What time of year is best for a cycling tour in northern Portugal?

Some people don’t believe it, but Winter in northern Portugal can get quite chilly – in fact in the high mountains where we take some of our cycling tours (the Serra da Estrela) there is snow most winters and sometimes the roads are unpassable by car (let alone with 25mm tyres on your bike!). So when is the best time to cycle in northern Portugal.

One thing to note is that the coastal strip has a markedly different climate to the interior of northern Portugal – near the coast the summers are cooler and the winters are cooler because of the Atlantic Ocean’s moderating influence. The interior is also mountainous which further accentuates the cold in the winter. So whilst it is possible to ride a bike in January in northern Portugal, you can expect day time temperatures of around 10ºc (50ºF), but sometimes it can go nearer freezing, particularly over 1000m altitude.

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The really pleasant weather cycling tours in northern Portugal starts in May and ends in October, when average day time temperatures are consistently over 20ºc (68ºF) and you are unlucky if you get rain. In July and August, temperatures can be in the 30s (86ºF+). which some riders can find a little difficult to cope with, but our experience of running cycling tours is that few riders really struggle. On really hot days we typically start our rides earlier on in the morning to avoid the hottest part of the day and of course we will have van support to make sure that you will always have access to cool water.

Once you get over around 1500m of altitude then you will find that there is pretty much no tree cover to shade you from the sun in the mid-Summer, so you do need to be careful to reapply sunscreen and get out of the sun whenever you are not on your bike.

If you have the choice our recommendation is to ride in either May/June or September/October when you will generally get warm temperatures and little rainfall, but will avoid the heat of high Summer.

All of our cycling tours are based away from the coast, because this means that there are endless empty roads are very little in the way of industry to blot the beautiful scenery – there are few (if any) better places in Europe to ride a bike!

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