If the picturesque and lovely moliceiro boat ride though Aveiro’s Ria didn’t catch your eye, then its beautiful Art Nouveau architecture will certainly draw you into its culturally rich alleyways. I look back at these photos, and I can’t believe it’s been almost a year that we spent a wonderful day exploring and enjoying everything the city of Aveiro has to offer. The charm of this famed Portuguese City is that you can easily appreciate its beauty and liveness in a single day trip, but why not truly enjoy every bit for a few days. Like many Portuguese coastal cities, you have the best of everything, historical city life, modern urban structures and parks, and then you have amazing beaches! Need I say more…
The first thing we did upon arriving to Aveiro was take the famed moliceiro boat rides, it’s certainly a must when you’re in town! As we calming glided around the city channels, I couldn’t wait to explore all the beauty up close.
The streets, buildings and people are all part of Aveiro’s culture. For a European architecture lover, being in Portugal’s Art Nouveau capital was as if I was a kid in a candy shop. If you don’t know what Art Nouveau is, well it goes beyond architecture, it embraces all types of fine and decorative arts, all inspired by natural forms and structures, particularly the lines and shapes of plants and flowers. Naturally, my eye was keen on the little details on historical buildings not seen throughout the rest of the country, and the world for that matter. This architecture style faded into the background as the art deco and modern opulence took over. Aveiro is one of only 20 cities in the world to be considered a “Art Nouveau” city, which is why it’s just a bit more special.
Throw plans out the window, because here there are alleyways you will lose yourself looking at all the buildings and details of history fading away and yet spectacularly beautiful. As I slowly walked, every now and then picking up my camera to shoot the moments that caught my eye, my mind was filled with wonder and curiosity of how these streets were lived, all those years ago. Who called these beautiful houses home, what sort of quirky shops and foods lined the streets. Ohh to have a time machine!
If gazing at old buildings isn’t quite your thing, don’t worry Aveiro perfectly mixes the modern with amazing street art which has become quite a staple in most of Portugal’s famed cities. There are plenty of traditional local shops to discover — from the ceramics to the iconic tiling, tin, wood, iron, embroidery and stunning basketry work — there is no shortage of unique products.
Then you have parks, museums and chapels to visit, as well as endless al fresco cafes and “gelatarias” to sit back and embrace the European lifestyle with an espresso and gelato in hand.
One thing you’ll notice everywhere is Ovos Molos. These sweet bites are a very Portuguese dessert, and it’s all Aveiro. It’s simply a sugared egg yolk cream inside a wafer shell, hand shaped into tiny creations inspired by what fishermen would catch like little fish or clams. It’s not everyone’s favorite, but it still needs to be experienced! They’re decadent and richly sweet; one is all you really need, which is perfect when you have plenty of walking and adventuring to do.
If you’re lucky to be in Portugal during the months of May and June, you will be filled with joy from the sights and blissful scents of the Jacaranda trees. It is definitely one of my favorite things!
Past the hustle and bustle of the moliceiros traversing the Ria and people roaming the city’s center, we made our way to the quaint Parque Dom Pedro Infante. How does one even begin to explain this park and it’s beautiful complexities! You first walk through this picturesque walkway of columns and lovely draping of vine and flowers. You’re most certainly not in Aveiro, for a brief moment as you make your way down the grand staircases adorned with tile work and pretty blooms, you feel as if you’ve been transported to Italy! Remember Aveiro is Portugal’s very own Venice, so those slight similarities can be found everywhere.
The wedding planner in me just envisioned the most romantic photoshoot in this park!
Walking around the pond, you’re now transported to what feels like medieval times. Old stone structures, palm trees and pine trees, and then a walkway of taller-than-the-eye-can-see bamboo shoots, very reminiscent of China’s “Sea of Bamboo.” There are small bridges throughout the pond, each with a lovely little romantic corner. But that duck house, it was by far the most adorable thing we saw!
This park also happens to be just a few steps from Parque de Santo Antonio, a much larger city park with tennis courts, bike paths and plenty of space to enjoy the outdoors.
I love when big cities have parks that are truly tranquil and can take you away, even if it’s just mentally.
Making our way back to the city’s center we walked alongside the grand walls of the Convento do Carmo and the Mosteiro de Jesus, which leads right to the Sé of Aveiro. In Portugal Sé’s are usually that city’s historical main cathedral, some are larger than others but each one is very unique. Although, we didn’t have the chance to enter the Sé or Convent, it is filled with amazing tiled floors, intricate gilded woodcarvings, marble statues and centuries old ceramics. You just know there is endless beauty waiting inside!
We love our tiles, but the beauty in the tile work near the Mosteiro isn’t on the walls, but instead, right beneath your feet. They say “remember to look up when traveling”, well sometimes looking down is just as thrilling. Age old cobblestone pieces, perfectly fitted together to create mesmerizing shapes and motifs.
The Convento do Carmo and Mosteiro de Jesus is a great example of Aveiro’s iconic Art Nouveau style and wrought iron traditions.
While stopping to stare at a door may seem silly to others, it filled my mind with so much wonder, and my soul with amazement and joy.
Oh, why hello there you fun loving striped homes of Costa Nova! To any Portuguese person around the world, these iconic houses are the epitome of this Aveiro beach town.
Costa Nova, a charming oceanfront town, is one of two famed Aveiro beaches with the Atlantic on one side, and the lagoon with beautiful bike and running trails on the other. This village has deep fishing routes which you can easily see everywhere. I mean what is more nautical than striped homes! These houses themselves, called palheiros, are quite the attraction to anyone who visits Aveiro. Once they sheltered and preserved fishermen’s equipment, then as time and hard times came, fishermen began renting them for the summer season. Using the Moliceiro boats as inspiration, they began painting the homes in brightly colored stripes. Who knew a simple decision would become so iconic and integral to Aveiro’s history and culture.
It’s been said that Costa Nova gives you the feeling of being inside a postcard from some other time, well whoever said it wasn’t wrong.
If you want a more lively beach town experience, Praia da Barra is for you…and anyone! Portugal loves its surf, and Barra is a hit with surfers for its rolling waves and school directly on the beach. During the summer this beach town lights up with endless sports, activities, parties, markets, festivals and numerous restaurants and bars that ensure you will have nothing but an amazing time!
Whatever you do, if you are in Aveiro make sure you indulge in whatever is the freshest catch of the day, it mostly likely may be straight from the ocean! This region is known for their Eel Stews, which are divine! If you appreciate good food, you will love the traditional dishes this city has to offer.
We stopped at the Café Farol for a yummy spread of fresh seafood dishes, including this octopus salad which is one of the best I’ve eaten!
We were treated to stunning views of the beautiful lighthouse as the sky filled with pastel colors and the sun set on the crashing waves. Lighthouses have always been quite special, growing up during summer trips it’s one thing my father and I looked forward to finding, and then climbing all the way up just to
gaze out onto the endless ocean views, hearing the aggressive yet soothing sound of the waves lifting the salty sweet scents of the oceans.
The Lighthouse of the Praia Barra is one of the most well known in the country, so if you have the chance, definitely experience it!
Aveiro is one of Portugal’s most charming cities, and has a little bit of something for everyone.
Hope to see you there soon!