Vila Verde Cycle Path
Bike days should be all about, like Christmas. Cycling is good for your health, reduces pollution and allows you to get to know the paths you take. So here at Meet there will never be a shortage of reasons to celebrate cycling. Figueira da Foz has been building some good dedicated cycling routes, but there is still a lack of articulation between sections and completion of several ongoing projects. The so-called Ciclovia do Mondego is one of them. If you don’t know what to do in Figueira da Foz, come and see at least part of this route.
It is an old project, which aims to unite the municipalities of Baixo Mondego: Coimbra, Montemor-o-Velho and Figueira da Foz, through an alternative of soft mobility that accompanies the banks of the river through fields, rice paddies and groves, in what will undoubtedly be a route of excellence. This, once the project has come to fruition, as it has been a difficult birth. However, the municipalities are building their own sections of the route, which can later be joined together. And Figueira da Foz, of course, is moving forward with its smooth track up this river. The so-called Ciclovia de Vila Verde is thus the first stage.
It is this riverside section that we are talking about today, June 3, World Bicycle Day: a beautiful and peaceful route along the last 5 kilometers of the Mondego, along the right bank, almost always in a straight line and on a flat level and almost entirely along the port area. In other words, a walk literally for all ages, inclusive, with the river as host.
For “official” purposes, these are two distinct paths, built at different times: the Station CyclewayThis is about 700 meters between the Paços do Concelho and the train station; and the Vila Verde section, more recent and about 3 kilometers long, which combines rolling asphalt with well-compacted gravel. But for all practical purposes they are a continuum. And let’s even be bolder, let’s start right at the mouth of the Mondego, on Avenida de Espanha, next to the Fort of Santa Catarina.
The large esplanade of the port buildings will be the ideal spot for the starting selfie, if we want to start where the river ends. At this point, we can still take advantage of the dedicated cycle path, which ends just before the Marina. Here you have the “slow” option, going straight along the wide promenade in slow pedaling and with great caution to pedestrians, always maintaining visual contact with the river; or the “fast” option, going along the tarmac along with the road traffic.
One way or another, 500 meters later, at the end of the marina you will find the official start of our Ciclovia.
Vila Verde is one of the oldest parishes in the county, currently has mainly residential and industrial character, with predominance of rural or forest landscape and is also the parish mondeguina par excellence, with its hills facing the river that the ancient Romans called Munda and with centuries of coexistence with river traffic, fishing or even salt, since the island of Morraceira was for many years attached to this population aggregate. But let’s get to the points of interest at our destination.
We then set off from Praça da Europa, bordering the Paços do Concelho, which is also our first stop. Flanked by a beautiful garden and a viewpoint to the estuary (on the marina side) that provides magnificent photos, the Europe Square Manuel Alfredo Aguiar de Carvalho deserves attention for the huge sundial, whose hand is the triangular metal candle which stands in the center – a monument 10 meters high and weighing 2 tons, made in the Mondego Shipyards.
On the floor, for the attentive visitor, the numbering and symbols of the zodiac will be clearly visible in a huge semicircle, marking the solar time, the months and the seasons. This monument is part of a landscape architecture project during the expansion works of the commercial port, which transformed that space into a beautiful public square where events are held.
We then continue along a stretch of road of no particular scenic or cultural interest – unless you are a fan of port and railway activity – but quite pleasant, over the trees of the avenue that runs parallel to the commercial pier, Avenida Saraiva de Carvalho. The trees end next to the CP Station and the cycle path goes under the Edgar Cardoso Bridge, reaching the eastern entrance of the port and the main road. Ribeira de Carritoswhere, at last, the River Mondego begins to reveal itself once again in its splendor, with Morraceira Island already visible on the other bank.
The section continues on smooth asphalt until the Salmanha level crossing, where it changes to dirt, in excellent condition and suitable for all types of bicycles. We still follow the fenced port area, although the views are still wide, until we reach the second mandatory stopping point: the Nautical Center of Ginásio Clube Figueirense. This water sports complex, where sailing, rowing or canoeing can be practiced, is open to the public and includes the Kamone Bar e Petisqueirawith a highly recommended cuisine (also lunches and dinners) and a magnificent terrace.and a large platform over the water, which offers a viewpoint to the other shore, the Morraceira or the bridge downstream, with the fertile agricultural fields of Baixo Mondego already in sight. Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful spots in Figueiredo, especially, of course, at sunset.
From this point on, after this refreshing break, biodiversity also begins to be more abundant. On our left-hand side, on the other hand, we see the trains passing by, which is a picturesque sight. We headed for the last stretch, another thousand meters of gentle pedaling. Just past the boating center, we pass between the railroad line and the Wastewater Treatment Plant and discover an area of tidal marsh and bank that is fertile with riparian birds, other riverine fauna and abundant vegetation. After a slight hill, between reeds, Vila Verde’s cycle path ends on a rural path that leads directly to the river, which means it’s worth turning right at the end and going to the end of the path, to dip your feet in the Mondego and take the final “selfie” in front of a breathtaking scenery.
And since we’re in Vila Verde (especially if you have good legs to “climb” those hills…), it’s also not a bad idea to move to the tarmac and visit some of the local ex-libris, especially the Windmill preserved, already with the right to a panoramic swing, or the Salmanha viewpointThis is one of the most beautiful observation points in Figueira da Foz, allowing a fantastic view over the Mondego estuary. The locality also has some religious heritage and a number of rehabilitated fountains and washhouses, which memorialize the ancient daily life of the community.
At the end of the already built bike path, if you have the legs to walk another two kilometers and always follow along Avenida da Beira Rio (a municipal road with little traffic and in good condition, although narrow and requiring extra attention), you will still find in this parish the Lares Urban Park, a modern outdoor sports and leisure complex, which includes a BMX track, equestrian center and basketball court and soccer, among other equipment worth using.
However, keeping to the official route on a track dedicated to pedal lovers, this is a short ride of minimal difficulty, ideal for families or older cyclists, which we strongly advise you to do in the late afternoon, weather permitting.