The Portuguese Route 66: National Road N2

The only road to cross the country from north to south, through the interior, the National Road (EN2) provides different landscapes, traditions and flavors in a single adventure. From the mountains in Trás-os-Montes, through the terraces of the Douro and the long plains through the fields until it reaches the Barrocal Algarve, a trip on this road is a journey through what is Portugal.

The old National Road Number 2 (EN2) is also known as the "Portuguese Route 66", just like the famous American road it crosses the country. It is not only a road marked by different periods and stories, but also by an exceptional panoramic, historical-cultural and gastronomic itinerary with everything that Portugal has to offer. Established on May 11th, 1945, its 738.5km take us from north to south, passing through 11 districts (Vila Real, Viseu, Coimbra, Leiria, Castelo Branco, Santarém, Portalegre, Évora, Setúbal, Beja and Faro), 8 provinces (Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro, Beira Alta, Beira Litoral, Beira Baixa, Ribatejo, Alto Alentejo, Baixo Alentejo and Algarve), 4 mountains, 11 rivers and 32 counties. Many of the segments were already major Roman roads that once crossed Lusitania, which were over time improved and connected with others until the end of the 19th century to become a Royal Road. Through this “backbone” of road traffic in the interior of the country, from km 0 to the final destination, the opportunities to experience different routes are almost unlimited: to landscape and along the water, to religious and historical, to oenological and gastronomic, and to cultural heritage routes.
Starting at Chaves, enigmatic for its thermal baths and Roman bridge of Trajan, you can walk through the historic center and admire the colorful balconies while eating a “pastel de Chaves” (typical pastry). Another stop is Vila Real, known for its majestic and imposing mountains, Alvão and Marão, queens of a verdant landscape. The entrance to the Alto Douro Vinhateiro (Alto Douro Wine Region) is designed in twisted contours, in a man-made landscape and with the noble distinction of UNESCO World Heritage, that goes through small villages and crosses slopes of vineyards and orchards. In Lamego you will find the distinguished religious monument of the Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora dos Remédios, with its immense staircases framed in harmony with the green gardens.

In the wine region of Dão, you will find the historical city of Viseu, quiet and rich in treasures of the History of Portugal. Leaving the vineyards behind, cherry trees, chestnut trees and pine trees dominate the landscape in the center. The Lousã mountain range is deeply grooved by the water lines, a land of rich biodiversity and beautiful landscapes where you can take advantage of a small detour to a picturesque Schist Village, such as Talasnal and Cerdeira. Continue your journey southwards through Vila de Rei, the geodesic Center of Portugal.

Beyond the Tejo you will now find the tranquility of the Alentejo countryside with its olive groves, cork oaks and oaks, biodiversity-rich dams and small whitewashed villages, but enriched by the varied colors with which they alternate the contours of the doors and windows. Small cities, such as Alcáçovas, which have both the typical streets of Portuguese sidewalk and architecture of Arab origin. Another stop is Montemor-o-Novo, with its ancestral castle, a perfect and harmonious blend between the past that built us and the present that sustains us.

Crossing the Caldeirão mountain range and the Barrocal Algarvio is a journey through the heart of the remote mountains of the Algarve region. Not to be missed is a detour to the Estói Palace, which is now converted into a Pousada de Portugal (monument and historic hotel), before looking at the sea and the Ria Formosa. In the Ria Formosa Natural Park there is a series of salt water lagoons and mudflats, a refuge for migratory birds and a rich biodiversity of wildlife. Nearby is Faro, the district capital that, nevertheless, managed to maintain its peaceful environment and traditional charm within the walls of this ancient city. Scenic mainly for historical monuments and marina, it also provides easy access to other cities, such as Loulé, Albufeira and Olhão, and can diversify the end of your trip.

These were kilometers and kilometers of pure beauty, incredible landscapes, unique heritage and opportunities to taste rich gastronomy that did not run out, on a route that sought whenever possible to follow the path resulting from the first direct link from Chaves to Faro. There are two main reasons to try out this adventure: the pure pleasure of going on a trip to Portugal from north to south, or south to north, or the simple desire to make a journey of discovery.
Although the construction of fast-lane motorways has put it at risk, it has emerged in recent years as a major tourist route. Day after day it has gained more and more followers who go on this road looking for adventures. Given the seniority of the road, and the various places through which it passes, it is actually a mythical road, for the secrets and adventures it hides. It is a unique opportunity to challenge your senses in discovering the diversity and history of an entire country.

The Portuguese Route 66: National Road N2