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Portugal / North and Central tour provided by: Andreas Lienhardt


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Tour

Start
In BRAGANCA. We came to BRAGANCA from LEON (SPAIN) via the N 630 crossing BENAVENTE and then taking the N 525 till PUEBLA DE SANABRIA. From here a small road takes you to PORTUGAL. It is a very nice small road through the hills. The nearer you come to the border, the more lonley you feel. The road has lots of curves so it is very funny to ride there. I have had a lot of fun. PORTELO is the first village in PORTUGAL and than the road is going down to BRAGANCA. There you can find gasstations and some banks to change money.

When we finished our visit in BRAGANCA we went to VILLA REAL. We didn't take the main road (N 15), we took a nice ride through the montains of the region TRAS OS MONTES, one of the poorest regions in Portugal. The road goes through the hills with a lot of curves. At this time (summer 98) there have been a lot of construction work (some curves may have been gone now). After 40 km we reached in CHAVES. Then we took the N 2 and reached VILLA REAL after another 62 km. We spent some days at the Camping there.


Vistis in the area:

One day we went to MATEUS. Here you can vistit the wine-growing estate (Mateus rose) and the villa of the Mateus family. Entrance fee is 600 ESC / per. for the garden only and 1200 ESC for house and garden. We only viseted the garden which is a very nice one and we were drinking a lot of the Mateus wine.

Two days we spent to visit the river DOURO and its valley. Left and right hills of the river are used to grow famous Portwine. It is one of the biggest wine-growing areas in Portugal. The river is 25 km away from VILLA REAL. One tour took us from MATEUS to SABROSA and PINHAO. From there we followed the river to PESO DA REGUA. Allong the river you can find some little guesthouses where you can eat and drink. (Don't drink and drive). Another tour took us to PESO DA REGUA and when we crossed the river and followed the DOURO in direction PORTO, till CINFAES. There is a huge new bridge taking us to the other side again. Then all the way back. The road isn't down at the river, the most time it goes high into the hills near the river, so you have great views on it (we didn't see that far the most time because of a lot of forest fires at this time, so we had a lot of smoke). You have to be careful, specially in August, because the portuguese cardrivers drive like hell. Many times we have been close to an accident, because some cars came on our side through the curve. August is also the time of the "feiras", so you can find a party in nearly every village.


Next step took us from VILLA REAL straight into the SERRA DA ESTRELA. We took the main road ( N 2) down to VISEU and then the IP 5 to MANGUALDE. We left the main road and took a small road (N 231) to SEIA. The last stage of the day brought us to PENHAS DA SAUDE, next base camp for some nice tours.


Vistis in the area:

There are a lot of nice roads with a lot of curves through the SERRA DA ESTRELA. Highest point is the TORRE (1991m). It is the highest mountain of Portugal (land). At the top of the mountain are some shops for tourists. You can buy cheese and ham. Also Icecream. On good days the view is very beautyful, but you also can have rain like we had.
You can travel round a beautiful mountain landscape. A nice tour round the SERRA is going down to SEIA and than to S. ROMAO. Follow the N 230 to LORIGA and arrive after 85 km at TORTOSENDO. This is a very beautyful road through the SERRA with a lot of impressions. We enjoyed it very much. Sometimes we stoped to drink some refreshing water out of the spring. You can find many of them near the road. To view the other side of the SERRA you can go from SEIA 12 km on the N 17 in direction SPAIN and than take the N 232 to reach MANTEIGAS in the heart of the SIERRA. You may also get a good impression of the SERRA DA ESTRELA.


Off road:

We didn't found much gravelroads in there. It is also a Nationalpark, so I can understand. But we found a nice small road through the forest which was also fun. From MANTEIGAS first you go up in direction PENHAS DE SAUDE. A small sign shows "POCO DO INFERNO" on the left side. Follow this small road untill you reach this famous part of nature. It is a very nice waterfall. The most tourists think the way ends here, but it didn't. You can go on through the forest. The road is also used by forest workers with trucks, so be careful. It takes you down to the next valley and you reach the normal road after round 10 km (can't remember the exact distance). You reach the road from MANTEIGAS to BELMONTE.


In BELMONTE you can visit an old castel and some churches. You also can enjoy the famous view at the SERRA DA ESTRELA again. The N 18 takes you quick back to COVILHA.

Leaving the SERRA DA ESTRELA and going more south. First we went down the N 18 till FUNDAO. Then we took the N 238 to SILVARES. Again the road takes its way through the montains and you may find a lot of curves. A short time we took the N 112 from ORVALHO to FOZ GIRALDO. Then the N 238 down to SERTA with some nice views to the hills around. From SERTA down on the N 2. Just before VILA DE REI you will see a small sign that says that here is the geological middle of PORTUGAL. You should view the monument. After that, you can go all the way down to ABRANTES, the nice city at the river TEJO. We followed the river in direction LISBOA till CONSTANCIA and then, before a bridge we went right to the BARRAGEM DO CASTELO DO BODE there we took our next basecamp.


Visits in the area (The cultural part):

In this part of PORTUGAL you can watch a lot of history and other things. You should spent some days to watch them (if you are interested).

