Portugal, with its winding seashore, is no stranger to the comings and goings of ships throughout history. This helps explain Portugal’s own openness to travelers, and to the world itself, making the country an emerging destination for motorcyclists looking to explore and enjoy the open road. There are several reasons to explain it:
- Proximity to the US; Seven cities will have non-stop flights this summer – and motorcycles are easily rented/available in both Lisbon and Porto;
- Wide range of roads and landscapes within a short distance;
- Mild climate all year round.
With a pleasant climate and a sun shining all year-round, Portugal offers lovely conditions to be explored by motorbike. The diversity of landscapes makes it possible to, within a few miles, ride from the hills to the sand dunes and beaches, from the city to the countryside, and so on. Set on a peninsula, Portugal has a fast changing geography coupled with very good infrastructure of older roads bypassed by newer highways perfectly suited for cyclists – with very little traffic and good pavement. And lots of views.
The gateway to any motorcycle journey starts in Porto, the second biggest city in the country and an emerging destination for visitors, where traditional and modern are mixed together. Just a few miles away, following the Douro’s wine routes, travel green valleys and impressive mountain landscapes, stopping at regional city centers such as Mirandela, Vila Real, and Bragança. The scenery is magnificent and the roads are some of the most scenic in the world.
Within the Centro de Portugal, Aldeias do Xisto, consisting of old recovered schist villages, offer a very special experience taking you through these very special places. The district is currently being rehabilitated and, with its growing Nature Tourism industry linked by a network of vast mountain roads, beautiful landscape and few cars, is an ideal place for sightseeing and riding peacefully a motorbike. Along the coast, you’ll be able to ride around memorable beaches, such as Nazaré, where Gareth McNamara famously surfed one of the biggest waves ever.
Heading south, travel to the sunny Algarve, passing through the southern bank of the great river Tejo and the Alentejo, a mystical place of gliding plains, sudden mountains and the largest cork forests in the world. Right along the SW coast – known as Vicentina Coast –, between Santiago do Cacém and Cape St. Vincent, you’ll encounter a big network trails totaling about 180 miles. The route, developed in partnership between local authorities and businesses, earned the European certification for “Leading Quality Trails-Best of Europe.” You’ll enjoy a quite ride, coupled with great seafood and plenty of local beers to enjoy while on the route.
Every year Portugal hosts an event gathering motorcyclists from all over the world to explore the country’s potentials, be they environmental, heritage or landscape-wise. In its 18th edition, Portugal's Lés-a-Lés will connect Albufeira to Vila Pouca de Aguiar, in a 600 miles journey taking place from June 9th to the 11th.
US visitors with a valid driving license can drive in Portugal for a 6 month period. If you wish to stay longer, applying for a Portuguese (EU) driver’s license is absolutely mandatory.
Geographically, Portugal is closer to the United States than anywhere else in continental Europe. Lisbon is Europe’s new “capital of cool.” Portugal is a country of contrasts boasting some of the most unspoiled natural views, the richest traditions, the most intoxicating culture, the most adrenaline-pumping adventures and the most serene retreats in all of Europe. It is a destination of timeless appeal – as inviting, complex and enjoyable as a glass of Port wine.