For anyone who follows this blog, you’ll know that if there is one thing that Kevin and I love more than just about anything — it’s a good bike tour. Now combine biking with delicious food, wine and an enthusiastic tour guide… Well, you just sold us!
Porto — known as Portugal’s second city — hugs the edge of the gorgeous Douro River and stole our hearts. It is laid back, full of Medieval architecture, stunning bridges, cafes and has something for just about everyone. We visited several cities across Portugal and just fell in love with Porto. We were already talking about visiting again, and we still had a full day left! Now that’s a good sign.
There is a lot of ground to cover in Porto, which is why I knew that a bike tour would be the perfect way to see all the top sights. I spent months researching our trip and knew that the tour company Biclas & Triclas offered the perfect combination for us. The company doesn’t just show you the city, but offers unique tours that combine a variety of activities from surfing to walking tours and of course biking.
As soon as I saw there was a “Gastronomic Biking Tour,” I considered the decision made!
I reached out to owner José Luís Leitão, and within minutes I got a response. Talk about service!
The Gastronomic tour covers a lot of ground. In total, we rode about 18 miles, which made us feel not so guilty about all the delicious food (and Port!) we had along the way. For those not as athletically inclined, the company offers a variety of biking options.
We met our guide Antonio at the tour offices around 11 AM, which allowed us plenty of time to grab breakfast in the morning (and sleep in!). We’ve been pushing ourselves so hard this trip, it was nice to get in a little rest. The tour was customized based off our interest — and we explained that we like history, but also enjoy current events and culture. After a few quick bike adjustments, we were off!
We’ve done biking tours in countless cities – Tokyo, Mexico City, Reykjavik, Bogota (the list goes on!). But what made biking in Porto so wonderful was the laid back nature of the city and the paved bike lanes. Unlike biking in Mexico City, for example, we didn’t have to bike like our lives depended on it in that traffic!
At our first stop, we checked out a Knights Templar cross located on a church (a common sight throughout Portugal but something we knew very little about). There are very few groups that have as much lore as the Knights Templar — playing prominent roles in novels, films and myths. The group held major political sway in Medieval Europe and is often shrouded in mystery among the conspiracy theorists.
Our guide explained they eventually were dissolved, whether out of retribution or political malice. Though the true cause is still uncertain. From here, we made our way along the river to the first of many city parks.
Throughout the bike ride we learned just how many urban parks are scattered throughout Porto. While the city can seem hectic at certain parts, we really enjoyed the break and getting in so many scenic photos. It was such a contrast to the waterfront as well.
We continued our journey along Brasil Avenue, passing the bust of the Portuguese writer Luís Vaz de Camões by the sculptor Irene Vilar, and admired the 1937 sculpture representing a lifeguard in the middle of a storm by Henrique Moreira. The detail was spectacular, and this section of the ride passed by some nice outdoor cafes and restaurants (making us get pretty hungry!).
It was almost like Antonio knew we were getting hungry — and our next stop was lunch! We ate one of our favorite meals in Portugal on the tour, which consisted of rice and octopus and a light white wine. And of course, we couldn’t pass up the dessert. I mean, we’ve been biking all these calories off so it doesn’t count!
Kevin and I felt like we could take a siesta after the meal, but also knew we had a lot more ground to cover! From here, we rode through several of the posh neighborhoods and even more lush, green parks where we checked out the type of trees they use to cultivate cork. So very interesting!
One of the big surprises that I saved from telling Kevin is that our bike ride would then hit the water! We boarded a water taxi that would take us to the other side of the river to an authentic fisherman community.
The fisherman community of Afurada is like going back in time to another era. Families hang out on the sidewalks, women wash their clothes in communal wash rooms and even dry the clothes on communal drying racks. We felt completely transported from Porto, which was just minutes away.
Hours have passed, but the time has gone so fast! We are WELL over our original travel schedule time but we didn’t mind at all. Especially since we were having such a blast. The gastronomic tour also includes a taste of what Porto is perhaps most well-known for, it’s Porto wine.
We sampled the Porto at Quinta Dos Corvos, where we ended up sharing most of the samples towards the end in fear we wouldn’t make it back on our bikes again (or end up in the Douro River!).
What a fantastic ride! We made it! And the next day, our legs definitely felt it. We can’t wait for another trip back to Porto. And if there is one thing we know, another bike tour will be on the agenda.
THE LOW DOWN:
Why you’ll love the Gastronomic Bike tour –
- Tour runs a minimum of 5 hours.
- Informative, friendly and professional guide
- Enjoy a typical meal of fresh fish in a special restaurant.
- Visit to a Port Wine cellar and the wine tasting.
- Unusual places to take pictures.
- Suitable for families and all levels of fitness and abilities.
- All necessary equipment included.
- Small group limited to 8 people
- Cost: 45 Euros for adults and teenagers, 25 Euros for children (7-12) and 10 Euros for infants (1-6)
- More information: Visit their website or email directly at email@example.com