration of the tour. After everyone was satisfied with the setup of their bicycles, we took off – cycling west out of the city, down to the shoreline, and then circling back to the south and east, and back into the center of Porto.
Cycling through Porto was probably one of the most stressful parts of the entire “Silver Coast Bike Tour.” There was a lot of road and foot traffic to contend with, as well as the occasional cobblestone street, but once we had made our way across the bridge and onto the other side of the Douro River, the riding became almost instantly more enjoyable.
About half-way through our ride that day, we stopped at a small ocean-front aquarium, where they had on display, a wide variety of fish and sea creatures from the local area. This was a great way for us to get a sense of the wildlife living off the shores of Portugal, without having to actually do any kind of deep-sea diving ourselves.
Then, toward the end of the day, we arrived in the city of Marinha and pulled into the massive Hotel Solverde Spa & Wellness Center. This 5-star hotel had just about anything you could ever want from a hotel – beautiful grounds on a beachfront property, two swimming pools, a spa, restaurant, mini golf and a whole lot more.
It was no surprise that the rooms inside the hotel were extremely nice. Even though there was a lot to do at the hotel itself, I was tired after a long day of cycling and all I really wanted to do was lay down and take a nap. So, I woke up to my alarm at some point in the evening and ran downstairs to the hotel lobby to meet the others in my group for our first major dinner together on the entire bike tour
Seafood is an extremely common dish in Portugal, so if you enjoy fish and octopus and other delicacies from the ocean, you are in for a real treat when you travel on the central coast of Portugal.
As a vegetarian, I found that almost all of the restaurants we ate at on this bike tour were accommodating to my particular needs. While everyone else ate fish and meat, I ate pasta and vegetables on this particular evening and I was quite satisfied by the end of the night.
The photo of the plate below gives you a general sense of the kinds of foods most of the group was eating on this particular evening. And if you pay attention to the rest of the photos in my review here, I think you’ll have a very good sense of what the food is like, in general, when you participate in “The Silver Coast Bike Tour” with Top Bike Tours Portugal.
After dinner, we returned to our individual hotel rooms and went straight to sleep. It had been a good, long, wonderful day of cycling in central Portugal.
While the weather the day before had been absolutely spectacular, we woke on day two of “The Silver Coast Bike Tour” with a dense fog surrounding our hotel. So, before we took off on our bicycles, everyone put on a light jacket to protect themselves from the slight chill that was in the air.
Traveling down a coastal bike path, we made several short excursions on wooden boardwalks that were shared among cyclists and walkers alike. These wooden boardwalk sections of the ride were a favorite for many of the tour participants, including myself!
At several points along the way we passed traditional wooden fishing boats in various states of repair, before entering a dense forest of trees with a spectacularly winding bike path that made its way alongside the road throughout the entire region. While the fog continued to follow us into the trees, this section of the bike tour was one of my absolute favorites.
Around noon we stopped for lunch at a small restaurant and treated ourselves to a well-deserved lunch. We had soup to start and were then presented with this strange-looking chicken dish (pictured below). I heard from several people in the group that they REALLY enjoyed it.
At this point in the tour, we were really beginning to understand how our days on the road would go. We’d wake up, eat our buffet breakfast, cycle for a bit, stop for lunch, cycle a bit more, arrive at our hotel in the evening, go out to dinner, and then return to the hotel in the evening for a well-deserved rest. Over and over again, this was our schedule on the tour.
While we did likely eat too much food on “The Silver Coast Bike Tour,” the food was so good that no one in the group ever complained about it. Ha ha!
After lunch we cycled down the Reserva Natural das Dunas de São Jacinto which allowed us to pedal along with the Atlantic Ocean on our right-hand side and the Aveiro Lagoon on our left.
Once we reached the end of the long peninsula, we had to wait a few minutes before boarding the ferry boat that was going to take us across the lagoon and to the city of Aveiro, which is where we would ultimately spend the night.
All of our bicycles and the Top Bike Tours Portugal support tour van were loaded onto the ferry and then we made the short 15-minute ride across the water. Once we exited the ferry, it was just another short bike ride into the Aveiro city center.
Aveiro is considered “The Venice of Portugal” because of the small canals that runs through the center of the city and the small fishing boats that offer rides through the canals to the city’s tourists.
