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KTM 790 Adventure R on the only legal gravel road in the Picos de Europa National Park.
Three KTM adventure motorcyclists pose with their bikes near Riaño in SpainHead & shoulder shot of a motorcyclist passing a Portugal border signThree arched Roman stone bridge in Portugal's north east.An adventure motorcyclist riding a KTM 790 Adventure R ascends a gravel climb to a backdrop of rolling scrubland.An adventure motorcycle parked alongside whitewashed terraced storage in rural PortugalAn adventure motorcyclist enjoys an undulating, hardpacked dirt road as it meanders through a rolling hillside of smooth granite boulders.A narrow road, lined with protective bollards, hugs the edge of a rocky mountainside as three adventure motorcyclists admire the view from a layby.An adventure motorcyclist kicks up some dust as he ascends into the rolling hills surrounding a reservoirFour men sit around a restaurant table with stek and wine, to a backdrop of a wooden wine cabinetAn advventure motorcyclist stops ahead of a gravel road climb to a ridge of wind turbinesA whitewashed chapel guards the cobbled approach to Castelo Rodrigo, PortugalExploring trails PortugalInfinity pool at a hotel in the AlgarveThree adventure motorcyclists pose for the camera against a backdrop of Portugal's Atlantic OceanAutumn colours in the mountains surround a modern suspension bridge, juxtaposed against the flooded remains of a village exposed by a reservoir's low water levelThree adventure motorcyclists navigate a windy valley roadThree Adventure Motorcyclists on tour in PortugalThree KTM adventure motorcyclists on a gravel road in the Picos de Europa National Park, Spain

The Picos & Portugal – Grand Tour

(1 customer review)


At a Glance

(see FAQ’s)




1987 mi

1432 mi

555 mi

(see FAQ’s)


1987 mi



1432 mi

555 mi

Spring 2022: April 3rd – 22nd

Autumn 2022: September 18th – October 7th


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SKU: n/a Category: Tag:


An extraordinary Trans Iberian adventure for adventure bike riders…


The Picos & Portugal ‘Grand Tour’ combines our Southbound and Northbound routes to create an epic Trans Iberian adventure.

An adventure motorcycle tour running 1987miles, coast-2-coast across the Iberian Peninsula – all the way to the Algarve and back. Incorporating 555 miles of dirt roads, our route showcases the diversity of Portugal from a perspective only achievable from the seat of an adventure motorcycle.

Leaving the Picos de Europa National Park behind us, we cross Spain’s Cordillera Cantabria and enter Portugal through its North East corner; a region once so remote it spawned its own dialect and customs. Once across the border, we join an extraordinary network of trails (many un-mapped), that service the country’s, forests, farmland, orchards and vineyards. From hardpacked dirt, grit and gravel to stony, rocky, sandy and even crushed granite (ever ridden in kitty litter?), the range of riding surfaces is vast. We’ve classified it Level 3 (see FAQ’s). See the Itinerary for daily dirt distances.

Our southbound route through the eastern hills and central mountains (Serra de Estrella) ensures an undulating ride. Tight ‘n’ twisty, steep ‘n’ loose, fast ‘n’ flowing are all worthy descriptions of the trails as the regions roll out before us. And then there’s the tarmac; often so good you won’t care you’re not on the dirt. Yes, really…it’s that good.

The diversity of the Portuguese countryside quickly becomes apparent. Its rich Roman, Moorish and Christian history seemingly untouched. A land of castles and farmsteads, where rural life appears to have remained unchanged for centuries, where cobbled streets and allotments abound; you’d be forgiven for feeling like a time traveller. Springtime brings the early blooming purples of heather and the yellows and whites of wild flowers; whilst autumn brings a palette of colours to the landscape that have to be experienced in person. Nevermind New England in ‘the fall’ – Galicia in the autumn is a must.

Our first rest-day sees us in one of Portugal’s most historic and unspoiled cities; Evora. An enchanting place to spend some time, your biggest difficulty will be deciding how to spend your time in this UNESCO listed gem.

