Tour of Spain and Portugal Sept 2019

18 September to 03 October 2019, 15 days / 14 nights

Also offering an optional Madrid Vuelta extension. 14-18 September

RIDE Holidays invites you to experience the very best of Portugal with a taste of Spain. We start in Madrid and finish in the very south of Portugal. Some of you will arrive in Madrid early and catch the final stage of the Vuelta. We’ve arranged a V.I.P experience which you won’t forget. Dean will be there along with some of our Spanish team to make sure things go smoothly. Like all RH trips there will be a variety of rides to choose from on a daily basis. As well as a separate plan (and vehicle) for Team Macchiato. (non-riding Bring your own or hire – your choice. In fact, for this trip we can even offer a mixture of e-bikes and road. Cyclists – yes, you will be tested. In fact, our first decent day on the bike includes two rather large hills that feature regularly on the Vuelta a Espana. Don’t worry, we’ll always have support vehicles around us. Sit back and relax… it’s about the food, the wine and a spot of coffee. The cycling will be epic but I can assure you – this won’t be a weight loss program. See you in Madrid.

Spain & Portugal Tour Itinerary

Vuelta extension (optional) Saturday 14 to Wednesday 18 September 2019 (optional)

The exact itinerary will be confirmed once we have an indication on how many people want to arrive early. We’ll pick you up at the airport on the Saturday and transfer you to our central Madrid accommodation – your home for the next 4 nights. Sunday morning we’ve arranged a walking tour which will include all the local markets as well as some compulsory tapas hopping. A great start to your time in Spain. This afternoon we make our way to the Vuelta finish line. Our V.I.P bus is parked in a perfect spot – all aboard…. Would you like a drink madam? Who knows – maybe George Bennett will be racing for line honors. Monday is a free day. Some of you will check out Santiago Bernabeu Stadium while others just wander the shopping plaza’s. Tomorrow we’ve arranged a day trip to Toledo and there’s also an option of a easy 3hr city cycling tour. NZD2200.00 per person (based on 10 people) including 4 nights’ accommodation, all breakfasts, 2 dinners, V.I.P Vuelta, walking tour of Madrid and day tour to Toledo.

Itinerary for Madrid to the Algarve

DAY 1 – Wednesday 18 September 2019 – Madrid, Spain

We will be available to collect you from either Madrid Airport (12 noon) or your central city hotel. It’s only a short 1hr drive to the outskirts of Segovia where we will set up the bikes in the beautiful settings and grounds of the Royal Palace of Rio Frío. It is a short ride today to test the bikes in preparation for a classic and historic Vuelta route tomorrow through the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains! The ride finishes with a group photo under the towering aqueduct in the town centre which is where we’ll find Team Macchiato after their little guided walk.

/ Meals: Dinner included
/ Today’s Ride: 35km cycling (400m elevation gain)
/ Accommodation: Segovia (Spain)

DAY 2 – Thursday 19 September 2019 – Sierra de Guadarrama (Spain)

Now you are in the land of Castile & Leon where 1st Century Roman aqueducts and medieval walled towns dominate the landscape. Traditionally the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range plays host to the penultimate stages of La Vuelta. Climbs, such as, Navafria, Cotos & Navacerrada are written in Vuelta folklore. When you arrive at the Navacerrada ski station (1800m) you are cycling in the altitude training base for Spanish pro outfit Movistar.

There will be ride options for all levels but the one thing for certain is everyone (including our non-cyclists) will finish in Pedraza. This medieval walled town is in excellent condition and the old plaza is the perfect place for a long Spanish lunch. (and possibly a snooze)

For Team Mac our morning program includes a 3hr guided walking tour of Segovia (1st Century Roman Aqueduct, Alcazar fortress, La Muralla (ramparts) and the Jewish Quarter) before a 40min van transfer to meet up with the rest of the group for lunch in Pedraza.

/ Meals: Breakfast & Restaurant Lunch included
/ Today’s Ride: 50km or 95km cycling (1650m elevation gain)
/ Accommodation: Segovia (Spain)

DAY 3 – Friday 20 September 2019 – Avila (Spain)

There is a 1hr van transfer this morning to UNESCO Avila which is a beautifully conserved medieval walled city. Avila most recently hosted the Stage 19 finish for the 2015 La Vuelta pro race and today you can ride a scenic loop to the south of the city. The main challenge for the day will be the 8km climb ´Alto de Navalmoral´ (1500m elevation) which at an average grade of 5% is actually very achievable! All that follows is 20km through to the hotel which is located in the heart of the old centre (casco antiguo)!

Team Mac will have plenty of time to wander and explore the inner charm of this walled city! Or, you can simply watch some suffering on the hills. Look out for thoroughbreds like McKay and Parsons to dominate. Sprinters like le Parrot may struggle today.

