Located on the Portuguese Silver Coast, 25 km south of Aveiro, Mira and more specifically Praia de Mira is one of the most popular holiday resorts in central/northern Portugal. The reasons are many, the beach, the freshwater lagoon, the dunes, the pine forests, the pedestrian and mountain biking routes, and the many campsites, but also the proximity to Aveiro, Costa Nova Mealhada, and Tocha.
I’ve lost count of the times we’ve been to Mira. It is one of our favorite destinations in Portugal for a short break, spending 2 or 3 days, or camping for a week. In this article, we will explore the best things to do in Mira and surroundings, that is, everything you can do when you go on holiday to Mira. So we have some activities outside the municipality but definitely not to be missed when you’re around!
15 things to do in Mira
#1 Going to the beach in Praia de Mira
Let’s start with the most obvious and the main reason why Mira has become so popular the spectacular Praia de Mira beach. Mira beach has been consecutively awarded the Blue flag for 31 years. No other beach has achieved this feat, making it a unique beach in Portugal, Europe, and the world.
Mira beach has a huge beach, it is not only very long but also wide, especially at low tide. In fact, the entire coastline from Aveiro to Figueira da Foz has beaches with these characteristics. We could even argue that from Aveiro to Figueira, there is only a unique, massive beach with tens of kilometers as it is only interrupted by the seawalls built in the last decades.
Besides its dimension, the beach has white and fine sand, which makes it very pleasant. Unfortunately, and like all beaches in the north of Portugal, the water, although beautiful, is freezing cold and it tends to be quite windy.
#2 Poço da Cruz Beach
For all the reasons above, a beach in Praia de Mira is extremely popular. But as we said above, there are a lot of beaches with very similar basic characteristics, a long and wide stretch of sand, fine sand, nice waves, and … cold water. Among these beaches, we must highlight the Poço da Cruz beach, a few km to the north of Praia de Mira.
The beach in Poço da Cruz is also remarkably beautiful, with fine sand dunes, but it has a lot fewer people than in Mira. It’s not a deserted beach at all, but if you don’t like to have other beachgoers around, just walk a little to the north or south and you’re completely alone. Although less developed, it also has a beach bar and the village of Poço da Cruz relatively close.
In the village of Poço da Cruz, there is a hostel which looks to be very pleasant. The guest ratings are excellent, and the price is very attractive, as you would expect in a hostel. Poço da Cruz can be an excellent option, as it is very close to Praia de Mira so you can go there whenever you want, yet it is out of the mayhem and has an excellent beach. Check if it is available.
#3 Explore Barrinha de Mira
One of the things that makes Praia de Mira different from other destinations is the Barrinha de Mira. This freshwater lake is right in Praia de Mira and less than 200 meters from the beach, so you can always choose between going to the barrinha or to the beach.
This water mirror is great for water sports, either SUP, rowing, or even windsurfing when it’s windier. However, the most traditional is to ride a paddle boat. I know that every time I go to Mira I have to scratch that one of the to-do-list. For those who don’t like to make physical effort, there are now electric paddle boat… but we never tried them.
The barrinha also has a walkway all around where it is possible to take a pleasant walk, jog or ride a bicycle.
#4 See the Arte Xávega
Arte Xávega is an artisanal fishing style typical in Portugal and still very much used in Praia de Mira. It is made with a seine, where one end of the net is on land and the other is taken by the boat, returning again to the starting point. The nets are then pulled, formerly by oxen joints and manual force, currently by 2 tractors (one on each end of the net).
Besides being a very curious and exciting cultural aspect, this form of fishing is done right one the beach. Typically, the boats leave early in the morning (around 6 am) and at 9 am / 10 am the net is opened
So, to see this spectacle the ideal is to wake up early and go to the beach but note that this type of fishing is completely dependent on the sea and the wind. If the sea and wind conditions are no good, there is no fishing. In great days, there can be multiple campaigns.
#5 Cycle the Ecovia de Mira
The entire region of Mira is completely flat, so it is great for cycling. There are plenty of opportunities to do so, but we have to mention the Ecovia de Mira (Mira’s eco-road).
