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Portugal’s "Route 66" - Where to start, detour and end

Portugal’s "Route 66" - Where to start, detour and end

 Living in Portugal 

We often get asked by people who are planning to visit Portugal: “Where do I start?” And for such a small country you wouldn’t consider this such a difficult question, but it is. The fact is, Portugal is so diverse, we have the ocean which everyone knows about. But we also have an incredible river network, miles, and miles of farms and vineyards, mountains, valleys, castles and cathedrals, so much to explore.

We often get asked by people who are planning to visit Portugal: “Where do I start?” And for such a small country you wouldn’t consider this such a difficult question, but it is. The fact is, Portugal is so diverse, we have the ocean which everyone knows about. But we also have an incredible river network, miles, and miles of farms and vineyards, mountains, valleys, castles and cathedrals, so much to explore.

The EN2, or Estrada Nacional 2, otherwise known as ‘Portugal’s Route 66’, is a national road that goes from the North to the South of Portugal, dissecting the country down the middle. It is not a motorway and not a road to be driven in a hurry. It is 739 km (459 miles) of Portuguese goodness; mountains, rivers, history, culture, villages, and food. This is not a coastal road, but an opportunity to see the country in a way that many have not.

However, we return to that first question… “Where do I start?” This time, the answer is easy, start where the road starts, and finish where the road ends, enjoying some detours along the way. Take a journey through the mountainous North, past rivers in the central region, over the plateaus of the Alentejo until you reach parts of the Algarve that will surprise you. This is an experience that will ignite your senses, allow you to see nature in all its diversity, explore places that are frozen in time and savour the food that you will only taste in that ‘tasca’, in that village, on that day.

Here are some suggestions on how to make the most of your trip down Portugal’s magical EN2:

Chaves

Portugal Realty Chaves Portugal

 

Your journey starts in Chaves, one of Portugal’s most Northerly towns and 10 km from the Spanish border. This is a wonderful place to start, we suggest arriving a day early and meandering through the historic centre, with the Roman bridge, charming riverside and majestic Castle. For something completely different, visit the museum of contemporary art and in the evening experience good food and hospitality, typical of the North, at one of the many local restaurants.

In Chaves, if you go to the local Tourist Office you can ask for your passport and whenever you stop to visit the various places don't forget to get a stamp from the locality that will confirm your visit.

Alternatively, you can download the EN2 App and digitally stamp the municipalities where you pass through, as well as find useful information about this route. The app is based on QR code reading and each traveller only has to direct the app's QR reader to the QR code located in each Municipality to mark their passage.

 

Portugal Realty EN Passporte Portugal Route 66

 

Lamego

Portugal Realty Lamego

 

Start early and take the first leg of your adventure, just over an hour to the town of Lamego. The road continues through Vila Real, Santa Marta de Penaguião and crosses the Alto Douro vineyards, an unparalleled landscape classified as World Heritage by UNESCO, so remember to take it slow and enjoy the scenery. This place is so picturesque you could easily spend the entire day here.

The first thing that you need to do in Lamego is climb the incredible stairs to the Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora dos Remedios. The baroque staircase made of stone with gorgeous Portuguese ceramic features and the 18th-century Sanctuary is one of the most beautiful examples of Portuguese architecture. Climb the 686 steps and enjoy the view over the red roofs down below. After all that climbing you will need to replenish your energy so find a local café, have a drink and enjoy the local cake of the region Gradinhas do Lamego.

Other sites to see in Lamego include the Baroque theatre, the castle of Lamego, Lamego cathedral, underground wine cellars, and the Miradouro Sao Domingos, an amazing lookout point where you can enjoy the view over the valleys and vineyards of this wonderful region.

Serra do Buçaco

Portugal Realty Bussaco Palace Portugal

 

Further down the EN2, passing the well-known towns of Viseu and Tondela, take a slight detour and you will find the Buçaco Mountain Range or ‘Serra do Buçaco.’ The Northern region is very mountainous and although Serra do Buçaco is not the highest, it is simply breathtaking.