Upon arriving in Aveiro, we did a quick check-in at our hotel, the Hotel Moliceiro, and then walked just a short distance down to the Ria de Aveiro for a boat tour.
We sat on a wooden bench running down both sides of our colorful fishing boat and were then shown around the city as our tour guide both navigated the narrow canals and spoke to us in both English and Portuguese.
My favorite part of the tour was when the boat captain would blow on a little plastic kazoo-type horn in order to warn other boats in the area that we were passing through a potentially dangerous part of the canal.
After our canal tour of Aveiro was over, we returned to the Hotel Moliceiro and were given some free time to do with as we pleased. Some people on the tour chose to stay in their rooms, nap or read a book, while others walked around the city, purchased souvenirs and even ate a bit more food.
As with all of the hotels on “The Silver Coast Bike Tour,” the rooms at the Hotel Moliceiro were large, clean and ideally suited for our short stay in the city.
After nightfall, the members of our tour group gathered in the hotel lobby and then walked a short distance from the hotel to one of the city’s nearby restaurants.
It was here that we were treated to another spectacular seafood dinner – as you can see by the photo below.
In the morning, we woke to our alarms and then ran downstairs for a quick buffet breakfast in the hotel dining room. It seemed as though the food at the Hotel Moliceiro was even more impressive than at the previous hotels, but it was really hard to say because every breakfast on the tour thus far had been so luxurious.
And like much of the food on “The Silver Coast Bike Tour,” what I liked about these buffet breakfasts was that there was such a wide variety of food and drinks to chose from, I could really make any kind of breakfast that I wanted.
Sadly, the fog that had been surrounding us almost all day long on the previous day had returned on the third day of cycling. But by this time we realized that there was no problem with the fog. We simply layered up with a thin jacket or a long-sleeved shirt and continued on our way. We knew that the fog would likely be around in the morning, but would burn off by later in the day.
After cycling through several quiet towns and a university campus, we made our way to the Fabrica de Porcelana in the city of Ílhavo, where they manufacture all kinds of porcelain products.
Portugal is known for its porcelain tiles, many of which we had already seen in Porto. But here at the museum, we were able to see many of the other porcelain products that are manufactured in the country.
Porcelain is a ceramic material made by heating clays, generally including kaolin, in a kiln to temperatures between 1,200 and 1,400 °C.
At the Fabrica de Porcelana, there were a wide variety of porcelain products on display, including plates, cups, bowls and all manner of figurines.
My favorite porcelain products on display were these gold-plated pieces (below) that looked as if they might belong in a collection owned by the Royal family. Can you imagine being served tea out of a piece like that!?!
Just outside the Fabrica de Porcelana was this impressive chapel (Capela da Vista Alegre ou Capela de Nossa Sra. da Penha de França e o túmulo de Dom Manuel de Moura Manuel), which we all took a moment to stop and appreciate.
After our tour of the porcelain museum, we jumped back on our bicycles and made our way back to the waterfront. It was here that we entered the tiny town of Costa Nova do Prado and were blown away by the charm of the haystack houses that we found here.
These colorful homes pained with long, vertical (and sometimes horizontal) stipes were a joy to see, as they dotted the shoreline for several hundred meters and were something very unique to this particular part of Portugal.
Back on our bicycles, we continued our bike tour down the coast of central Portugal. It was here that we once again enjoyed some spectacular scenery as we made out way down the bike path that runs alongside the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.
In several sections, the concrete bike path turns into a wooden boardwalk that lifts you up and over the delicate sand dunes underneath, so you can continue to cycle with ease as you make your way along the coastline.
Biking on these wooden boardwalks was one of my favorite moments on “The Silver Coast Bike Tour” and I think a lot of the other people on the tour would agree. Just be careful when the boardwalks get wet, as they do become quite slippery!
After a solid day of cycling and some truly memorable ocean views, we arrived in the sleepy beachfront city of Praia de Mira, Portugal and checked into the multi-storied Macarico Beach Hotel.
This modern hotel facing the sea has a rooftop pool and a beautiful dining area. Each room has its own private balcony and some of the rooms point out toward the ocean.
After a shower, nap and walk around the city, we all met for dinner again in the hotel lobby and then walked a short distance to a nearby restaurant.
