Located in the central highlands immediately to the south of Dili, Aileu includes very steep forested ridges – some lush with tropical vegetation and others dry and rocky, covered in sparse eucalyptus trees and grasses. Beautiful rice paddy ribbons run along the river valleys between the steep slopes making a colorful contrast with the mountain ranges behind.
On the winding road from Dili, travelers often stop to capture the expansive views down to the winding rivers far below and out to the northern coast with Atauro Island in the distance. Apart from the villages located close to the road and on ridge tops, others are hidden from view by the steep terrain and forest.
Going further south into the municipality the road from Dili eventually drops down to a very picturesque fertile high land valley and the bustling market town of Aileu. There is a small freshwater lake to the town’s west. Continuing on south towards Maubisse the countryside starts to feel even wilder and more remote. The views are magnificent and in the wet season enjoy the wild flowers along the roadside. Traditional thatched roof villages can be seen in the distance, either linked by road or walking track.
Top things to do in Aileu
Drive around coffee plantations
Aileu is a scenic coffee country and the drive here is pleasant, with new roads making it a fairly straightforward trip from Dili. You can organize a visit to a coffee plantation as well.
Japanese war memorial
The town of Aileu hosts a large monument commemorating the role of Aileu in the Japanese invasion, and the massacre of local Portuguese citizens during those times.
Monument of Former President Nicolao Lobato
Located in Aissirimou, the monument marks the history of the armed insurrection of August 15, 1975.
Statue of Saint Pedro and Saint Paul
This statue is located a short walk up the hill from the municipal church, and it represents the patrons of the town.
Visit Aileu market
If you happen to visit Aileu on market day on Wednesday and Saturday you will be able to enjoy a laidback but still bustling environment and see all the fresh vegetable and fruit on display, plus coffee, tobacco and other local produce.
Visit Youth Training Centre Municipal Aileu (SJMA) in Aissirimou
The training center is the umbrella for a women sewing group, and also 10 community groups that are involved in agriculture activities such as vegetable farms and fish farms.
Lagoon Seloi Kraik
It is located in the small village of Seloi, 1.5km from main road heading south towards Gleno town. This is a perfect place for taking a small break, breathing fresh air and relaxing by the water.