Attractions and Activities
- Visit Central Portugal (external links)
- Towns and Cities
- Restaurants and Cafés
- Hot Springs
- Atlantic Coast
- Other Local Attractions
- Supermarkets and Fuel
Santa Comba Dão lies at the confluence of three rivers, the Cris, Dão and Mondego, which have been dammed to form the reservoir of Lake Aguiera. This lake contains water all year round and is used for hydro-electricity generation. The lake is 150m above sea level, and drops 75m into the next small reservoir before a further drop of 75m to the mouth of the Mondego at Figueira da Foz.
The margins of the lake can be quite steep and the sand is a little gritty, so some shoes (such as "Crocs") are recommended rather than flip-flops. However, there are some flatter areas such as the beach at Senhora da Ribeira.
There are also many river beaches along the banks of all three rivers, the water is clean, warm, and slow-flowing. Some ideas will be given below, e.g. Granjal, as I discover them myself!
Incidentally, you will find that the local holiday apartment complex Montebelo Aguieira has monopolised most of the Google links in the area - they obviously have had much professional search engine optimisation done, no doubt at great cost! But if you have read this far, I doubt you are their type of customer.
If you want, it's not far to Figueira da Foz on the Atlantic coast, maybe an hour's drive west from the house. Or a little further up the coast is Aveiro, known as the Venice of Portugal, with real gondolas too!
Canoeing, sailing, windsurfing, waterskiing and wakeboarding are what Lake Aguieira was made for. Richard Stanley Ord runs Skylakesports Lda. at the Rua Senhora da Ribeira marina near Pinheiro de Ázere, about 8km from the house. See http://www.skylakesports.com.
The marina at Senhora da Ribeira, about 8km from the house:
Windsurfing at Senhora da Ribeira:
Swimming at Senhora da Ribeira:
River beach on Lake Aguieira 2km from the house:
I don't know much about fishing, but there definitely are some fairly large fish such as carp in Lake Aguieira - I've seen them making ripples. Judging by this YouTube video there are some real monsters in there! Needless to say, there are plenty of other lakes and river beaches nearby where good fishing can be found, and it's a popular activity with the locals. I'll post more information here when I find out more.
I don't know much about golf either, but there is a well-known course up the IP3 towards Viseu, Montebelo Golf run by the same company that operates the huge Montebelo Aguieira resort complex. The beauty of the 27 holes course, combines perfectly with its interesting layout, designed by Mark Stilwell and Malcolm Kenyon, which is a real challenge for golf lovers, whatever their handicap. This course should be less crowded than the ones in the Algarve.
Montebelo Golf Viseu:
Walking and Hiking
- Locally - I will put details of good local walks here, as I discover them myself. There is an easy way down by a forest road to the lake, via Pesseguido and Colmeosa, or you can walk down into the town and go there on tarmac all the way.
- Lake Aguieira - as above!
- Serra da Estrela - many opportunities for both walking, hiking and climbing - see the Wikipedia entry - I will also find good routes and post them here.
- Further afield - no limits - I will post good ones here, and please let me know of your exciting discoveries, so that everyone can enjoy them!
Serra da Estrela - means "mountain range of the star" - head east towards Oliveira do Hospital and Seia, and you can't miss it. It's the site of the highest mountain in (mainland) Portugal. You may see paragliders up there. It's cold at night, so please take warm clothes and the proper kit if planning to camp out under the stars.
If you don't mind a bit of a drive, the Peneda-Gerês National Park in the north is also well worth a visit. Stop by in Rio Caldo on Lake Caniçada and visit Água Montanha Lazer, Lda. Basically, drive around the east of Porto and then to Braga and on towards Gerês.
Cycling and Roads
Santa Comba Dão is on a fairly flat rolling plain in the heart of Portugal. The roads are easy for all levels of cycling proficiency and you will see many cyclists touring and training in the area. Portuguese driving habits can sometimes be challenging, so expect the unexpected, but it is fair to say that they have made good progress with road safety over the last few years, and you will find most drivers courteous and considerate. Most major N-roads are safe to cycle because they have wide hard shoulders to enable you to cycle clear of the traffic, though of course avoid the motorways.
Remember to ride on the right of the road, and especially in towns watch out for potholes. Avoid cycling too close to the rainwater channels at the side of the road because you don't want a wheel to drop into one of them. Cobbled roads are best avoided if you want to keep your dental fillings. Other than those things, Portugal is a truly lovely place to cycle, and you will see many amazing sights. Every small village has at least one café for refreshments, and the locals in Central Portugal are friendly and welcoming, partly because they see far fewer holidaymakers than for example in the Algarve.
