Aveiro was a major salt producer, mainly due to the dry codfish industry of ages ago, it also played a major role in ship building, metal working, ceramics, machinery manufacture and being a natural shipping port for centuries. The city of Ílhavo next door to Aveiro, still has remnants of the cod fishing and drying industry. A famous porcelain and cut glassware factory was established in the early 1800s and still in operation today (guided tours are undertaken).
Aveiro is 68 km to the south of Porto and 58 km north of Coimbra, straddling the "ria" of Aveiro and the river Vouga a few kilometers from the Atlantic Ocean, where you can easily reach by car (5 minutes) or by bue(every hour). The city of Aveiro has a population of approximately 57,000 inhabitants, where 14,000 are students at University of Aveiro, one of the most important Portuguese Universities
Part of the city is bathed through canals, bridges, and brightly painted boats called moliceiros, similar in profile to the gondolas of Venice. Originally the moliceiro was a working boat and the name derives from moliço, a type of sea weed abundant in the lagoon and formerly harvested to be used as fertilizer in the agricultural fields of the region. Although an exaggeration, the city is called the "Portuguese Venice". The real charm of Aveiro lies in its coast, with its fantastic sandy beaches of São Jacinto, Torreira, Barra and Costa Nova. This local coast is well known as a Costa da Prata or the Silver Coast.
However, today the best kept secret of its attraction apart from the extensive soft sand beaches that reach from Mira in the south, to Espinho in the north, is it's relative less "tourist trap" quality and authenticity coupled with less costly accomodation and food when compared further South Portugal and the Algarve. Also, the easy access to major road networks and railways, make it's proximity to many daytripper destinations like Porto, Espinho, Figueira da Foz, Coimbra, Viseu, Serra da Estrela etc, a strategic place to set up base. The "Beirão" people are well known for their hospitality and helpfulness towards anyone local, or foreigns alike, as long as respect and courtesy are demonstrated.
Aveiro has humid wet temperate climate, coolish in the summer and not so cold in winter. November, December, and January make up the rainy season, while July and August are the driest months. Autumn and Winter tend to have strong coastal winds, excellent for kite or wind-surf, as well as for sailing. Of later times, the "primeiro banho do ano" or the first sea dip of the year, has become an annual local tradition in the early hours of every New Year's Day with hundreds of participants and a T'shirt given to confirm the feat.
The city is connected to highway number 1 (A1) which is the main road of the country, but also a toll road.
You can easily reach to Aveiro through A17 highway, which is linked to A8 highway from Lisbon and the A25 highway, that links Portugal via Vilar Formoso from Spain through Salamanca.
The newly inaugurated modern design central train station is positioned in stark contrast next to the "azulejo" decorated old station (there's talk of converting the classic building into a museum and/or regional info office), near the center of the city. Aveiro railway station is on the main "Linha do Norte" providing access to national trains to all major cities and regions (Porto, Braga, Coimbra, Lisbon and "Sul do Tejo"). In addition, the station is a stopover for all regional and commuter trains. You can walk through Avenida Lourenço Peixinho for 10 minutes and you are on the main central spot of Aveiro - The Rotunda das Pontes.
There are coaches that connect Aveiro to many Portuguese cities and also cities in Spain. These inter-cities bus terminus, are located not far from the railway station and also near the main canal by the moliceiro embarking jetty.
Aveiro is easily navigable on foot. The local bus terminal can be found about 15 minutes walk from the canal zone.
Aveiro is a cyclist friendly city. There are many exclusive cyclist dedicated paths throughout the city and connecting all the way from the city to the beach areas.
A very convenient way to see Aveiro if you like to go cycling but don't have a bicycle, is to use the BUGA (Free-use Bicycles of Aveiro) service. There are 2 BUGA shops (lojas) spread about the city. If there are bicycles available, you simply have to give to the BUGA shop employee your ID and you'll have a bike to take a free ride.
Bikes can be used within a certain BUGA area of the city, delimited by signs. When you are finished with the bike, just return it to the shop (loja) and take your ID back. You have until 7 pm to return your bike to the BUGA shop you took it from, nice, free and easy!!!
The city of Aveiro has five bus lines operated by Moveaveiro, who unfortunately have no English website. That said, the buses are of little use to tourists as most points of interest are easily within walking distance in Aveiro. However, if you plan to spend your Summer holidays in the area and only find accomodation in Aveiro city, it may be worth while getting a multitrip or seasonal bus pass to get to the beaches at a low cost. Transdev Portugal operates a number of longer-distance services. Of note are especially the lines that go from Aveiro to the beaches, including Barra and Costa Nova.
