The Estrada Nacional 2, or N2, is often called the Route 66 of Portugal. And, like the emblematic US highway, this road defines a nation. Built in 1945 to carry goods and people the length of the country, it was once a backbone of the Portuguese road system. It is now the longest continuous road in Portugal crossing four mountain ranges, 11 rivers and 29 municipalities.
The N2 cuts right through the centre of Portugal, and gives us a chance to explore a side of the country that is often ignored by visitors, away from the pristine beaches and coastal big cities. From the ancient city of Chaves, near the northern border with Spain, to Faro, on the balmy southern coast of the Algarve, it passes through untouched mountain ranges, the stunning Douro Valley wine region, UNESCO World Heritage sites, spectacular lakes, and a host of historic villages and towns.
Portugal’s most iconic road is now almost deserted except for local traffic, and therefore perfect for an InGamba trip on your Pinarello through the byways of old Portugal. This is among the most scenic stretches of tarmac, cobble stones and gravel in the world. The asphalt climbs mountains and swings into hilltop villages whose cobbled streets are so narrow there are traffic lights enabling cars to pass each other.
Along the 450 miles, sometimes a dog rushes out from a farm barking while, above, a hawk wheels in search of prey. There are roadside shrines and vineyards. Villages with cobbled streets and whitewashed houses alternated in brilliant blue. Roadside stalls offer melons and strings of fat onions. There are scents of eucalyptus trees and pine in the plantations higher up where the road winds up into the mountains.
The N2 is your introduction to ‘ the other Portugal’ and its regional food and wines along the way.
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