/ Meals: Breakfast included
/ Today’s Ride: 40km & 80km cycling (1250m elevation gain)
/ Accommodation: Avila (Spain)

DAY 4 – Saturday 21 September 2019 – Monasterio El Escorial (Spain)

This morning we ride from the hotel in search of the royal monastery in nearby San Lorenzo el Escorial. Here cyclists and Team Mac alike will marvel at this architectural masterpiece which dates back to the late 16th Century and king Felipe II. Before arriving to ‘El Escorial’ our cyclists will enjoy an undulating ride including two small categorized climbs and a wonderful winding descent through dense pine forest. Team Mac will have plenty of time to visit the monastery which also includes a royal palace, church, pantheon, library and school. If you are keen walkers there is also an excellent short walk to a wonderful lookout point above the monastery!

Tonight you will taste test a traditional Castile & Leon dinner. This region is famous for its ´asado´ cuisine (roasted possum) and fine steaks.

/ Meals: Breakfast & Dinner included
/ Today’s Ride: 50km & 70km cycling (1050m elevation gain)
/ Accommodation: Avila (Spain)

DAY 5 – Sunday 22 September 2019 – La Covatilla (Spain)

All tours have a Queen Stage (`Etapa Reina`) and today we present the challenge to the top of La Covatilla ski station for those who are game! Interestingly enough La Covatilla will be used during the 2018 La Vuelta as the Stage 9 summit finish. The climb is located in the Sierra de Bejar mountain range and is Spain’s version of Mt Ventoux. Luckily the cycling grades are a little easier than Mt Ventoux but like the ‘Geant de Provence’ this Spanish mountain range also just seems to appear out of thin air. For those looking for a more relaxed ride the 60km route to the base of the La Covatilla will keep you interested with fantastic views across to the Gredos National Park.

Following breakfast Team Mac can take a 1hr van transfer directly to Salamanca which is one of Spain´s most important architectural cities. It has a long history as a grand centre of learning and you will enjoy our guided walking tour. Salamanca is best characterised by its beige sandstone rock buildings which transmit a golden glow with sunlight (i.e. ´Golden City` / Cuidad Dorado). As you step through the centuries-old stone streets of the Casco Historico (Old Town) you’ll be taken aback by the volume of Renaissance, Gothic, Baroque and Moorish-style buildings, most looking as good as new.

/ Meals: Breakfast included
/ Today’s Ride: 60km & 95km cycling (1550m elevation gain)
/ Accommodation: Salamanca (Spain)

DAY 6 – Monday 23 September 2019 – Spain / Portugal Border

It’s not every day you get to ride your bike over the Spanish / Portuguese border!! After the heroic efforts yesterday let’s still ride but use it as a good recovery ride. The River Duoro marks the border and it is this river system that drives the Port Wine industry. It will be a very picturesque ride today finishing in Pocinho.

From Pocinho the whole group will jump aboard a train that hugs the edge of the River Duoro and has magnificent views of the adjacent mountain terraced vineyards. Now you are in the heart of the Douro Wine Region and what else is there to do but feast on a gourmet dinner and a glass or two of the local product! Taxi!!

/ Meals: Breakfast & Dinner included
/ Today’s Ride: 45km & 85km cycling (1250m elevation gain)
/ Accommodation: Pinhao (Portugal)

DAY 7 – Tuesday 24 September 2019 – Duoro Wine Region

After 6 consecutive days on the bikes it is now time to rest-up and enjoy everything that the Douro Wine Region has to offer! The Douro Valley could as easily be called the enchanted valley, such is the beauty and magic that its landscapes offer. The Douro was even the world's first demarcated wine region established way back in 1756!

You will get to know this cultural landscape, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site this morning on a guided river cruise. During this tour you will meander along the Douro River in an old rabelo boat (wooden Portuguese vessels that carried the wine casks from the quintas (wine estates) where it is produced to the mouth of river) before the various dams that made the river navigable were built. And yes we will enjoy some lunch and wine during what will be a very pleasant journey.

Team Mac – something special. We’ve arranged for you to join a wine making class in one of our favourite quintas (wine estates)! You will even handpick your own grapes before helping us start production for the first bottles of our Ride Holidays wine collection. What shall we call our wine? Bev can decide that….

Terraced vineyards which practically climb straight up the vertical slopes stretching up from the river will now be well and truly etched into your minds!

