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European City Breaks: Lisbon Cycle Route

Lisbon has been riding the wave of a huge tourism boom over the last couple of years, and it is thoroughly deserving of the attention. With exceptionally good food, beautiful beaches a stone's throw away, cheap beer, and history that predates even the ancient metropoles of Rome, Paris and London. 

While much of the old city is decidedly un-cycleable with steps, cobbles and narrow windy streets galore, much of the glory of Lisbon is its proximity to beautiful Atlantic beaches.

We've put together this trip that will take you from central Lisbon along the water to Belem and Jeronimo's Monastery and beyond, to the Praia do Guincho where you can catch some waves and some rays before heading back to enjoy a gastronomic evening at the LX Factory or Time Out Market.


  Quick Facts

Highlights

Guincho beach, Belem, LX Factory

Length

33 km (one-way), 66 km (round-trip)

Terrain

Flat tarmac roads and cycle paths. Some busy roads. 

Difficulty

When

Year-round, but go between May and October to make the most of the beaches while it's warm! 

How to get there

Regular cheap flights to Lisbon Portela airport. 15 minute Uber (or short metro ride) from there into town

Which bike

Bike Iberia can set you up with a good road, mountain or eBike for 30-40€ a day (or 24 hours)

Why

There's so much more to Lisbon than just the city centre! Hopping into the saddle gives you the opportunity to explore and freedom from the timetables and crowds of the buses and trains


 

The Cycle Route 

Hire a bike at Bike Iberia - just off of the city's central square (Praça do Comércio) - and head westwards along the coast out of the city. You'll mainly want to follow the N6 and hug the banks of the Tagus for the flattest ride but there are good cycle-path sections between Cais do Sodré and Bélem and then between Cascais and Praia do Guincho.

Pick up a bite to eat before setting off at the excellent Time Out Market (just around the corner from the bike rental shop) of you're feeling peckish before the ride!

Your first stop will be in the suburban neighbourhood of Bélem. Bélem is home to both the UNESCO World Heritage Jerónimo's Monastery and the world famous Pastéis de Bélem: Portugal's most famous egg custard tart bakery. 

On the subject of custard tards - did you know that 'pastéis de nata' were originally invented by nuns? They used to starch shirts with egg whites and decided to find something to do with all of the left-over yolks...making custard came top of the list and the rest is history! 

Make sure you eat one of the warm ones that Pastéis de Belem serves straight out of the oven, and take a quick spin around their shop: you can watch every stage of the baking through the kitchen windows and get lost in what is surely the world's largest custard tart shop. 

Bélem is also home to the Torre de Bélem and Portuguese adventurer Vasco de Gama (he's buried in the monastery), who was the first European to sail from Europe to India. 

Fully loaded on history and custard tarts hop back in the saddle and follow the coast round to Cascais. Cascais is a seaside town which is popular with locals and tourists alike who jump on the train from central Lisbon to spend the day on the beach. Current Portuguese president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa also lives here and, rumour has it, can be seen taking an early morning dip most days. 

While Cascais makes a great place to end the ride, and the beach and its beach bars can keep you entertained for the afternoon, we recommend continuing along the coast (and the beautiful cycle path) to the Praia do Guincho. With an Atlantic (rather than river Tagus) coast and being much quieter and wilder than Cascais, it is a great spot for surfing and is much less crowded if you're after a bit of proper R and R.  

Time to head back into the city! Either retrace your bike tracks back along the coastline or head up into the (slight) hills for a glorious final descent into Lisbon. And for dinner? We recommend the Cantinho do Avillez. This fancy but relaxed (and reasonably priced) eatery is one of José Avillez's places. It serves gorgeous Portuguese dishes with all the flair of a chef who has a couple of Michelin stars to his name.

And finally, stroll up to the Barrio Alto for a post dinner drink overlooking the city at the quirky Park bar which, as the name suggests, is located at the top of a multi-storey car park. 

  Download the GPX


 

What are you waiting for? Vamos! 



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