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For a tiny country 900 years old and only measuring 1200km coastline by about 200km, Portugal packs a massive punch; for mind-altering overland experience, a colourful crazy history, and house music loud extrovert fun people. Our initial plan – to rip up this country in a short 2 weeks travelling the coastline – ended up very close to a month crisscrossing the entire country.

But beware; all is not as it seems in Portugal. You should take note of the following!

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If you are geographically challenged, this is where Portugal is in the world. Portugal is that tiny piece of green.

At last we made it to Portugal!ONE: It is almost impossible to leave such an incredible contrastingly beautiful country.

You will forever want to go back for the striking sunsets over Douro valley, the sunny warm days on the beaches in the Algarve and old cities like Porto and Lisbon. Portugal is an incredibly diverse country of deep valleys and rolling hills. For generations, families have eked out a living from the steeply terraced vineyards of the mountainous north, and from the cork oak plantations.

The coolest thing about Portugal is that you do not have to cross continents and travel mega miles to see interesting stuff. There are new things to experience around every turn. It’s a compact country which offers an intense travel experience.

Douro Valley Portugal. Not just stunning views but also some of the best wines and Port in EuropeThe Douro River winds its a way through winelands and olive farms. Picture perfect, a wonderful mix of old farming methods meeting the new modern.  Now mix in some Port tasting stops and you have fresh new heaven!

Porto harbour, one of the must visit places in Portugal

Algarve Portugal.

Portugal will even leave those who maintain the highest appreciation for the wonders of nature speechless. Storybook picturesque mountains lay to the north. Everywhere you turn gives you a post-card like a view.

Alvor or Lagos fisherman Portugal
Alvor or Lagos fisherman

cavernelhe Mondim de BastoThe Algarve region in the far-south features mostly rolling plains. Its coastline is notable for limestone caves, grottoes, and mind-blowing beaches. If you enjoy being surrounded by large-scale natural beauty, golden beaches and a surfers paradise you will love the experience of being in Portugal.

Douro pinhão
Sesimbra coastline, Portugal Vila do Bispo- Portugal love affair with pottery and tiles

Alcoutim Portugal
Statue in the village of Alcoutim

TWO: The Portuguese will wear you out!

That is if you are an introvert and not much of a social soul. If however, you love mixing with people and making new connections, Portugal is for you. The Portuguese are loud, social, lively, warm and adventurous, with a romance language with Latin roots. This is one of the first countries both of us agreed we could quite easily make our home.

And this is the problem; it is easy to get comfortable with local folk.
It is not easy to say no-thank-you for an invite to eat and drink any time of the day. We received invites from complete strangers insisting we share lunch or dinner with them.  We loved the bold personalities that can be very entertaining and fun! You will not want to leave; it just feels like leaving old friends and family behind.

Saul and Isabel crazy bike lovers
The coolest biker at the coolest bike club in Portugal - Braza Tavares - Moto clube Faro

Saul & Isabel and Braza from Faro bike club
We first met Pedro, Helder and Paulo in Angola when they shipped their bikes from Portugal to Mozambique and rode across Africa to Angola.
Daniel "why be normal" with his super cool family.

Pedro, Helder and Paulo we have met in Angola for the first time and now again at their home in Lisbon. And Daniel with his cool family.

The folklore is vibrant and there is often traditional music played, home-made items for sharing, and elegant artwork. The signature of Portuguese art is beautiful blue paintings on white tile. With that the religious history of Portugal has inspired some really beautiful structures and arts.

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pikipiki_motorcycle_adventure touring_portugal-2 (380 x 253)

pikipiki-portugal-motorcycle adventure-overland-travel-roadtrip-
Some cool tracks to ride in and around The Peneda-Gerês National Park. Also known simply as Gerês, it’s the only national park in Portugal.
View over Geres Portugal. 4 Reasons not to visit Portugal
View over Geres Portugal

We came in from Spain at the top of Portugal, on directions from our old friend Pedro (friend we previously met in Angola on his and our travels in 2010), we headed back North towards Braga and then the Gerês. Our first day already gave us the most fascinating experience.  We entered a small town and found a ‘shop’ selling old motorbikes – wrecks are a better description.

