With a network of canals connected to the Ria de Aveiro with bridges and boats (called Moliceiro), Aveiro is sometimes called the Venice of Portugal. It is also famous for its salt flats, cod fishing, and sweet eggs deserts. It’s a city with a lot to explore. Come and discover what to do and visit Aveiro.
Located in the center of Portugal, Aveiro is about 70 km from Porto and 250 from Lisbon. It is a city easily accessible by train or a waypoint on a road trip through Portugal. It is an exciting place to spend a day or to take a short break.
Aveiro has historic landmarks, fun activities, Salin Spa, and cycling and walking routes. Furthermore, it is a reference to Portuguese sweets. No visit to Portugal is complete without going to Aveiro.
What to do and visit in Aveiro? Ten things not to miss
Take a Moliceiro through the Aveiro canals
The most iconic image of Aveiro is the Ria de Aveiro, with the canals, the bridges, and the moliceiros. This enchanting landscape earned Aveiro the nickname “Portuguese Venice.”
Moliceiros are traditional boats with distinctive shapes. They have a low beam and an elegant bow painted with bright colors with traditional designs based on historical facts or everyday life. In the past, moliceiros were used to catch moliço, a species of seaweed used as fertilizer for agriculture.
Nowadays, the moliceiros are only used for tourist purposes, as it is possible to have a moliceiro along the Ria de Aveiro. And it is one of the most pleasant ways to visit the city. From the moliceiro, you can appreciate the iconic bridges, canals, and historic buildings covered with tiles.
Taking a moliceiro ride is very easy, as several boats leave from the moliceiros pier in the center. Usually, the boats transport a group of people, but if you want, you can go alone. The boat driver or guide provides interesting information about the city during the trip.
The trip price is around €10-20 per person (2022). You don’t need to book early, especially in the low season. Just choose the boat and go.
Visit the salt flats of Aveiro
One of the most famous things in Aveiro is salt flats. Being the largest salt producer in Portugal, it has several salt pans. Salt marked the city’s history, and although this economic activity is no longer critical, it continues to be part of the city.
In addition to salt production, today, the salt pans of Aveiro function as living museums and spas. It is possible to visit the Salinas de Aveiro, which is one of the most fun things to do.
To explore the salt flats, you can visit the Ecomuseum Marinha da Troncalhada, an open-air museum with salt pans. It is possible to go independently and free of charge. Or you can take a guided tour of the different salt pans in Aveiro. A guide explains the history, traditions, and production of salt. It lasts for about 45 minutes, and the price varies depending on the group size.
You can also go to the beach and saline spa at Salinas Marinha da Noeirinha, taking advantage of the therapeutic properties of salt. And relax in the outdoor pools and soak up the sun.
Explore the city center and historical area
Aveiro is a city to explore on foot. It’s the best way to discover historic streets, canals, and bridges. Find modern buildings mixed with historic landmarks. Plus, the sidewalks are covered with Portuguese pavement, one of the most beautiful in Portugal.
The main points of interest to explore in Aveiro are:
- Praça General Humberto Delgado – one of the most important squares in Aveiro, where you will find the main channel of the Ria de Aveiro and the statues of Salineira and Marnoto.
- Praça do Marquês de Pombal – where you can appreciate the Portuguese pavement and the zodiac represented on the floor made by the artist António Quadros.
- Museum of Aveiro – installed in the former Convent of Jesus of the female Dominican Order, it is a museum of sacred art.
- Carcavelos Bridge, Botirões Bridge, and Friendship Bridge – are the most beautiful bridges in Aveiro and have very different characteristics.
- Mercado do Peixe – has a beautiful building made of iron in the Eiffel style.
- Sé Catedral de Aveiro – it was built in 1464 as a church, later becoming the Cathedral of the Diocese of Aveiro.
Take the Art Nouveau route
An Aveiro tour is not complete until you have appreciated the influence of Art Nouveau on the city’s architecture. It is not in vain that the city of Aveiro is known as the Museum of Art Nouveau city.
