Estrada Nacional 16 wants to recover some of its lost glory. Over the last few decades, Portugal has been torn apart by a series of new motorways, which have reduced distances and increased safety.
One of the consequences of this bet was the progressive withering of the old national stays, many of them turned to abandonment or neglect by those who should take care of them. But the growth of tourism has changed this situation and many of these routes have become real attractions.
The renewed interest that the Portuguese have had in their country has led to routes such as the EN 222 or the now internationally famous EN 2 becoming the stage for true road-trips into Portugal.
Locations and landscapes were discovered, gastronomic products were revived, the economy of these regions was boosted, in short, a new life began to emerge in territories that were generally depressed or even deserted.
Therefore, it is not surprising that it was only a matter of time before National Road 16, which crosses Portugal between Aveiro and the border of Vilar Formoso, saw its tourist resources exploited, creating a new route that will, in all certainty, , attract many visitors
EN 16: 225 kilometers of enchantment
Built in the 1930s, it was one of the main routes included in the 1945 National Road Plan, linking an important seaport (Aveiro) to the largest and busiest Portuguese land border (Vilar Formoso).
With about 225 kilometers in length, the EN 16 covers a significant part of the Center Region, covering 14 municipalities: Aveiro, Albergaria-a-Velha, Águeda, Sever do Vouga, Oliveira de Frades, Vouzela, Viseu, São Pedro do Sul, Mangualde, Fornos de Algodres, Celorico da Beira, Guarda, Pinhel and Almeida.
The road ended up losing much of its importance with the construction of the A25 (successor to the tragic IP5), but it still had a series of natural attractions along its route, such as the Ria de Aveiro, the Serra do Caramulo or the Serra da Estrela.
It also crosses the Vouga, Sátão, Dão, Mondego and Côa rivers, and it is also worth mentioning the extraordinary tree diversity that can be found along the road.
The Estrada Nacional 16 project, which brings together Turismo Centro de Portugal and the inter-municipal communities of Viseu Dão Lafões, Beiras and Serra da Estrela and the region of Aveiro, provides, among other measures, the survey of identity elements of the EN16 and the identification of tourist resources along the route, the production of promotional supports and a travel guide and the creation of a concerted tourist entertainment agenda.
The restoration of the EN16’s identity elements (such as landmarks, locality signs, directional signs, fountains, parkings and rest areas or ACP tile signs) is another objective of this project.
EN 16: what to see along the road
Naturally, on a road over 200 kilometers long, there’s a lot to see. Nor is it possible to be very exhaustive about the mandatory places to visit. Therefore, we are just going to leave some suggestions on what you can see when you set foot along the EN 16.
When visiting Aveiro, before leaving on the EN 16, it is inevitable to take a trip on a moliceiro boat. Its nickname of the Portuguese Venice, in addition to deriving from the obvious canals and bridges, is also due to these colorful boats, often compared to gondolas.
The moliceiros, painted with humorous decorations of everyday scenes, were originally used for collecting moliço – currently they are used for tourist purposes, taking peaceful walks along the canals.
The Termas de Sao Pedro do Sul are the main spa resort in Portugal and are open all year round. Its essential services are: therapeutic thermalism, physiotherapy and thermal well-being.
The benefits of thermal waters have been proven by more and more studies and scientific research. Therefore, it is not surprising that thermal tourism is a reality in our country and abroad. If you need to treat body and mind, this is the right place.
The Cava de Viriato is an octagonal fortification that would have been built in Roman or Muslim times. There is a statue in honor of Viriato, leader of the Lusitanians and hero of Viseu.
The nearby park serves as a parking lot, but in August and September it serves as the venue for the famous São Mateus Fair, one of the oldest in the country. Also in this park there is a funicular. Take it towards the historic centre, before returning to the EN 16.
It is one of the most beautiful natural landscapes in our country, at the highest point of mainland Portugal, and between mountains and valleys and mountain villages, hide scenarios that are both inhospitable and idyllic.
And the rails of Serra da Estrela are an excellent way to get to know this natural Park🇧🇷 It’s just that here there is no hustle or confusion, everything lives in perfect harmony with nature in its purest state.
One of the reasons to go to Almeida is undoubtedly its unique fortress. Around the cities there is a walled belt, made up of gates, bastions and ravelins that are worth visiting and getting to know.
Look for the Storeroom and the Casa da Guarda in the Santa Bárbara ravelin, the double doors of São Francisco da Cruz, the Santo António Double Doors or the Double Revelim / Hospital de Sangue and get to know the many defense mechanisms that these examples of the military architecture guard.
It is very close to Vilar Formoso, and almost at the end of the EN 16.