The old railway line of Dão was transformed in the largest ecotrail in Portugal, promoting mobility, sustainable tourism, and natural and cultural heritage.
The old railway line of Dão, which established the connection between the Municipalities of Santa Comba Dão, Tondela and Viseu, was deactivated several decades ago, suffering a progressive degradation.
The Ecotrail of Dão (Ecopista do Dão) resulted from the transformation of this old railway through a cooperation project between the three Municipalities and REFER (entity responsible for the infrastructure), in 2011.
Thus, the old railway platform was adapted, giving rise to the largest Ecotrail (Ecopista) of the country, with 49 Km, covering the three municipalities and integrated in the National Network of Ecotrails.
After decades of abandonment, the Ecotrail (Ecopista) is now destined for public use, with several purposes: mobility, leisure, sports, recreational activities, cultural and environmental protection, promoting sustainable tourism.
The Ecotrail of Dão is part of the National Network of Ecotrails, the Portuguese Association of Green Corridors, and the European Association of Greenways.
5.000.000 € (Supported by the Regional Operational Program of the Centre Region - “Mais Centro”– QREN)
Evidence of success
The ecotrail was part of two European projects: “Greenways4Tour” and “Greenways Product”. In 2013, it won the prize of excellence, within the VI Edition of European Prizes of Greenways. An inquiry concluded that 95% of the users are satisfied with the ecotrail. These are mostly male, resident in the region Viseu Dão Lafões, between 26 and 45 years old. The users use the ecotrail (ecopista) several times a month, mainly by bicycle, with the
objective of practicing sports and leisure.
Potential for learning or transfer
The Ecotrail of Dão (Ecopista do Dão) is seen as a tourism product of the region, being articulated with other tourism products with the objective of developing and promoting sustainable tourism.
The definition of a great variety of circuits and tours, for example the inclusion of tours with sleeping, catering and visits options, and the involvement of tour operators, lead tourists to discover the surrounding territory of the Ecotrail (Ecopista).
This good practice can be replicated in other regions of the country or the world as a way of requalifying the territory, in particular, as a way of requalifying an old railway infrastructure that was unused and in state of degradation. It is also a way of preserving heritage, and promoting sustainable tourism, smooth mobility and regional development.