Cork trees Alentejo area-travel
Cork trees Alentejo area
pikipiki-portugal-motorcycle travels-journey-odyssey
It’s damn cold and wet.
Enjoy fresh mountain water from fountains next to the road in Portugal
One can’t even enjoy some fresh mountain water in peace.

No one could speak English, but the mutual admirations we showed toward the bikes were enough.   A visitor started telling Michnus in VERY broken English about more priceless ‘motos’ that could be found in a private collection consisting of around 1000 motorcycles between Cabreiros and Ferreiros.  A few hours later, with no address and very vague directions, we headed in that way, anyway…

Camp food Portugal
Quail eggs, cheap red wine, Chorizo sausage, bread and some greens. Just love travel food!

On entering a circle at the first town, we saw a bike shop on the one side and Michnus stopped to ask if anyone had an idea where the collector might be found.  The shop owner did not understand English very well, a visiting customer in the shop immediately took us under his wing.  He also knew about the collector but himself never made it to a viewing.  He got on the phone, then in his car and told us to follow him …

Evora ride
Narrow streets of Evora.

Beautiful tiles on buildings in Portugal.Short of the long, we did not find the collector, but ended up spending a memorable day with this family – enjoying the first of many hospitable Portuguese days.  We were treated to a traditional lunch of oven baked chicken, beef and potatoes with rice.  It reminded me so much of our South African ‘boerekos’ (fresh home made food).

Medieval town of Monsaraz is a civil parish
Medieval town of Monsaraz is a civil parish

Medieval town of Monsaraz is a civil parish. Town centreWe spend two nights at a very neat and affordable hotel, Cavalcho Adaujo, as it was raining constantly.  We walked the streets, observing the tourist and locals alike, took outrides with our bikes into the park and even got a glimpse at how a funeral was held in a small town. The stunning scenic views at Gerês and Parque Natural Peneda/Gerês are unbelievable.  The park borders Spain and has some of the highest peaks in Portugal.
4 reasons not to visit Portugal.

Stunning river scenery in Portugal.
Portugal back country roads on our way to the small town of Alcoutim.
No magic could turn any of the pumpkins into new bikes.
No magic could turn any of the pumpkins into new bikes.
alcoutim
View from Alcoutim over the river to Spain.

64 Comments

  1. Realy nice photos, I am impressed with wath you visit in your journey here in Portugal….

  2. It captures the essence of portugal..sea&rivers, beach&mountains, hot&cold, and, for sure, very good food and friendly people.
    The Mediterranean sea does not touch the Algarve though..
    Good work.

  3. The wonderful beaches of the Silver Coast are often overlooked.

  4. Paul you are 100%, the Silver Coast truly offers some beautiful and groovy beaches. We loved the small little villages along the coast and hanging out with locals in coffee shops and bars early mornings 😀

  5. Don’t forget the great food and wine, that you can taste everywhere, as well as the natural hospitality of the people.

  6. Loved the description of your experience in Portugal … it made some tears come down my face by feeling nostalgic 🙂
    Just one small thing: that bridge that links Almado to Lisbon is Ponte 25 de Abril, not Vasco da Gama 🙂

  7. Great article!! Completly agree with you!! I have a great time every year in Portugal. I just think that the big bridge is bridge 25 abril, not vasco gama.

  8. Hi John, yes you are correct. I corrected it. 😀

  9. Daniel, you are correct, thanks for letting me know. Corredted 😀

  10. Just one correction, the picture where you call the “golden gate like bridge” It’s not Vasco da Gama, this one is Ponte Sobre o Tejo, or it’s “official” name as Ponte 25 de Abril (the 1974 revolution day” or with the name of whom made it, Ponte Oliveira Salazar. Vasco da Gama is the other one up ahead Tejo river, it’s made of concrete and is around 12km long.

  11. Thank you for the info Luis. I am not sure where I got the name Vasco Da Gama bridge from, but it was obviously wrong 😀 If you do not mind I will add this info to the photograph.

  12. Great article. After traveling trhough 4 continents this ia still my favourite country. Being Portuguese surelly helps but it is an astonishing country. In the meantimw, south coast shores are at the atlantic ocean, not the at mediterranean sea.

  13. Lovely country, I lived there for nearly a year, but how on Earth did you miss out Coimbra?!

  14. hahaha, we did pass through Coimbra. But man, there are just too many nice things and photos from Portugal, some had to be cut from the post list :D.

