EN2 set to become Portugal’s Route 66

The project to promote Portugal’s longest road, the EN2 between Chaves and Faro, as a tourist attraction similar to the US highway ‘Route 66’ was officially unveiled last month (May 20) in Faro during the celebrations of the road’s 71st anniversary.

The idea, revealed in November (click here) has been taken on board by Portugal’s roads authority (IP) as well as several mayors in the Algarve and elsewhere.

The EN2 is actually considered the world’s “third longest road” and its 740 kms were once the principal link between one end of the country to the other. But as motorways and other alternatives have started to appear, it has lost its importance.

The idea is to highlight the fact that it runs through hills, rivers, plains and other stunning landscapes of 36 boroughs.

“This is Europe’s most historic road,” said António Ramalho, IP’s president, saying: “It is only really comparable to the USA’s Route 66 or Argentina’s Ruta Nacional 40.”

To make it as popular as possible, “an association of municipalities that the EN2 crosses” is being set up to decide how best to promote it and what each council can offer to the project, said Chaves mayor António Cabeleira.

The association will also try to apply for community funding.

Roadworks are needed
Though the initiative is widely supported, São Brás’ Vítor Guerreiro said roadworks are needed – especially in the south – if Portugal wants the EN2 to become a respectable tourist attraction.

Loulé mayor Vítor Aleixo was a bit more optimistic, saying the project could help boost tourism in “inland boroughs where there is a lack of economy activity”

Faro’s Rogério Bacalhau has suggested to the local MotoClube that a group of bikers take off from Faro to Chaves in September, while a number of cyclists from Chaves have also shown interest in pedalling south.

Also on the drawing board are two museums, in Chaves and in the Algarve, to focus on the road’s history.

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