Waterways of the Minho

Northern Portugal’s rivers & coast
 
Not only is the Minho region Portugal’s greenest corner, but it also boasts some of the country’s oldest and most picturesque towns, and some glorious beaches. This self-guided, hotel-to-hotel holiday gives you the chance to appreciate all three aspects, as you follow riverside and coastal trails from ancient Ponte de Lima to the Spanish border.
Waterways of the Minho. 6 nights
Waterways of the Minho. 6 nights
 

Holiday information

 

A cycling holiday in the Minho

Tucked beneath the Spanish border in the far north-west of Portugal and fed by the waters of the rivers Minho and Lima, this is arguably the most picturesque corner of the country. While its hillsides are coated in rich maritime pine, its meadows are grazed by long-horned cattle and braided by the vines that produce the region's famous vinho verde.
This two-wheeled journey serves as an excellent introduction to northern Portugal, exploring not only the bucolic scenery that lines the rivers, but also the virgin beaches bordering the Atlantic, and revealing some of the country’s rich history along the way.

You start in incomparable Ponte de Lima, Portugal’s oldest town, famed for its Roman bridge and colourful gardens, then follow the River Lima to Viana do Castelo, crowned by a basilica overlooking the Atlantic. After two days of coastal cycling, with ample time to enjoy the miles of soft, golden sand, you head inland once more, following the River Minho which separates Portugal from Spain, to the border town of Valença and its formidable star-shaped fortress.
 
Gallery

 

Itinerary

The key to Inntravel holidays is flexibility. You can start on the day of your choice, and are free to add extra nights.

Your route largely follows ecovias – dedicated trails for walkers and cyclists. They are mostly flat, but the surface (and width) varies: for some sections you cycle on broad asphalt trails, on others you cycle on raised wooden boardwalks, cobbles, dirt tracks and narrow paths.

Pay locally for the river ferry in Viana do Castelo, and for the train back from Valença.

This itinerary was introduced for 2024. Any reviews below from before that date refer to the old itinerary.
  • The average maximum daytime temperatures and monthly rainfall relate to the nearest weather station and are intended as a guide only.
    Average temperatures and rainfall
      Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
    °C 12 13 15 18 20 23 26 26 24 20 15 13
    mm 166 157 119 104 90 48 16 23 66 132 161 170
  • Arrival in Ponte de Lima
    Night 1: at Hotel Império do Norte (where you spend two nights).
    As your first night’s accommodation is on the day of travel, Day 1 is your first day of cycling.
  • Around Ponte de Lima: 20.5km, ascent/descent 165m
    After collecting your bikes you cross the Roman bridge and follow quiet back lanes westwards through tiny hamlets to reach the stone bridge at Estorãos before continuing to the protected wetlands of Lagoas de Bertiandos. Here, you can walk along the boardwalks that meander around the lakes and though the wetlands, stopping at hides to observe the wide variety of birdlife. Back in the saddle, you then cycle south to join the ecovia that follows the right bank of the Lima back to beautiful Ponte de Lima, whose gardens and wine museum you have ample time to explore.
    Around Ponte de Lima: 20.5km
    Ponte de Lima's Roman bridge
  • Ponte de Lima to Viana do Castelo: 27km, ascent 80m/descent 90m
    Today’s route follows the ecovia westwards alongside the Lima. Enjoying beautiful views and passing through the tiny medieval hamlet of Passagem with its riverside picnic area – a perfect spot for a mid-morning break – you begin to notice a difference in the river as it opens out to embrace the sea. Staying beside the water all the way to the outskirts of Viana do Castelo, you catch a small ferry which transports both you and your bikes across the wide mouth of the Lima to the town promenade. From here, it's just a short distance to your next two-night base, Casa Melo Alvim.
    Ponte de Lima to Viana: 27km
    The River Lima
  • Around Viana do Castelo: 29.5km, ascent/descent 230m
    We suggest that you explore the coast to the south of Viana today. After crossing the estuary by ferry, you follow quiet country lanes to a beautiful viewpoint overlooking the mouth of the River Neiva. The return leg – part of which is on a wooden boardwalk – offers the chance to linger by the sea; the glorious stretch of golden sand that is Praia do Cabedelo is particularly tempting.