In total, there are several buildings spread across Aveiro with this style that emerged at the beginning of the 20th century. Wealthy emigrants in Brazil constructed these buildings. They are characterized by being built with innovative materials and techniques, ornate facades, and tile panels.
The most famous Art Nouveau buildings are Casa do Major Pessoa, Casa Amarela, Casa do Rossio, and the bandstand at Parque Municipal do Infante D. Pedro. There is also the Art Nouveau museum in Aveiro if you enjoy this art style.
Take a walk in Parque Infante D. Pedro
You won’t also want to miss the Infante D. Pedro Park in Aveiro. The park was built on the former property of the Franciscan friars. And it is a beautiful space with lakes, waterfalls, a false cave, tile panels, a bandstand, and some Art Nouveau-style buildings. It also has a café with a terrace where you can relax and have a bite to eat.
The park is very close to the city center of Aveiro. You can easily walk there. Or if you are driving, there are plenty of parking spaces.
Appreciate the tiles of the old Aveiro train station
The old Aveiro train station is one of the most emblematic in the country. It is a traditional train station, painted white and covered in blue tiles. The walls have several tile panels with illustrations of local figures, landscapes of Aveiro, salt flats, and moliceiros. The station is beautiful and very photogenic.
It no longer operates as a train station but has been recovered and preserved. It works as a tourist office and shop selling typical regional products. The new station is next door though, so if you come by train, it will be one of the first things you’ll see.
Aveiro is a great place for walking or cycling, with several routes. The city is flat and has a strong cycling tradition as it was the usual means of transport in the past. One of the places we recommend cycling in Aveiro is on the Aveiro walkways, which is also a cycling path.
The Aveiro walkways are over 7 km long and connect Aveiro (Cais de São Roque) to the Novo do Príncipe River in Vilarinho, Cacia. The first part of the walkway goes through the city for about 2km, while the rest is along the Ria de Aveiro.
It’s a delightful path, with a swampy landscape surrounded by animals such as herons, swallows, and flamingos if you’re lucky. It’s also a great walking path accessible for everyone, including people with reduced mobility.
If you want, you can continue the path, especially on a bicycle, and go to Estarreja or Albergaria-a-Velha. It’s a linear path, so you must take the same course on the way back.
Eat sweet eggs
Eating Ovos Moles (or sweet eggs) is undoubtedly one of the things not to be missed when visiting Aveiro. In addition to the canals, the soft eggs are the city’s brand image.
Ovos Moles is a traditional conventual sweet whose origin dates back to several convents in Aveiro, of the order of Carmelites, Franciscans, and Dominicans of the Monastery of Jesus of Aveiro.
It’s sweet, made only with egg yolks and sugar, and it’s simply divine. You can find it in pastry shops and specialty egg candy stores throughout the city. They are sold in several different ways. Some are wrapped in wafers, shaped sardines, or shells, and others are placed in wooden or porcelain barrels and eaten with a spoon.
Costa Nova is the most photogenic place in Portugal, famous for its striped houses, painted in bright colors, called Palheiros (haystacks). Fishermen built Palheiros to store fishing material. They were also used as beach summer houses.
The picturesque beach houses make Costa Nova one of the most Instagrammable places in Portugal. In addition to the Palheiros, the beach is beautiful, with a long stretch of white sand. There are also walkways that go from Costa Nova beach to Barra beach, about 6 km away. They are great for hiking.
Located 12 km from Aveiro, Costa Nova is easily accessible by car or bus. If you want, you can also sleep in the colorful Palheiros. Likewise, it is a great place to eat seafood or grilled fish, having several reference restaurants.
Barra beach in Aveiro
Praia da Barra is the closest beach to Aveiro, about 10 km east. It has extensive white sand and excellent conditions for beach and surfing. It is a blue flag beach with good accessibility for people with reduced mobility. In our opinion, it is one of the best beaches in Portugal.