This Ecovia has more than 25 km and is located in an area of lagoons, streams, reeds, forests, pines, and dunes, giving access to the beaches of Praia de Mira and Poço da Cruz and extending along the periphery of different villages and campsites.
Given that it is 25 km (50 km round trip), if you are not used to cycling regularly we suggest you only do the route partially. There are 3 possible partial routes that are naturally interconnected:
- Rota Gandaresa – from Praia de Mira to Areão, it is a very pleasant route with only 10 km, but it is the longest of the partial routes.
- Roda das Lagoas – Connects the bar and Lagoa de Mira along 8.5km. The easiest route to take if you stay in Praia de Mira.
- Rota dos Moinhos – Links the lagoon of Mira with the Calvela Environmental Park, it is only 6.5 km and is perhaps the least interesting part of the Ecovia.
#6 Hike one of the many trails in the region
The same reasons that make this a good region for cycling, are also valid for walking or even running. That is why there are several signed walking trails, in addition to immense possibilities for walks along the walkways in the dunes, along the barrinha, and through the pine forests.
In our opinion, among the walking routes the most interesting is the PR5 MIR as it crosses the dunes, the gândaras, passes through Mira beach, Poço da Cruz and Cais do Areão. It is, however, a very long route, with about 18 km, and some hardness because it has few shadows and long sandy sections.
#7 Take a side trip to Palheiros da tocha
As we mentioned initially, in addition to all the things to see and do in Mira, there are plenty of places nearby where it is possible to make a little side trip. Among these, one of the most obvious is Tocha and its palheiros (haystacks).
Tocha’s haystacks are a type of house with concrete foundations, tile roofs, and wooden walls that are traditional in Praia da Tocha. This type of house also existed in Mira, but there are very few left. We only know 3 or 4 in Mira, while in Tocha there are a lot more. These “Palheiros” were houses that served as a temporary home and storage for fishermen, but that with time became authentic houses.
The beach here is similar to Praia de Mira, with excellent clean white sand, waves, some wind, and cold water. It is also a typical Arte Xávega site. The construction in Praia da Tocha was more regulated and the typical houses were maintained, which gives it a certain aesthetic advantage.
Note: Palheiros da Tocha was also the former name of the village which late became today’s “Praia da Tocha”.
#8 Go to Olhos de Fervença
Very close to the Praia da Tocha, and also in the municipality of Cantanhede you can find Olhos de Fervença. Olhos de Fervença is a natural spring, where water surges from the sand naturally. This spring was used for a water plant that supplies the municipality of Cantanhede and for the construction of a river beach.
The river beach is large, with a sandy floor and but not too deep Around it we have a large lawn that allows numerous vacationers to come without it looking too crowded. It is undoubtedly the perfect river beach for families with children, but that anyone will enjoy it. We sure did.
When you go to this beach, do not forget to take a look at the water station, see the lake where water is removed, which then runs down to the beach through a narrow channel. Note two things, first the obvious beauty of the crystal clear water. Next, look for the slight bubbling that indicates a source of the water. It’s pretty cool.
#9 Go to Costa Nova
Since we are talking about destinations where you can go near Mira, Costa Nova is certainly a safe option with Ria de Aveiro (Aveiro Estuary), the beach, and of course the famous and colorful houses of Costa Nova. In reality, these houses have some similarities with the now almost extinct Palheiros de Mira and Tocha – they are houses with interspersed vertical or horizontal lists (white and colored). Old warehouses for fishing materials, or sardine salting warehouses, converted into permanent or bathing homes.
In any case, the Costa Nova houses are already internationally famous because they are truly wonderful and create incredible photos. It is certainly worth going there for a walk and enjoying both the houses and Aveiro estuary. If you don’t have many days in Mira, you will probably have to choose between going to Costa Nova or Tocha.
#10 Eat a tripe
Going to Mira and not eating a tripe is not going to Mira… or is it? We can’t go by without it, but that’s us, we really like the good stuff!
