Aveiro Guide Portugal
Often referred to as the Venice of Portugal, Aveiro is a city of water and dazzling colour contrasts: the whiteness of the salt mines; the blue of the lagoon dotted with brightly coloured “moliceiros”, (seaweed collecting boats); the sand dunes of the São Jacinto Nature Reserve and the vegetation of the many little islands in the lagoon and estuary. Water is a dominant feature in and around Aveiro, from the nearby beach of Costa Nova, to the estuary and lagoon surrounding the city and the canals running through it.
The first impression of the city centre is also one of striking colour contrasts, architectural diversity and maritime activity. The main canal dominates the entrance to the city. It is lined with beautiful examples of various Portuguese architectural styles, the most noticeable being the fabulous examples of Art Nouveau and is brightened up by the colourful “moliceiros” slowly passing up and down. Traditionally used for collecting seaweed for fertilising purposes, these boats now also provide canal trips around the bustling city centre or, further afield, to the serene waters of the lagoon for a more peaceful contemplation of the salt mines and the natural wildlife that inhabits the islands in the estuary. Alternatively, the bugas, or free bicycles provided by the city council, are ideal for a quick ride around the city centre, never forgetting to stop and taste Aveiro’s famous sweets, the “ovos moles” on the way.
There is plenty to see in Aveiro: the famous Museu de Aveiro, a former Dominican convent called the Convento de Jesús that was made famous in the 15th Century by a royal princess who spurned court life by deciding to live there; the 15th Century São Domingos Cathedral; and in a different vein, the impressive, bustling fish market, the Praça do Peixe, for a taste of the surrounding cafés, bars and restaurants. The Ílhavo Maritime Museum and the factory of the famous Portuguese porcelain manufacturer, Vista Alegre are just a few kilometres south of Aveiro, and if lighthouses are a passion, the coastal town of Barra boasts the tallest one in the Iberian Peninsula.
Aveiro’s natural beauty continues along the coast towards Costa Nova, a pretty little former fishing village ensconced between the sea and the lagoon. The traditional wooden, brightly-striped fishermen’s houses, now mostly used by holiday-makers, brighten up the street facing the lagoon’s waterfront and house a number of excellent fish restaurants, specialising in the region’s favourite... eel dishes. The views in Costa Nova are spectacular and varied: on the one side, the clear, blue sea of the lagoon filled with sailing boats; on the other, the wilder sea especially appreciated by surfers, and kilometres of unspoilt sand dunes.
Like so many other Portuguese cities, Aveiro combines the picturesque and tradition of old with the buzz and bounce of new. All this, with a spectacular natural landscape as a backdrop.
Recommended Aveiro Hotels
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