At the northern end of Praia da Barra, the Aveiro Lighthouse stands out as the largest lighthouse in Portugal at 62 meters high. It is also the point where the Ria de Aveiro flows to the ocean. It is easy to go to Barra beach from Aveiro by car or bus.
Where to stay in Aveiro
Aveiro is a very tourist city and thus has many accommodation options for all types of budgets:
Suites & Hostel Cidade Aveiro
Suites & Hostel Cidade Aveiro is a budget hotel close to the train station in the city center. It is a good quality/price ratio hotel with everything you need for a pleasant stay. Check prices and book here.
Melia Ria Hotel & Spa
Melia Ria is a luxury hotel with spa, close to the city center, overlooking the Ria de Aveiro. The hotel serves a buffet breakfast. And it has other amenities. It’s a great place to relax. Check prices and availability here.
Aveiro Rossio Hostel
Aveiro Rossio Hostel is a cheap hostel in the city center, with breakfast included. It has a pleasant and comfortable atmosphere. Ideal for young people who don’t want to spend much money. Book your Aveiro Rossio stay here.
What to eat in Aveiro?
With a strong fishing tradition in the Ria de Aveiro and at sea, the gastronomic specialty of Aveiro is fish. In addition to fresh fish, Aveiro excels in cod dishes. So when you’re there, use and abuse the fish. The main fish dishes in Aveiro are:
- Caldeirada de Eguias: Eel is a very typical fish eaten in Aveiro. It used to be a fish caught in the Ria de Aveiro. But today, most are produced in nurseries. You can eat eels in different ways, fried eels and eel stew. But the traditional dish in Aveiro is Caldeirada de Enguias. It is made with eels, potatoes, onions, garlic, and spices like saffron.
- Cod: Aveiro has a long history with cod. The city played an essential role in cod harvesting and cod drying in the past. And he specialized in cooking codfish. There are 1001 ways to eat codfish, but we suggest you try the codfish roasted over coals with potatoes baked on the wall.
- Grilled Fish: There’s nothing like eating the fresh fish of the day, grilled over coals. And Aveiro has many restaurants specializing in fish.
- Seafood: You can find several restaurants in Aveiro that serve quality seafood. You will find the famous barnacles, clams, shrimp, crab, whelks, and much more.
Where to eat in Aveiro?
- O Talheiro is a restaurant with a wide variety of fish and some meat dishes. With good quality and affordable prices. It is usually packed, especially at the weekend, so we advise you to book in advance. It is located in the center of the city.
- O Legado da Ria is a good fish restaurant. Prices are not too high. It is located in the center of the city.
- Batista do Bacalhau is the best place to eat codfish. The drawback of this restaurant is its location, 4 km from the city center. Recommended if you have a car.
- O Gafanhoto is an excellent restaurant to eat eel stew. It is not in Aveiro, but in Gafanha da Encarnação, 11 km away.
In addition to fish, Aveiro is known for its sweets, especially sweet eggs. After all, Aveiro is the birthplace of this delicious delicacy. However, it has many other exceptional convent sweets. The main sweets in Aveiro are:
- Ovos Moles/Sweet eggs: Ovos Moles are the most famous sweet in Aveiro and the best in Portugal. As mentioned above, this sweet is part of the history and culture of the city. Not to say that it is a sweet based on Portuguese confectionery. Ovos Moles is a sweet made from egg yolks and sugar. It is sold as sweets wrapped in hosts shaped like sardines or shells. Or placed in wooden or porcelain barrels and eaten with a spoon.
- Egg Nuts/Castanhas de ovo: Egg Nuts are a variant of soft eggs. They are also made with egg yolks and sugar. But they are made differently and have a harder consistency.
- Ovar’s sponge cake/Pão de Ló de Ovar: Although this sweet is typical of Ovar, the city is close enough to find good quality sponge cake. The sponge cake is a moist cake made with eggs, flour, and sugar. The inside of the cake is almost liquid. And it is ideal for all sweet eggs lovers.
