Ecopista do Dao.

Cycling on the Ecopista do Dao.

I just did a cycling tour from Coimbra to Viseu. This was one of the best cycling routes I have ever taken. And most of it was along a cycling trail called Ecopista do Dao.

Ecopista do Dao sign.

The Ecopista do Dao is well signposted.

I have been cycling a lot in Portugal over the past 20 years. more than 20 times have I been criss crossing this fine country with my bicycle. I have come across some really nice cycling terretory in Portugal. But I recently discovered a new route, which is closer to beating anything I have seen so far in Portugal, when it comes to cycling.

Students Coimbra.

Singing students in Coimbra.

I started the cycling trip in Coimbra. Coimbra is one of the nicest towns in Portugal you ask me. and old town situated on several hills, with the oldest university in Portugal, on top of the highest hill. That university gives the town a super nice vibe, with all the students being there.

But my main object was to take a cycling trip from Coimbra. I wanted to travel northeast to Viseu. Passing through the wine region called Dao.

Mondego River.

Cycling along the Mondego River, north of Coimbra.

Leaving Coimbra I cycled along the Mondego River. One of the longest rivers in Portugal. and a river with some fantastic scenery. The road going north had little traffic, as there is a new highway that takes the bilk of the heavy traffic going north. That is good news for us cyclists.

Road Coimbra.

The road I cycled between Coimbra and Santa Comba Dao.

I was cycling on the main road from Coimbra to Santa Comba Dao. Despite having to share the road with some cars, the cycling was fantastic. Little traffic and very nice people along the way. This is a part of Portugal that sees very few foreign tourists. So people are genuinely curious in a positive way, when they see a foreigner arriving with his bicycle.

Casa das Argolas

Casa das Argolas, where I stayed in Santa Comba Dao.

I stayed the night in Santa Comba Dao. Santa Comba Dao is a really pleasant town. The former Facist dictator of Portugal, Antonio Salazar was actually born, just outside Santa Comba Dao, in the small village of Vimieiro. The locals I spoke to did not seem to have any positive feelings towards the former dictator. 3 old guys sitting on a bench said to me: “We knew the guy and there is a reason why we have a socialist mayor now”.


The starting point of the Ecopista.

I stayed at a really interesting Residencial in Santa Comba Dao. The place had clearly been an upscale place, just a few years ago. But now it was in total disarray. The place was run by an old couple, where the man looked like an old version of Onslow from “Keeping up appearances”. Now don’t get me wrong here. The old guy was super friendly and I like the Onslow Character a lot. So it’s with great love that I call him Onslow. But it was quite clear that the place had been falling apart quite recently. I do not know why. But my room was very cheap at 20€, And the old couple were really friendly and made me a fantastic breakfast, the next morning.

Cycling on the Ecopista do Dao.

Cycling path.

A cycling path when it is really good.

From Santa Comba Dao, I cycled out to the train station in the village of Vimieiro. This is the starting point of the Ecopista do Dao The first few meters of the trail was unpaved and steep downhill.But that was only for a few meters. After that the trail was really fantastic. And it continued to be so, right until the end of the trail at Viseu. I have cycled on quite a few bicycle trails around the world. But the Ecopista do Dao has to be one of the very best I have ever cycled on. It mostly goes along a former rail line. So there are no steep climbs, even if the road from Santa Comba Dao to Viseu elevates you quite a bit. Almost the entire trail is car free. And there are lot’s of nice little additions to the trail. Such as solar powered street lights. Little cafes in some of the old railway stations. And the scenery is really fantastic. This is the region where the DAO wine is being produced. So you are also cycling along many vineyards. Only sad thing is that you can that this is also a part of Portugal that has many forest fires. I saw lot’s of burned down trees, as I was cycling the Ecopista do Dao.

Railway Station.

Many of the old railway station are turned in to cafes these days.

Solar panels.

The street lights are powered by solar panels.

I made a little lunch break in the small provincial town of Tondela. A town that is mostly known for having a football team in the best Portuguese league at the moment.

The Ecopista do Dao end in Viseu. Viseu is not a very famous town. But it has a nice town center and is surrounded by picturesque villages. Viseu might get a little more famous in the future though, as a young football player by the name Joao Felix is from Viseu. Many people see him as the next Cristiano Ronaldo. And if he can bring as much fame to Viseu as Cristiano Ronaldo has to Madeira, then Viseu might be up for some fame. So you better get there before the crowds arrive.

Dao Wine.

Cycling where the Dao wine is made.

And if you go to Vieu by bicycle, then you have one of the finest pieces of cycling path that end in Viseu.


  1. Pingback: Tips and advice for tour cycling in Portugal. Portugal is a good country for cycling.

  2. That’s an interesting cycling trail in Portugal, Claus, thanks for sharing.

  3. Svend Lund Nielsen

    Hi Claus,

    Very interesting trail – I consider doing it myself after reading your fine article! :o) I go to Porto in start June 2020 (renting a bike at Bikeiberia) and my plan is to end in Faro after 14 days. I have a good feeling of my journey south of Lissabon (sticking mainly to the coastal area, passing Alentejo region) but the northen part, Porto to Lissabon, has been more challenging to figure out the “right route” while going south towards Lissabon. I will see if I can integrere this trail in my route somehow.

    Now perhaps you can help me to deside which bike I should rent?! My first choice was a Giant Gravel Bike with 2×11 Shimano gear but perhaps a MTB will be a better choice? What do you think? Is the gravel roads and tracks in Alentejo and Algarve too rough for a gravel bike? Or do I simply miss out on too many scenic tracks if I don’t pic a MTB?

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