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!
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- 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