The city of Aveiro is becoming a must see destination in the center north of Portugal.
This beautiful coastal city that Nuno and I call home has a lot to offer: Art Nouveau, soft sand beaches, ovos moles, free bike rides and one of the brightest blue skies you probably ever seen—and all within arm’s reach.
Some people wrongfully call Aveiro the “Portuguese Venice” (usually those who never visited Italy) and even though there are some similarities between Venetian gondolas and moliceiros, that’s pretty much it. Aveiro has a unique bright personality and doesn’t need an international doppelganger to stand on its own.
As a great weekend destination, visiting the city will take you no more than 2 days, but to see the whole region you’ll need a couple more at least.
We wrote this Aveiro post series divided into 3 parts: in full, they’ll compile the outright best information for an excellent time in the city. To curate this info we dug deep, knocked on doors and asked friends for advice to create a travel guide made of worth-seeing classics, trendy spots and tips only locals know about. Keep reading part one or jump to: Aveiro Travel Guide: the best food, bars, and accommodation or Discover Barra and Costa Nova: the beach getaways by Aveiro.
Every single place we mention on these posts is marked on Maps.me, download the app for guidance.
The best time to visit Aveiro is between March and September. During the winter months (December to March) temperatures hover around 9ºC and the sun shines all year round. Nonetheless, pack a windbreaker—Aveiro is a VERY windy city and it gets cold at night.
How to get to Aveiro
By being located between Lisbon and Porto, Aveiro gets to be served by the Northern Railway Line.
Lisbon to Aveiro takes around 2 hours and 20 minutes, train ticket prices start at €20,20 to €26,30.
Porto to Aveiro: If you land on Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport (Oporto), take the subway to Campanhã railway station (35 minutes for €1,95).
From Campanhã or São Bento railway stations, get the urban train to Aveiro (yellow line, 1 hour trip for 3.40€). Urban trains run hourly and every day of the week, check the timetables here or download the CP App.
If you’re planning to drive, many freeways will bring you to Aveiro: A1, A5, A17, and A29.
Lisbon to Aveiro (233km) toll rates start at €17,40
Porto to Aveiro (59km) toll rates start at €4,65
There are a free car and caravan parking facility near Rossio, free of charge.
What to see and do in Aveiro
Ria de Aveiro
The salt water canals permeating through the city center are an extension of the Ria, a coastal lagoon that gives Aveiro it’s unique appeal. Walking along its canals and crossing the footbridges guarantees you won’t miss the most picturesque parts of the city.
Bairro da Beira-Mar
This is the most typical neighborhood of Aveiro established by the hardworking fishermen, salt workers, and their families.
It’s an esteemed city quarter, assembled by narrow streets and simple houses, embellished by a mishmash of colors and patterns of Portuguese tiles.
This is also where São Gonçalinho celebrations happen every year.
São Gonçalinho | January
Hands down the most random and entertaining celebration in Aveiro.
Every year, in January, people go to the top of the São Gonçalinho chapel— patron saint of Aveiro—to throw sugary hard cakes as a way to fulfill their vows.
The crowd below tries to catch the rock-hard cakes called ‘cavacas’, not necessarily for being tasty, but because they’re said to bring good luck.
We made a video about it:
Praça do Peixe – Mercado José Estevão
It’s a small Eiffel-style iron and glass building in the Beira-Mar neighborhood, and one of Aveiro fish markets, opened Tuesdays to Saturdays from 7 AM to 2 PM.
There’s a restaurant on the first floor.
At night, the vicinity comes alive with bars, cafes, and terraces: starting at 10 PM to approximately 3 AM-ish.
Fábrica Campos & Fonte Nova Quay
Now a repurposed building, it was a manufacturing plant of paramount importance for Aveiro during the XIX and XX centuries.
In front of it is the Fonte Nova Quay, a beautiful urban space widely used by locals and perfect for a late afternoon stroll or lawn rest.
There are cafes, a supermarket, restaurants and a sushi place called Subenshi to grab dinner after the sun sets.
Cale do Oiro Pool and Spa
A rustic salt-water pool placed in the middle of Marina da Troncalhada saltpans, that became a popular tourist attraction in the last few years.
The high concentration of salt in the water and the slurry, yields them therapeutic properties that aid with skin conditions, allergies and respiratory problems.
Opened from July to October.
Entrance fee: €2 or €4 with a guided tour.
Park Infante D. Pedro
In the mood for a picnic? Visit the city park that locals call “Parque da Macaca” (Monkey Park) due to a very bad-mannered monkey that lived there during the 90’s. Nowadays the monkey is no more but the park is greener than ever. As for animals, there are fish, turtles, and ducks on the lake.
The Old Train Station
An XIXth century building, that was closed and lamentably discarded after the new train station was built. The white building is covered with several Portuguese tile panels, illustrating the region and its people. Worth a picture.
A shopping mall that doesn’t look or feel like one.
Instead of an obnoxious eyesore planted in the city center, it’s unique architecture merges beautifully with the city and invites you in for a walk.
Here you’ll find the convenience of a food court, parapharmacy, a rooftop garden with great views and everything else a shopping mall has.
Festival dos Canais | July
A one-week festival packed with a vast range of performances, workshops, and music of Portuguese and international artists. Events take place at different points of the city, every day, starting in the afternoon and extending to the late-evening.
The festival is free, open to the public and family friendly.
Check the full program and highlights on the site www.festivaldoscanais.pt
Museums | all closed on Mondays
Ecomuseum Marinha da Troncalhada
As a big salt producer back in the day, Aveiro managed to have 275 working salterns during the 80’s. Today there are less than 10, and Marinha da Troncalhada is one of the few that still works.