    Back in Viana, it is worth taking some time to explore the town, to learn about its fascinating maritime heritage and to take the funicular to the Santa Luzia basilica perched high above for a bird’s-eye view of the town and the Atlantic beyond.
    Around Viana: 29.5km
    Viana's basilica
  • Viana do Castelo to Caminha: 32.5km, ascent 235m/descent 215m
    Follow the splendid Ecovia Litoral Norte which hugs the ocean northwards all the way to the Spanish border. Once again, there is ample opportunity to enjoy a walk on the sand or even a dip in the sea – the ecovia passes directly alongside some of Portugal's most alluring beaches and through small coastal resorts peppered with seaside cafés. You reach Caminha, on the banks of the River Minho, and continue a short distance beyond this pretty town to your final two-night base, the Rinoterra Minho.
    Viana to Caminha: 32.5km
    The coast north of Viana
  • Around Caminha: 29.5km, ascent 215m/descent 240m
    After two days on the coast, you finish with a day of highly enjoyable riverside cycling, following a dedicated cycle path alongside the River Minho upriver to the border town of Valença. From here, you catch the train back to Caminha but, before doing so, take time to explore. The impressive star-shaped fortress serves as a reminder of more turbulent times, and the cobbled streets are dotted with elegant churches.
    Around Caminha: 29.5km
    The trail along the Minho
 

Accommodation

Your superbly located accommodation varies in character, with a very special hotel saved for last.

 
 

Extend your stay

 
Prices & travel options
All prices are in £ sterling (GBP). If you'd like to see what they equate to in your currency, use the converter. For general information on pricing, see the 'your holiday price explained' page.
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  • 6 nights: 01 April 2024 - 14 July 2024, 01 September 2024 - 31 October 2024, 01 April 2025 - 14 July 2025 & 01 September 2025 - 31 October 2025

    Start any day | End by latest date(s) shown above

    Starting Price Single room
    1 - 25 Apr 2024 £870 £300
    26 Apr - 19 May 2024 £915 £325
    20 May - 25 Jun 2024 £965 £325
    26 Jun - 8 Jul 2024 £995 £360
    1 - 30 Sep 2024 £985 £325
    1 - 25 Oct 2024 £940 £325
    1 - 25 Apr 2025 £905 £315
    26 Apr - 19 May 2025 £955 £340
    20 May - 25 Jun 2025 £1005 £340
    26 Jun - 8 Jul 2025 £1035 £375
    1 - 30 Sep 2025 £1025 £340
    1 - 25 Oct 2025 £980 £340
    3rd & 4th person discount -£60 to -£62
    Single traveller supplement £60 to £62

    Includes accommodation, meals, bike hire, luggage transfers and any other services integral to the holiday as described, plus cycling notes and maps, but no travel from the UK, nor any connecting travel from the airport unless stated below.

    Electric bikes available: add £79pp

    Book your flights through us and we'll find the best route and times to suit you. Please contact us to find out more about our flight booking service. We can also book connecting travel - see below.

  • Room upgrades (£ per person per night)

    Casa Melo Alvim, Viana do Castelo
    Deluxe: 01 Apr - 14 Jul 2024 £5
    Deluxe: 01 Sep - 31 Oct 2024 £10
    Deluxe: 01 Apr - 14 Jul 2025 £5
    Deluxe: 01 Sep - 31 Oct 2025 £10
    Rinoterra Minho, near Caminha
    Deluxe: 01 Apr - 14 Jul 2024 £5
    Deluxe: 01 Sep - 31 Oct 2024 £5
    Deluxe: 01 Apr - 14 Jul 2025 £5
    Deluxe: 01 Sep - 31 Oct 2025 £5

    Extra nights (£ per person per night) in a double or single room

    Prices include an extra day’s hire of a standard bike. If you are upgrading to an e-bike, add a further £15pp per day.
    Rinoterra Minho, near Caminha (with dinner) Double room Single room
    01 Apr - 30 Apr 2024 £145 £223
    01 May - 30 Jun 2024 £160 £252
    01 Jul - 14 Jul 2024 £185 £299
    01 Sep - 31 Oct 2024 £160 £252
    01 Apr - 30 Apr 2025 £155 £236
    01 May - 30 Jun 2025 £170 £266
    01 Jul - 14 Jul 2025 £195 £314
    01 Sep - 31 Oct 2025 £170 £266
  • RECOMMENDED AIRPORT(S):
    Porto

    Travelling from the UK

    Travelling from outside the UK

    If you are flying from outside Europe,  we recommend flying via Porto or Lisbon. To discuss onward connecting travel to the start of your holiday, please contact us.

