Our final hike on our Mountain Travel Sobek Tour of Portugal Historic Villages began at Lousã Castle on the outskirts of Lousã. We followed route PR2 – LSA to two schist villages, Casal Novo and Talasnal. The 3.2-mile loop hike through the Serra da Lousã was lovely.
The Hike Lousã to Talasnal and Casal Novo
For the first half mile, the trail undulates through dense vegetation as it parallels a creek. Soon it crosses the stream and climbs the mountain side dotted in pine, oak, and chestnut trees. Eventually the intermittent views turn into grand vistas.
The ascent continues aside old stone walls draped in blackberry bushes until the path turns to stairs as it enters the schist village of Talasnal.
Talasnal is one of 27 schist villages in central Portugal. Like the 12 historic villages designated by the Portuguese government to restore important history and increase tourism, the 27 schist villages in central Portugal are also part of program.
The program is led by ADXTUR: Agency for the Tourist Development of the Schist Villages. Together with the local municipalities, the program is revitalizing these charming villages of gray shale, perched in the leafy green hillsides of the Beira Region. Almost half of the schist villages are found on Lousã Mountain.
Only a few locals inhabit Talasnal, which is common among these quaint towns. Most of the houses have been converted into B&B’s or rentals. While a few restaurants offer traditional cuisine. We enjoyed a mid-morning coffee at O Retalinho whose outdoor deck affords panoramic views of the Serra da Lousã, also known as the mountains of love.
While the schist villages sound touristy, to me they are far from it as they have yet to be discovered by the masses. They are a little slice of paradise which blends into the surrounding nature and trail system. If I lived in Portugal, I would pop out to the countryside for a quiet weekend getaway!
Descent From Casal Novo
From Talasnal, we descended to a creek and then climbed moderately toward Casal Novo. Along the way, we stopped for some hillside views of Talasnal, though they were mostly marred by power lines. I finally got one shot between the trees. Not to worry though, the view of Lousã from Casal Novo was unimpaired!
From Casal Novo, we made our descent back toward Lousã Castle. The path followed the road through a recent clearing of Eucalyptus trees. I was happy to escape this sunny section for shade on a single track in the forest.
As we continued our somewhat steep descent, as we neared town, we passed the 14 stations of the cross which ranged from chapels in caves to a simple cross marker. Soon we reached public bathrooms and the community fountain before finally passing by a restaurant and swimming hole with a waterfall.
After the steep slog down to the Lousã Castle, I was the only one in our group who wanted to climb the stairs to the ruins. As a result, I recommend visiting the castle first as it provides magnificent views of the nearby chapel in the surrounding hills and shouldn’t be missed.
The Lousã Castle, constructed in the 11th century, was part of the first line of defense to protect the access ways to Coimbra. As with many of the castles and historic villages in the region, the castle fell to the Moors, and was later re-occupied by the monarchy.
Overall, we enjoyed a wonderful last day of hiking in the central Region of Portugal. Each village we visited this past week exuded its own charm. I particularly like Piódão, Monsanto, and Sortelha. For our final lunch, we ate traditional Goat Chanfana in Lousã.
As always, I loved our Mountain Travel Sobek guides. I have tried several different tour companies for a variety of reasons, but I always end up coming back to Mountain Travel Sobek for their expertise and well-run trips. Definitely, check out their Portugal Historic Village Tour.
And for some reason, if their trips don’t quite fit the bill, take a look at Travelstride, a search engine for tour companies. It is similar to Kayak, but instead of searching travel sites for hotels, cars, and flights, it searches tour company sites and conglomerates all the options. It’s a helpful tool when shopping for tours!
Enjoy your next journey, and don’t forget Trip Insurance. American Airlines stranded me overnight both coming and going to Portugal.