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An adventure motorcyclist enjoys an undulationg, hardpacked dirt road as it meanders through a rolling hillside of smooth granite boulders
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.Three adventure motorcyclists at a picnic table in PortugalAn adventure motorcycle parked alongside whitewashed terraced storage in rural PortugalExploring trails PortugalAn adventure motorcyclist riding a KTM 790 Adventure R ascends a gravel climb to a backdrop of rolling scrubland.An adventure motorcyclist kicks up some dust as he ascends into the rolling hills surrounding a reservoirA 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 motorcycllist riding a KTM790 Adventure R crosses a dry riverbed in PortugalAn adventure motorcyclist riding a dirt road above the Douro River valley in PortugalRolling hills and a shallow valley painted with the golden browns and yellows of autumn.An advventure motorcyclist stops ahead of a gravel road climb to a ridge of wind turbinesMarvão castle approach and entrance in the warm light of sunriseFour men sit around a restaurant table with stek and wine, to a backdrop of a wooden wine cabinetA whitewashed chapel guards the cobbled approach to Castelo Rodrigo, PortugalInfinity pool at a hotel in the AlgarveTwo adventure motorcyclist riding KTM 690 Enduro's skirt a Portuguese vineyard swathed in autumn colours

The Picos & Portugal – Southbound


At a Glance

(see FAQ’s)




1046 mi

651 mi

395 mi

(see FAQ’s)


1046 mi



651 mi

395 mi

Spring 2022: April 3rd – 14th

Autumn 2022: September 18th – 29th


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Ride to Portugal’s Algarve and fly home…


Starting in Spain’s spectacular Picos de Europa, this southbound leg of our Grand Tour offers a shorter trip for those unable to travel for 3-weeks. At the tours conclusion in Portugal’s Algarve, you can either make your own home, or have us transport your bike whilst you fly home (see the Logistics tab below).

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)

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 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 😎

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
  • 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.



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 – Portimão

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:  Bike shipping & Departure

If you’re continuing on your own journey at the end of the tour then you can enjoy a lay-in and a lazy breakfast. Otherwise we’ll ride the 15mins to our transport agent to handover your motorcycle for trucking to the UK. Once safely handed over, you’ll be transferred to Faro airport for your flight home.

See the ‘Logistics’ tab

Route Map

Big Sky Riders motorcycle adventures. The Picos & Portugal Southbound tour route map

What's Included

Tour price INCLUDES

  • 11-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
  • Return motorcycle transport from Portugal to UK (if selected during booking
  • Transfer from bike transport depot to Faro airport
  • 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


The tour starts in Potes, 30mi inland from Spain’s north coast, and finishes in Portimão, in Portugal’s Algarve. The Algarve is a difficult place to tear yourself away from and so you may like to stay on and make you own way home.

Otherwise, our shipping agent runs a weekly service between Porches in the Algarve and Andover, Hampshire. You can select bike transport at the time of booking.


If travelling from the UK, we have scheduled the tour to work with the Brittany Ferries services from Portsmouth to Spain

The sailing closest to the start is:

  • Saturday 9th October 2021 | Portsmouth – Bilbao | 12:00 – 12:45 (+1 day – 23h45)

From Bilbao it’s an easy 118 mile ride to the hotel in Potes. 2h30 if using the motorway (no tolls).

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

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

Return Bike Freight

Day 12 – Thursday 21st October. We’ll ride together to the shipping agent, 15 minutes away. Once the handover of your motorcycle has been completed, you’ll be collected for your transfer to Faro Airport – 35miles/40mins away.

Flying Home

Your luggage and riding gear can be sent with your bike should you wish to fly with just hand luggage.

Skyscanner.net lists DIRECT flights to London and many regional airports.

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


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