    Outward route Airline
    Aberdeen - Porto (via Amsterdam Schiphol) KLM 
    Aberdeen - Porto (via Paris CDG) Air France,  KLM 
    Outward route Airline
    Birmingham - Porto Ryanair 
    Outward route Airline
    Bristol - Porto easyJet,  Ryanair 
    Outward route Airline
    Edinburgh - Porto Ryanair 
    Edinburgh - Porto (via Amsterdam Schiphol) KLM 
    Edinburgh - Porto (via Barcelona) Vueling 
    Edinburgh - Porto (via Geneva) easyJet 
    Outward route Airline
    Glasgow - Porto easyJet 
    Outward route Airline
    Leeds Bradford - Porto (via Amsterdam Schiphol) KLM 
    Outward route Airline
    Liverpool - Porto Ryanair 
    Outward route Airline
    Gatwick - Porto British Airways,  easyJet,  TAP Air Portugal 
    Gatwick - Porto (via Geneva) easyJet 
    Outward route Airline
    Heathrow - Porto British Airways,  TAP Air Portugal 
    Heathrow - Porto (via Lisbon) TAP Air Portugal 
    Outward route Airline
    Luton - Porto easyJet,  Wizz Air 
    Outward route Airline
    Stansted - Porto Ryanair 
    Outward route Airline
    Manchester - Porto easyJet,  Ryanair 
    Manchester - Porto (via Brussels) Brussels Airlines 
    Manchester - Porto (via Frankfurt) Lufthansa 
    Manchester - Porto (via Lisbon) TAP Air Portugal 
    Outward route Airline
    Newcastle - Porto (via Amsterdam Schiphol) KLM 
    Newcastle - Porto (via Brussels) Brussels Airlines 
    Newcastle - Porto (via Paris CDG) KLM 
    Outward route Airline
    Norwich - Porto (via Amsterdam Schiphol) KLM 
    Travelling from outside the UK

    If you are flying from outside Europe,  we recommend flying via Porto or Lisbon. To discuss onward connecting travel to the start of your holiday, please contact us.

    This list of flight options should be used as a guide only, and you should check each airline’s website for current routes, frequency and schedules. Not all flights operate daily, and may not run for the entire season. You should also heed the latest flight arrival time and earliest flight departure time stated in the connecting travel section, as it may not be possible to arrange connecting travel outside these times. Please do not book your flights until we have confirmed your accommodation to you. Alternatively, our expert reservations team will be happy to offer advice and to make flight bookings for you for any of the options listed above. We charge £35 per person for our flight booking service. Your flights are then covered by our package-booking conditions, which give you greater protection in the event of delay or cancellation, as well as providing ATOL cover.

  • Prices below are based on 2 people travelling together. If you are travelling solo or as a party of 3 or more and our arrangements include a taxi, please contact us for prices; additional passengers often pay less.

    Unless otherwise stated, connecting travel by rail or bus tends to be from the city centre station, rather than from its airport, and connections between the two should be paid for locally.

    Where a price range is given, the price you pay depends on your date of travel.

    Connecting travel options - flying via Porto

    Outward route Price per person Latest flight
    arrival time
    coach Porto airport to Ponte de Lima (1h30) £14-£15 1600 (1430 Sat & Sun)
    direct taxi Porto airport to hotel (1h) £56-£58 flexible
    Homeward route Price per person Earliest flight
    departure time
    direct taxi hotel to Porto airport (1h) £62-£64 flexible
What is included
  • 6 nights
  • 2 dinners
    6 breakfasts
  • luggage transported
  • high-quality bicycle
  • route notes and maps
  • GPS navigation
 
Reviews

If you've experienced this holiday first hand, why not write a review?

We are keen for as many customers as possible to review their holiday. To make it easier to do so, we include a specific review section on our post-holiday questionnaire, and this is what we publish here, unedited. Read our full review policy >

 

FAQs

If you have any questions relating to this or any other Inntravel holiday, our friendly travel experts will be happy to help. You might also find our General FAQs section helpful.
  • Our chosen bike rental shop will provide you with a bike with 9 gears; a waterproof map case on handlebars; pannier/saddlebag; pump; puncture repair kit; and a lock.
  • While we would always recommend that you take your own well-fitting helmet, they can be provided free of charge by the supplier. Please let us know at the time of booking if you would like to hire a helmet.
  • Yes, we will provide GPX tracks for this holiday prior to departure so that you can follow your route on your smartphone or dedicated GPS device if you wish. (We also provide maps and our tried-and-tested route notes, which remain the principal means of navigation).
  • We’ll send you route notes and maps 2-3 weeks before your holiday. The route notes not only contain directions to get from hotel to hotel, but also include practical information about places of interest and eateries along each route, plus cultural information about the area. On mornings when you are moving between hotels, you leave your luggage in reception as you leave, and it will be transferred ahead to your next accommodation so that all you need to take with you are a camera, sun cream, drinks, food and waterproofs.

