Luís Simões, travel sketcher around the world
The Minho Ecotrail is a simple route in North Portugal. Setting off from Thermas do Peso, a hidden gem in Melgaço municipality, we heads up the smooth tared road of the N202, before hitting the old train railway along the River Minho that reformed into a fine-looking eco-trail that started from Monção until Caminha.
Where is Minho Region?
Minho used to be a province of Portugal with its capital in the city of Braga. Nowadays, it’s divided districts of Braga and Viana do Castelo. The region known as Alto Minho is located in the northwest of Portugal. The river of Minho is the dividing line of Portugal and Spain as well as where this Minho Ecotrail Cycling route roams on.
Why Minho Ecotrail Cycling route?
This Ecotrail has plenty of adventure, nature, and food whilst barely leaving the urban perimeter that started from Thermas do Peso, a hidden gem in Melgaço municipality, up to the west-northern tip of Portugal, Caminha. At 80% traffic-free and mostly flat, it makes for a perfect introduction to overnighters, swift after-worker, weekend getaway, or anything similar.
How to get there?
We did this route in August, summer season while we doing Bike & Sketch Portugal Tour 2021. The route isn’t a loop route, yet it can be done perfectly in reverse way. Therefore, the easiest way from Lisbon or Porto is by train to Caminha or Valença. By bus also possible but usually you have to put your bike in a box which is not practical. Yet, this way you can start the journey from Melgaço as we did.
Soon after the start, you’ll find yourself in the middle of an almost empty road between nature and old civil parishes. Cycling alongside fields of vineyards and farmlands.
Upon reaching Monção Ecotrail, you will rewarded with a sense of calm. Our favorite part of this ecotrail is the stretch of the route through the old railway lines. It is 40 km in total along the river Minho next to it. A treat on the 100% traffic-free tracks that sounds like a dream. Its mostly flat route combined with swooping turns make the ride more enjoyable.
Rest, picnic, and swim!
Along the way, there are plenty of places to rest and contemplate the river Minho, as well as good spots to have a pleasant picnic or even swim in the hot summer day. And as the route has practically no gaps, it makes it accessible to everyone. It is perfect for a refreshing getaway.
Although the official Minho Ecotrail that we found through Portuguese trails is only between Monção and Vila Nova de Cerveira, you can continue the journey through the river way or Caminho do Rio that goes until Caminha.
At the end of the route, celebrate your hard work with a victory lap around the Chafariz de Caminha before heading to sample the cuisine and vinhos verdes (green wine) of its region.
Around Minho Ecotrail
If the Minho Ecotrail is your choice, make sure to explore its municipalities on your way. For instance, Melgaço offers radical water sports which is one of the best in the country. Have a break at the Monção Thermal Springs to ease your body. Wonder Valença, known as the gateway to Portugal for its pilgrims who travel the millenary Caminho de Santiago. And traverse the picturesque historic center of Caminha.
The region also famous as being the origin of the soup caldo verde and Vinho Verde, a wine particular to the region!
How to use this map: Click the tab in the top left corner of the map to see the points of interest. You can click on the selection folders to hide or show the folders. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest.
If you click the star next to the map title, the map will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “My Places”, click Maps, and you will see this map in your list.
- Thermas do Peso of Melgaço
- Monção castle
- Torre da Lapela
- Tui: A beautiful looking town on Spain side across the river Minho in Valença
- Plenty of river beaches along the route
We did this route in August, summer season while we doing Bike & Sketch Portugal Tour 2021. The route isn’t a loop route, yet it can be done perfectly in reverse way.
- When to go: All year-round. Although the winter may have a lot of rain in this region, as the route only take 2 days, it’s still doable to do on a good sunny day.
- Logistics: There are plenty of cafes and spots to eat at on route, but you won’t pass any supermarkets so you’ll have to make a small detour if you plan to stock up on snacks.
- Danger or annoyances: This route follows shared use pathways through recreational areas so be considerate of people fishing and walking.
- Bike: The route was designed to be rideable on pretty much any bike. There aren’t any particularly challenging moments. It is 100% rideable route.
- This route is started from Thermas do Peso which has a camping site next to it.
- Camping Orbitur Caminha Park. It’s in the outskirt of Caminha city center.
- Wild camp isn’t reccomended
Hostel / Hotel:
There are plenty options as the routes is barely leaving the urban perimeter.
As the route barely leaving the urban perimeter, it’s pretty easy to find water and food. But you won’t pass any supermarkets so you’ll have to make a small detour if you plan to stock up on snacks.
The Minho Ecotrail is an easy route that will be enjoyable for everyone, regardless of confidence or experience. It isn’t physically or technically challenging as it’s mostly flat and surfaces are generally tared road. There are plenty of cafes and spots to eat at on route, but you won’t pass any supermarkets so you’ll have to make a small detour if you plan to stock up on snacks.