At this point on the tour, we were all beginning to feel a bit like family. We had all learned each other’s names, we knew where everyone was from, and we understood how the overall bicycle tour was being handled. We were in the zone!
On this particular evening, everyone else in the group enjoyed some kind of seafood/meat meal, while I enjoyed another delicious plate of pasta and veggies.
This particular evening was memorable, however, not necessarily because of the main dishes we had been served (although they were extremely good), but because of the dessert! We had the option between cheesecake (pictured below) and a chocolate cake, and no matter what you chose, you were given something really special. I had the chocolate cake and ice cream… and it may have been the best dessert I have ever eaten anywhere in the world. It was extremely good and a great way to end another day of bicycle touring in central Portugal.
In the morning, we woke up refreshed and ran down to another impressive buffet breakfast in the hotel dining room.
After stuffing ourselves to satisfaction, we jumped back on our bicycles and continued cycling south down the coastline. Once again, the fog was with us, so we donned our light jackets, even though the temperature outside was really not that cold.
Unlike the previous days of cycling, we encountered something really unique on this particular day of riding. Whereas before we were cycling through either beachfront real estate or forested bike paths, we found ourselves on this day biking through a previously wooded area that had recently been devastated by fire.
While cycling through an area hit by fire may not sound all that enjoyable, this multi-kilometer stretch of road was one of my favorite and most memorable sections on the entire “Silver Coast Bike Tour.”
And because this section of road was still in need of some repair, it meant that there were almost no vehicles of any kind on the roadway, so we were free to cycle along without worrying about cars passing by us at high speed. It was fantastic!
After our ride through the forest fire section, we hit the first and only major hill on “The Silver Coast Bike Tour” – a 4km climb just north of the city of Figueira da Foz.
The climb was a challenge for some, but we all eventually made it to the top of the hill and were almost instantly rewarded with an exhilarating downhill ride into the city of Figueira da Foz.
Before reaching the city, however, we stopped to take a photo of the Cape Mondego lighthouse… and then stopped again a few moments later to take a group photo.
Once we reached the city of Figueira da Foz, we cycled down the coast for a little bit and then turned inland toward the city center. It was here that we found a small vegan restaurant and were treated to our first 100% vegan meal of the entire tour! I was in heaven, but this completely vegetarian dish was a unique experience for several of the people on the tour.
After eating lunch, we cycled a short distance to the Casa do Poca, where an interesting collection of Portugese and Delft tiles from the late 17th century are on display inside a house built by Bishop D. Joao de Melo as a holiday home for himself. The Bishop died before the house was completed, however, and his nephew was the one to ultimately finish it. There is little in the house, however, other than a stunning collection of mostly Delft tiles from the early 18th century. It is unknown how the tiles arrived in Figueira da Foz, but speculation suggests they were actually from a Dutch shipwreck in 1706. The tiles depict various scenes, landscapes, biblical, historical events etc.
Then we cycled another short distance across the city to the Coliseu Figueirense, where we learned about the history of bull fighting in Portugal.
Finally, we were led to our hotel for the evening – the Sweet Atlantic Hotel & Spa. It was here that we checked into our rooms, took a hot shower, and then had some free time in the city before meeting for dinner as a group later in the evening.
The rooms at the Sweet Atlantic Hotel & Spa were the biggest on the entire bike tour to this point. Not only was there a massive bed with views looking out over the Atlantic ocean, but each room also had a living room area, a dining table and a small kitchenette. This was not your standard hotel room. This was like a little studio apartment!
I took a short nap before dinner and then ran down to the hotel lobby in time to meet the rest of the group. Once again, we walked to a nearby restaurant and were treated with another spectacular meal.
I don’t know if I’m doing a very good job of explaining just how good the food was on “The Silver Coast Bike Tour,” but I hope that some of my photos speak for themselves. The food on this particular night was really, really good!
Do you see that salad (below)? Yes, that was my salad. I shared it with some of the other people in the group, as they thought it looked good and wanted a taste of it as well. 🙂
After another delicious supper and a good night’s rest, we began the final day of cycling on “The Silver Coast Bike Tour.” Just as we were getting into the groove and really starting to enjoy ourselves, the tour was suddenly coming to an end. We knew that we had to do what we could to enjoy our fifth and final day of cycling on the tour, as this would be our last opportunity to soak up that silver sun bouncing off the water along the shores of the central coast of Portugal.
