Aveiro is a charming Portuguese city and one the best alternative romantic destinations. Located in the west of Portugal, set along the lagoon of Ria de Aveiro, the town is known for its canals and colourful painted gondola-type boats called moliceiros. The big attractions in the town are the Monteiro de Jesus a museum located in a former monastery and the picturesque beach town of Costa Nova. However, there is much more to this cute town so let’s explore the best things to do in Aveiro, Portugal:
- 1 7 cool things to do in Aveiro, Portugal
- 1.1 Ride a moliceiro
- 1.2 Spend time exploring the museums
- 1.3 Take a stroll through the city
- 1.4 Sample Aveiro sweets
- 1.5 Drink coffee in a typical coffee shop
- 1.6 Be wowed by the colourful house of Costa Nova
- 1.7 Chill out by Aveiro’s canals
- 1.8 How to get to Aveiro
- 1.9 Where to stay in Aveiro
7 cool things to do in Aveiro, Portugal
Ride a moliceiro
Aveiro is traversed by canals that you can navigate on painted colourful boats called “barco moliceiros“. These boats are mainly present in the Ria de Aveiro and were traditionally used for collecting seaweed from the lagoon. Now the gondola have been converted to tourist boats for the enjoyment of lots of people. Onboarding a moliceiro is a delight as you discover the city differently while learning about the history of Aveiro and Portugal in general. Tours last 45 minutes and cost on average €7.
Spend time exploring the museums
Averio has an interesting cluster of museums.
You shouldn’t leave Aveiro without visiting the Museum of Aveiro. Housed in the Mosteiro de Jesus (Convent of Jesus) an old monastery of female Dominican Order built in 1458. The visit is done in two parts: on the ground floor, you can see the cloister with its chapels, chapter room, refectory and the Igreja de Jesus (Church of Jesus). The Igreja de Jesus decorated with magnificent golden woodwork and azulejos (the Portuguese hand-painted decorative tiles) is just awe-inspiring. The exceptional work in a baroque style will leave you speechless. The first floor presents the permanent exhibition which is mainly devoted to Santa Joana, the daughter of King Alfonso V. She lived in the convent until her death in 1490.
Another museum to visit is the Aveiro Art Nouveau Museum if you want to know more about the Art Nouveau buildings.
Take a stroll through the city
Aveiro’s canals are what give the town its character and are worth a couple of hours of your time. There are several branches, which take you to different sides of Aveiro, the old historic part and the newer areas. As you walk along the central canal in the historic centre, you see a series of buildings with façades inspired by the Art Nouveau era. If you want to be sure to see most of them, check out the available guided tours.
Sample Aveiro sweets
One of the things to eat in Aveiro is ovos moles (literally soft eggs). They consist of egg yolk and sugar and are hand shaped to look like clam and whelk shells. Ovos moles are Aveiro’s speciality, therefore, you will find lots of shops selling them. For the best in town, try either Confeitaria Peixhino or Oficina do DoceOficina do Doce.
For lunch or dinner, you have lots of options to choose from. You can eat at the Fish Market Square (Praça do Peixe) or snack at a local cafe or chain restaurant in the modern Forum Shopping Centre.
Drink coffee in a typical coffee shop
Coffee culture is big in Portugal as it brings people together. If you want to experience it like a local, visit a local coffee shop. I have to say that coffee is cheaper than it is in the UK. For example, you will get an espresso between €0.50 and €1. First things first, know how to order your coffee. If you ask for “um café,” you get an espresso. You prefer latte or coffee with milk ask for a “meia de leite” or “um galão.” For an Americano type of black coffee, ask for “um abatanado.”
Be wowed by the colourful house of Costa Nova
Located about 20 minutes bus ride from the historic centre of Aveiro is Costa Nova beach, also known as Costa Nova do Prado. Costa Nova is where the locals go to relax by the beach or practice all sort of water sports such as kite surf. What makes this beach the main attraction of Aveiro is beautiful and colourful fishermen’s houses painted in vertical or horizontal stripes.
If you are staying more than a day in Aveiro, why not head to Praia da Barra or Praia Velha both a few kilometres from Aveiro. Barra has the tallest lighthouse in Portugal and third tallest in the world.
Chill out by Aveiro’s canals
Thanks to Aveiro’s lagoon, the city is traversed by canals giving it the name of “Venice of Portugal.” Strolling in Aveiro is easy as contrary to other Portuguese cities like Coimbra, Aveiro is not hilly. Walking around can be exhausting, so it’s always a good idea to find a relaxing spot and chill out while recharging your batteries. The Jardim do Rosio is a great spot to relax with a book or admire the Art Nouveau style houses.
How to get to Aveiro
The best way to get to Aveiro from Porto is by train. They depart from São Bento and Campanhã stations. The journey takes 1 hour and 15 minutes, and costs around 3€ one-way (urban train). You can also take the bus, but it takes double the time and is more expensive (€10). You can also travel from other cities like Lisbon, for train times see the CP Rail website.
Where to stay in Aveiro
If you would like to explore Aveiro further, you have several good accommodation options. A great choice being Meliá Ria situated only 10 minutes from the train station and downtown Aveiro. It offers a fantastic view of the Ria with contemporary rooms.