    For more detailed information, see our cycling holidays in Europe page.
  • You are responsible for damage to or loss of the rental bike while it is hired to you. Always be careful to lock it up, ideally to an immovable object, and remove all easy-to-steal accessories whenever you leave it unattended.
  • We can book a wide range of routes from the UK with a variety of airlines. As well as being more convenient for you to book all elements of your holiday together, it also means that we’ll accept liability for your travel arrangements, so if things go wrong, such as the airline going bust, we’ll make suitable alternative arrangements for you. The fee for this service is £35 per person (£15 for children aged 2-11). More information on flights >
  • We can’t book flights that originate outside the UK, but if you wanted to book your own flights to London (or elsewhere in the UK), we can make all onward travel arrangements (including flights) from there. Alternatively, if you are booking your own flights to an airport in continental Europe that’s appropriate for your holiday, we can book onward rail travel and/or taxis. More information about how we can tailor holidays for customers outside the UK >
  • Since our holidays are self-guided, we recommend calling us for a chat about your plans before making a booking, especially if it’s the first time you’ve booked with us.
    The price panel shows the supplement for a single room and also the single traveller charge (this covers (luggage) transfers and other costs which are usually shared between two people).
  • Once you’ve decided on your exact itinerary (our travel experts will be happy to offer advice), you need to provide us with your party’s details, either by phone or via our booking form. At this point we also ask you to pay a deposit so that we can secure a room for you immediately on confirming availability with the hotel(s). If it turns out that we can’t secure the accommodation for the holiday you’ve requested, or offer an acceptable alternative, we’ll refund your deposit promptly and in full. After booking your accommodation and other key elements, we'll then book your travel (or you can do so if you’re making your own arrangements) and send you a Booking Confirmation and Invoice.

    More information about the booking process >
    Information about accommodation, general practicalities and more >
    Booking conditions >
  • Yes, it’s something we insist on, even for holidays in the UK. The vast majority of holidays go smoothly, but when things go wrong, it can be expensive to put them right. Buying a new pair of walking boots after your suitcase is stolen mightn’t seem so bad, but the bill for being airlifted down from a mountain with a broken leg or flown home while still recovering from an illness or accident can incur a five or six-figure bill.

    Many insurers offer travel insurance (you can find details on our insurance page of a policy that you may like to consider if you are a UK resident), but you do need to make sure that you’re covered for medical emergencies – including falling ill with Covid-19 while on holiday – and repatriation. We also recommend that you are covered for other eventualities, such as cancellation and loss of luggage and passports.

    When you purchase a policy, be sure to check that it covers the activities you'll be doing on holiday and that it is adequate for your own individual needs.
  • It is your responsibility to ensure you are in possession of the correct travel documents, with the correct validity. If you’re a UK citizen, you need a full British passport to travel to Portugal, Madeira and the Azores, but not a visa (please note, however, that a new travel authorisation system is being introduced). If you are a citizen of another country, you’ll need to check requirements with the national embassy or your own consulate.

    Current information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice for UK citizens can be found through the Travel Health Pro website. You must make sure you have adequate insurance cover for illness, accidents and repatriation (see the insurance question). You should also apply for a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) if your EHIC has expired (if you have a still-valid EHIC, you can use this until it expires).
  • The official language is Portuguese. The currency is the Euro. Portuguese time is the same as GMT/UTC. It uses Daylight Saving Time, so in summer is on the same time as BST.
  • For information on the practicalities of travel now that the UK is no longer part of the European Union, visit www.gov.uk/visit-eu-switzerland-norway-iceland-liechtenstein.
  • The UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides up-to-date, country-by-country travel advice, as well as information on security, local laws, passports and visas for UK citizens.

    If you live outside the UK, see our essential travel information page for a list of relevant websites.
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