In order to reach the city of Coimbra (the final destination on our bike tour down the central coast of Portugal), we needed to leave the Atlantic Coastline and cycle inward, following the Mondego River toward the city of Coimbra. About halfway down the river, we climbed a short hill that led us up to the Castle of Montemor-o-Velho.
The Castle of Montemor-o-Velho is a Portuguese castle in the civil parish of Montemor-o-Velho e Gatões. It has been listed as a national monument since 1910, but it is older than Portugal’s nationality.
The castle is free to enter and there are plenty of places to safely leave your bicycle as you explore the property on foot.
Inside the castle walls is a small chapel, which is free to enter. And from the stones at the top of the castle walls, you can stand and look out across the entire region. The castle offers some incredible 360 degree views of the area.
Back on our bicycles, we continued cycling down the river, through a small collection of trees that made me feel like we were in Australia and not Portugal, before coming out the other side and finding ourselves nearly smack dab in the center of Coimbra.
With the river and the city behind us, we stopped to take one final group photo. “Everyone say cheese!”
The final kilometer into the city center brought us down a walking/bike path alongside the edge of the river with beautiful views of the city off to our left.
We found a local restaurant to eat at and, for the first time on the tour, we enjoyed some non-traditional Portuguese food. We went to a place that served a unique kind of burgers. I had a veggie burger, but there were a bunch of other meat burgers to choose from as well.
After lunch, we walked across the street and made our way to Portugal dos Pequenitos, which is kind of like a theme-park that consists of mini versions of Portuguese houses and monuments, and has pavilions dedicated to the former Portuguese colonies. This is a very difficult place to explain via photos or text, so I highly suggest you go there and check it out for yourself.
The construction of the park began in 1938. The first phase of the project occurred between 1938 and 1940, which involved the recreation of group of structures identified as typical Portuguese homes, chapels, mills and pillories. The second phase began in the middle of the century, in an area that illustrated many of the country’s monuments and heritage sites. At the end of the 1950s, the third phase was concluded. This section included pavilions dedicated to reconstitute artifacts and symbolic structures associated with the overseas provinces at the time. In addition to buildings and motifs that included representations from Portuguese Africa, Brazil, Macau, India and East Timor, the area was circled by native flora, as well as buildings for the Azores and Madeira.
After our visit to the Portugal dos Pequenitos, we jumped back on our bicycles and made our way through the crowded streets of Coimbra to our final hotel, the Tivoli Coimbra.
We were given some free-time after arriving in Coimbra to do whatever we pleased. Some people stayed in their room, others wandered around the hotel, while others took a short walk around the city center.
In the evening, just as we had done on all the previous nights of the tour, we gathered together in the hotel lobby and then walked a short distance from the hotel to a nearby restaurant.
And like on all the previous nights of the tour, we were treated with some truly delicious cuisine.
After dinner was over, we were given a special presentation by Sergio and Henrique (our tour leaders) to mark the end of “The Silver Coast Bike Tour” and congratulate us on our accomplishment – having ridden our bicycles nearly 250 km from Porto to the city of Coimbra.
Before the night came to an end, some of us from the group walked into the center of Coimbra and, there in the center of the city, discovered that dancers dressed in traditional costume, were putting on a show. Music, dancing and celebrations of all kinds went on for more than an hour as onlookers sat and cheered from across the crowded courtyard. It was the perfect way to end our week-long bicycle touring holiday on the central coast of Portugal.
Want To Participate In This Bike Tour Yourself?
You should do it! “The Silver Coast Bike Tour” with Top Bike Tours Portugal is an amazing cycling holiday that I would whole-heartily recommend. The tour leaders at Top Bike Tours Portugal are some of the best in the entire world… and now that I have had the pleasure of participating in two different bike tours with the company, I can honestly say that the experience you get when you choose to participate in one of their tours is truly something you will remember for the rest of your life. 10 out of 10.
To learn more about “The Silver Coast Bike Tour” or to sign up for the tour today, simply visit the Top Bike Tours Portugal website at: www.topbiketoursportugal.com