- Tripa/Tripes: Tripa is a typical sweet from Aveiro, very different from the other traditional sweets. And it has nothing to do with pork guts. Aveiro’s Tripe is similar to a crepe but with a different dough. It’s freshly baked, served hot, and stuffed with whatever you want, like sweet eggs, Nutella, white chocolate, caramel, or others.
Where to eat sweets in Aveiro?
The pastry shops in Aveiro that we recommend are:
- Confeitaria Peixinho: one of the oldest pastry shops in Aveiro, it has all the famous conventual sweets. The pastries are beautiful and look delicious; you’ll want to take them all home.
- Oficina do Doce: it has the best sweet eggs in Aveiro; it’s not a pastry shop per se, it’s a place where you can buy soft eggs. And you can do a workshop on how to make sweet eggs. It’s an exciting experience.
- Pastelaria Rossio: is a great place to have a snack. Eat sweet eggs and have a coffee. In addition to the sweet eggs, there is a variety of delicious convent sweets.
What to visit near Aveiro?
Museum of the Vista Alegre in Ílhavo
Vista Alegre is a prestigious brand from Portugal known worldwide, which has existed since 1824. It is renowned for the manufacture of porcelain and crystal. The pieces are beautiful and of excellent quality. They are authentic works of art.
The brand has created a museum to explore the ceramics manufacturing process and see the painting workshop and the old working-class neighborhood. The visit to the museum also includes entry to the Chapel of Nossa Senhora de França, a National Monument from 1910. The museum is located in the original Vista Alegre factory, where you can also find the Vista Alegre park. It is an enjoyable space with tables for eating and trails for hiking.
The museum is open from 10 am to 7 pm; the ticket price is €6. Entry is free on the second Sunday of each month or on the 18th of May, museum day.
Maritime Museum of Ílhavo and Bacalhaus Aquarium
The maritime museum of Ílhavo is a museum dedicated to cod fishing. In the museum, there are explanations of the history of cod fishing and objects related to fishing. A full-size cod boat that you can climb aboard. It even has an aquarium with 120 m2 of water with several cod species with the conditions of the cod’s natural habitat.
The entry price to the museum is €6. A joint ticket for the maritime museum and the Vista Alegre museum costs €9. The entrance hours are from Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am to 1 pm, from 2 pm to 6 pm, and on Sundays from 2 pm to 6 pm. The second Sunday of each month is free.
You can also visit the Santo André Museum Ship, which was part of the Portuguese codfish fleet and is anchored in an arm of the Ria de Aveiro and costs €3.50.
Mira, more specifically Praia de Mira, is one of the most popular holiday resorts in central/northern Portugal. It is located 25 km south of Aveiro and is easily accessible by car or bus.
Mira is one of those destinations with everything; besides the beach and the Mira lagoon, it has pine forests, pedestrian and mountain bike routes, and campsites. It’s the ideal place to get away, spend 2 or 3 days, or go camping for a week. Check our Mira travel guide for more information about this lovely small village.
How to go to Aveiro?
The best way to go to Aveiro is by train. Aveiro is easily accessible by train. There is a direct line from Porto, Coimbra, and Lisbon. It is a pleasant journey and passes through beautiful landscapes, sometimes along the sea.
The train station is within the city center, and it is a city that you can easily visit on foot, not needing a car. And it’s close enough to Porto or Lisbon to get there and back (though much, much closer to Porto). The major drawback is if you want to go to Costa Nova or the beach, you will need a car there, or you can go by bus, which makes the journey much longer.
Aveiro is easily accessible by car, either from Porto or Lisbon. And the car makes it possible to explore Costa Nova and the beaches or even if you want to go to Ílhavo to the Maritime Museum or Vista Alegre.
From Lisbon, the best way to reach Aveiro is via the A1 motorway, which is 253 km and takes 2h40 min. It is the most direct way. This motorway is paid for, but you don’t need an electronic device; you can pay the toll with cash or a card.
From Porto, the best way is also via the A1 motorway, which is 74.6 km and takes 58 minutes, the highway is paid, and you can pay the toll with cash or card.