Overview: One of our favourite rides when we lived in Viseu – this circuit takes on you on a scenic loop through some glorious countryside to the west of the city and passes through a number of quiet villages. Great views of distant mountains, wooded hills and terraced farmland too.
Distance & Difficulty: 63km / 39m. Moderate-tough. No major hills but not much flat and plenty of ups and downs to get the heart beating!
There’s also an opportunity to shorten the route at Vil de Souto and cut about 14km off the ride by picking up the first section of the Ecopista do Dao (converted rail trail) and following this relatively gentle way back into town.
Facilities: Accommodation – There are various pensions and small hotels in Viseu. Shops & supermarkets – Viseu is the main centre for the region and has a couple of large shopping centres, all the main supermarkets and a good selection of shops. Cafes & Restaurants – Plenty of cafes and restaurants in Viseu – also small cafes in Vil de Souto.
To begin: The ride starts from outside the Fontelo – a beautiful, wooded park on the edge of the old town. The first stage takes you down and around Viriato’s camp – all that remains of the pre-Roman settlement. (The outline of the walls are there but not much more).
Leaving town: The route takes you out of town on a minor road that climbs up towards the aerodrome. This is a good climb to warm you up but once at the top you can relax a little as you turn west around the edge of town.
After a short section on the N16 (Sao Pedro do Sul road) take a small turning on the left (before you get to the IP3 flyover).
The villages: The route loops back down to the N16 through Bodiosa then turns off left again near the old station. The road winds its way through various small villages. The road is a little rough in places but worth the bumps for the scenery – it’s particularly pretty in spring when the almond trees are in bloom.
Bear left after Carvalhal and follow the loop round towards Igarei. It’s then a fairly straightforward ride through to Couto de Cima and Vil de Souto.
Choices: You’ve got two options at Vil de Souto – the easy one is to take the Ecopista back into Viseu. To do this, just keep on the same road and watch out for a renovated railway station on your left. You can join the Ecopista either just before or after this building. It’s a converted railway track that takes you round the back of several villages. It’s all sealed, the only annoying thing with it is that there are a lot of narrow chicanes to negotiate.
See the Ecopista do Dao page for a map and more information.
Alternative: If you’re up for more cycling – turn right in Vil de Souto and head down towards Mosteirinho and then up to Torredeita (where there’s another old station and a couple of old railway carriages – still being restored when we were last there). You can either do this section on the road as shown on the map or use the Ecopista as far as Farminhão.
From Farminhão you turn back towards Viseu and it’s then a windy route through some more rural lanes before dropping down into the valley and following the river back up to the city. The cobbles get a bit rough in places here but you’re nearly home!
Head straight on through the town, skirting the Rossio – a lovely tree-lined square – and then around the edge of the old town and back to the Fontelo.
Riders: Huw & Carolyn Thomas, 2008-9.
Facilities: Viseu is the main town of the region and offers plenty of shops, supermarkets, cafes, restaurants and accommodation. We can recommend the Rossio Parque (doubles €30-35) or the Hotel Avenida (doubles €45) in the centre of town.
There are basic cafes in villages all along the route but not much else.
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