The Serra da Estrela is Portugal’s highest mountain range, peaking at 1992m and is to be found around 150kms south-west of Porto, more or less in the centre of Portugal. There are a number of routes up to the top, but as a rough guide, you will be looking at around 25kms averaging 5.6% gradient, but with some extended stretches over 10% and a few patches of up to 20%. The Serra is relatively isolated, so in general there is very little traffic and the majority of the roads are in immaculate condition; once you add to that the reliable Portuguese sun, it makes it a fabulous but challenging place to ride a bike.
Here is the profile of one of the classic routes up from Vide to the top (Torre):
There are a number of ways up and down and one of the most epic is via the Zêzere glacial valley picture below -this section of the ride starts at the town of Manteigas nestled at the bottom of the valley and starts with some nasty 18% sections, before opening up into a long, draining ride along the valley sides, before a final brutal kick out of the valley. The scenery is a kind of moonscape as you get higher up with lots of exposed boulders and no shade from the sun. As you get nearer the top you round a hairpin and suddenly the plains of Portugal are revealed to you in all their splendour. Truly an epic place to ride a bike.
Here is the Zêzere valley and you can see the road up on the right hand side of the picture.
If you are interested in riding the Serra da Estrela or another cycling tour in Portugal, please get in touch.