Aveiro Travel Guide

Experience the vibrant colors and flavors of Aveiro: Your ultimate guide to the Venice of Portugal.

One of northern Portugal’s best-kept secrets, Aveiro is a small city just 50 miles south of Porto. It lies on the mouth of an estuary, has a lagoon, is surrounded by a terrific coastline, and has a canal system dividing the quarters. Hence its common nickname, “Venice of Portugal,” water features one way or another here, and a popular way to see some of the sights is to ride on a Moliceiro boat along the canals. The moliceiros were previously used to collect seaweed and have been prettily restored and painted in bright colors. But probably the most eye-catching feature of this town is its varied architecture. The beautiful Portuguese “azulejo” (painted tiles) decorated the old train station, Misericórdia church, and the whimsical Art Nouveau period buildings along the main strip. Also, the cathedral and the colorfully painted fisherman cottages at Costa Nova (so cute they look like toy houses) are just some of the architectural highlights.

From Fishing to Royalty

Aveiro has historically always been associated with fishing and sea trade. However, it grew and benefited immensely from the Discoveries era, bringing merchants and explorers from Europe to its port. The city was also a favorite place for monarchs, namely Princess Joana (daughter of King Afonso); she entered the Dominican Convent in Aveiro, having lost her succession to the throne after the birth of her younger brother John. The Monastery of Jesus has since been converted into a beautiful museum; besides the richly decorated tomb of Joana, the museum has an impressive collection of paintings from the 10th to 15th centuries.

Unfortunately, Aveiro also suffered terrible times and a period of extreme hardship after the tragedy of 1575, when a combination of silt build-up in the river and a horrendous storm caused the collapse of the port, which in turn cut the lagoon off from the tide and turned it into a swamp. As a result, diseases breed and spread like wildfire, devastating the population.

Salt and Seaweed

The city eventually recovered, and what had been the source of such ruin for years, the lagoon provided two profitable industries: salt production and seaweed harvesting. The salt was used for the Atlantic Northwest Cod Fishery, and the kelp was used as a natural fertilizer. Both industries are still actively exploited today.

  • Ovos Moles
    Delicious Ovos Moles

    Wine and Gastronomy

Nearby Wine Regions


  • Take a “Moliceiro” boat ride on the canal

    Traditionally used for collecting seaweed, which was, in turn, used as the local fertilizer. Now restored and painted in vibrant colors, the Moliceiro boats are a relaxing way to take in some of the city’s main sights.

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  • Beaches and the photogenic Costa Nova

    Barra and Costa Nova beaches are lovely for a spot of sunbathing, but also where some of the best seafood restaurants can be found. Costa Nova is where you will find the brightly painted fishermen houses.

  • St. Domingo Cathedral

    A striking example of Portugal’s religious heritage, dating back to the 15th century, when it was a Dominican Convent. Both Gothic and Baroque influences can be seen from the various restorations over the centuries.

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  • Ovos Moles

    Pop into Aveiro Pastry shop for a box of the local sweet “Ovos Moles”, from egg and sugar, they are a popular treat.

  • Home of Vista Alegre

    Just a couple of miles down the road in Ilhavo you can visit the Vista Alegre Museum. Discover what inspired the designs behind this emblematic brand and the inspiring relationship between the founding Pinto Basto family and its workers.

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