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Europe > Iberia > Portugal > Central Portugal > Beira Litoral > Aveiro

Aveiro

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Aveiro is the provincial capital city of Beira Litoral province, nestled next to a "ria", or salt water lagoon and the Vouga river delta on the Atlantic coast of Central Portugal. Its origins go back to pre-Roman times. From the 8th until the 11th century, the region was under Muslim control. The charter elevating the town to city status was conferred in 1759 by King João I.

Understand[edit]

Aveiro was already a major salt producer in Roman times and later on, mainly due to the age-old dry codfish industry, continued to be so until the 1970s. It also played a major role in ceramics, ship building, metal working and machinery manufacture as well as being a natural shipping port for centuries. Next door to Aveiro, the city of Ílhavo still has remnants of the cod fishing and drying industry. A famous porcelain and cut glassware factory was established there in the early 1800s and still in operation today (guided tours are undertaken).

A canal in Aveiro
Riverfront buildings in Aveiro

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 bus(every hour). The city of Aveiro has a population of approximately 78,000 inhabitants, where 12.500 are students at University of Aveiro, one of the most important Portuguese Universities. Aveiro is at the center of the "Comunidade Intermunicipal da Região de Aveiro" (Aveiro Regional Intermunicipal Community), encompassing over 370.000 inhabitants.

The late poet, musician and teacher Zeca Afonso, and the late physicist Dr. Mário Sacramento, are both famous anti-fascist activists sons of the city. Overall the atmosphere is rather laid back and relaxed while some students are foreigners, lending it a somewhat cosmopolitan feel.

Architecturally, the CBD and "centro histórico" are characterized by some excellent examples of 15/16th century, Belle Epoque, Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Estado Novo buildings, while parts of the city are intersected by canals with picturesque bridges and navigated by 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's life style lies in its coast, with its fantastic sandy beaches of São Jacinto, Torreira, Barra and Costa Nova. This local coast is branded as Costa da Prata or the Silver Coast.

Historically, the importance and prestige of Aveiro grew with the arrival in the 15th century, of princess Dna. Joana, daughter of King Afonso V, to join the sisterhood of the Monastery of Jesus. Upon her death, she bequeathed her vast wealth to the benefit of the town. Her intricately carved and decorated tomb in the monastery, constitutes a singular example of fine arts of the period. In the 17th century she was canonised, thus becoming Santa Joana. By the 19th century, city son and parliamentarian José Estevão, propels Aveiro to the fore of industrialization by instigating the policies for redevelopment of the harbour facilities, city canals and arrival of railways, sowing the seeds for a renewed economical boom.

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 the authenticity and relative less "tourist trap" quality coupled with less costly accommodation and food when compared further South Portugal and the Algarve. The Summer season months of June to August are the busiest with holiday makers. 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 helpful towards anyone, local or foreign alike, as long as respect and courtesy are demonstrated.

Aveiro has humid temperate climate in summer and a not so cold but wet weather 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 vying for the T-shirt given to confirm the feat.

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

The city is connected to highway A1 which is the main north/south axis road of the country, but also a toll road.

You can easily reach Aveiro through highway A17, which is linked to highway A8 from Lisbon and the west/east axis highway A25, linking central Portugal via Vilar Formoso to rest of Europe through Spain.

The historic train station building with the new one in the background

By train[edit]

The new 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.

By bus[edit]

There are coaches that connect Aveiro to many Portuguese cities and also cities in Spain. These inter-cities and international bus companies have a terminus in Rua Almirante Candido dos Reis, not far from the railway station and also by the main canal in Rua do Clube dos Galitos near the moliceiro embarking jetty by the Rotunda das Pontes. If confused, just go inside any business near the railway station and ask; "aonde é a estação dos autocarros regionais?" (where's the regional bus station?)

Colorful houses in Costa Nova

By plane[edit]

The "Aeródromo Municipal de Aveiro" is actually the former military airbase of São Jacinto, and is planned revert to civilian use, pending certification. As of May 2018, this has not happened yet, because of bureaucractic minutiae. Its 1,372-metre runway and buildings serve private pilots and house small aircraft and the Aveiro Aeroclube.

Get around[edit]

On foot[edit]

Aveiro is easily navigable on foot. The local bus terminal can be found about 15 minutes walk from the canal zone.

By bicycle[edit]

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!!!

Casa do Major Pessoa, one of the most splendid examples of art nouveau in Aveiro

By bus[edit]

The city of Aveiro has five bus lines operated by Moveaveiro, who 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 longer-distance services. Of note are especially the lines that go from Aveiro to the beaches, including Barra and Costa Nova.

