located on the west coast of Portugal you will find the very unique town of Aveiro. The city is very recognisable for its network of canals which run right through its historic centre. Many people have compared Aveiro to Venice for its canals, however, that is probably the only similarity between these cities. Aveiro has its own very unique style with its colourful houses, boats and bridges. Truly there is so much to see in this little town. The list below contains the 10 best things you must see and do when visiting the cute little town of Aveiro.
1 – Walk Along The Canals
Aveiro is an undeniably beautiful city with its abundance of colour everywhere you look. There is no better place to start admiring the town than following the canals. The canals, fed by the nearby lagoon, are what makes Aveiro stand out as a must-visit location. In our opinion, one of the best stretches of the canal is opposite the Jardim do Rossio park. From here you get the best view of the colourful mix of buildings lining the canal.
2 – Ride A Moliceiro
Moliceiro is the name for the unique, gondola-style boats you will see all over Aveiro. These boats are carefully painted with bright, intricate designs. The scale of these moliceiro boats is a lot larger than a gondola you would find in Venice. Traditionally these boats were used for harvesting seaweed in Aveiro lagoon, now they are used to take tourists around the canals, up to around 25 per boat.
There are a lot of different companies offering boat tours, generally, they all seem to be the same price. You can take a 45-minute tour around the canals and lagoon for €13. Different tour operators take different routes and some don’t head out to the lagoon, so be sure you know what you’re getting before you pay for your ride.
3 – Bridges
Given that the city has a network of canals running through it, The bridges are both functional and works of art in their own right. Many of the bridges are incredibly special and you simply must visit them.
The four bridges outside the Forum Shopping centre are covered in thousands of individual pieces of ribbon. These ribbons have been lovingly left by couples and friends to solidify their bond. Two people write their names on one piece of ribbon and then tie it to the bridge. The idea is very similar to the padlock bridge in Paris but this is a lot more colourful and light. You can buy ribbons from stalls near the bridge for €0.50 if you want to join it.
Another interesting bridge in Aveiro is the circular pedestrian bridge, also known as Ponte do Laço. This modern steel bridge is very eye-catching and also a great place to watch the Moliceiro passing below you.
4 – Free Buga Bikes
One of the fantastic things about the city of Aveiro is that they supply free bikes for you to use at your leisure. All you need to use these bikes is a piece of ID to leave at the Buga Bike stall as insurance that you will bring the bike back. Cycling is a great way to explore the city. Follow the canals and soak in the colourful views. These bikes are available for hire between 10 am and 7 pm.
5 – Forum Shops
Although this isn’t Aveiro-specific, check out the local shopping mall. This modern shopping centre isn’t like most malls, it is mostly outdoors and on two levels. It is a surprisingly nice experience wandering through the open-air layout. You will find all of the classic high street shops here as well as a fairly extensive food court.
6 – Eat Ovos Moles
When visiting Aveiro, you must try ovos moles – they are a local delicacy. Essentially it is a simple recipe of egg yolk and sugar; the name ovos moles literally translates to ‘soft eggs’. It may not sound like much but it is a real delight for anyone with a sweet tooth. The small treats are shaped like little shells inspired by what you can find in the Aveiro lagoon.
7 – Old train Station
There are lots of beautiful buildings in Avario however we felt that the old train station was particularly special. The train station which is currently in use is very modern, stood directly outside of it you will find the old one. The juxtaposition of the contrasting buildings makes for an interesting sight. The old station is white-washed and adorned with beautiful blue ‘azulejos’. This is a specific type of glazed tile which is coloured and arranged to create pictures. The azulejos depict traditional life in Aveiro with images of fishing and salt production. You can learn a lot about the history of Aveiro from the artwork on the old station.
8 – Art Nouveau Buildings
Along the central canal, near Jardim do Rossio, you can find some of the most beautiful Art Nouveau buildings in different pastel shades. It is said that in the early 20th century, people who made big money in Brazil returned home to Aveiro and built these lavish homes with their newfound wealth. One of the most extravagant of these buildings is now home to the art nouveau museum.
9 – Salt Flats
In the past, Aveiro was very well known for its salt production. The salt produced in this small town was enough to supply all of Portugal. Unfortunately, times change and so so do farming techniques, this led to the salt production in Aveiro essentially coming to a halt. Salt is still being produced here, not mass-produced like in the past but for artisanal salt which can be purchased in many of the shops in the centre of Aveiro.
It is possible to take a tour of the salt flats where a guide will take you through how it is produced and teach you about its history. A perhaps more interesting way to immerse yourself in the salty culture is by treating yourself to a little spa trip. One of the salt pans has been converted into a muddy, salty pool for you to bathe in. Although this is not the most glamorous spa trip, it is definitely a fun experience. Scoop the salt mud from the base of the pool all over your body then let the sun dry it out. Then jump back in the pool to scrub the mud off. You will notice that your skin immediately feels softer!
10 – Costa Nova
Technically, this is a 10-minute drive from Aveiro, but it is definitely worth the journey. Heading west from Aveiro you will find this fabulous colourfully seaside town. The fishing village is famous for its stripy cottages which are wonderfully cute. This seaside town also has an excellent sandy beach. There is a great parking area for motorhomes here right between the colourful cottages and the beach.
For more information on the attractions in the stunning city of Aveiro, or to find out more about the area’s rich history, check out its official tourism website here.
Aveiro is a charming little town which is definitely worth a visit. There is so much to do and see here, especially if the weather is on your side. 2 days would be more than enough time to explore the historical centre as well as the surrounding attractions.
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