This post was written by expert vagabond, Ana, from The Art of Epic Living!
Aveiro, Portugal, otherwise known as the “Venice of Portugal” is an adorable little fishing town about 40 minutes south of Porto. It can be described as overwhelmingly charming and picturesque.
It is a small and very walkable city, and one could easily cover the whole city center within an hour or two. Aveiro is divided by scenic waterways, where colorful gondola-style boats pass through.
The buildings and homes create a unique mosaic of colors and patterns, and the beautiful flowers, parks and gardens add to the magic!
Although Aveiro is smaller and less-explored than the more popular cities in Portugal, I highly recommend that you plan to visit for a day or two. It is a perfect stopover if you are traveling between Lisbon and Porto, and it is a quick and affordable day trip if you’re nearby.
I personally spent two days and two nights there, but if you opt for something shorter, here’s how to spend a day in Aveiro, Portugal!
Take a Moliceiro Ride Around Town
The thing you definitely have to do during a trip to Aveiro is take a trip on the colorful canal boats, otherwise known as “moliceiros”. A moliceiro trip through this quaint city will provide you with a unique viewpoint so you can admire the city from the water.
The tour guides (all of whom speak English, French, Spanish & Portuguse) will teach you fun and interesting facts about the city’s sites and history. The moliceiro rides last 45 minutes, and will take you through the center, as well as to the outskirts of the city.
A ride can cost between 5-10 euros, and there are multiple stands where you can buy your ticket all along the water. If you would like to avoid the heat, it is recommended that you go in the morning, however it is not uncommon to experience cloud cover in Aveiro up until about noon.
If you prefer the sunshine, you can go at any point in the afternoon, up until 5pm when the boat tours end for the day. I went around noon on a clear day, and loved it!
Wander Through the Winding Streets
Simply wandering through the quaint and colorful streets of Aveiro was probably my favorite “activity”! Each building is uniquely different from the next, and you can admire a wide range of tilework and color combinations through each tiny street.
Portugal is known for its tall and narrow buildings, and beautiful tilework, and Aveiro definitely holds true to that look. Although I loved my moliceiro ride through the canals, I found that the best way to discover Aveiro was to simply get lost in the streets.
Photoshoot Around Aveiro
As you might assume by now, Aveiro is an incredibly photogenic place. If you are visiting, I would highly recommend that you take advantage of the photo opportunities in front of its scenic waterways and buildings.
All areas of Aveiro will provide you with the perfect backdrop for amazing Instagram photos!
Shop in Aveiro
Right in the center of town, there is a huge shopping area, filled with all of the European favorites- Zara, Bershka, Pull & Bear… the list goes on. I’m not much of a shopper, but I have to admit, I did take advantage of the many stores and sales that were only a two minute walk away from my hotel.
Take a Trip to Costa Nova from Aveiro
The nearby beach town of Costa Nova is an easy taxi or bus ride away from the city center of Aveiro. If you would like to spend part of your trip in Aveiro at the beach, or experience a drastic change of scenery, then I would recommend that you check out Costa Nova. Costa Nova is known for its interesting architecture and striped houses. In addition to the quirky houses, the town is home to a variety of seafood restaurants, cafes, shops and beach bars.
Taxis or buses will drop you off along the main road of the town, and you can easily arrive at the beach in about five minutes by foot from there. There is a wooden walkway that stretches along the beach, which is dotted with a variety of places to grab a snack or drink.
The long stretch of sand provides endless places to settle into a good spot for suntanning, people-watching or picnicking. I loved zoning out, watching the waves and the surfers.
Since this beach is on the Atlantic, the water seemed pretty cold, so it might not be ideal for swimming. The town is about 10 minutes away via taxi, and it will cost you about 12 euros from the center of Aveiro.
If you prefer the cheaper route, a 2 euro bus will get you there in about 45 minutes to an hour.
Wine and Dine in Aveiro
First, let’s talk about dining in Aveiro. As mentioned, this is a fishing town, so there are countless fresh, seafood restaurants along the water and through the winding streets to choose from.
You can choose from one of the many open-air cafes in the main squares of town, or visit the rooftop restaurant of Restaurante Mercado Piexe Aveiro, for the ultimate sunset view. If seafood isn’t your thing, I was able to discover the most adorable cafe with a full vegan menu.
For some traditional Portuguese food (vegan-style) then you have to go to Espaco Criativo Biscoito. The owner of this cafe is an amazing human, and she will whip up anything from “Portuguese NON-meatballs” to veggie lasagna to curry dishes!
Now, let’s talk about the wining. Did you know that Port Wine is native to the Douro Valley of Northern Portugal? Port wine is a very popular drink to try out while in Portugal, especially in the north.
If you have never tasted port wine, beware that it is very sweet and also stronger than normal, dry wine. Many prefer to sip it as part of a cocktail, or choose to try it as an aperitif or dessert wine.
Either way, I suggest that you at least give it a try. You can also choose from a variety of local dry wines such as reds, whites, rosé, and even “vinho verde” which is a green wine!
Aveiro is a sleepy town with not much of a nightlife, but if you would like to continue your cocktail-ing, you can find live music and good vibes at the upstairs bar on the main street known as Mercado Negro, which stays open until 2am.
That concludes my to-do list if you plan to explore through Aveiro. I highly recommend that you check out this unbelievably charming little town, you will not regret it!