- 1 Aveiro Cathedral (Sé de Aveiro). An example of unique Portuguese baroque architecture.
- 2 Aveiro Museum. In the former Convento de Jesus
- 3 Câmara Municipal.
- 4 Antiga Capitania do Porto de Aveiro (former capitanate of the Aveiro harbour). The harbour is quite large and spread out on the "ria" with various inshore individually specialized areas handling different types of cargo. Near the main harbour terminal, in the Jardin Oudinot, an actual permanent museum ship exhibit, the "Santo André", a former "bacalhoeiro" (cod fishing ship), is open for visitors. Further along, is the ferryboat berthing harbour for São Jacinto, to take you across to the northern shore of the ria. Also in the vicinity of the commercial harbour is the Aveiro yacht marina. Around which is the old fort of Aveiro and fisherman's village. As of late, the fisherman's village area had been the subject of renovation and a few restaurants/snack bars may already be in operation.
- 5 Carmelite Church of São João Evangelista.
- 6 Dom Pedro Children's Park.
- 7 Fish market.
- Gafanhas, Bairro de Pescadores (at the seaside). The Gafanhas, are located on the way from Aveiro city to the beaches of Barra and Costa Nova. Instead of taking the freeway, it is possible to travel on the side road through the Gafanhas along side the ria shore line. By doing so near the cod and fishing warehouses that line the front of the Gafanha fishing harbour. Occasionally, it is possible to spot the four masted schooner "Maria Manuela" when at harbour after a sailing cadet training voyage. The "Maria Manuela" is a typical Grand Banks Portuguese cod fishing sail ship of a bygone era, preserved and functioning as a sailing training school ship.
- 8 Igreja da Misericórdia.
- Museum of the Republic.
- 9 Santo António Park.
- 10 São Gonçalinho Chapel.
- Salt pans. As salt production for many centuries played such a big part in the importance of Aveiro in pre industrial times, it's quite surprising today, to still see remnants of that manual labour activity. As one leaves the city to join the freeway towards Barra and Costa, stay on the right hand side local road that runs roughly parallel with the canal and travel some 300 m alongside the canal and the remaining "salinas" come into view. Sometimes, depending on the season, one can see how the salt water is trapped in the rectangular basins for saturation and evaporation. Later on, it is harvested and made into conical mounds. Locally produced salt is sold at certain shops. There is the "Flor de sal", in the purest form, and the cheaper "sal de Aveiro".
- Farol da Barra (Barra lighthouse). Some 86 meters high, it was built near the end of the 19th century, replacing the older and smaller Aveiro light house near the fort, when the Aveiro harbour underwent major redevelopment and expansion works. The lighthouse authorities allow visitors on a regular basis. Arrangements to go inside are done under the lighthouse keeper supervision, due to only small groups being allowed at any one time, for safety reasons. The panoramic sights however, are worth the climb to the top.
- Surf at Costa Nova and Barra Beach - You can rent a wetsuit and a board on local surf shops.
- Windsurf and Kytesurf on the river and on the sea - You can rent this material on local windsurf shops.
- Moliceiro tours - leaving from the central canal.
- Sailing at Costa Nova Beach - There's a local Sailing club - CVCN - where you an find sailing lessons.
- Kayak at Ria de Aveiro or Rio Vouga - It is quite easy to find local guides that takes you for a different afternoon experience.
- Walking tours - There is a local walking tour shop that has 3 way-outs every day.
- Take some sun at Costa Nova and Barra Beach
- 1 Hiking in the Dunas de São Jacinto (Take the bus to Forte de Barra and then the ferry). There are four different paths through the woods. You can see the Atlantic and the some lakes.
- Teatro Aveirense This is the city theatre venue, where seasonal pieces are staged as well as one off productions.
- S. C. Beira Mar Formerly a regular Primeira Liga football team, these days, due to financial hardships the club plays in the regional league, never the less, on match days the Mário Duarte Stadium, the club home ground located next to the city botanical gardens, offers good entertainment. Also on occasion, the larger Aveiro Municipal Stadium hosts top notch games between Portuguese top national league sides and sometimes international matches.
- Jardim Oudinot, the Park Oudinot is located along the left hand side of the main road leading to the harbour complex. It has pathways, sports grounds, children's play areas, the Santo André museum ship and various other facilities.
- Salt from the nearby salt flats.
