When travelling from Lisbon to Porto or vice-versa, it is important to explore the hidden treasures that lie along the way. One such gem is Aveiro, an appealing destination that deserves a prominent spot on your travel itinerary. Situated approximately halfway between Lisbon and Porto, it offers a delightful respite from the bustling cityscapes. Whether traversing this route by car or train, this charismatic city is a must-visit, enticing travelers with its unique character, stunning architecture and the enchanting canals that have earned it the nickname "Venice of Portugal". So today we seize the opportunity and experience the magic of Aveiro.
Take a serene stroll along the canals
As you step into the city, it becomes immediately clear why it has earned the reputation as the "Venice of Portugal". The beautiful canals winding through its heart create a dreamy atmosphere that beckons you to explore further. Begin your walk at the vibrant Central Canal, also known as Ria de Aveiro. Lined with colorful Art Nouveau buildings and adorned with quaint bridges, this central waterway serves as the city’s lifeline. The gentle lapping of the water against the canal walls and the occasional passing of a moliceiro boat set the perfect soundtrack for your adventure.
As you meander along the canal, take a moment to appreciate the unique architecture that surrounds you. The facades of the buildings display intricate details and vivid colours, reflecting the city's rich history and cultural ancestry. From the elegant curves and decorative elements of Art Nouveau to the more traditional Portuguese styles, it is as if each building tells its own story.
Continuing your walk, you'll come across graceful footbridges that gracefully arch over the canals, connecting the different parts of Aveiro. These bridges offer picture-perfect views of the architectural wonders that line their banks. Pause for a moment on one of these bridges and soak in the serene ambiance, capturing the beauty of Aveiro through your lens. As you reach the end of your canal walk, you'll find yourself in the picturesque Fisherman's Quarter, known as Beira-Mar. Here, the canals widen and the local fishermen's houses, painted in bright colours, create an attractive and authentic vibe.
Hop on a moliceiro
Of course, a visit to Aveiro would be incomplete without a ride on a moliceiro, adding a touch of romance and magic to your experience. Step aboard these beautifully adorned vessels and let the boatman guide you through the alluring canals, immersing you in the city's unique environment.
Originally used for collecting seaweed, moliceiros are now used for leisurely tours. Admire the boat's colorful exterior adorned with intricate artwork, showcasing Aveiro's history and culture. As you glide along the canals, your knowledgeable boatman will share interesting insights and anecdotes about Aveiro's customs. Take in the sights of beautiful architecture, elegant footbridges and the local way of life as you pass by. The moliceiro ride offers a different perspective of Aveiro, allowing you to experience the city's essence first-hand.
The activity’s duration ranges from 45 minutes to an hour and it’s advisable to check availability and schedule in advance.
Taste Ovos Moles
These are traditional confections made from a mixture of egg yolks and sugar, that offer a sweet and creamy experience that will leave you craving more. It is an excellent idea to visit one of Aveiro's renowned pastry shops to sample these exquisite treats. Choose from a variety of shapes and sizes, each with its own unique character. With every bite, you'll savor the velvety smoothness and the harmonious blend of sweet flavors, as the rich egg yolks and sugar create a delightful symphony on your palate.
Enhance your experience by pairing the ovos moles with a cup of aromatic Portuguese coffee, allowing the flavors to mingle and create a fantastic combination. These delicate treats make for a thoughtful and delicious gift! So, consider bringing home beautifully packaged ovos moles as souvenirs, sharing the taste of Aveiro's culinary tradition with your loved ones.
Indulging in ovos moles is a must-do experience, allowing you to savor the authentic flavors of Aveiro and appreciate the city's culinary traditions.
Discover the Art Nouveau buildings in the city
This artistic movement, characterized by its intricate details, flowing lines and decorative motifs, has left an indelible mark on the Aveiro’s landscape. One notable highlight of the city’s Art Nouveau scene is the Arte Nova Museum. Housed in a beautifully restored building that embodies the distinctive style of the era, the museum offers a fascinating glimpse into Aveiro’s Art Nouveau heritage.