You can visit the eco-museum independently, for free, at any time of day—but we recommend doing it late in the afternoon, due to the epic sunsets.
If you’re with a group of 6+ people and want to learn about the whole salt picking process, request for a guide at the City Museum (€1 per person). There isn’t any written information on the site, however, if you speak Portuguese, have a chat with the salt workers!
This is also a great place for bird watching (aquatic birds, perching birds, and birds of prey).
© César Sotelo
Art Nouveau Museum
Aveiro is an acclaimed city-museum of Art Nouveau in Portugal. Around the city center, you’ll find several of these beautiful historic buildings and one of them “Casa Major” was adapted into a multi-level museum and tea-house.
Museum entrance fee: €2
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 9 AM to 12.30 PM and 13.30 PM to 5 PM.
Tea House opening hours: Tuesday to Friday 09:30 AM to 02:00 AM
Weekends 09:00 AM to 03:00 AM
Aveiro Museum a.k.a Santa Joana Museum
A former female religious convent transformed into Aveiro main museum, now houses permanent exhibits of sacred art from the Portuguese baroque period, jewelry and artifacts of historical importance to the city. Such as the tomb of the Order’s most famous nun, Princess Santa Joana.
Entrance fee: €4
Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday 10 AM to 6 PM.
© Pedro Caetano
Museums discount tickets
For €5 you can get a general ticket that grants you access to all the museums in the city center:
– Ecomuseum Marinha da Troncalhada
– Art Nouveau Museum
– Aveiro Museum
– City Museum
The general ticket can be bought at the counters of the museums mentioned above (keep in mind that they’re all closed on Mondays).
Tours and Workshops
Moliceiro boat ride
You can go through the scenic route on a moliceiro, just keep in mind that these boat rides were tailored to tourists. All moliceiros tend to have a guide on board spitting out mindless information for 45 minutes straight, disregarding if you’re interested or not.
Having said that, on Rossio along the central canal are plenty of boat operators. As of July 2017, ride fees start at €5 for children and €10 for adults.
Near Fábrica Campos/ Fonte Nova Quay and far from the commotion of the city center, the boat operator Eco Ria offers tours with optional upgrades. Prices also start at €10.
As there are fewer tourists around this area, you might be lucky enough to get an entire boat for yourself.
Check the tours info on their website (it’s translated in several languages): www.ecoria.pt
Motorboat ride to the beach
One of the motorboats that connected Aveiro to Costa Nova in 1945, was transformed into a boat museum offering tours from the city center (Rossio) to the beaches of Barra, Costa Nova, São Jacinto and Torreira. Tour fees start at €15 for 45 minutes rides all the way up to 2 hour rides (round trips).
During the month of July, they have tours to the Big Moliceiro Sailing Regatta in Torreira, a must watch event. For information on the specific days (as the dates of the regatta change yearly), contact the Lancha da Costa Nova: www.praiadacostanova.pt
Tip: These motorboat tours, by removing you from the city center to places you cannot see otherwise, are a great way to glimpse the natural side of the Aveiro estuary. Besides, you’ll be paying a similar price to the moliceiro boat rides that can’t seem to do anything but going through the same ol’ tourist route.
Explore – Aveiro walking tours
For a fun, cultural activity we recommend Explore-Aveiro Walking tours. They have several in depth tours beyond the touristic circuits, with cool-knowledgeable guides on the history and folklore of Aveiro.
The tours are mostly tip based, meaning you’ll have to tip the guide at the end. For dates and info, check their website: www.explore-aveiro.com. You can also book your tour from there.
Ovos moles workshop
Ovos moles are the most renown sweet of Aveiro and can be tasted at any bakery around town. But if having a bite is not enough, you can learn its history and make your own at an ovos moles workshop at Oficina do Doce. The bonus is: you can eat them in the end.
Fee: €2 per person
Duration: 45 min.
Call them, email them or go to the shop and ask if they can squeeze you in with a bigger group (workshops only happen with 10+ people).
Moving around in Aveiro
Buga (Aveiro’s free bicycles):
Aveiro is practically flat, there aren’t any big hills and renting a bicycle on a BUGA stand is really easy. All you need is a document with your identification as collateral (like a driver’s license or passport) and the bike is yours for the day to use within town limits, and free of charge!
BUGA stands opening hours:
Monday to Friday 9 AM to 6 PM
Weekends 10 AM to 1 PM and 2 PM to 6 PM
The vehicles from Aveiro Tuk-Tours are electric, so go green.
Prices change according to the duration of the tour:
30 minutes ride: €7,50
45 minutes ride: €10
1-hour ride: €12,50
Actually, go greener and walk—you don’t need a tuk-tuk to visit Aveiro.
Around here, everything is a 15-minute walk from everywhere else. Buses are only necessary to get to the beach.
However, prices and timetables are here: www.aveirobus.pt
Tickets can be bought on the bus for €2.
Reaching the beach
Barra and Costa Nova beaches are a 20 minutes bus ride from the city center. There are 2 bus stops at different ends of the city: one right by the railway station and the other near Rossio. Read all about it on the post: Discover Barra and Costa Nova: the beach getaways by Aveiro.
It’s 2017 and there’s free wi-fi at every hostel, restaurant, and cafes. You’ll be fine.
Currency exchange stores, electric car charging-points, self-service laundries and everything else we mentioned on this post are marked on Maps.me.
Note: many typical restaurants close on Mondays.
If you have any question, feel free to leave us a comment or contact us.
Podes escrever-nos em português se preferires. 😉