- Vista Alegre - Famous tableware ceramics and cut glass factory. Prices range from affordable to high end and items can be purchased at the factory shop, while tours inside are possible upon request. The Vista Alegre factory and workers village is in the neighboring municipality of Ilhavo, 10 km away.
- Forum Aveiro,(shopping mall) the central upmarketish shopping center and multiplex cinema venue, is situated downtown near the canals. Shops are open daily until 11PM.
- Glicínias Centro Comercial, is located on EN 115 not far from the Aveiro University Campus. With ample free parking available, it has a cinema multiplex, a large chain supermarket, a food take-way or eat-in hall and a plethora of shops from computer repairs and footwear to clothing shops, 24hr clothes alterations and shoe repair shops etc etc.
- Mercado Municipal de Santiago, located at the end of Rua Nova next door to the Aveiro University Campus. This is a local produce market that offers fresh produce, fruit, butcher supplied meats, dairy products, cold meats and charcuterie, regional breads, confectionary, etc etc, directly from farmer or producer to the consumer. Many products are organically produced.
- Rua dos Combatientes da Guerra and Avenida Dr. Lourenço Peixinho are the main shopping streets in down town CBD.
- 1 3 metades, Rua José Estêvão 82 (Near the Igreja da Vera Cruz). Organic shop with traditional bread and rolls, which are much more tasty than the normal industrial bread you get in Portugal.
- Ovos moles - A traditional product made from egg yolk. Sold at most of the local bakeries.
- Pão de Ló - A traditional baked cake available in several "pastelaria" establishments throughout the city.
The city is doted with many eating places ranging from local inexpensive "snack-bar's" , "pastelarias" and small neighborhood restaurants to fancy and upmarket eateries. Both the Forum and Glicīnias shopping centers, provide eating hall's serviced and supplied by various cheap to reasonable priced fast food outlets specialising in different types of cuisine. Some global fast food brands are also available. The area with the most restaurants is found between the Old Neighborhood (Bairro Antigo) and the fish market plaza (Mercado do Peixe). There are also some decent restaurants and seafood places at Barra and Costa Nova beaches.
- Porta 35, Rua do Tenente Resende, 35. Tasty burgers (from 5 €), best craft beer from Aveiro, english speaking friendly staff
- Café Ramona, Rua Eça de Queirós, 12. Frequented by students and youths, this place offers perhaps the best hamburgers in town. Try the hamburguer à Ramona - meal for 5€
- Pizzarte, Rua Eng.º Von Haffe, 27. Pizza shop decorated with chess pieces. Popular with the young set. Have a glass of champanhada with your pizza - meal for 7€
- Cervejaria O Augusto, Largo do Rossio, In the main central area of Aveiro you can find an amazing steak or just some special of the day dishes (especial do dia) for about 5€.
- Ferro, Rua Tenente Resende 30. Very close to the fish market, this place serves meat and fish dishes at affordable prices.
- Barrigas, Rua Eng. Von Haff, 36. C. Popular restaurant where the special is "francesinhas", a dish more typical of Oporto. It is a type of ham, meat and cheese sandwich covered in melted cheese and a spicy sauce. Flame-roasted meats are also on offer, and you might catch some live Brazilian music.
- Galetos Dourados, Rua Eng.º Von Haff, 7. Brazilian-style chicken restaurant.
- Cafe Zig-Zag, Avenida Dr. Lourenço Peixinho Good cafe for a quick lunch. Standard menu with daily specials.
- La Mamaroma, Cais do Alboi 21. Italian restaurant with a wood-fired oven. One of the house specialties is a stone-cooked fillet-- an enormous beef fillet cooked slowly on a hot stone.
- Restaurante a Barca, Largo Jose Rabumba, 5. Specializing in fish.
- Travessa do Peixinho, Rua Eng. von Haff, 34. Seafood.
- Porterhouse, Rua João Afonso 13/15. Tucked away but worth looking for (ask at a hotel, they know where it is). The BBQ ribs are amazing and unlike anything else you'll find in town.
- La Piazza, R Conselheiro Luís Magalhães 46-A. Another hidden gem. Top-notch casual Italian food just off the main avenue.
- Restaurante Mercado do Peixe, Praça do Peixe (the fish market plaza). Situated in the upper part of the fish market, this place specializes in fish.
- Adamastor, Travessa Lavadouros, 1. Fish and seafood in the fish market.
- Restaurante O Moliceiro, Largo do Rossio, 6. Fish, regional stews, meat.