/ Meals: Breakfast & Lunch included
/ Today’s Ride: Cycling Rest Day
/ Accommodation: Pinhao (Portugal)

DAY 8 – Wednesday 25 September 2019 - Peso da Regua (Portugal)

The cycling action sees you climb out of the Duoro Valley via the Alta de Galafura climb and onto Peso da Regua. Before the climbing begins though there is a great 20km warm-up along the N222 which in 2015 was voted the World’s Best Road. The road follows the course of the Duoro River providing many exceptional vantage points along the way. After time for lunch in Peso da Regua there will be a 3hr van transfer to our home for the next two nights in Obidos with Atlantic Ocean views.

Team Mac drive out of the ‘Duoro’ via the N222 and onto Coimbra (2hr drive) for a guided visit. Coimbra is a small city with Portugal’s oldest university in the country. The university is found precisely where Portugal’s first kings had taken up residence centuries before, and the city’s monasteries have tombs for these rulers. To get an excellent perspective of the city you can scale the 180 steps in the 16th-century tower at the highest point of the university.

Another site of interest is the Arco de Almedina gate which was part of the solid medieval wall rebuilt in the 11th Century by the Arab conqueror Almansor. It is the only surviving gate from the three that once led into the citadel. It now marks the entrance into the old part of Coimbra and is a good spot for a rest and a beer or wine!

/ Meals: Breakfast & Dinner included
/ Today’s Ride: 40km or 70km cycling (1300m elevation gain)
/ Accommodation: Obidos (Portugal)

DAY 9 – Thursday 26 September 2019 – Obidos & Fatima

The cycling group will follow a loop ride around Obidos. The main attraction for the day will be riding around the Peniche peninsula. This peninsula might only comprise a 10km perimeter but it is dotted with many beautiful beaches and is a lovely spot for a coffee break!

Our non-cyclists will enjoy a morning exploring Obidos! As you pass through the Porta da Vila gates you enter the historic medieval town of Obidos which could quite easily be confused for a movie set. The castle was founded by the Moors as early as the 700’s and no visit is complete without accessing the battlements and walking the daunting perimeter walls. The views, especially along the western walls, of the town, castle, countryside, vineyards and orchards are fantastic.

The afternoon is free time for everyone to relax but if there is sufficient interest we can also organise a guided visit to Fatima the famous pilgrimage site (1hr drive). The story of Fatima is where the Virgen Mary is said to have appeared 6 times to 3 shepherd children during May to October 1917 and later to 70,000 witnesses on 13 October 1917. It recently celebrated its 100 year anniversary with the Pope amongst those in attendance.

/ Meals: Breakfast included
/ Today’s Ride: 50km or 90km cycling (900m elevation gain)
/ Accommodation: Obidos (Portugal)

DAY 10 – Friday 27 September 2019 – Sintra (Portugal)

From Obidos there will be 1hr transfer to the UNESCO township of Sintra with its spectacular exotic Pena Palace and gardens. Today is a cycling rest day and from past experience our two guided visits to Sintra and Lisbon will be real crowd pleases!

After visiting Sintra you will have time to relax a little before our mid-afternoon guided walking tour of Lisbon. Lisbon is set against the ever-present backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean. This sun-filled city lives in a Latin fairytale of timeworn manners and traditions. Just check out the century-old wooden trams and iron funiculars that still lurch and rumble their way through narrow cobbled stone streets. That Lisbon, like Rome, was built across seven hills means nearly every street affords immensely satisfying views over the city as it slips down towards the river.

The guided walking tour visits castles, important cathedrals and the escalators which transport the cities inhabitants up and down this hilly city. To round out the tour you will also walk through the Alfama Moorish district and straight into a typical Fado singing show and dinner!

/ Meals: Breakfast & Dinner included
/ Today’s Ride: Cycling Rest Day
/ Accommodation: Lisbon (Portugal)

DAY 11 – Saturday 28 September 2019 – Lisbon (Portugal)

Continuing the Ride Holidays tradition of providing flexible travel plans for our guests today you can choose from cycling and non-cycling options. Lisbon just has so much to see and do so feel free to take another cycling rest day to soak up all the atmosphere. Let us help you plan a visit to the Torre de Belem (also be sure to sample their custard tarts). Also, why not jump on the 28 Tourist Tram for a rattling loop ride around Lisbon. One of the most interesting elevators in the city centre is ‘Ascensor da Bica’ which you can ride up to Barrio Alto (High District). If all of this action is making you thirsty we will be sure to stop at a street stand so you can taste-test Ginginha (local liquor) - it is even drunk in a chocolate cup!

For those wanting to ride their bike then immediately to the south of Lisbon and the Tajo River is the Arrabida National Park. The highest peak of this national park is only 500m elevation but the views over the Atlantic Ocean are breathless. Enjoy short punchy climbs and flowing non-technical descents over beautiful asphalt roads. Being the weekend there will be many other local road cycling enthusiasts out enjoying this cycling paradise.

