Aveiro, located next to the sea, is a unique city with plenty of charm. Here you can find a combination of historical architecture, colourful facades, a small network of picturesque canals and amazing beaches.
Arriving at Aveiro by train, you will have the chance to see the beautiful old railway station. It’s facade is covered with blue Portuguese “azulejos” (hand-painted Portuguese ceramic tiles), reproducing regional themes and motifs.
You can explore this lovely little city easily on foot or by bike – “BUGA” – bicycles made freely available by Aveiro City Council. For a city tour with a different perspective, you should take a trip on a traditional boat, “moliceiro”, to admire the beautiful examples of various Portuguese architectural styles, the most noticeable being the fabulous examples of Art Nouveau.
Moliceiros have played a pivotal role in the city’s history and economy for centuries, as they have originally been developed to transfer the harvest of seaweed, used as a fertilizer in the sandy soils. Nowadays, these colourful boats with naughty paintings and sayings are more commonly used for transporting tourists around the town’s canals.
Walking through the narrow streets of the old part of the city, you can find a diverse collection of attractive ‘azulejos’ decorating the walls of the buildings.
There is plenty to see in Aveiro: the famous Aveiro Museum, the 15th Century church of São Domingos, also known as Aveiro Cathedral, the fish market, and the amazing Museum of Art Nouveau. On the exterior, extraordinary art nouveau detail is evident in the stone facade as well as the wrought iron embellishments. Inside the building, you can see beautiful azulejos, hand painted with motifs that were typical of the period, including birds, animals and flowers. The first level is home to the Casa de Chá tearoom, the perfect spot for relaxing after a long day of sightseeing. The second floor holds an art gallery.
In the city centre, there are contemporary craft shops, boutiques, themed cafés and gourmet stores that have popped up in recent years. Aveiro is also known by its “salinas”, sites where fleur de sel is still extracted traditionally by hand. You can visit the Troncalhada Eco-museum and learn about the process of making salt.
With its rich sea-faring heritage, it is no surprise that fish and seafood play a starring role on the restaurant menus that certainly do not disappoint! Emblematic of the city is the sweet made with eggs and sugar – the “ovos moles” that are sold in wooden barrels or wrapped in a crusty wafer in different sea motifs. Stop at any typical café and taste this heavenly egg-based delicacy!
Separated from Aveiro by the lagoon (or Ria as it is known) are the wide sandy beaches: Costa Nova, Barra and São Jacinto. Costa Nova is mostly famous for its colourful houses painted in candy stripes that create a unique atmosphere in the area. These traditional “palheiros” were used by fishermen to store their fishing materials and have also been used as beach houses throughout the years. The views in Costa Nova are spectacular and varied: on one side, the clear, blue sea of the lagoon; on the other, the wilder sea especially appreciated by surfers, and kilometres of sand dunes.
Barra beach is perhaps best known for its lighthouse, at 62 metres high, it is the tallest in Portugal. São Jacinto is a protected Natural Reserve, with well preserved dunes and varied fauna and flora.
These are some of the reasons why you should visit Aveiro! Don’t miss it!