A Southern Portugal adventure in January and on a motorcycle.
Updated: Mar 10
Who would have thought it. January. The ideal time of year for a motorcycle road trip. The weather forecast was predicted to be so good that the all in one waterproof suit I specially bought, got returned to Amazon. Fresh mornings warming to incredibly sunny and comfortable day time temperatures. Very few tourists & quiet roads for endless adventure and smiles.
I'm excited to share with you mine and my good friend Oli's epic adventure 1000km ,four day trip around Southern Portugal. Our journey began in Faro in the Algarve region. From Faro, we headed north to Monchique, then west to Sagres, located on the southwestern tip of Portugal. We then ventured up the west coast, stopping in Sines, before traveling inland to Santarem, Mora, and Evora and then making our way south on some wonderfully scenic & twisty roads.
1000km route taken. (line shown not accurate to minor roads taken)
Day 1 - Different country, big bike.
Most enjoyable roads were the tiny un-named roads starting from Monchique on the N266-3 heading west then taking a left before the road turns North not long after the Paraiso Montanha cafe.
The feeling of getting back on a motorcycle after quite some time was both exciting and nerve-wracking. Having to navigate out of a busy suburb of Faro from Hertz Ride (where we hired the bikes) and straight onto congested roads was starting at the deep end. After a minute or so though, I felt at home in the seat, then just had to concentrate on taking the correct slip roads (which I didn't). 7km in the wrong direction and 7km back, had me back on course again but only myself.
Eventually meeting up with my riding partner again, we headed off the motorway and up to Monchique. After a stressful start, the lunch break was welcomed and eating olives in the sunshine of a hillside cafe was a delight. In fact I could have happily ordered a beer and not moved for the rest of the afternoon.
After some food we fired the bikes up again and wound down the hillside on narrow twisty roads which were a lot of fun. The BMW Motorad app planned our routes and with the option for twisty roads checked, it mapped some amazing roads, which we otherwise would not have taken. After a section of gravel and a river crossing we were on route to Sagres, where we would spend our first night in a complex called Time Apartmentos.
This place was immaculately well kept and even had an underground, secure car park which was ideal for the bikes.
Once checked in, we just had time to make it to Farol de Sagres lighthouse to take in the magnificent scenery and watch the sun go down from the coastal cliffs.
Warning! Be careful not to go too close to the edge of some of the cliffs. Many of them have big overhangs which can't be seen from above.
Day 2 - -1° fresh start
Starting point: Sagres
En-route: Sines, Escaroupim, Marinhais
Accommodation : Quinta da Gafaria - Santerem
Most enjoyable road: N268 at the beginning of the day and the small farm track at the very end of the day from Quinta de Santa Marta.
Freezing cold hands for the first 45 minutes until Oli kindly reminded me of the heated grips.
As we headed up the west coast, the sun was rising and the temperatures warmed. Our route for the morning was to follow the N268 and N120 all the way up to Sines.
The first stop would be for breakfast which we had in a quiet local coffee shop named Pastelaria Triunfo. Beautifully tasty coffee with two pastries each, and so reasonable that we still got change out of €5
Coffee finished and then onto Sines.
Sines is a coastal city located in the Setúbal District of Portugal. It is situated on the Alentejo coast, about 150 kilometers south of Lisbon. Sines was an important center of trade and commerce during the Middle Ages. Today, Sines is a popular tourist destination, particularly for those interested in its historical significance and its beautiful beaches. Which are great for a refreshing winter dip as seen below. (unknown local)
From Sines we made a trip to a quaint little fishing village named Escaroupim. A local in a bar recommended a visit here, and although it wasn't the most direct place to visit I'm pleased we did as I managed to take a set of portraits of three locals relaxing in the afternoon sunshine. There was a language barrier between us and the older gentleman thought I was "Francais" however it didn't prevent us from laughing together and they enjoyed seeing their photographs on the screen of my camera.
This second day was our longest day which included a lot of main road riding. This was however necessary to enable us to arrive at our accommodation before absolute darkness.
Welcomed by the friendly dogs and the magnificent entrance, we arrived at Quinta da Gafaria.
Another well kept, spacious and comfortable apartment with breakfast included. This was also securely gated which give peace of mind about the bikes overnight.
Before arriving we stopped off to buy food which we cooked in the apartment. (I say cooked, they were frozen pizzas).
DAY 3 - Amazing sunrise & icy Seats
Starting point: Quinta da Gafaria
En-route: Arriolas castle, Evora, Reguengos de Monsaraz
Accommodation : Hotel de Moura Moura
Day 3 was planned to include in small scenic villages, some off-road and to include the lakes and bridges around Mourao towards the end of the day.
Most enjoyable riding was on the smaller roads between Almeirim & Couco.
I had a little mishap and knocked a pannier off my bike this day. Luckily we had plenty of bungees and managed to strap it to the rear seat. Worried about the expense which I was to face, spoilt the remainder of the day slightly for me.
On our return, Hertz were very helpful and understanding, I got my full deposit back and then was later charged for the cost of repair €250 OUCH!
DAY 4 - Roads (not) to die for.
Starting point: Moura
En-route: Serpa, Fluvial beach Tapada Grande, Sao Pedro de Solis, Ameixial.
Accommodation: AP Eva Senses Faro
Best road of the day N2 from Dogueno - Faro. Highly recommended.
A day of insanely good roads and spectacular scenery which included a fox that I spotted.
This area of Portugal was very quiet. We passed very few cars and saw hardly anyone. We stopped to refuel in Ameixial, a small village with only locals and no tourists to be seen. This was a true Portuguese rural village with the slowest pace of life possible. I loved it and we spent a good amount of time sitting outside of Cafe Garde, taking in the steady way of life and observing locals characters.
I didn't make many photography stops while travelling back towards Faro on the N2 from Ameixial. I wasn't prepared to break the momentum of the race circuit quality roads and corners. I wanted to be fully in the moment and keep the grin on my face for as long as possible.
Handing in the hire bikes and heading back into the city of Faro was a nice relief. Not to be hauling our panniers into an apartment for another night. The weather didn't let us down again and we sat outside on the edge of the marina, eating pizza and having a celebratory beer, whilst enjoying live music that was being played.
The trip summed up:
Don't plan a trip for "the future," Plan it for next week, next month, or next year. The future just stays the future.
This trip for both of us has been inspirational, mind opening and I think I can say, life changing. It's introduced us to a whole new world of adventure riding. It's shown us that traveling by bike is possibly the ultimate way to travel. The bike sparks conversation and interest from so many people along the journey. It enables you to feel part of the environment in which you're travelling, therefore giving the most out of each mile of road you travel.
I'm certain that this will be the start of something for both of us and we'll be having a two wheeled adventure again soon.
Thanks for reading if you got this far.
Accommodation: Sagres Time apartments
Bike Hire: Hertz Ride Faro