In the evening can we tempt anyone for a Tango (Siefe) dancing class? Lisbon is home to a passionate Argentine Tango community so why not learn a few new moves!

/ Meals: Breakfast included
/ Today’s Ride: 65km or 95km cycling (1150m elevation gain)
/ Accommodation: Lisbon (Portugal)

DAY 12 – Sunday 29 September 2019 – Alentejano Coast (Portugal)

Today’s guided cycling route will begin in novel fashion with a short ferry transfer across to Troia Peninsula. Once in Troia the entire south western coastline of Portugal opens up! Following the Alentejano & Vicentina National Parks the opportunity exists to cycle all the way south to Vila Nova de Milfontes. This is a typical Portuguese coastal town with spectacular beaches. Tonight you will dine on fresh fish!

/ Meals: Breakfast & Dinner included
/ Today’s Ride: Max. 105km cycling (475m elevation gain)
/ Accommodation: Vila Nova de Milfontes (Portugal)

DAY 13 – Monday 30 September 2019 – Sagres (Portugal)

There are epic coastal rides and then there are epic coastal rides! Many cyclists from Lisbon set off annually to ride a weekend cycling pilgrimage following the coastline down to Sagres. Sagres is located in the most south western corner of Portugal and is the perfect place to relax. Its rocky coastline and beaches are simply first class.

Team Mac - today is a beach. There’s plenty of time to appreciate the Vicentina Coast beaches. There will be the chance to enjoy a beach walk followed by lunch in a small fishing village. On arrival to Sagres our guides will also show you the fortress before checking in to the tour hotel for the final two nights.

/ Meals: Breakfast included
/ Today’s Ride: Max. 100km cycling (800m elevation gain)
/ Accommodation: Sagres (Portugal)

DAY 14 – Tuesday 1 October 2019 – Algarve (Portugal)

After a couple of days following the coastline over relatively gentle terrain there is one final challenge left for the tour. Many of you would have heard of the UCI professional cycling race called ‘Tour of Algarve’. Well today its most famous climb ‘Alto da Foia’ is up for grabs! This final climb is just over 7km long and will take you up to Algarve’s highest elevation at 900m. The ‘Foia’ climb was last used as a summit finish during Stage 2 of the 2018 Tour of Algarve. Michal Kwiatkowski from Team Sky beat the likes of Geraint Thomas, Baulke Mollema and Daniel Martin in what ended up being a sprint finish. Who will take Ride Holidays line honours?

There will be a 1.5hr transfer back to Sagres where the group will sit down for a celebratory drink and final tour dinner. There will be the chance over dinner to reflect on what a journey it has been taking in some of the best sights of both Spain and Portugal!

/ Meals: Breakfast & Dinner included
/ Today’s Ride: 50km or 85km cycling (1450m elevation gain)
/ Accommodation: Sagres (Portugal)

DAY 15 – Wednesday 2 October 2019 – Farewell

All good things have to come to an end…. Or do they? Following breakfast you have three choices. 1, stay where you are and relax. 2, we can drive you (2 hours) to Sevilla or 3, stay in the van a bit further (2 extra hours) and we’ll take you all the way to Cordoba. Both cities are fascinating tourist destinations and also connected by fast train to major centres such as Malaga and Madrid. There are also good connections to other interesting places, such as, Granada (Alhambra fortress and palace) and Ronda with its old town perched above the spectacular Tajo gorge! Let us know what you want to do and we’ll arrange it.

/ Meals: Breakfast included

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Tour Inclusions

  • 15 nights' accommodation using quality 3&4* hotels
  • All breakfasts, 4 lunches and 7 dinners
  • All food and drinks while cycling
  • Wine making school in Duoro incl for Team Mac. If cyclists join then the cost is 75 euro.
  • Team Mac - private guided walking tours of Segovia, El Escorial & Salamanca
  • 5 to 6 staff depending on final numbers
  • Tips included for all staff
  • Airport to airport private transport
  • Souvenir booklet, itinerary included
  • RIDE Holidays cycling jersey
  • Multiple ride options daily
  • GPS assistance & physical maps
  • 10 week training program

The Price Excludes

  • Airfares and extra accommodation
  • Travel Insurance - compulsory!
  • Meals, alcohol not indicated in itinerary
  • One of the guides is also a Massage therapist – costs apply

Tour Cost (per person - NZD)

$8,295.00 NZD per person
$1,650.00 NZD Single room supplement
$700.00 NZD Bike hire (conventional or electric)

$200.00 extra if you would like both conventional and electric. You can then swap and change.

$2200.00 NZD for the optional 4 night Vuelta package.

The non-refundable deposit is $2000.00 with the balance to be paid 90 days prior to departure.

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