TOMAR: The castle of the "Templerorden" (" Christusritter" - don't know it in Enlish). The city is also very nice to watch. As special tip you should visit the market near the centre and eat in the small market "snack". He offers chicken, steak, salat and french fries for small money and very good. You can sit under a roof in the shadow and enjoy what is going on arround you. A bit outside of TOMAR you can find an old Aqueduct (an old water pipeline). Just follow the signs. It is easy to find. You can walk on it over a valley, please don't fall.

FATIMA: the "holy" place. Thousands of pilgrims come to visit this place every year.(Maintime: 13. Mai and 13. October). You can see a lot of them walking on their knees around the area (150 000 m2) and praying. Close to FATIMA you can visit a nice cave. Inside the cave they have put a lot of coloured lights which make nice effects in the water.

SERRA DE AIRE: Near the very beautyful landscape you can find three more caves. (Grutas dos Moinhos; Grutas de Alvados and Gutas de Santo Antonio). They are close to gether. We visited them all three in one day (coolest place when it is hot :-) ). Also you can find a place who showes some fossils (footprints) of Dinosaurs.

BATALHA: is a small town with a big famous church (monastery). Some parts of the monastery you can vistit without paying, but the most interesting things you only can watch by paying a small fee.

ALCOBACA: also a ("Zisterzienser")-monastery with a lot interesting things to view. Same regulation like in Batalha. Very interesting are the graves of King Pedro I. and Ines de Castro.

OBIDOS: some people say that this is the most nicest town in PORTUGAL. Take a look and find it out.

SANTAREM: here you can watch some very nice churches and an intersting market hall with Azulejos. Nice to visit is also the IGREJA DO SEMINARIO in the centre of the town. Also the IGREJA DA GRACA close to it and the PORTAS DO SOL with a great view to the TEJO river. From Santarem you can make a tour back along the river TEJO and visit some other highlights. You may find a torero-school in ALPIARCA. After CHAMUSCA you should cross the river and go to GOLEGA. In Golega is a big horsemarket in the 2nd. week in November. Go on to TORRES NOVAS and follow the N 118 direction ABRANTES. A few kilometers before CONSTANCIA you should visit the castle ALMOUROL. It is in the middle of the river TEJO and you only can visit by boot.

MAFRA: Here you can visit the PALACIO NACIONAL DE MAFRA. The portugues kings lived there sometimes for a short time. You can visit the Basilika for free. All the other parts you have to pay for. It is not allowed to take your photo with you.

SINTRA: In this town are lots of tourists and it is difficult to find a parking sometimes (even for an @). In Sintra you can visit a lot of things. It is a very nice old town, but the traffic is like hell, because of all the tourists. You should visit the PALACIO NACIONAL DE SINTRA, the CASTELO DOS MOROS and the PALACIO DE PENA at the top of the hill. The distance from the "basecamp" is huge. So it may be better to go closer to this place, otherwise you have a long way to ride.

One-day-tour: From CONSTANCIA to ABRANTES first. Following the river TEJO at the N 118 till ALPALHAO. Here go to the N 246 to CASTELO DE VIDE and then to MARVAO. Here you should visit the CASTELO. Also enjoy the great view to SPAIN which is very close. Then go down to PORTALEGRE and spend some time in this beautyful city. Drive back on the N 18 for only a few kilometers and then go left to the N 119. You reach CRATO and then ALTER DO CHAO. Here you have to stop, especially when your girlfriend is with you and you like horses (Lusitanos and Alter Real). A sign shows you the way to the royal stud farm of ALTER. It is possible to visit it from 9:00 to 16:00 for a small fee. (sometimes Siesta!) The N 119 takes you after 70 km back to ABRANTES.


The last part of the journey takes us more south to the ALENTEJO. We took the way through LISBOA because we wanted to cross the new bridge VASCO DA GAMA. At this time it was free if you go out of Lisboa and you have to pay when you go to Lisboa. (maybe this regulation change sometimes). It is impressing to cross that bridge and I think it is the coolest place in Lisboa. ;-). After the bridge we took at MONTIJO the N 4 and then the N 114 to EVORA. Just before Evora we saw a sign for "Menhir" to the right side. We found two of three places in there. Very impressing and also a bit offroad track to reach them. Then going on direction BEJA, untill PORTEL. Here we were looking again for a camping. We left the main road and went to the Barragem do Alvito. This road goes 10 km absolutley straight. The first curve came then we arrived at the lake. (the old road is under the lake). Through VIANA DO ALENTEJO and ALVITO we reached the BARRAGEM DE ODIVELAS where we found a camping. It was very hot there. We had + 47C. From here you also can make several tours in the wonderful ALENTEJO.

At last we went down to the ALGARVE.


Camping

  • PENHAS DA SAUDE (near COVILHA)
  • VILLA REAL
  • BARRAGEM DO CASTELO DO BODE
  • BARRAGEM DO ODIVELAS
  • and manny more...

Sights in the area

  • COIMBRA (old university city)
  • BUCACO Nationalpark near COIMBRA
  • there is still more to find ...

WWW Links
Pictures

Pictures of Portugal

Picture-Count: 7
build: November 2002


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