Onward we ride, through the olive groves and cork forests, sweet-chestnut and citrus orchards, vineyards and wheat fields. Eventually we cross the Serra. Three ranges of hills that separate the Algarve from the rest of Portugal; protecting it from the northern winds and contributing to the region’s balmy climate. Welcome to the Mediterranean 😎.

Our second rest day is in the Algarve. A chance to have a lie-in and a lazy breakfast before you give your bike some TLC, enjoy a dip in the pool or perhaps a massage?

Our departure across the Serra de Moncique and the Algarve’s highest point at Fóia, affords us a stunning last look across the coastline before we descend through eucalyptus forests en-route to the wild Atlantic coast. Turning inland we cross the garden of Portugal as we head for the rugged hills of the Serra da Lousã and Serra Açor; home to the Schist villages – so named after the stone with which they are built. Our ridgeline route feels like the backbone of Portugal with extraordinary views both east and west; just remember to look where you’re going!

The descent to Vide is one you’re unlikely to forget 😉. Our time in the valley is short lived though as we’re soon climbing into the mountains of the western Serra de Estrella National Park. A more gentle day follows as we wind our way through the heart of the Douro Valley wine region, where the terraced hilsides are home to some of the world’s best port-wines.

Leaving Portugal we cross some of Galicia’s most spectacular scenery, starting with a 20-mile trail across the Massif Galacio-Leonés; topping out at 1767m and conjouring up a few surprises along the way. Another descent to remember drops us into the valley of the Rio Sil at the foot of the Cordillera Cantabrica and another fabulous run across the mountain range to its northern foothills.

Our last day is a rather special one, taking in the only legally rideable trail through the Picos de Europa National Park. Plenty to reminisce about during our last nights dinner in Bilbao.


Off the bike

It’s not just the riding and scenery that’s spectacular, off-bike highlights include:

  • Évora – The UNESCO World Heritage listed Roman city
  • Mértola – The riverside town that dates back to Phoenician times
  • Chaves – Roman town
  • Almeida – The country’s most impressive fortified border settlement


Dirt roads: Distance vs Time

It’s easy to look at the percentage of dirt roads on a particular tour and to think it’s either too little or too much.

One thing that comes up regularly in our customer feedback is that neither distance nor percentage (of dirt roads) accurately portray the actual riding on the day. On a day of 50% dirt for example, your time on the dirt will account for 70-80% of your riding time (pending the nature of the terrain) and therefore feel much more than the 50% by distance. This generally leads to a feeling of having ridden much more dirt than you have.

To get an idea of the terrain, head over to the Big Sky Riders YouTube Channel for some helmetcam footage.


The Trans-Iberian – It’s more than a journey; it’s a journey



Day 1: Potes (Picos de Europa National Park)

Arrive at our hotel, beautifully situated at the eastern edge of the Picos de Europa National Park at the confluence of the Deva and Quivesa rivers, in the medieval village of Potes. Time to wander the cobbled alleyways for an apéritif.

Day 2: Potes – Puebla de Sanabria

166mi / 266km

Dominated by it’s 15th century castle, this granite hamlet is a menagerie of cobbled alleyways.

Day 3: Puebla de Sanabria – Miranda do Douro

Tarmac: 16mi / 25km – Dirt: 71mi / 114km – Total: 87mi / 139km – 82% Dirt

Today is the proverbial ‘Baptism of Fire’. The dirt roads start gently before we even reach Portugal where the twists, turns and undulations begin. Plenty of afternoon opt-out points for those desiring an early beer to hit the tarmac. The medieval border town of Miranda do Douro, set above the magnificent gorge of the Rio do Douro, awaits.

Day 4: Miranda do Douro – Torre de Moncorvo

Tarmac: 46mi / 74km – Dirt: 36mi / 58km – Total: 83mi / 132km – 44% Dirt

Rolling farmland of olive groves, almond and sweet chestnut trees give way to vinyards as we head south west.

