The route northeast from Coimbra along the IP3 sweeps through the valley of the Rio Dão, a name synonymous in Portugal with wine. The Dão is a tributary of the Mondego and flows through the heart of the demarcated region where some of the country’s finest red wines are produced. Most of the wine estates lie either side of the river valley to the northeast of Santa Comba Dão, and you can spend a happy day pottering through the region’s small country towns, following winery signs on the Rota do Vinho do Dão to pretty villages like Santar. It’s a hilly, granite area, cold and rainy in winter, but hot and dry in the sweltering summers, when the wooded slopes are particularly susceptible to ravaging forest fires.
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