3 days cycling the hills of the “centro de Portugal” through three gorgeous historical villages
One of my favorite cycling trip so far in the colorful fields of the center of Portugal chasing the old templar villages. It’s best to do it in April / beginning of may while the weather is nice and warm (but not crazy hot) but check the opening date of the “parque do campismo do freixal” (Penamacor) as it was closed for renovation when we arrived there and we had to have one night wild camping to start our trip. Also, bring some food for both diners, breakfasts (the option we chose for a 2 days homemade breakfast : Belgian craquelin) and the first lunch as campings in this region are not equiped with restaurants and are usually quite far from civilization.
– Our itinerary in a few pictures –
Leaving Castelo Branco
By the road going down next to the “cine-teatro” for one day cycling on a national road. It’s not the best, charming cycling path but it’s the quickest way to reach penamacor. The road is quiet and large enough for being relatively safe.
Arriving in Penamacor
Do not hesitate on the coffee (with sugar) break in the “jardim municipal” patio before going for the paved and very steep street that goes to the castle. No other option than pushing the bike or leaving it down the street. At the end of the alley going along the castle you’ll find an amazing point of view on the valley, 100 % wind, but 100 % magical for the portugal lovers.
Going to “Parque de campismo de freixal”
Enjoy the countryside !!!
On the way to Monsanto
Arriving at Monsanto
Do not hesitate on pushing your bike to enjoy the charming and calm little streets of this gorgeous historical village. All points of interest are signed and free… Have fun !
At the top of the village, you can find a restaurant called “Petiscos e granitos” where “polvo com queijo da serra da estrela” is available for a quiet lunch on their terrace.. Extremely nice experience ! Despite the price that was quite high for Portugal (12 € for a meal when you usually can find a “menu do dia” for 5 € in every taberna portuguesa) I warmly recommend this place.
Then leave your bike and enjoy the amazing ruins of the old templar castle, churches, santuario etc.
On the way to the lake of Idanha à Nova, (also known for the famous Boom festival)
Keep some day time for enjoying the colors and smells of the countryside while going to Idanha and also for putting up your tent and enjoying the lake. – Another possibility would be to stop and discover “Idanha a velha” on the way to Idanha’s camping and keep the lake and the dam for morning 3 but we didn’t have that option as we had to be back in Castelo Branco before 4 pm on day 3 for our portuguese lesson –
And for the most adventurous, after putting up your tent (or on day 3 morning) go under the dam of the lake… Fun, very fun ! (Take a flashlight with you !!!)
Discover Idanha a nova by the old paved street for traveling through time while cycling (you’ll understand when you’ll be there)… Restaurants and supermarkets are available there for buying everything your need for a picnic or for having a last good portuguese meal before going back.
View on the “torre de relogio” and the little town of Idanha a nova from the place where the old castle was before.
End of the trip
If you chose a picnic for day 3, make sure to eat before crossing the rivers where the landscape is pretty, quiet and accessible and before the very steep last uphills of the tour (after both river bridges).