Day 5: Torre de Moncorvo – Almeida

Tarmac: 50mi / 80km – Dirt: 25mi / 40km – Total: 75mi / 120km – 33% Dirt

Vinyards and olive groves lead the way to the ‘Parque Natural do Douro Internacional’ and ‘Profanity View’ (so named by us as nobody gets there without swearing!) The fabulous descent leads to lunch on the River Douro. An easy afternoon allows for an early finish and time to explore the magnificent stronghold of Almeida. Constructed in the shape of a twelve-pointed star, the village is contained within.

Day 6: Almeida – Serra de Estrella

Tarmac: 73mi / 116km – Dirt: 29mi / 47km – Total: 102mi / 163km – 29% Dirt

Through the Parque Natural Serra de Estrella and into the mountain range of the same name. Our route takes a dirt road offering spectacular views to the glacial valley of Zêzere below as we head for our mountain accommodation.

Day 7: Serra de Estrella – Marvão

Tarmac: 85mi / 136km – Dirt: 61mi / 98km – Total: 146mi / 234km – 42% Dirt

Panoramic views abound as a series of windturbine lined ridges carry us away from the mountains. Our days destination is the dramatically located Marvão. From its location atop a crag that that it shares with its 12th century castle, the views are spectacular. Surely there’s no better place to watch the sunset with a post ride beer.

Day 8: Marvão – Évora

Tarmac: 84mi / 134km – Dirt: 63mi / 100km – Total: 146mi / 234km – 43% Dirt

Day 9: Rest Day in Évora

The mileage may look that high on paper but you’ll be feeling it by now and ready for a breather (When did you last ride for 6 consecutive days?). As one of Portugal’s most historic and unspoiled cities, your toughest decision today will be what to visit next.

Day 10: Évora – Mértola

Tarmac: 90mi / 144km – Dirt: 44mi / 71km – Total: 134mi / 215km – 33% Dirt

South through the Guadiana Valley Natural Park to the Mina de São Domingos. Once one of Europes largest mining operations, the abandoned site resembles that of a nuclear disaster with derelict buildings and pools of polluted water.

Our destination for the day is Mértola. Guarded by its Moorish castle, the whitewashed houses reach down to the banks of the Rio Guadiana below. The history of Mertola dates back to Phoenician times and it is considered an open-air museum. Worth a stroll; if you can tear yourself from the bar and pool.

Day 11: Mértola – Algarve

Tarmac: 42mi / 67km – Dirt: 64mi / 103km – Total: 106mi / 170km – 60% Dirt

Endless views across the rolling hills of the Algarve abound on this ridgetop run through the cork trees that straddle the Serra do Caldeirão on the edge of the Algarve. Trails along todays route have been nicknamed ‘Trigpoint Ridge’ and the ‘Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster’.

Day 12: REST DAY | Bike shipping

For ‘Grand Tour’ guests, today is a chance to catch-up on some bike maintenance and relax before the 7 consecutive days a head.

For the staff its bike shipping. Drop-off for those departing the Southbound tour and collection for those arriving for the Northbound.

Day 13: Algarve – Vila Nova de Milfontes

Tarmac: 49mi / 79km – Dirt: 51 / 81km – Total: 100mi / 160km – 50% Dirt

Leaving the Mediterranean behind, we cross the Serra de Monchique with its hillsides of chestnut and deciduous oak forests as we climb to Fóia, the Algarve’s highest point, before making our way to the Atlantic coast.

Day 14: Vila Nova de Milfontes – Abrantes

Tarmac: 153mi / 244km – Dirt: 19mi / 31km – Total: 172mi / 275km – 11% Dirt

A final look at the Atlantic coast before we turn inland and cross the garden of Portugal as we head for the hills.