The most famous area for night bars is Praça do Peixe (fish plaza).Here you will find a good variety of bars typically open til 3AM in winter, and 4AM in summer. Note that all the bars in Praça do Peixe have free entrance. Clubs are best on Friday and Saturday nights from 1AM to 5AM. Women usually pay no admission fees, but for men it is usually around €5. Drinks are fairly cheap, around 4 or €5. Try a caipirinha with strawberries (morangos).
- Botirão, Canal de São Roque (near Praça do Peixe). Great sangria and bossa nova in a clean and beautiful traditional style bar. Sangria costs €7 and has a very mild taste, but don't be fooled-- it packs a punch.
- Clandestino. Praça do Peixe. Alternative music.
- 1 Estaçao da Luz, R. da Fonte, ☎ . Somewhat outside of town, this is the dance club preferred by the locals. House with some mainstream pop as well. One of the smaller dancefloors/bars features salsa music. It is somewhat selective, so it is possible that tourists are sometimes denied entry.
- Mercado Negro, Praça do Peixe. An alternative space with a bar, good music, an auditorium that usually hosts both national and international independent artists' concerts, and modern design in an old art nouveau building.
- Quest (Belas Artes), Rua Belas Artes nº3 (Oiã), ☎ . This club is on the outskirts of Aveiro, in a small village called Oiã (also an industrial area). This club has four floors and 5 bars. One bar is outside, there is a nice terrace with patio furniture. The dance floor has lights, a large TV screen, and features mostly house music.
- Aveiro Rossio Hostel, Largo do Rossio - Rua de Joao Afonso de Aveiro, No 1, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The first and only hostel in the city opened in 2009. It is run by a local Portuguese couple who are extremely accommodating and helpful. The hostel is very modern with a kitchen, terrace area, cable TV, free Internet and Wi-fi. Private rooms are available. Dorms from €16, Portuguese breakfast included.
If you are a camping or caravanning holiday maker, the Barra camping grounds offer well serviced secure plots with controlled access. Summer season rates are costlier and may require advance booking.
- Pousada de Torreira / Murtosa - Ria de Aveiro, Nature Hotel, Bico do Muranzel 3870-301 Torreira, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Located in the isthmus that connects Murtosa to the beaches of São Jacinto, the Pousada de Murtosa Torreira, Ria de Aveiro is set in a preserved area with a unique natural beauty. Surrounded by water, this is the ideal spot for fishing, water sports or going to the beautiful beaches which are near the Costa Nova's typical colourful houses.
- Hotel Afonso V, Rua Dr. Manuel das Neves 65. Situated 10 minutes on foot from the town center, this hotel has a good quality-to-price ration. The hotel has two annexes, one of which is a little older with cheaper and more simple accommodations.
- Hotel Imperial, Rua Dr Nascimento Leitao. Downtown.
- Residencial Azevedo. At Costa Nova Beach.
- Hotel Barra, Avenida Fernandes Lavrador, 18 (at Barra Beach), ☎ .
- Pension José das Hortas, Avenida Jose Estevão (at Costa Nova Beach), ☎ . Shared baths. Doubles 45€..
- Hotel Moliceiro, Rua Barbosa de Magalhães - Nº 15/17 Directly in front of the Praça do Peixe (fish market) a few doors down from the tourism office., ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 2 pm, check-out: 1 pm. An excellent hotel in central Aveiro.
- Hotel as Americas, Rua Eng. Von Haff 20. Close to the train station and 15 minutes from the city center.
- Hotel Melia Ria, Cais da Fonte Nova. Newly-constructed four-star hotel situated at a 10 minutes' walk from the center. Spa, good breakfast
Today, the best kept secret of its attraction are the extensive soft sand beaches that reach from Mira in the south, to Espinho in the north, coupled with the relative less costly accomodation and food when compared further South Portugal and the Algarve. To sunbathe and swim and enjoy fresh fish seafood meals in this region, Costa Nova, Praia da Barra with its imposing lighthouse dominating the horizon, are good choices: by taking the ferry boat, cross the Ria to São Jacinto and Torreira Beach town.
Further inland, one can also enjoy a short trips to local towns and villages that have quite a bit to offer in terms of authentic local gastronomy and sightseeing outside the usual "tourist trap" offerings in major centers. Go to Angeja, to savour their special "enguias" (eel dishes), among others, or Bairrada, with their wines and "leitāo assado" (roasted piglet). These trips can also be done by using bus services in town, not too far from the railway station.