If you want to cycle off-road, try the Ecopista do Dão - it's a flat, dedicated, cycling and walking track made from the old narrow-gauge railway line that used to link Vimieiro with Viseu 49km away. Fantastic sights, and starts only about 5km from the property. Well worth exploring! YouTube video here!
Ecopista do Dão:
The "Vodafone Ski Resort" is a small ski resort with 4 ski lifts with 130 metres (426 feet) of vertical descent and 9 pistes, with a total length of 7.7km (5 miles). The resort is best suited to beginner skiers and snowboarders but there is some terrain for both intermediates and experts. It can be reached by car within an hour from the house.
Gliding and Paragliding
There is definitely gliding at Evora and possibly also Ponte de Sor, Lisbon and Chancelaria, and definitely paragliding off the very nearby Serra do Caramulo and also the Serra da Estrela - I need to investigate further and will post details here as soon as I can.
- Serra da Estrela
- Ponte de Sor
- Lisbon - maybe
- Chancelaria - maybe
- Further afield - and maybe Spain?
- Aero Club de Portugal
Nearby towns and cities
Here are some of the nearby town hall web sites - loads of useful information. Most are in Portuguese, but Google Translate does a fair job with the pages.
Restaurants and Cafés Near Pregoinho
As elsewhere in Portugal, there is a vast number of restaurants and cafés to choose from, ranging from small family-run cafés to specialist gastronomic outlets. Mealhada, a small town to the west, boasts the local delicacy Leitão da Bairrada (suckling pig). A few (but by no means all) the restaurants are listed on Trip Advisor but you could easily be better off just asking the locals for their recommendations - you'll never have a problem finding somewhere to eat!
The closest restaurant is the small café Cruz (café Tempero Doseado on Google Earth/Maps) (+351 223 982 503) at the eastern end of Rua do Seixo, about 750 metres from the house. Highly recommended is Delícias do Dão, about a mile from the house on the way into town. Many other restaurants are available in Santa Comba Dão itself, such as the Arcada and O Pão Quente cafés, and the Restaurante Cova Funda in the centre of town. In Mortágua, about ten kilometres away, the Café Restaurante Fazenda is very good (and much larger than it appears from the road), as is the Aldeia do Sol in Vlia Meã a few kilometres to the north of Mortágua. If you drive 20 minutes west towards Mealhada, you will find the home of the local speciality, Leitão da Bairrada (suckling pig).
Also there is a co-operative adega (winemakers) on the way into town. Excellent locally-produced wine from local vineyards in the Dão region may be purchased for astonishingly low prices, e.g. €1 per litre, though if you want the really good stuff you may have to pay a few cents more.
Hot Springs in Portugal
Also see more thermal baths at Termas de Portugal.
I have personally visited two good locations where hot springs may be found. Unfortunately they are both quite a long way off, both just over the northern border in Spain, one next to the Rio Caldo at Bubaces/Torneiros on the OU-312 west of Lobios and one on the northern shore of the Encoro das Cochas at San Xoan on the OU-540, just north-east of the amazing Roman fort of Aquis Querquennis (Galician). Both seem to be called "Os Baños", which I think is Galician for "The Baths". To get to either, drive to Porto, then Braga and Gerês, go over the border on the OU-312 via the Portela do Homem towards Lobios. The spring at Torneiros is easy to find, has a free public hot pool, and a bar opposite, with delightful hot pools in the river bed that can be adjusted for temperature by moving the shingle around. The one at San Xoan is harder to find but more private, and may be covered if the lake is full.
Figueira da Foz, Aveiro, etc... great places to visit and far too many good things to mention. You'll find quite a few Brits down towards Caldas da Rainha and Peniche. But if you like swimming be aware that the Atlantic can be surprisingly foggy and is occasionally very rough - in fact the world record surfing wave was at Nazaré - 78 feet high! You might prefer freshwater Lake Aguieira, just two kilometres from the house.
A good selection of other Atlantic Coast beaches can be found at http://www.playocean.net/en.
Atlantic Ocean at Praia de Mira:
Other Local Attractions
Really close, the small towns of Santa Comba Dão, Mortágua and Tábua are worth a visit, Granjal on the Mondego has a very nice river beach, and Lake Aguieira all around is beautiful at all times of year. The Senhora da Ribeira marina near Pinheiro de Ázere has a big marina and water sports are available there, only about 8km from the house. A walk down to Lake Aguieira via a forest road can be made via Pesseguido and Colmeosa - it's only about 2km to the lake where the road goes right down into the water.