Day 15: Abrantes – Linhares

Tarmac: 105mi / 168km  – Dirt: 54mi / 86km – Total: 159mi / 254km – 34% Dirt

A big day in the hills and mountains. We’ll cross the Serra da Lousã and kiss the western flanks of the Serra da Estrella; with such vast views both east and west you’ll feel like you’re traversing the backbone of Portugal.

Day 16: Linhares – Chaves

131mi /  209km

Everyone will be tired after yesterday and so we’ve made today’s gentle ride of 4hrs + stops through the port-wine town of Pinão, a self-navigated one. Have a lie-in, wander the cobbled streets of the old stone village of Linhares – dominated by its 12th century castle, or watch sunrise across the Mondego Valley (800m below) – the choice is yours. Either way, the Roman town of Chaves awaits and you’ll appreciate some time to explore there to.

Through the region of Trás-os-Montes, once Portugal’s most remote area, we head to the Roman town of Chaves for our final night in Portugal

Day 17: Chaves – Vilafranca Del Bierzo

Tarmac: 116mi / 185km – Dirt: 28mi / 45km – Total: 144mi / 230km – 20% Dirt

Soon after entering Spain we start our climb to the first of two fabulous dirt stages. The first takes us 30km across the Sierra de Queixa at an altitude of 1767m, before the second carries us to the next valley and the Rio Sil.

Day 18: Vilafranca Del Bierzo – Cangas de Onís

189mi / 317km

A full day in the Cordillera Cantabrica as we return to the Picos de Europa on some of the best tarmac you’ll ever ride.

Day 19: Cangas de Onís to Bilbao

Tarmac: 160mi / 256km – Dirt: 9mi / 14km – Total: 169mi / 270km – 5% Dirt

Today takes us out with a bang as we enjoy the only legal dirt road through the Picos de Europa National Park. It may only be 14km long but the spectacular scenery unfolds long before we get there; and continues well after. Our exit takes us through Potes (full circle for those on the Grand Tour) and onto the N-621 – not too shabby itself.

Day 20: Depart hotel for onward travel

Pending your onward travel arrangements you’ll either be up early for the ferry to Portsmouth or enjoying a well earned lie-in befor indulging in a sumptuous, lazy breakfast. More coffee?

Route Map

Route map for the Big Sky Riders Picos & Portugal Grand Tour

What's Included

Tour price INCLUDES

  • 19-Nights hotel accommodation in mainly 3 & 4* hotels on a twin sharing basis
  • All breakfasts
  • Use of hotel leisure facilities – there may be charges for some services/treatments
  • Tour booklet with daily overview maps and dirt stage info
  • Detailed daily GPS tracks with waypoints
  • Tour leader

Tour price EXCLUDES

  • Travel to/from the start/finish
  • Fuel
  • Lunches, snacks & evening meals
  • Drinks
  • Personal Travel Insurance
  • Occasional parking charges


In order to allow some flexibility in your travel plans, we’ve opted to start/finish in Spain rather than the UK.

We have scheduled the tour to work with the Brittany Ferries Portsmouth – Bilbao and Santander services. These are the most direct routes to and from the start and finish.

For 2021, the best options are:

  • OUTBOUND: Saturday 9th October | Portsmouth – Bilbao | 12:00-12:45 (+1 day – 23h45)
  • RETURN: Friday 29th October | Bilbao – Portsmouth | 10:30-09:15 (+1 day – 23h45)

Whilst we don’t make the booking, we can put you in touch with the group to arrange cabin sharing etc.

The tour starts in Potes, 30mi inland from Spain’s north coast; and finishes in Bilbao. Distances to Brittany Ferry’s Terminals:

  • Potes – Santander: 67mi |107km – 1h45
  • Potes – Bilbao: 118mi | 188km – 2h30

If you’re riding down through France, our favourite crossing is the overnight from Portsmouth to St.Malo.

How to Book

Bookings can be made through the website, via email or over the phone!