The museum displays a remarkable collection of Art Nouveau artifacts and also provides insight into the historical significance of the movement. Admire the intricate furniture, elegant glassware, ornamental ceramics and exquisite jewellery that exemplify the craftsmanship and attention to detail of the Art Nouveau artisans. As you wander through the museum, allow yourself to be transported to a time of artistic revolution and cultural renaissance.
Beyond the Arte Nova Museum, Aveiro boasts numerous other Art Nouveau gems scattered throughout the city. Stroll along the lovable streets and avenues and you'll encounter magnificent buildings with ornate facades, curved lines and sculptural embellishments. From the grandeur of the Aveiro City Hall to the elegant storefronts and residences, each structure tells a story of an era defined by artistic exploration and cultural vibrancy.
While admiring the Art Nouveau buildings, look up and appreciate the details adorning the rooftops and balconies. The intricate ironwork, delicate moldings and whimsical motifs add a touch of magic to the city's skyline. Capture the beauty of these architectural gems through photographs or simply revel in the ambiance as you stroll through the streets, appreciating the legacy of Art Nouveau that permeates Aveiro.
Explore the colorful charms of Costa Nova
Situated just a short distance from Aveiro, lies the pleasant coastal village of Costa Nova, a destination that beckons with its vital charm and spirited character. As you plan your trip here, note that various transportation options are available. Having a car provides convenience and flexibility while visiting the village.
As you approach Costa Nova, you will be greeted by a striking sight: rows of brightly painted houses, known as palheiros, standing proudly along the shore. These engrossing wooden structures, adorned with vertical stripes in various hues, have become an iconic symbol of the village.
With spotless sandy beaches, Costa Nova invites you to bask in the sun and enjoy the refreshing ocean breeze. Take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline, feel the soft sand beneath your feet and listen to the soothing sounds of the waves crashing against the shore. Unwind on the beach, indulge in a picnic, or simply relax and let time slip away in this coastal haven.
As you explore the village, make sure to sample the local gastronomy. Costa Nova is renowned for its fresh seafood offerings, from succulent grilled fish to mouth-watering shellfish dishes. Treat your taste buds to a culinary adventure, savoring the flavors of the sea in charming seaside restaurants or at lively local markets.
With its lovely striped houses, inviting beaches and coastal allure, Costa Nova offers an outstanding escape from the everyday life. A visit to this energetic village is an opportunity to create cherished memories and experience the laid-back lifestyle that defines the region.
Eat fresh fish and seafood
When it comes to culinary, Aveiro being a coastal city, is a haven for seafood lovers. This fascinating city offers a bountiful array of fresh fish and seafood that will deconstruct any seafood experience you’ve ever had.
Let’s start this journey, for example, by indulging in the local specialty - caldeirada de enguias, a traditional eel stew. This flavorful dish combines tender eel with potatoes, tomatoes, onions and an aromatic blend of herbs and spices. On the other hand, if you prefer grilled fish, Aveiro's seafood restaurants offer an exquisite selection of fresh catches right from the Atlantic Ocean. From succulent sea bass and tender sardines to flavorful swordfish and delectable octopus, you'll find an abundance of options to satisfy your cravings. Grilled to perfection and seasoned with a touch of local flair, these dishes showcase the natural flavors of the sea.
There’s another unmissable dish called caldeirada de peixe, a traditional Portuguese fish stew that combines cod, sea bream and hake, with potatoes, tomatoes, bell pepper, and, of course, a medley of herbs and spices. The result is a symphony of flavors that will transport you to the sweet shores of the Atlantic.
