Thu. Jul 18th, 2024


Canals, gondolas, lagoon and colourful houses… I could be describing Venice with these words but no, I am talking about Aveiro.

Aveiro is a charming Portuguese city and one of 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:

Aveiro’s Highlights

  • Canal tour in a Moliceiro boat
  • Colourful houses of Costa nOva
  • Sweet and delicious Ovos Moles de Aveiro
  • Amazing architecture including Art Nouveau houses
  • Interesting museums
I love Aveiro sign on stairs - Things to do in Aveiro

7 cool things to do in Aveiro, Portugal

Ride an Aveiro 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 gondolas have been converted to tourist boats for the enjoyment of lots of people.

Bow of a molineiro - Things to in Aveiro
Aveiro moliceiros are famous for their bright and distinctive paints

Onboarding a moliceiro is a delight as you discover the city differently while learning about the history of Aveiro and Portugal in general. You will also discover the colourful houses sitting along the canals.

People enjoying a boat ride on a molineiro - Things to do in Aveiro
Aveiro canal and moliceiro

Booking ahead is not necessary as there are lots of tour operators in offering their services. Tours last 45 minutes and cost on average €7. Most guides speak several languages (English, French, Spanish predominantly) and they always offer entertaining rides while providing interesting facts about the city of Aveiro, its canals and history.

Beautiful scene in downtown Aveiro - Things to do in Aveiro

Spend time exploring the museums

Averio has an interesting cluster of museums.

Aveiro Art Nouveau Museum - Things to do in Aveiro

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.

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).

Santa Joana's tomb - Things to do in Aveiro

Mosteiro de Jesus cloisters - Things to do in Aveiro

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.

Aveiro's Art Nouveau style buildings - Things to do in Aveiro
Interesting yellow and blue building - Things to do in Aveiro
Pink pastel coloured building - Things to do in Aveiro
Interesting shop facade - Things to do in Aveiro
Balcao vintage shop - Things to do in Aveiro

Aveiro city offers free bikes for visitors so you can explore the city differently. Head to the Tourism Office to get one.

Admire Aveiro’s pavements

Aveiro’s pavements (calçada Portuguesa) can be found everywhere in Portugal is a prominent t feature all over the country. The sidewalks of the city are made of black and white limestone arranged in different patterns. the cobblestone paving patterns seen in Aveiro pay homage to the city’s maritime heritage.

Although these beautiful decorated streets are a delight to see, they are not easy to walk on and can be sometimes slippery when wet so please do wear appropriate footwear on rainy days.

Aveiro's tiles - Things to do in Aveiro

Sample Aveiro sweets

Ovos moles - Things to do in Aveiro
Ovos Moles are Aveiro’s most famous delicacies.

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.

Pastries at Peixinho - Things to do in Aveiro
Barquinhos and bombons de ovos moles - Things to do in Aveiro

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

Cafe and pastry - Things to do in Aveiro

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

Striped fishermen houses - Things to do in Aveiro
Colourful striped houses of Costa Nova, Portugal
Paste coloured fishermen houses - Things to do in Aveiro
Colourful houses of Aveiro, Portugal

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

Rossio area in Aveiro - Things to do in Aveiro

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

Aveiro's old station - things to do in Aveiro
Aveiro’s old station

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

Standard double room at Melia Ria - Things to do 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. This amazing hotel in Aveiro offers a fantastic view of the Aveiro Ria with contemporary rooms.

Melia Ria sitting by the canal - Things to do in Aveiro

Aveiro is a charming city worth a visit so if you are spending several days in Porto, please give the “The Venice of Portugal” a try.


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By Lala