Dão's dedicated bikeway, Portugal
Dão’s dedicated bikeway is a success story in Portugal.
In September 1988 the Dão’s train line was definitely closed.
Linking Viseu to Santa Comba Dão, with about 49 km, this railroad was transformed into the Ecopista do Dão Ecopista, Dão’s bike lane or cycle lane, inaugurated in 2011.
Some historical information:
The Dão railway, Linha do Dão in Portuguese, start operating in 1890.
I can imagine the joy and hope of the local population, having the train operating there.
At those times, having a train line crossing their towns was a very strong sign of prosperity, of future improvement of their living conditions.
Nowadays, with the high quality of our roads, nice cars, and other vehicles, although important, it is less relevant for a town to be accessible by train.
During some years, after a systematic fall in importance of this railway, in September 1988 the Dão railroad was definitively closed, after a long period of drastic reduction of its use.
On the previous layout of this railway, was built the current Ecopista do Dão Ecopista, Dão’s cycleway, that was inaugurated in 2011.
How do I see it:
This dedicated bikeway must be the best known Portuguese bike lane, among does over 30km long.
It connects Viseu to Santa Comba Dão, descending smoothly, which makes it ideal for those who do not want to make much effort.
One of the features that most attracts me on this route is the idea of biking without having to do a relevant physical effort. This is the spirit with which I face this route: it is only an easy entertainment.
In other situations, I am a fervent supporter of sporting behavior but not here where it appeals to me to an easy ride.
The start of this cycle lane, considering the route to start in Viseu, is not easy to find if we rely only on public signs. Perhaps deficient signaling is a bad Portuguese habit.
However, if you are using a GPS device there will be no difficulty.
After entering the “Ecopista” then everything gets easier, the route is completely evident and well marked until the end.
In the initial area, still in the urban area of Viseu, it is important to keep yourself alert to some car roads crossing the bike lane.
I was surprised by some drivers who did not pay much attention to the fact that they were crossing the bikeway where cyclists were circulating.
With good weather, which is when most of us ride our bikes more often, in and around Viseu, temperatures can get quite high.
Along this bikeway there are many shady areas, which is very nice on hot days and also allows you to shoot some dragging photos, thus giving a nice idea of movement.
Along the “Esopista” there are some points that I would like to highlight:
- 13Km – Torredeita, an old steam engine train is waiting for your photos.
- 20Km – Parada de Gonta Bar at the old local train station – a good time to stop and have a coffee, or buy water.
- 30Km – Tondela – A city is always a good place for any eventuality such as wanting to finish the route and find some kind of transport back to the starting point.
- 45km – Treixedo bridge – perhaps the most iconic bridge of the entire route.
Note: During the route, there is a good number of old train stations, some tunnels and other points of potential interest not mentioned here.
As you can see from the pictures, the cycle lane tread is very good for hybrid, cross-country or mountain bikes. I do not consider it a good idea to do this route with road bikes but surely there are those who do it.
As we go along the bikeway on the direction selected here, for a while we will have the Dinha river on our left side. At about 38 km this river flows into the river Dão and it is this river that accompanies us until the end of the greenway.
In short, a simple and very pleasant route.