Almond blossom route encourages territorial cohesion and sustainability

The 2024 edition of CP's oldest tourist route accompanies the Almond Blossom Festival in Vila Nova de Foz Côa

"Get on a train overlooking the Douro and take the Almond Blossom Route". This is the challenge CP - Comboios de Portugal and the Vila Nova de Foz Côa Town Council is setting . They have teamed up once again to offer an unforgettable journey in historic carriages through UNESCO World Heritage landscapes, offering an enchanting visual spectacle of almond trees in bloom. It will also be possible, among other things, to taste typical sweets, visit a regional products fair and visit the Côa Museum.

The Almond Blossom Route 2024 is CP's oldest - it's in its 70th edition - and was the first to be adapted to the new railway tourism model being implemented by the company. The great novelty of this edition is the integration between this Route and the 42nd Almond Blossom Festival in Vila Nova de Foz Côa, which combines exhibitions, catering, street entertainment and concerts.

By combining railway tourism and culture, CP and the local council promote this area, boosting the local economy and showcasing its natural beauty.

At a press conference held at the Pocinho High Performance Centre, the Chairman of CP's Board of Directors, Pedro Moreira, highlighted the importance of this partnership and expressed his willingness to develop new products to help boost the region. "This is a good way of bringing the coast closer to the interior. People are amazed by the landscape, the culture, the characteristics and traditions of the region. This Route combines territorial cohesion with a sustainable and environmentally friendly mode of transport, in line with today's demands," he emphasised.

Expectations for the initiative, which is part of the Almond Blossom Festival, are high. "In 2023, we had practically all the trips sold out. If last year was a huge success, this year is going to be even better. There were people saying it was the best trip of their lives," said Pedro Moreira, who also thanked the Vila Nova de Foz Côa town council for its vision in "realising the importance of the railway for the region, for the local economy and for making culture and traditions known".

The Foz Côa town council is responsible for transporting visitors to the museum, the town centre and the guided tour of the almond trees in bloom, during the six and a half hours that the passengers remain in the area. The mayor of the "Capital of the Almond Tree in Bloom", João Paulo Sousa, appreciated the fact that it was taking place at the same time as the biggest festivities in the municipality. An event that, he said, has two purposes: "to publicise the quality of almonds and endogenous products and, above all, to attract people to the area". "The Almond Blossom has culture, tradition and the epiphany of the place, what portrays the way of life of our people, a differentiating element in relation to other territories," said the mayor. "CP has played a fundamental role and I congratulate the company because it feels the territory as we do and is absolutely certain that it is through these initiatives that the territory improves and attracts people," he added.

Typical sweets and a visual spectacle

There will be six trips as part of the Almond Blossom Route over three weekends - 17, 18, 24 and 25 February and 2 and 3 March. The route, along the Douro Line, runs between Porto - São Bento and Pocinho, in Foz Côa.

The train leaves Porto at 7.20 a.m. in a special carriage (1st class Schindler carriage), and arrives at Pocinho Station at 10.45 a.m. The return journey from Pocinho leaves at 5.14 p.m. and the train is scheduled to arrive back in São Bento at 8.30 p.m.

During the journey, passengers will be offered a handmade almond sweet and a convent delicacy typical of the region.

Passengers will be able to enjoy the spectacle of seeing the almond trees in bloom (with a guide) and also visit the Côa Museum, one of Portugal's largest museums, which celebrates the meeting of the region's two world heritage sites: the Prehistoric Art of the Côa Valley and the Douro Wine Landscape.

The visits take place when Vila Nova de Foz Côa is holding the 42nd edition of the Almond Blossom Festival, which combines gastronomy, handicrafts, culture, sport and entertainment, with a wide range of events, from a meeting of ranches to an almond-starting competition, a regional products fair, art galleries with exhibitions and even a large themed ethnographic parade.

The cost of each journey (return) remains unchanged from last year at €49 per adult, and €25 for children aged 4 to 12. There are discounts for groups.

You can download photos from the press conference and the promotional video for the Almond Blossom Route 2024 from https://we.tl/t-YneL7P23GQ