  15. Alfredo Monteiro

    you’ve failed Gêres… http://www.serra-do-geres.com/

  16. Hi Alfredo, yes we were there. Gêres is one place we will be visiting again in the future. Thanks for the link! 😀

  17. Don’t know if you have been there but the next time you come back. You should include Marvão in your to-see list :). it’s way inland but its quite beautifull and you might even swap your bike for a horse for a couple of hours

  18. The last photo on the first page is in Spain, not Portugal.

  19. Great article! Nice to know that our country is appreciated 😉

    One small corrections: Portuguese coast is 100% Atlantic Ocean… Mediterranean Sea starts on Gibraltar Strait between Spain/Gibraltar and Morocco.

    Best regards!

  20. Wich place is the view you named Playa de Carino? I just can’t get where it is… and I know almost all Portugal!

  21. i miss my country

  22. It is a quarter of a century since I visited Portugal with the Mojacar Motorcycle Touring Club. We stayed at Viana de Coltalo and Figuero do Foz. Both are somewhat touristy but it is not easy do find accommodation for about 50 people.

  23. hahaha Miguel you are correct!:D My Geography failed me big time. I just assumed the Med started around the corner of Algarve. Thanks for the correction.

  24. Hi Fernando, the photo is incorrect, some of our Spain photos got mixed into our Portugal photos. And not having the ability to GPS tag photos errors creep in 😀

  25. Nice campsite pic, Fuckers…..

  26. Ja Hennie, you were invited fucker but working is mos more important 😀

  27. elaine and David fallon

    i have been too most of the country here in wonderful Portugal love it am english been coming here 20 odd years! that why I packed up and now live here lucky me!

  28. Thank you for the great article about my beloved litle country 🙂
    Just to let you know that you only scatched the surface!
    The best to you all.

  29. If you have been in vila nova de milfontes, you should have been sines and porto covo which is where i live and is 15 min away, where there is a beach of hot Water and something called rota vicentina, which is a complex of routes off-road along the coast to the Algarve, and going througt some of the Best beaches in the country

  30. Next time you come here, stop by Beja. It’s very hot, but the food and the city make up for it!

  31. We will definitely be back Boris. Thanks for the info:)

  32. Goodness I can’t believe we missed something like that. That is why we WILL be back Cláudio:)

  33. That is true Miguel, we would dearly want to go stay in Portugal for a while. 🙂

  34. Great article, as a Portuguese, I really can relate to the passion you showed in your descriptions.

    If I may, I believe you may have the wrong tag in the Tavira photo, since we can see in the back the hills of the Serra de Monchique (my home town, hope you passed through there as well :D) I would say that those are fisherman probably from Alvor or Lagos;)

    Hope you guys get back one day again to enjoy once more what our country has to offer 😉 Safe trips!

  35. very very nice, so I put your link in my blog 8about travel by motorcycle in Portugal) . For you see more about this wonderful country pls go to:
    http://moto-explorer.blogspot.pt/search/label/ROTEIROS
    nice trips and enjoy!

  36. Muito obrigado pela vossa reportagem!!! I mean, thank you a lot for the great novel you wrote about my country!!!

  37. Thank you for your opinion on our country.
    Nice to know you enjoyed plenty of it, especially to see that you visited more than just Lisbon.
    Glad to note that you liked Porto, my city and mostly to know you liked the Portuguese people! 🙂

  38. Hi. I really enjoyed your article and I’m very pleased that you liked Portugal. Just a small comment… the photo labeled as Albufeira nightlife is actually in Lagos 😉

  39. Joana, you are correct, our labeling and pictures got mixed up and some with Spain. Thanks for the correction. 😀

  40. Thank you Farncisco, we are flattered. We will be back:D

  41. Thank you Andre, I edited, thanks for the correction. Our photos and towns got mixed up 😀

  42. Who visits Portugal falls in love for this magnificent country. Who borns there, will be passionate for life

  43. Hi guys! Great article! Portugal is indeed a very beautiful country where you can get a bit of everything… You even managed to pass through my tiny village – Bilhó, which by the way, is depicted on the photo below the fisherman on the first page, where you can see a motorcycle and the river going down the rocks in the background. It is situated in the Alvao Natural Park (not in the Geres park as the tooltip text suggests, but it is close enough 🙂 ) and if you ever go back there you cannot miss the Fisgas de Ermelo, which has one of the biggest waterfalls in Europe and amazing natural pools where you can swim in crystal clear water.
    Cheers!

