Santa Comba Dão was the starting point for the Dão railway line, shut down in 1988.
Linking Santa Comba, in Beira Alta region, to Viseu, in the Central region, its 40 miles of extension were converted into a public rail trail in 2007. The Ecopista do Dão project involved building a bicycle path recreating the train lane but also rebuilding the old stations and 'apeadeiros' - the name for the small whistle stops in between towns - along the way.
The track curves along the river, as did the train, and there is eleven different options to cross it, depending on where and how visitors start. Bike is the most common one and it is easy to find some for rent in Santa Comba.
Crossing through chestnut and oak trees, the track goes through three different cities and there's no chance to get lost as the path is marked: blue for Dão, green for Tondela and red to Viseu. It usually takes three hours in a bike to finish it, but is wise to spend some time exploring the local mountains of Caramulo.
Visitors will be able to cross de Dão bridge, watch the vineyards nearby, go on the Santa Catarina tunnel or take a swim in the Nagosela, one of the rivers' affluent. The small villages of Aguiar da Beira or Carregal do Sal are also recommended for a lunch break.
This is a region attracting canyoning, climbing and hiking fans but also History and archeology aficionados. The natural reserves, the monuments and churches in the villages centres and the romanesque traces became part of the experience of this ecological track.