Here you have the opportunity to stretch your legs and work off all of that delicious food you have been eating. The national forest is a wonderful place to explore and enjoy nature and in the middle of this greenery is the Buçaco Palace, a beautiful building inspired by Lisbon’s Jeronimos Monastery, it was first a cathedral and later became home to Queen Maria Pia. Today it is a luxury hotel but has maintained all the original features and architecture. For an extra treat, spend your first night here before the next part of your journey down EN2. 

Sertã

Portugal Realty Serta ortugal 


As you make your way into the Central region of Portugal, be sure to stop off at Sertã. A quaint river village with some lovely river beaches where you can picnic, cool off with a swim, or just dip your feet in the water and listen to the water flowing by.

Sertã, for such a small village, also has some beautiful bridges. None more so than the wooden pedestrian bridge where you will see locals walking their dogs and enjoying the surrounding park.

Here you can also visit the castle of Sertã and the incredible Cabril Dam.

Almourol

Portugal Realty Almourol Castle Portugal

 

For a look into Portugal’s past and a story that you would expect to see in a Hollywood blockbuster, veer off the EN2 slightly and stop off at Almourol Castle. Like something from a postcard, this Castle sits proudly atop an island in the middle of the Tagus River.

This was a defensive outpost against invaders coming along the river towards Lisbon and was used by the legendary Knights Templars.

Today, you can take a lovely ride across to the island and explore the castle, climb the walls, and enjoy a wonderful view of the river.

Montemor-o-Novo

Portugal Realty Montemor o Novo

 

Welcome to the Alentejo, the largest region of Portugal and also the most laid-back, due to its warm temperatures and calm way of life. If you didn’t think it was possible for life to be any simpler, think again.

Montemor-o-Novo is a typical Alentejo village with a majestic Castle, Roman ruins, museums, and a convent which are all worth visiting, but we would strongly suggest going red. The Alentejo is widely considered Portugal’s best wine region, especially red wine and there are a number of vineyards that offer vineyard tours with wine tastings afterward… the best part! Monte da Ravasqueira, Herdade do Menir and Quinta da Plansel are all good places to visit for the Alentejo wine experience.

Check in to one of the luxurious countryside estates, swim, and relax in the shade to escape the Alentejo heat and later make your way into the village for some delicious Alentejo cuisine, namely black pork which is something you have to try in this region.

 

Aljustrel

Portugal Realty Aljustrel Alentejo
 

The Alentejo is vast and flat and as you slowly make your way through you will see miles of vineyards and olive groves and tiny villages with typical red roofs and whitewashed walls. Aljustrel is no exception and a lovely place to stop before you reach the Algarve. This tiny village is famous for mining and if you are lucky enough to be in Aljustrel when the miners' choir performs some of their folk songs, you will hear beautiful music, rich in history and emotion.

Visit the mining museum, a local diner for lunch but before you leave, go up to the Nossa Senhora do Castelo Church and take a moment to sit, breathe the fresh air and admire the most incredible view for miles and miles over sunflower fields, olive groves, and gorgeous Alentejo landscape.

We shared a story about an Aljustrel diner in one of our recent podcast episodes, available here. 

São Brás de Alportel

Portugal Realty Sao Bras de Alportel Alentejo Portugal

 

You have arrived in the Algarve region, but this place is so different from anything you would expect in this region. São Bras de Alportel is a far cry from the beachfront apartments and marinas of Vilamoura, Albufeira and Portimao.

This village, surrounded by cork plantations and orange groves is the perfect place to stop before the hustle and bustle of Faro. With narrow cobblestone streets, a quaint town square, and traditional architecture with Moorish influence, Sao Bras is truly unique.

Relax at one of the street-side cafés, enjoy the sunshine, and reflect on your journey to this point. Other things to do in the area include wine tours, cork plantation tours, or quad biking through the countryside.

After crossing eleven districts and 35 municipalities, the journey along the National Road 2 comes to an end in Faro, overlooking the sea.

 

There are so many things to see and do along the EN2, it is a diverse journey with mountains, rivers, wine farms, and historic buildings. So regardless of whether you are currently living in Portugal or are in the process of buying a property, enjoy this time to organize your trip along the EN2 and experience the hospitality of a country that is happy to have you here and welcomes you with hugs, kisses and warm smiles.

Bem-vindo!

 

Portugal Realty™ - Property for sale in Portugal

Property for Sale in Portugal

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Algarve (+351) 289 142 192

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