Exploring the Coa Valley Grande Route

Enjoy its wildlife and discover the beautiful countryside of Portugal by foot or mountain-bike, get ready for an adventure across the Coa valley! You will be fascinated by the area, landscapes and nature along the way.

The Grande Route

The Coa river runs through a region known as Beira Alta, an area which is being abandoned and becoming a unique place for wildlife. Dozens of various bird species choose the Coa valley to breed, especially cliff breeders, such as the Egyptian and griffon vulture, the golden or Bonelli’s eagles, but also raptors like the red kite or the booted eagle.

Besides the dynamic birdlife, roe deer, wild boar, fox, European wildcat and lately, the Iberian wolf, are returning to the area. The route crosses two protected nature reserves, the Malcata Nature Reserve and Faia Brava Reserve, and on its path there are endless photographic opportunities and lots to take in.

Besides wildlife, crossing the Coa valley is a journey through time, where humanity is unveiled. The first nomadic communities from the upper Palaeolithic era inhabited the Coa Valley and left an amazing collection of rock carvings and paintings which can be seen at the open-air museum, The Coa Valley Archaeological Park, a world heritage UNESCO site.  Old bridges from medieval towns can be seen, along with a wide range of castles and fortresses, from when the Coa river formed the border between the Portuguese and Spanish kingdoms. 

The entire Coa can now be crossed by foot on an 11 day tour, by mountain-bike or horseback riding on a three day tour. It is a great way to discover one of the most remote regions of Portugal and be thrilled by its roughness. 

It’s an opportunity for new entrepreneurs to develop innovative tourist services, which help support, protect and develop the region, says Pedro Prata, team leader of ATN, the local conservation and tourism association.

"A bad day on a mountain bike is better than a good day in the office!"

- Mike Brcic