Payment Methods

 – Website
  • Direct Bank Transfer
  • Debit/Credit Card
 – Phone
  • Direct Bank Transfer
  • Debit/Credit Card
 – Email
  • Direct Bank Transfer

To make a booking online…

The method has changed recently and should be more straightforward.  Read below for more details.

  1. Go to the relevant page of your desired tour, first select the tour date then simply add your chosen tour to the cart.  At this point you can also choose if you’d like to pay the single room supplement (on certain tours) as well as choosing if you’d like to pay a deposit only, or the full amount.
    NB – If you are booking within 10 weeks of the start date you must pay the full amount.
Selecting your date

Selecting your date and deposit option

2. Once you press Book Now the tour is now in your basket, which will appear on the right.

Checkout button

3. You’ll now be asked to login.  If you haven’t already registered please do so.  You’ll be automatically logged in and forwarded to the checkout.

Login or Register

Login or Register

4. Checkout is straightforward and once you’ve done so you’ll receive a confirmation email.


5. Once you’ve placed your order you’ll now have access to TWO important forms.

You’ll need to complete these forms and submit them at least 10 weeks prior to your tour start date (which is the same time you’ll need to complete your final payment). 
If you’re booking within the ten week window, please complete the forms ASAP!

If you’re travelling with us for the second time you should submit new forms.

6. To find the forms please go to your account dashboard, by the link in the menu.


Click to go to your account

7. Once your in your account you will see several tabs.  Here you can check your account details, order and payment history as well as find your booking forms.

Your Forms

Your Forms to be completed

8. You don’t have to complete and submit all the form straightaway.

If you partially complete a form, and press submit you can return to it later.  To view, complete or amend a historical document, click in “My Submitted Forms” and choose the form you want to edit.

Please do not edit documents within 10 weeks of your trip as we will have already made advance bookings on your behalf.  If you’ve made a mistake, please contact us.

Your Submitted Forms

Your Submitted Forms

9. At the bottom of the form page, is the link to edit.

Edit Submission

Edit your Submission

As always, if you have any trouble please contact us by email, phone or on facebook messenger.

What to Pack

Anytime mountains are involved in a motorcycle tour you need to be prepared for inclement weather – Portugal is no exception. Be prepared.

We’ll be staying in mostly 3* & 4* hotels so you’ll want some comfortable clothes for the restaurants.

Walking shoes for exploring.

Packing list for the Big Sky Riders Portugal tours

Bike Prep


Nothing spoils a trip quicker than a troublesome motorcycle. Check your bikes next due service date and consider the tour mileage. It’s better to have your bike serviced sooner rather than later.

For a more in-depth look at preparing a motorcycle for adventure touring, take a look at our guides:

How to prepare your adventure bike – Part 1

How to prepare your adventure bike – Part 2

How to choose soft luggage for adventure motorcycling


You can choose between 50/50 front and rear or a combination of knobby front, 50/50 rear. If the weather remains dry 50/50 tyres will be fine, but if it’s wet, you may appreciate the extra bite of a knobby front.

For info on how we classify adventure tyres, see our FAQ’s

Tools, Spares & Consumables

With no support vehicle on the recce we are all required to be self-sufficient.

See our Packing List in the ‘What to pack’ Tab above

1 review for The Picos & Portugal – Grand Tour

  1. Damian Rowley

    I was lucky enough to be one be one of three people to join the recce tour for ‘The Picos & Portugal Grand Tour’. As this was a recce tour not all of the routes had been ridden which added to the adventure and the unknown. The tour was everything I was hoping for and much more. Sublime twisty tarmac roads with stunning scenery, gravel tracks, rocky terrain, hill climbs and descents, forest trails and sandy tracks. To top it off there are plenty of epic breath taking views across the mountain ranges. We discovered lots of tiny forgotten villages and culture. The shear amount of off road riding was exactly what I was looking for, it was challenging and rewarding. Staying in a different place every night meant there was plenty of regional cuisine and red wine to taste and savour.

    I highly recommend this tour. I fully intend of venturing into Morocco with Adam in the future.

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