Aveiro, the little Venice of Portugal

Most of Portugal’s territory is located towards the southwest of the European continent and at the level of the Iberian Peninsula. Its capital is Lisbon, but it also includes the archipelagos of Madeira and the Azores, which are located at the level of the Atlantic Ocean. The district of Aveiro is one of the 18 districts that make up Portugal, whose capital also bears the same name of Aveiro.

It is a small but continuously growing city, located on the west coast of this district and on the shores of the Aveiro estuary, bordering Porto to the north and Coimbra to the south. It is also known as the “Venice of Portugal”, since it has 3 canals that divide this city in a northern zone or the old fishermen’s area and to the south the historical buildings of the center.

In these canals you can observe its gondolas called moliceiros, very colorful, where both seaweed and salt were transported in the past, but today they are used for sightseeing tours. The city also has the advantage of being able to walk, since it is flat; or if you prefer, you can use a bicycle. The best time to visit Aveiro is in summer and winter, although most of the year the weather is mild.

What is the best way to get to Aveiro?

The city of Aveiro does not have an airport, so the best way is to arrive from Porto, which is the nearest city, and from there you can take the train or the bus; public transport is recommended, because of its good connection to different places in Portugal, including Aveiro.

Both bus and train stations are next to each other, towards the outskirts of the city, but it is the best service. Another recommendation is to arrive and stay in the center of Aveiro, as you get better accommodations and options. In addition, there is more movement and ease of getting to know the most important places. Unless you want to go to the beaches; then it is better to stay in Costa Nova.

What can we know in the little Venice of Portugal?

The city of Aveiro is surrounded by salt marshes, beautiful lagoons and important beaches. To get to the center of the city, tourists must cross the main canal in a gondola, which crosses almost the entire city. At the entrance of this canal, and to the west, are located the famous Salinas de Aveiro, 3 minutes from the center.

They were the great economic engine of the city, with 256 salt mines; currently only 9 are still active. You can visit them on foot or if you prefer to bathe in the Moira beach, which combines salt and marine clay. The walk usually takes about 45 minutes.

The canals of Aveiro can be visited by land, walking along the sides of the canals and crossing its different bridges, or by water through the moliceiros, which are decorated with beautiful colors and some character of importance to Portugal. These canals of Aveiro are smaller than those of Venice, and their boats are motorized. 

However, the important thing is that the route of the walk passes by the most modern or Art Nouveau buildings, the salt mines, the ceramics factory and the Beira-Mar neighborhood. The walk lasts 45 minutes and you can bring your pets.

Aveiro is a small city, we will talk about the most important things to know, what we can not miss in its historic center and what we will find in the surroundings of the city; below, we will see some examples. 

In the historic center of Aveiro: 

To the north is located the fishermen’s neighborhood Beira Mar, and to the south all the historic buildings in the center of Aveiro. In Beira Mar you can see its typical houses, also the fish square or Peixe, which during the day sells fresh fish, and at night it becomes an environment with many university students. 

Following the route on foot we will get in front of the Hotel Ria Melia Aveiro the famous I Love Aveiro Stairs, just 5 minutes from the city center, and have become the essential photo. Also, in that area you can see a red brick building; the ceramic factory of Aveiro’s past.

In the historic center of the city is located the Cathedral or Church of Santo Domingo, which dates back to 1423, but today only a carved stone wall remains of the original construction, since the main door dates from 1719.

Next to the Cathedral is located the old Convent of Jesus, from the 15th century, where only nuns lived, among them the daughter of King Alonso V: Santa Joana. Today is located the Museum of Aveiro, dedicated to religious art, including sculptures, paintings and jewelry of the Renaissance, as well as to this nun.

The highlight of this museum is the spectacular Church of Jesus, with a baroque style decoration in gilt and tiles from the region. Likewise, the cloister and the choir loft, which belong to what is called the monumental area of the first floor of the museum.

Now, right in front of where the moliceiros are taken, there are some modernist buildings, also called the Route of Modernism. This was an artistic movement at the end of the 19th century in Europe, where you can admire the Art Nouveau style; typical for its rounded shapes. 

There are several buildings, but among them stands out the Museum of Art Nouveau. It is a clear example of this style. 

Finally, we must not forget the parks, which are scattered throughout the city, including the Jardin Fonte Nova, which is located at the end of one of the canals. Also the Infante Don Pedro Park, although this is a little removed from the center of Aveiro. 

Towards the outskirts of the city of Aveiro:

On the shores of the city of Aveiro are located the beaches of Costa Nova and La Barra, where you can relax. In the summer season the sun gives you its service until 9:00 PM. Costa Nova used to be a fishermen place, with its old houses and warehouses that nowadays are made of wood, painted with different colors; especially in José Estevão Avenue. 

Buses from Aveiro arrive at this avenue and from here you can also take a free tour, which allows you to get to know the place better. The beach is very beautiful, with different natural dunes, acting as a barrier between the village and the sea. 

Now, from Costa Nova you can walk to the beach of La Barra, where the famous Aveiro lighthouse is located, dating from 1892; the highest in Portugal, with 62 m high. It is an extensive sandy beach, where you can practice sports such as surfing, kitesurfing, bodyboarding, sport fishing and sailing. 

Águeda, a village near Aveiro:

Half an hour from Aveiro and by train from this city is located the village of Águeda. It is characterized because in summer it becomes a colorful village; its streets are decorated in the sky, with umbrellas of all colors; it is an open-air museum. This idea arose for the protection of citizens from both the heat and the sun. But over time it has become a great attraction for tourists.

Likewise, street-art works can be seen in the streets, on the walls of tall buildings or on electricity boxes. Also, in July there is the AgitAgueda festival, to enjoy street performances, concerts and lots of fireworks. You can go for 1 day only or, if you prefer, you can stay overnight, as there are several accommodations; there are also excursions from Aveiro that leave late in the afternoon. 

Posted in Europe, Portugal.