  44. worldeasyguides

    Great pics

  45. I bet you have had a great time driving a motorbike in a such pretty cultural country, shame on most of the roads, thanks to the bad politician we do have.
    I am from the north and you have many pretty old town that you can enjoy, food, drink and always great familiar people!
    Center is also good, Figueira da Foz, Coimbra, Nazaré, Santarém etc etc, as also in the country side, like the beautiful mountain Serra da Estrela!
    Lisbon, capital, many thing to visit.
    South, Alentejo, beautiful quite and very hot in summer, Algarve… as we all know… sun, beach and cold beer 🙂
    Anyway, if you want to know some off the place that Portuguese Motor association goes with many motorbike people here you have the link in Portugal de lés-a-lés.
    http://www.andardemoto.pt/sabia-que/13898-1-o-portugal-de-les-a-les-off-road-e-a-grande-novidade-do-calendario-de-2015-da-fmp/
    I am really jealous now to not can join you on my BMW F650GS
    Enjoy!

  46. Thank you for the information José. Next time we will share a beer and you can join us with your bike:D

  47. Lenora Gaskins

    It is a pretty place, however the people are not the friendliest, I don’t know why that was said. Also the Portuguese cuisine is a very bad imitation of their neighbors to the west.

  48. Your trip photo album is amazing! From south to north and on a bike, im hoping to buy a bike and do a trip through europe too!

    A bit off topic, but we are desperate and want everyone to know about our situation.
    The government is full of corrupts, carving for money our country doesn’t have and the only solution (to them) is to sell or just let these historical houses with singular architecture crumble so they can sell them to whoever wants to explore a business here, what will be the result? Premade buildings, houses out of context, Portugal is losing its beauty. Take a good look at everything you see here because next time it might not be here anymore. Sorry for the off topic!

  49. Now I want to visit even more.

  50. Hi!

    I must tell you a secret: Açores islands
    It’s not exactly a place for bike travellers, but you’ll find paradise
    here’s a sample:
    http://www.tripadvisor.com.br/LocationPhotos-g189123-Azores.html

  51. Where are the falls is not peneda geres but in behind the hills cavernelhe Mondim de Basto

  52. Thanks for the correction Manuel. Our pictures and info got a bit mixed up .:D

  53. @Lenora Gaskins

    “Also the Portuguese cuisine is a very bad imitation of their neighbors to the west.”

    Hi

    We don’t have any neighbors in the West (it’s sea) and to the East it’s Spain (I’m sure you could not compare Portuguese to Spanish cuisine.. ever).

    You have to go to the Azores, rent a bike in São Miguel and enjoy.

  54. Some Great Photo’s. As the author of Algarve Travel Guide: 54 Cities Towns, Villages. I also fell in love with the country. Hope to travel and write more books on Portugal and the Azores.

  55. Margaret Brown

    As a British resident of 29years living off the beaten track in Western Algarve, my heart was stolen at the first sniff of the bush below Monchique. Am now long in tooth and short in memory but my roots are too deep to pull out. Thank you Portugal. Margaret Jepson

  56. Margaret Brown

    Should read ‘As a British resident in Portugal for 29years………´’

  57. The Last photo on the first page is in fact in Portugal as it is labeled in the town of Alcoutim. Enjoyed the article.

  58. Great travel, great journal, and yet, there are still many reasons for you to come back: alentejo, gerês, costa vicentina…

  59. Terra, by ending your own comment with a pathetic “sorry”, you concede that it is unfit and inappropriate. Never taint the wonders of travel and nature with politics!

  60. Hi, thank you for your description of our small corner in the end of Europe. We love it also very much und we love even more receiving people that can apreciate what we have to offer. For us it’s also a facinating country that we also try to discover to the smallest detail but every day it seems that there is more to discover.

    Thank you again,

  61. Glad you’ve enjoyed my country this much 🙂
    Thank you for the very nice words and the great pictures you’ve published. You are welcome to visit and stay for ao long and as many times you guys wish. Cheers.

  62. Thank you for the kind invite Rui. You will see us for sure 😀

  63. Come back and spend two weeks in Alentejo

  64. Thank you Andre, we definitely will for sure.

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