Explore Coimbra and the Beira Litoral
East of Lousã stretches the Serra do Açor, a mountain range that borders the Serra da Estrela further to the northeast. It’s a very attractive region, a mix of bucolic river valleys, pine and eucalyptus forest and the higher traditional schist villages of the mountains proper. Góis, 20km northeast of Lousã, is the gateway, prettily set in a river valley, with the small market town of Arganil another 13km to the north.You can reach both by bus from Coimbra/Lousã, though you’ll have far more flexibility with your own transport – essential if you’re to visit any of the secluded picnic spots and river beaches that make this area so beguiling, or specifically to visit the marvellous schist village of Piódão, high in the peaks.Read More
GÓIS is beautifully set on the Rio Ceira, crossed by an arched sixteenth-century bridge which leads up to a sloping cobbled square backed by a couple of old-town streets. There’s not a lot to occupy you here – as a town, it makes a great village – but it comes into its own in summer (June to early Sept) when boardwalks are erected and white sand imported to construct a fantastic river beach, with a waterside bar and kayaks to rent. Other favourite local river beaches include that at Várzea Pequena, 5km west (N2, Vila Nova de Poiares road), or you can head into the hills for walks around the Góis schist villages – brown signposts off the Lousã road (N342) lead up to the tiny village of Aigra Nova, where there’s a craft-shop-café run by a local not-for-profit agency, Lousitânea (wwww.lousitanea.org), and a good circular waymarked mountain hike (10km, 4hr) through three other ancient schist villages in varying stages of restoration.
Góis is pretty quiet for most of the year, though it perks up in the holiday month of August, no more so than for the huge motorbike rally (Concentração de Góis) organized by the Góis Moto Clube (wwww.goismotoclube.net). This attracts up to 40,000 bikers for a good-natured four-day festival of bike shows, radical sports, live bands and DJs – a tent city lines the river just outside town, and the roads are packed with preening speedsters.
PIÓDÃO is a traditional schist village set on a steeply terraced mountainside. If you can get over the slight theme-park atmosphere, its narrow streets are great to explore and the whole village affords superb valley views. The turismo, based in the small museum on the main square at the bottom of the village, hands out an excellent “urban circuit” in English, to help you locate the main points of interest and navigate the confusing layout. The museum itself provides an insight into traditional village life with displays that cover emigration and economy, as well as daily toil. It’s also possible to follow a couple of short walks from Piódão into the countryside – these are well signposted from the village.