By car[edit]

Road traffic in the Aveiro area is relatively easy to negotiate, though you may experience slight delays at rush hours. Street parking spaces are at a premium and metered, but there are some well positioned underground parkades at the Forum and Av. Lourenço Peixinho near the Great War Combatants Monument. Generally, access to major national roads is well signposted, but outside the city limits, driving on municipal/local roads may require a map. In the summer, beach traffic can grind things to a near standstill.

Aveiro has several car rental agencies. The best policy is to prearrange everything via internet before arrival, including insurance, as this will save you a lot of money.

See[edit]

Aveiro Cathedral
  • 1 Aveiro Cathedral (Sé de Aveiro). An example of unique Portuguese baroque architecture.
  • 2 Aveiro Museum. In the former Convento de Jesus
Câmara Municipal (town hall) of Aveiro
  • 3 Câmara Municipal.
Antiga Capitania
  • 4 Antiga Capitania do Porto de Aveiro (former capitanate of the Aveiro harbour). Now converted and utilized as the new Municipal Assembly Hall.

The harbour complex is quite large and spread out on the "ria", offering views of the various inshore individually specialized areas handling different types of cargo. Near the main harbour entrance, is the Jardim Oudinot with a permanent museum ship exhibit, where the former "bacalhoeiro" (cod fishing ship) Santo André is open to visitors, several sports grounds, jogging and cycling paths, picnic areas etc, further along, is the old fort of Aveiro, the Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes (Our Lady of Sailors) chapel, a café, a tavern, a hotel or two, the yacht marina and club house. Continuing along, one gets to the ferryboat berthing harbour for São Jacinto and fisherman village in the north shore. The area has seen a revival with restaurants and snackbars offering a great option to end off a nice nature day trip.

  • 5 Carmelite Church of São João Evangelista.
  • 6 Dom Pedro Children's Park.
  • 7 Fish market.
  • 8 Gafanhas, Bairro de Pescadores (at the seaside). The Gafanhas are 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 shoreline. By doing so near the cod and fishing warehouses that line the front of the Gafanha fishing harbour, occasionally, it's possible to spot the four-masted schooner Maria Manuela,a typical Grand Banks Portuguese cod fishing sailship of a bygone era, preserved and functioning as a sailing training school ship, when at harbour after a sailing cadet training voyage.
Igreja da misericordia (left)
  • 9 Igreja da Misericórdia.
  • Museum of the Republic.
  • 10 Santo António Park.
  • 11 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".
  • 12 Farol da Barra (Barra lighthouse). Some 62 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 every Wednesday. 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.

Do[edit]

  • Centro Cultural e Congressos de Aveiro- The attractive 1914 face-brick industrial design ceramics factory building of Fábrica Jerónimo Pereira Campos at the end of the Canal do Côjo was repurposed in 1995 to provide the backdrop for Aveiro's convention center. The facilities are used for a variety of presentations, talks and shows such as TED, National Geographic, exhibitions, stand up comedy, and symposiums. If in town, enquire at city hall for the current program.
  • 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.
  • Salt pans and bird watching tours at the Special Protection Zone of Ria de Aveiro, for a chance to meet the salt worker Marnoto in person and spot the many bird species that inhabit the lagoon. geral@salinasaveiro.com (+351 234 056 149)
  • 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 club home ground, Mário Duarte Stadium next to the "Parque da Cidade" (City Park), 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 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.

Buy[edit]

A Vista Alegre porcelain plate

Regional products[edit]

  • Ovos moles and Pão de ló - These two sweet tooth musts are widely sold at most pastelarias and cafés in the city.
  • Salt from Aveiro is sold at the EcoMuseu Marinha da Troncalhada by the salt pans and some regional products shops.
  • Souvenirs - A variety of local themed miniatures like boats, dolls, and other objects are available throughout shops in the old city center.
  • 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 is a semi-covered arcade in the very centre of the city

Shopping venues[edit]

  • 1 Forum Aveiro (downtown near the canals). Open daily until 23:00. the central upmarketish shopping center and multiplex cinema venue.
  • 2 Glicínias Centro Comercial, EN 109 (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, 24-hr clothes alterations and shoe repair shops etc etc.
  • 3 Mercado de Santiago, at the end of Rua Nova (next door to the Aveiro University Campus), +351 924 406 270. 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.
  • 4 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.
  • Rua dos Combatentes da Guerra and Avenida Dr. Lourenço Peixinho are the main shopping streets in down town CBD.

Eat[edit]

  • Ovos moles - A traditional sweet speciality 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. The Forum and Glicīnias shopping centers have food courts serviced 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, Costa Nova and Vagueira.