A tripe is a traditional crepe-like sweet but made with a freshly cooked pastry (flour, eggs, sugar, and milk), served hot and stuffed with whatever you want … from doce de ovos, Nutella, chocolate bars, or whatever … there are lots of options. It is obviously very good…
Before the purists inundate our mailbox, we must clarify that the tripe is original from Costa Nova, not Mira. Yet, there are the typical houses selling them in Mira, Costa Nova, and other places in the region, including of course Aveiro. In Costa Nova try going to Zé da Tripa (the creator of this delicacy), in Mira we always go to the docetripa in front of the beach.
#11 Go to Bairrada to eat leitão (roasted piglet)
So, speaking of food, did you notice that Mira is relatively close (30 minutes) to Mealhada? For the Portuguese reading this, I don’t need to say anything else, do I …? For the others, well, have a look at this.
Passing close to Mealhada and not going to the piglet is almost criminal in our house! Our favorite restaurants for the Leitão are Júlia Duarte & filhos (known as Julinha), Rocha dos Leitões and Nova Casa dos Leitões, but there are many quality options! By the way, do not eat leitão outside a specialized restaurant, it’s not the same thing.
For us, Mira is also synonymous with camping. This is a spectacular region for those who like camping, so it is not surprising that there are at least 3 large campsites in Praia de Mira, the Mira Lodge Park, the Orbitur Mira, and the Parque Municipal.
In addition to the possibility of camping all 3 offer the possibility of renting a bungalow, which is also a funny option to spend a few days.
#13 Visit the ethnographic museum
The Ethnographic Museum of Mira is right next to Mira’s Barrinha in a building built in the shape of a traditional “palheiro”, thus reconstituting this typical house. There, you can explore the culture of the region and the gândaras. There is also an exhibition of typical 20th-century housing, both for wealthier families and fishermen.
Going to this museum is almost like going back in time to learn about both the architectural heritage and fishing through the way of life of the population, costumes, furniture, and fishing and agricultural instruments. In the same building is the tourist office, so it is a place not to be missed for more information about Mira.
#14 Nossa Senhora da Couceição chapel
Dedicated to Nossa Senhora da Conceição, patron saint of fishermen, this chapel was built in 1843 right on the seafront of the beach. It is one of the last (and perhaps the best) examples of the typical wood construction of the region in Praia de Mira. The devotion of the fishermen and the population certainly helped to maintain the traditional layout and location.
Although simple, it is a beautiful building and the bright colors of the exterior give it a unique character. It is undoubtedly a different and peculiar chapel.
#15 The Fisherman Monument
The Monument to the fisherman is located right next to the Nossa Senhora da Conceição Chapel in a prominent place in front of the beach. It is a beautiful tribute to the people and land of Mira beach representing the boats used in this village, the fishermen, and their families.
Along with the church behind it and the beach in the background, it makes very beautiful pictures.
Where to stay in Mira?
During the article, we gave a few tips on where to stay in Mira, namely the possibility of camping or staying in Poço da Cruz instead of Praia da Mira, or the idea of camping. Below we will explore some other options, in Praia de Mira, namely hotels, hostels, and local guest houses.
Best hotel in Praia de Mira
The Macarico beach hotel is one of the best options to stay in Praia de Mira. First, because it is possibly the best hotel in Praia de Mira, second because it is excellently located, right in front of the beach. The rooms facing the sea have fabulous views that offer an unforgettable sunset. See here if rooms are still available.
Budget hotel in Mira
If you are looking for a slightly cheaper hotel in Mira then your best option is Palheiros de Mira. It has rooms for 2 to 5 people, at very affordable prices. So it is a very comfortable hotel for both couples and families. Despite not being in front of the sea, it is quite close (300 meters), so you can go on foot. Given the excellent quality at low prices, this hotel sells out quickly in the summer, so book in advance.
Guest house in Mira
If you prefer to rent a complete holiday home, there are plenty of options in Praia de Mira, but our suggestion goes to Avenida. It is right in the center, next to the bar and 200 meters from the beach. Avenida has an excellent rating from other travelers so it is a safe bet. See if it is available here.
If none of these excite you, check below for all the lodging options in Mira:
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