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The "Venice of Portugal," a City with Charming Art Nouveau Architecture and Canals with Colorful Moliceiro Boats.

Aveiro

Aveiro is an ancient Portuguese city famous for its colorful architecture and numerous options for active tourism.

Aveiro, located right near the Atlantic Ocean, is famous for the numerous canals with colorful boats called “moliceiros.” It may seem that it's a miniature of Venice, but in fact, the city is absolutely authentic. Aveiro Portugal tourism is tightly connected with Moliceiro boats. Before, they were used to collect seaweed, but nowadays, they are the main point of tourist attraction, used for canal cruises.

Initially, there was the Roman settlement of Aviarium, but in the 10th century, it turned into Aveiro. It was a fishing port town until 1575 and the place for salt extraction from the water.

However, due to several major storms, the harbor became very shallow and became the Ria de Aveiro Lagoon. The city revival took place in the 19th century,  and in 1808, the lagoon was connected with the sea with a canal.

Modern Aveiro is a network of canals, full of painted moliceiros, peacefully floating 

alone with the colorful houses in the Art Nouveau style, decorated with azulejos tiles and salt mines. The city's architecture is originally Portuguese, rich with curved lines, floral motifs, and forged. It's no big surprise that Aveiro leaves an absolutely stunning and charming impression. One more option to move around and see the city from an unusual angle is free bugas bicycles for those interested.

Aveiro is divided in half by a central canal that runs through the historical part of the city, and both its parts are rich in architectural monuments. Some of them are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. On the south side of the city's central canal are located the most significant of the city attractions, such as the Pacos do Conselho Town Hall or the pillory of Pelorinho de Esgueira from the 18th century in the Tuscan style. Among interesting things to do in Aveiro is visiting the Chapel of St. Bartholomew, the Church of St. Anthony, and the Cathedral of St. Dominic from 1423.

As for the features of local architectural style, the description won't be complete without mentioning azulejos. The Church of Mercy, built in the 17th century right next to the city administration, is entirely covered with azulejos. Noteworthy is the former Dominican Convent of Jesus (Convento de Jesus) of the 15th century, which houses the City Museum of Aveiro. It displays collections of paintings, tiles, sculptures, jewelry, furniture, and ceramics. Among other exciting attractions in Aveiro, it is worth noting the Fishing Square (Praça do Peixo). Azulejos, used for the facade decoration, make the appearance of the buildings unique.

The main attractions of Aveiro are not limited only to the city itself. Nearby, there are the pristine sandy Aveiro beaches, such as Barra, with the second-largest lighthouse in Portugal. As for the beach itself, there is a long spit of sand dunes leading from the port. Along the shore, there are wooden decks with benches. There are several bars nearby. The weather in these places is often windy, so people come here to practice kiting, surfing, bodyboarding, sailing, and sport fishing.

On a short drive distance, there is the town of Costa Nova, famous for its striped candy houses. The fish market in Costa Nova is considered one of the best. It sells fresh fish and seafood caught in local waters. There are many restaurants in the village where you can taste them ready-made. Also, not far from the city, there is a factory producing the famous Vishta Alegre porcelain, founded in 1824. Many royal houses in Europe, including Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, prefer the dishes from there.

To finish your walk around the city, don't miss the bridges. Over the Botirões and San Roque canals, there is Ponte dos Botirões, opened in 2006. The steel structure is firm but still shaking a bit while you walk. As for the Carcavelos Bridge, it's made of wood and was created in the mid-20th century. 

 

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All About Aveiro

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When to Visit

Aveiro has a temperate oceanic climate. However, it's windy, rainy, and foggy here in the cold time of the year. Summers are comfortable, dry, and partly cloudy. The average temperature is +14.9 °C. Before visiting Aveiro attractions, check the weather forecast for Aveiro.

However, remember the Portuguese rule of focusing not on the temperature “according to the thermometer” but on how it feels to a person. The fact is that the city is located on the shore of a large lagoon, which means constant humidity, due to which it always feels colder than the thermometer shows. However, this region receives a lot of sun each year. The peak tourist season is from mid-June to mid-September.