Lighthouse of Forte de Barra

Budget[edit]

  • 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. Arguably the best pizza place in Aveiro and mean cocktails. Good vibe, 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.
  • Trincaxa, Rua dos Combatentes da Grande Guerra 44, is a café/takeaway that caters for vegaterians and vegans. The menu has delicious offerings at affordable prices.

Mid-range[edit]

  • 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.
  • Restaurante Centenário, Praça do Mercado 9,10, Aveiro, an old local mainstay specialising in seafood dishes, soups and ensopados.
  • 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.

Splurge[edit]

  • 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.
Praca do Peixe

Drink[edit]

Moliceiros moored at canal quay at dusk

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.
  • 1 Estação da Luz, R. da Fonte, +351 234 943 979. 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.
  • [dead link] Quest (Belas Artes), Rua Belas Artes nº3 (Oiã), +351 234 721 778. 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.

Night life[edit]

As a result of Aveiro University founding in the 1970s, Aveiro's night life has developed an eclectic and colourful mix of establishments to rival the best nationwide. Centered around areas like, Praça do Peixe, Alboi, Rossio and the Zona dos Armazéns de Sal (the salt warehouses zone) alongside the Canal de São Roque, with affordable night-clubs, bars, snack-bars, restaurants, discotheques, pubs and the red light district not far away. DJ's, bands and solo acts provide all types of good live music from a wide range of establishments.

  • Bar Maravilhas, Praça do Mercado, Aveiro, is a former games arcade turned live music venue with a good vibe and frequented by an easy going crowd and a barman that can put up a show sometimes. Some proper pool tables and game machines are still present in the back room.
  • Casa de Chá, Rua Dr. Barbosa Magalhães 9, Aveiro, not only tea, on Friday nights the place metamorphosis with DJs and cocktails.
  • Decante Wine Bar, Beco Tenente Resende 28, Aveiro, live music most nights.
  • Discoteca Estação da Luz, Rua Direita (EN335), Quintã, Aveiro, is one of the older nightclubs in existence and still one of the better spots to go out have fun with a group of friends. But being not so near Aveiro center, may be inconvenient for some visitors.
  • Guest House Bar, Praça do Peixe, Aveiro, a good place for friends to gather in the evening before heading out to the late night spots (free WiFi).
  • To Praia da Barra, plenty to choose throughout the area with some establishments on the beach itself. If summer is hot, the night-clubs are hotter. Be prepared to burn the midnight oil and dig the graveyard shift all rolled into one. Turn your ear to the wind and follow the sounds. The club partying usually starts around 23:00 and lasts 'til 06:00 or 07:00.

Sleep[edit]

Ponte dos Carcavelos

Budget[edit]

  • Aveiro Rossio Hostel, Largo do Rossio - Rua de Joao Afonso de Aveiro, No 1, +351 234 041 538, e-mail: . 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.
Armazens de sal - historic salt storage

If you are a camping or caravanning holiday maker, the Barra and Costa Nova camping grounds are a short walking distance to the beach, offer well serviced secure plots with controlled access. Summer season rates are costlier and may require advance booking.

Mid-range[edit]

  • Pousada de Torreira / Murtosa - Ria de Aveiro, Nature Hotel, Bico do Muranzel 3870-301 Torreira, +351-234 860 180, fax: +351-234 838 333, e-mail: . 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. 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.
  • [dead link] Residencial Azevedo. At Costa Nova Beach.
  • Hotel Barra, Avenida Fernandes Lavrador, 18 (at Barra Beach), +351 234 369 156.
  • Pension José das Hortas, Avenida Jose Estevão (at Costa Nova Beach), +351 96 600 25 78. Shared baths. Doubles €45..

Splurge[edit]

  • 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. Four-star hotel a 10-minute walk from the center. Spa, good breakfast
Street art in Aveiro

Go next[edit]

Today, the best kept secrets are the extensive soft sand beaches that reach from Mira in the south to Espinho in the north, coupled with the less costly accomodation and food when compared with further south Portugal and the Algarve, this unique environment tucked between the Ria and the Atlantic has well kept amenities to do water sports, sunbathe, swim, enjoy fresh fish and seafood meals, bicycle or stroll along and watch wonderful summer sunsets from Costa Nova and Praia da Barra with its imposing lighthouse dominating the horizon or take the ferry boat across the Ria to explore the São Jacinto dunes 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) or "rojões" (tender and lean pork chunky cutlets), or Anadia among others and Bairrada, with their wines and "leitāo assado" (roasted piglet). These trips can also be done by using several regional bus services based not too far from Aveiro railway station.

This city travel guide to Aveiro is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.