Hi – my wife and I have just returned from cycling the Ecovia and I thought some comments and notes may help other people reading this website.
We cycled the route from Cabo de SV to Vila Real in 6 stages, staying in Sagres – Lagos – Portimao – Albufeira – Faro – Tavira. The Portuguese company we used suppled the bikes and accessories and transported our luggage from pre-booked hotel to hotel each day (they also did the airport transfers.); we cycled with just a handlebar bag and pannier. The hotels we stayed in were excellent and easy to find.
Our total distance was 264 km – so an average of 40-45 km per day, which was enough in the heat we had (up to 28 degrees one day)
There are comments above about the bikes you need. I would say that it would be impossible on a road/gravel bike. I had a 21 gear mountain bike and my wife a 6 gear mountain style e-bike. Some of the tracks are pretty tough off-road paths and I wouldn’t want to attempt these on a road bike.
The route we used was supplied by the company in a Garmin GPS unit and a very comprehensive route book. This had turn-by-turn descriptions and photos and was very useful at times. The GPS unit had maps and a very high resolution route entered for each stage. We did take occasional wrong turnings, but that was more my not looking at the unit at some junctions.
The surfaces we rode went from completely off-road rocky, sandy tracks, through gravel paths, unmade and potholey roads, to boardwalks over the sand dunes, tarmac roads, pave roads in town and decent tarmac on the bigger roads. As others have said, the way marking is not brilliant – the blue paint and bicycles on the road have worn off in many places and there are not many signposts. You need to keep a good look out for them.
Some additional comments:
If you can avoid the N125, do so. We cycled along quite a bit (especially leaving Faro), although there is a wide cycle lane on it.
We cycled from Tavira to Vila Real and got the train back. BUT – getting bikes on and off the train is difficult. You have to use the carriage at the front and lift the bike up about 4-5 ft, from the ground to the carriage – there is no ramp, etc. This is very difficult with a heavy e-bike.
Our route took us through the middle of Albufeira – avoid this if you can as it is really dire!
Excellent wildlife on the route – especially birds. We saw storks, flamingoes, bee-eaters, all manner of wading birds, marsh harriers, etc. The uncultivated land was covered with late spring flowers – really beautiful.
The board walks extend along much of the sandy coast and the Ria Formosa Natural Park – they protect the sand dunes, but we did see some signs on one section saying that cycling was not allowed during the summer (May-Sept, I think).
Overall, we had a great holiday. I would be happy to send our tracks as gpx files to anyone who is interested, assuming Lorenzo is OK with this. Also, if anyone has any queries that I may be able to help with, please let me know. My email address is andyo6804 at pm.me (no spaces and replace the ‘at’)
I hope anyone doing this route has a great time – it really is very beautiful.