Things To Do in Aveiro, Portugal
Aveiro is a city of icons. It’s the chain of canals, the moliceiros
and the Art Nouveau buildings that make this one of Portugal’s most
At first sight, the city is like a mini
Venice with its colourful boats sailing through canals and under a
network of bridges. The moliceiro boats were traditionally made for
seaweed harvesting, but today they offer canal cruises.
The ocean isn’t far away either, and little towns like Costa Nova
attract visitors all year round to its charming striped houses and sandy
beaches. Nearby there are nature trails amid dunes and mountains where
you can go for a hike or cycle.
Coming from Porto or Lisbon, Aveiro makes for a great day trip. Below is a list of things to do in Aveiro, including tips on where to eat and where to stay.
Things to Do in Aveiro - Morning
Visit the Aveiro Museum
Start your tour of the city with a visit to the Aveiro Museum. Housed in a 15th-century monastery known as Mosteiro de Jesus, it contains a vast collection of religious items, including Renaissance paintings, sculptures and jewellery. Portuguese Princess Joana stayed here during the last years of her life, and you can find her beautifully carved tomb in one of the rooms. The museum also features a chapel decorated with gilded woodwork and tile panels depicting the life of the princess.
Take a Moliceiro Tour
One of the first things you’ll see when you arrive in Aveiro is the moliceiros. These colourful boats are a bit similar to the Italian gondolas and have become an iconic city feature. It’s because of these, and the numerous bridges, that Aveiro is sometimes called the Portuguese Venice. Before it became a tourist attraction, the moliceiros were made to harvest seaweed from the lagoon which was used as a fertiliser. When the trade ended, the boats took on a different life and now offer tours of the city. There’s no need to book a trip in advance, you can show up at the dock and hop on a boat straight away.
Capture the Art Nouveau Buildings
Facing the canals are a series of stunning Art-Nouveau buildings which stand out with their wrought-iron balconies and colourful façades. You’ll probably spot some of them during your boat tour, but there’s also an Art Nouveau walking route that will take you along these properties. Highlights include the Art Nouveau Museum, Casa dos Ovos Moles and the Cooperativa Agrícola located at Rua João Mendonça number 7. When you’re done capturing the buildings, you can relax at Jardim do Rossio, a small park lined with palm trees with views of the canals.
Try Ovos Moles and Tripas de Aveiro
Ovos moles are the traditional sweet of Aveiro. You can’t leave the
city without trying this delicious local delicacy made of egg yolks and
sugar. It’s available in tiny wooden barrels, but the most popular
version comes inside rice paper casings shaped like shells. Several
pastry shops sell ovos moles around the city, but Maria da
Apresentação is one of the best places to get them. If you want to learn
how to make them, you can join a workshop at Oficina do Doce.
Another sweet that comes from Aveiro is the tripas. These are kind of similar to a crepe but made with a thicker dough. You can try them at Tezero with a variety of fillings including jam, chocolate or the beloved ovos moles.
Aveiro Map of Attractions (Morning)
Things to Do in Aveiro - Afternoon
Explore the Salt Pans at the Ecomuseu Marinha da Troncalhada
On the edge of Aveiro’s lagoon, you’ll find many salt pans. These are part of the Marinha da Troncalhada, an open-air museum that showcases the traditional methods of salt production. You can take a walk around the salt pans and read the panels or book a guided tour for more detailed information. Near the museum, is a small salt pool and spa established by Cale do Oiro which runs between May and October. For a couple of euros, you can enjoy a relaxing salt bath while watching the saltern workers.
Visit the Ílhavo Maritime Museum
A few miles south from Aveiro, is the town of Ílhavo. It’s home to a modern Maritime Museum showcasing Portugal’s maritime history with a focus on its codfish trade. The building itself has earned many awards for its striking design created by architects Nuno Mateus and José Mateus. Inside there is a replica of a boat used for cod fishing, but the main draw is the aquarium featuring the Atlantic cod. You can combine your visit with a tour of the Santo André ship museum, docked near Praia da Barra.
Admire Portuguese Ceramics at the Museu Vista Alegre
Another museum worth visiting in Ílhavo is the Museu Vista Alegre. Vista Alegre is a renowned brand of Portuguese ceramics, and this museum holds one of the finest collections of porcelain work in the country. During your visit, you’ll learn about the history of Vista Alegre, its production process, and the role of porcelain in Portuguese society along the centuries. There are over 30,000 items on display, some dating back to 1824 when the factory opened. Besides the exhibition area, the complex also includes a 17th-century chapel, the old worker’s neighbourhood, and a workshop where you can admire the delicate process of hand painting ceramics.
Relax by the Beach
After wandering around the museums, head to the coast and relax in one
of Aveiro’s beaches. The closest one is Praia da Barra, located 10 km
away from the city, where the Aveiro lagoon meets the ocean. On the
north end, it has calm waters for bathing, while the southern part is a
favourite spot for surfing, and there’s a surf school here if you need a
lesson. Standing at the edge of the beach is the Farol da Barra, which
is the tallest lighthouse in Portugal at 62 metres.
Further down the coast is Costa Nova, an old fishing village famous
for its colourful striped cottages known as palheiros. It’s where
fishermen used to stock their gear, but now they’re mostly used as
holiday homes. Just opposite the road is the beach of Costa Nova where
you can go for a swim.
Beyond the beaches, Aveiro’s coastal stretch is full of bars and seafood restaurants that get crowded in the summer. If you make it to Costa Nova, it’s worth visiting the Mercado do Peixe, a lively fishing market with fresh fish and seafood caught in the lagoon or the sea. Check the schedule before you go to make sure it’s open.
Aveiro Map of Attractions (Afternoon)