For those who prefer shellfish, Aveiro presents an array of mouth-watering options. From succulent shrimp and flavorful clams to plump mussels and sweet crab, you can indulge in a variety of seafood delights. Whether enjoyed in a classic cataplana dish, sautéed with garlic and butter, or served in a delicate seafood risotto, the shellfish in Aveiro is sure to satisfy even the most discerning palate.
Pair your seafood feast with a glass of chilled Vinho Verde, a crisp and refreshing Portuguese wine that beautifully complements the flavors of the sea. As you savor the delectable seafood offerings, take a moment to appreciate the dedication of the local fishermen and the sustainability practices embraced in Aveiro's fishing industry. The commitment to preserving the marine ecosystem ensures that future generations can continue to enjoy the abundance of fresh seafood that the city has to offer.
Venture into the rich legacy of Vista Alegre ceramic
Now, before leaving Aveiro, one should explore the renowned Vista Alegre brand in Ílhavo and immerse in the world of fine porcelain and exquisite ceramics. We advise visiting this location by car, as it is nestled a few kilometers from Aveiro. It is here, in this inviting town with a history dating back to 1824, that Vista Alegre became synonymous with craftsmanship, elegance and timeless beauty.
Let’s start by the Vista Alegre factory and museum, where you can witness the meticulous process of creating delicate porcelain pieces. Marvel at the skilled artisans as they shape the clay, carefully paint intricate details and fire the ceramics to perfection. Gain a deeper appreciation for the artistry and craftsmanship that goes into each exquisite creation. Inside the museum, you'll discover a treasure trove of Vista Alegre's rich culture. Admire an extensive collection of stunning ceramic pieces, ranging from elegant tableware and decorative vases to intricate figurines and contemporary designs. Explore the evolution of ceramic craftsmanship throughout the years and learn about the brand's collaborations with renowned artists and designers that have resulted in unique and exclusive collections.
After immersing yourself in the world of Vista Alegre, take a stroll through the cute streets of Ílhavo and appreciate the town's connection to ceramics. Many of the buildings, including the iconic Chapel of Our Lady of the Navigators, feature beautiful ceramic tiles produced by Vista Alegre, adding a touch of artistry to the town's architectural landscape.
Get to know Ílhavo maritime history
Delving deeper into the pleasing region of Ílhavo, you should also take the opportunity to discover its rich maritime history, which has shaped the identity of this charismatic town. Explore the maritime heritage museum, visit historic sites and immerse yourself in the stories of seafaring traditions that have endured for centuries. Begin at the Museu Marítimo de Ílhavo, an ambrosial museum dedicated to preserving and showcasing Ílhavo's maritime legacy. Step inside and embark on a captivating voyage through time as you explore the exhibits that narrate the town's seafaring history. From the art of shipbuilding to the exploration of distant shores, this museum brings to life the bravery, ingenuity and resilience of Ílhavo's sailors and fishermen.
Venture beyond the museum and visit the iconic Barra lighthouse, an emblematic trace of old times, that has guided countless ships safely along the coast. Climb to the top for breathtaking panoramic views of the coastline and the vast ocean beyond. Imagine the courage and dedication of the lighthouse keepers who ensured the safety of sailors throughout the years.
Take a stroll along the scenic Ria de Aveiro, a natural lagoon that has played a vital role in the town's maritime activities. Observe the colorful fishing boats and reflect on the harmony between man and nature that has defined the relationship between Ílhavo and its maritime surroundings. To further immerse yourself in this town’s customs, visit the local shipyards where skilled craftsmen continue to build traditional fishing boats. Witness first-hand the age-old techniques and craftsmanship that have been passed down through generations, ensuring the preservation of these iconic vessels.
At the end of our journey, you will be able to acknowledge the resilience and resourcefulness of all these local communities, whose livelihoods have long been intertwined with the sea. Their stories, customs and traditions have shaped the town's identity and continue to be celebrated to this day.
Make sure to include Aveiro as a must-visit destination on your trip across Portugal and let this enchanting city leave a lasting impression on your travel memories!