With a limited amount of time allocated for Portugal, we had to be a little selective with where we’d be spending our time. Plenty of places made the cutting room floor, unfortunately, due to being way off the beaten track. A return visit one can only fix that!
Aveiro, however, was in the direction we were heading, and despite staying for just one night, we got a sufficient taste of what this canal town is about.
Art Nouveau Museum – Rua do Doutor Barbosa de Magalhaes 10
Whether you do it as a day trip from Porto or stay a night or two, the “Portuguese Venice” is a gorgeous place to visit. Just as gondolas zip up and down the canals of Venecia, the moliceiros of Aveiro, with their hand-painted bows and sterns, chug along the “Ria” laden with tourists taking in the sights of this vibrant town.
Aveiro is also known for its Art Nouveau architecture, much of which can be easily seen in the narrow streets of the old town centre. The difference here is that the style is incorporated with traditional Portuguese architecture, a style that’s rich with its use of beautiful painted azulejos.
Rua de Coimbra
Praça do Doutor Joaquim de Melo
Being a compact city, Aveiro is easily navigated on foot. It’s so easy for walks along the riverfront and canals admiring refurbished fishermen’s houses and getting lost in cobbled lanes discovering boutiques, fashion studios, design stores, bars and many eateries.
Drop into places like Má Idea where books and art fill shelves and walls in this contemporary set-up, with 12 international craft beers as its main draw. If excellent espresso is preferred, then you can dose up on your poison supplied by Vernazza Coffee Roasters.
One thing that can’t be missed, if you’re into trying something unique to the area, is Ovos moles de Aveiro. This local confectionary is made up of a very thin, wafer-like shell – generally in the shape of fish, shells, clams and barrels – and filled with a protein-rich emulsion of egg yolks and sugar. Read up on them here.
Má Ideia – Rua Dos Marnotos, 56
Ovos moles in Pastelaria Duquesa – Rua de Agostinho Pinheiro 9
Coffeebreak – Rua Dr. Mário Sacramento 101
Eating options in Aveiro are aplenty, so you can easily find just about any cuisine you’re craving.
The city is renowned for its seafood, thanks to its proximity to the ocean, and if you can find it, eel is one not to be missed. Try it fried, stewed or in a sweet and sour escabeche sauce.
Cafés, sushi bars and burger joints are good options for budget eats, as are the bakeries, but if you want somewhere that’s away from the tourist crowds, then Coffeebreak is worth the 10-15 minute walk from the centre.
Located in a quiet residential area, Coffeebreak does all things coffee, beer, burgers, salads, toasties and pastries. Try their signature “breaks” – which are hollowed bread rolls loaded with a variety of ingredients. The Breaks Bacon (2.5) hit all the right spots with oozing cheese, mushrooms and garlic.
One of the popular eat streets in Aveiro’s old town is the narrow and character-filled Rua do Tenente Resende. Plenty of eating, drinking and a few shopping options line this cute cobbled laneway, so choosing can be a challenge.
We settled on El Boquerón Tapas Lounge for afternoon beers and wine, which turned into nibbles on a variety of delicious tapas. Gazpacho Andaluz (2.5), caballa marinada (smoked mackerel fillet; 3.5), jamón ibérico (2) and some delicious idiazábal (1.5), a sheep’s cheese from the Basque Country.
Loved this place!
El Boquerón Tapas Lounge – Rua do Tenente Resende 24A
Rede Expressos bus runs from Nazaré to Leiria at 8am and arrives an hour later. Another bus departs Leiria and arrives at Aveiro at 12pm. Cost is €15 per person.