The ancient Romans referred to this region as Herminius Mons, a mountain of Lusitania. This long circular route encircles the natural park without ever climbing to the high plateau, covering a wide range of landscapes.
Although it can be done in either direction, it is best if you do it counter clockwise, leaving the easiest part to the end of the day. It can be made in 1 day (10-12h), if you want to challenge yourself, or in 2 days if you prefer a more scenic, tranquil 1/2 day ride and use the remaning time to explore (day 1: Seia to Belmonte / day 2: Belmonte to Seia, for example). The first third of this route coincides with the Seia to Covilhã route.
Loriga is a symbol of Serra da Estrela: historically a textile manufacturing village (wool) it is, nowadays, mostly known for its natural river pools and the infamous Garganta de Loriga, a sharp valley sculpted in the rock due to glaciar erosion. Thousands of tourist go through a beatifull, yet challenging, footpath that crosses the glaciar valley. If you fancy some delicious pastry, stop at Loripão.
59 Km | Altitude: 650m - Unhais da Serra
The village of Unhais da Serra is also nestled in a glaciar valley, and it is famous for its thermal mineral water. In recent years, a very good 4* hotel was built, with some pro cycling teams using it as training HQ.
78 Km | Altitude: 640m - Covilhã
You've reached the city of Covilhã, with it's narrow cobblestoned streets and spectacular views. It was Portugal's capital of wool and a textile hub.
92 Km | Altitude: 460m - Belmonte
Belmonte feels, looks and is ancient. Right on the border of Serra da Estrela natural park, Belmonte's importance can be traced back to Roman times, when it was a key outpost on the road between Mérida, the Lusitanian capital, and Guarda. An important jewish community settled in Belmonte, and this can still be felt in everyday life. There is a very good Jewish museum (higly recommended!), a synagogue and a castle. It's definitely worth a visit.
139 Km | Altitude: 550m - Celorico da Beira
Self-proclaimed Serra da Estrela cheese capital, Celorico da Beira is an ancient mountain town located on the left riverbank of the Mondego river. In the historic centre you can visit the Serra da Estrela cheese museum, located in a beautiful XVII century manor. After Celorico da Beira, you have one last climb to reach the town of Gouveia and then you will descend towards Seia. Congratulations, you finished the Herminius route!