Description: Located 24km west of Coimbra and 17km east of Figueira da Foz, Montemor-o-Velho is a small Portuguese town dominated by its thousand-year-old castle, which rises up above every other building in the town.
Details: Montemor is not so easy to get to by public transport. I took a train from Coimbra to Montemor station (about 40 minutes – €2) and the walk to the town from the station was around 3.5km, mostly by road. To explore the alternatives, I walked back to Verride after, which was about 5km south west of Montemor, about 45 minutes from Coimbra by train and cost €2.20.
Difficulty: Aside from visiting the castle itself, the walk is entirely flat and would actually be a suitable part of a longer cycling route, perhaps along the river Mondego. Most of the walk takes place alongside roads, with shorter sections nearer Mondemor providing pavements.
The Walk to Montemor
Doing this trip without a car, the options were somewhat limited. Montemor-o-Velho is 3.5km away from the town itself, and although there are some pretty views across to the castle, it is mostly a road walk.
Stepping off the train, you turn left, head to the crossing and turn left, go left and basically follow the N347 west, north, and north-west. If you don’t cross a bridge going over the river Mondego, you’re going the wrong way.
It will be necessary to walk at the side of the road up to the bridge that crosses the Rio Velho. From this point on, there are pavements all the way.
The view to the castle from this bridge looks something like this:
After crossing the bridge, turn left at the roundabout with a pile of rocks on it (I think it was an intentional design). This is a continuation of the N347.
Following this road leads directly to the town. There is a small, white chapel and cafe as you approach.
One thing you will notice when facing the castle is a white wall that rises up on the left-hand side of the castle. This is, in fact, a set of stairs and escalators that can take you up.
I recommend taking the steps if possible – you will be able to take diversions down some smaller paths that are not covered by the escalators, possibly seeing some views that would otherwise be missed.
Once you reach the top, the entrance to the castle is very easy to find.
Inside O Castelo Montemor-o-Velho
The entrance to the castle, the ‘Porta do Sol’ is just around the corner from the above sign. Much of the castle’s interior is still intact, and there is a chapel and visitor’s centre to visit.
There are plenty of views of the Portuguese countryside from the castle and, of course, of Montemor-o-Velho itself.
Having explored the castle, I left through the same door and headed down Rua Direita do Castelo.
Feeling a little peckish after all this walking, I made it my aim to explore the centre of the town and to find a cafe. I found both after a mere few minutes of meandering through the old streets.
Leaving Montemor on foot, there were two options ahead of me. The first would be to take the same route back as I had taken to Montemor. The second would be to head out of town to another bridge, cross it, and follow the M601 to Verride and its train station. I decided to do the latter, an additional 5km leg-stretch, and headed out of Montemor.
Leaving Montemor on Rua Fernão Mendes Pinto / Praça Republica, go straight on until you meet the cows and cart (below).
Cross the bridge, head past the abandoned-looking farm and it is a straightforward walk ahead (literally – I can’t remember the last time I saw such a straight road ahead of me!). I was also lucky to see a number of storks making their nests as spring continued to flourish.
Continue walking right up to the end of the road, turn right, turn left to cross another bridge, and head left into Verride, following the train line.
Verride’s train station is easy to miss. Simply cross the train line and turn left. There is a white house at the end of this road – that is the station.
The walk from Montemor to Verride is broadly the same, mostly one straight road and is entirely flat. Again, this would be ideal for a cycle, and perhaps others have already had this idea as I was overtaken by some cyclists on my way. With the time of year, however, there were some beautiful springtime views and I also managed to shed a few calories!