The town of Aveiro is often described by guidebooks as the Venice of Portugal. If you visit Aveiro expecting Venice, then you will probably be disappointed. So adjust your expectations and look forward to experiencing a charming, relaxed city with its three canals that run through the historic centre and its brightly painted boats (not gondolas!) which many feature some rather saucy paintings on them!!
Add some interesting Art Nouveau buildings and churches, and this is Aveiro. It’s actually quite a nice place and well worth staying a night or two.
We were told that you can’t say you have visited Aveiro if you haven’t tried the local delicacy Ovos Moles de Aveiro. So we sat down for a coffee by one of the canals and tried this so-called delight. It’s made from sweetened egg yokes and wrapped in a thin candy wafer and styled as a fish or a barrel.
Originally produced by nuns who used the egg whites to starch their habits, and who were then left with a significant amount of egg yolks, so it seemed like a good idea to make cakes. Let’s just say it’s an acquired taste and I have a sweet tooth!
Heading out of Aveiro and just on the edge of town, is the Troncalhada Eco-Museum. Salt production was once a significant industry in Aveiro, but now only a few salt ponds remain.
At the museum, you can learn about how they extract the salt. It’s actually a lot more interesting than it sounds.
Places to visit near Aveiro
Costa Nova and Barra
Why Visit Costa Nova and Barra
The nearest beaches to Aveiro are Costa Nova and Barra. If you don’t have your own transport, both beaches are easily reached by public transport. The first beach is Barra which is around nine kilometres south of Aveiro. It looks quite a lovely beach town but we hadn’t come to enjoy the beach, we wanted to see the lighthouse.
The Barra Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in Portugal and one of the tallest in Europe. It is located at the point where the Aveiro Lagoon meets the ocean.
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The lighthouse was built in the 19th century and stands more than 60 metres above sea level. It was built in 1893 and was needed because the coastal area is so flat here, it gives the impression that you are further from land than you actually are.
On Wednesday afternoons throughout the year, it is possible to climb the 283 steps to the top, apparently the views from the top are great, and it’s free of charge. Alas, we weren’t there on a Wednesday.
A short drive or a 15-minute walk from Barra Beach is the beach town of Costa Nova. Costa Nova is famous for its colourful candy striped houses that face the lagoon. These houses known as palheiros were originally the huts of fishermen, a place where they could store their fishing equipment and provide shelter.
During the 19th century, Costa Nova became quite a popular seaside resort, and the poor local fishermen would rent them out to tourists over the summer season. The houses are really very pretty, and despite being so popular on Instagram, the seaside town of Costa Nova is still very low-key.
Both beach towns are excellent for swimming and both Barra and Costa Nova back onto the Aveiro Lagoon where you can do many water sports such as paddle boarding, sailing, rowing etc.
How to Get to Barra and Costa Nova
Buses depart regularly from the Rossio area in Aveiro or near the train station and take about 40 minutes.
Why Visit Agueda, Portugal
If you are visiting Aveiro during the summer months, you need to make a side trip to the historic town of Águeda, just 30 minutes away.
Why visit Águeda? You must have seen photos on Instagram and in magazines. This town is famous for its umbrella sky project where hundreds of umbrellas create a colourful canopy over the streets of the village. It’s charming and a fun place to spend a couple of hours. Be sure to bring your camera with you.
How to Get to Agueda
If you don’t have your own transport, trains run regularly from Aveiro Train Station, takes just under 40 minutes.
How to get to Aveiro, Portugal
We drove, but it’s straightforward to visit Aveiro using public transport. It actually makes a great day trip from Porto or Coimbra and can easily be visited by train. It would be too far to do as a day trip from Lisbon. But if you have time, consider staying the night.