 

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Getting Around

Most of Aveiro's attractions can be explored on foot, located near the center. You can also rent a bicycle. However, the most essential tourist transport and the city's calling card are Moliceiros boats.

Now, all the boats seen in the city are unique. Their high sides are decorated with artistic paintings depicting fragments from the city's history. If you notice obscene drawings on one of the boats, don’t be surprised; such creativity is also quite common here. Walking on colorful wooden boats along the canals is one of the most popular entertainment among tourists.

It is also not difficult to rent a car if you need to explore remote areas. Aveiro is easily accessible from Porto and Lisbon. Trains and buses go here. The highway from Porto to Portuguese Venice is only 70 km, from Lisbon - 250 km.

 

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Travel Information

You can get an unforgettable experience while traveling in Aveiro if you consider a few simple Aveiro travel tips:

1. How do you make the first trip to Aveiro unforgettable?

Aveiro is a beautiful and unique city that has captured the hearts of tourists worldwide. And even when you open a map of this city, you see what a fantastic place it is located in. Take the time to explore this place to see more.

Aveiro is considered one of the most picturesque and romantic cities in Portugal, whose main attraction is a maze of canals filled with colorful boats. To make your visit unforgettable, you should start from the city's historical center, which is under UNESCO protection. See the architecture, visit the museums, and then stop by the Igreja da Misericórdia de Aveiro, the largest church in Aveiro, built in the 18th century. And for half a walk, it’s worth visiting the favorite place of all citizens - the central park, ideal for picnics and relaxation.

2. What is a list of Aveiro hidden gems?

Aveiro is a typical and wonderful Portuguese town with a unique atmosphere. It's highly recommended to come here from Porto, as the city is only 58 kilometers away. To see all the main attractions of Aveiro, three to four hours is more than enough. After that, the visitors can get the bus and, in 15 minutes, will reach the colorful village of Costa Nova do Prado with the atmosphere of a Disney cartoon.

The houses here are as if dressed in striped pajamas. Near the Praja da Barra beach, there is the lighthouse. It's the highest in Portugal, 62 meters or 66 meters with the dome, and has long been a symbol of Aveiro and Costa Nova do Prado. Although it was built in the mid-18th century, it still works. Many people come here not because of the lighthouse but because there is a large number of restaurants.

3. What dishes are the must-try in Aveiro?

A traditional dish for Portugal is ovos moles, which came into the world from the Benedictine convent of Jesus. You'll love it or hate it right after your first bite. The Soft Egg dessert contains only two ingredients: sugar and yolk. All this is wrapped in nut or rice paper.

They say that the nuns had nothing else but sugar and yolks. That's why they were forced to come up with such a dessert. Tripas de Aveiro are so-called raw spring rolls. This delicacy was invented in Aveiro in the 70s to sell to beachgoers. The dish can be served with anything - from various jams to cheese and bacon. But do not confuse pancakes with the national dish "tripash.” This is just a stew of tripe and beans. It's also delicious. Not for everyone. I'm an amateur.

 

Top Attractions Near Aveiro

Explore Aveiro's excellent selection of attractions, from ancient historic wonders to vibrant cultural sightseeing

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Frequently Asked Questions

Get clear and useful insider tips for the most common queries about Aveiro

Are there any traditional souvenirs unique to Aveiro?

Yes, Aveiro is a place well-known for its traditional crafts. The focus of attention should be the intricate art of porcelain painting and the production of intricate lacework known as "rendas de bilros." These products are perfect for souvenirs or gifts and are widely presented in local shops and markets for any choice.

Are there traditional festivals and events?

Yes, the most notable event is the Carnaval de Aveiro, a colorful and festive celebration with live music held before Lent. As for the Ria de Aveiro Boat Parade and the Festas de São Gonçalinho showcase Aveiro's maritime heritage and cultural traditions.

What are the best and the most popular accommodation options overlooking the Aveiro canals?

The most popular locations for tourists are located along the canals. Get an experience of Aveiro's charming waterways by staying at one of these accommodations. There is a wide choice of different accommodation options, such as traditional hotels or more budget guesthouses.