Aveiro, Portugal

A Delightful Day in Portugal’s Aveiro


Portugal is a land blessed with many wonders. Being one of the oldest countries in Europe, Portugal has culturally rich encounters around every corner; the poignant strums of traditional Fado music, the blue of the azulejo tiles and exquisite port wine. Among its many features is the quaint maritime town of Aveiro, located just 45 minutes to the south of Porto. Aveiro is the perfect day trip detour from exploring the Douro Valley with beautiful architecture, shimmering beaches, fascinating museums and delicious food.

Canals & Moliceiros

Included as a new Scenic Freechoice activity during the 11 day Unforgettable Douro river cruise, Aveiro is set between the Ria de Aveiro coastal lagoon system. Enjoy all the town highlights through the eyes of an expert local guide. It has been nicknamed the Portuguese Venice due to its network of picturesque canals, visitors can navigate by meandering moliceiros, originally built to harvest seaweed in the lagoon. Reminiscent of the Venetian gondolas, moliceiros have bows that curl like a swan’s neck, and are painted with vivid and quirky designs ranging from religious messages to comic imagery. A ride on these graceful wooden boats is one of the best ways to take in the sights and sounds of this historic town. Simply sit back and let the boatman take you around the many tranquil bends, under the scenic bridges, and past the opulent art nouveau buildings adorning the banks of the canals.
“From the brightly coloured moliceiros, decoratively painted boats that tranquilly glide up and down the picturesque canals to the ornate architectural style of the buildings that grace the waterways and the intricate pavement patterns of the town square, Aveiro is as pretty as they come. This is the perfect choice for guests who want to step outside the city setting of Porto to see this beachside town  and interact with locals.”
 
- Janelle Maher, Scenic Journey Designer – Europe
It is important to point out however, that although the city centre has canals and gondola-like boats, the similarities between Aveiro and Venice ends here. There is much more to this lovely city than just this simple comparison.

A protected biosphere

Aveiro draws in naturalists from around the world due to its protected birdlife. Ria de Aveiro is regarded as one of Europe's last remaining untouched coastal wetlands and is home to several species of birds, fish, crustaceans, frogs, toads, seaweed and even otters. In fact, it is believed Aveiro derives its name from the Latin word aviarium, meaning a gathering of birds. The lagoon is a designated ‘Special Protection Area’ and ‘Important Bird Area’. You can also visit the salt flats at the open-air eco-museum to witness the traditions of salt production the town has used since the 10th century.

Charming architecture

Aveiro also has several pastel-painted Art Nouveau-style buildings along the main canal that are worth wandering by. Mosteiro de Jesus is another interesting location, built between the 15th and 17th centuries. Admire the stunning Mausoleum of Princess Saint Joana, who died in 1490 and was beatified in the 17th century. The nave and apse of the church, with ornate floor tiles and gilded woodcarvings are remarkable sights. Those who wish to admire the contemporary Portuguese architecture should not miss the University buildings.

While the city is easily walkable, Aveiro’s flat landscape and paved quays are perfect for bicycles, and they have been a preferred mode of transport since the start of the 20th century. In recent years, it has been made even easier to explore in this way by introducing its BUGA, bike-sharing system. There are BUGA depots throughout Aveiro where you can hire a bike. Once you’re on two wheels, it is easier to explore Aveiro Lagoon and its surrounding salt farms. Explore Aveiro’s ancient cobblestone streets and keep an eye out for the larger-than-life street art that adorn the lanes.

Aveiro’s pavements (calçada) are worth taking note of with black and white motifs and geometric patterns leading you through the town centre.

Prime coastal position

There is additional charm in Aveiro’s coastal position, with its beautiful sandy beach town of Costa Nova, positioned just a few kilometres out of the city on a long peninsula with the lagoon on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. Costa Nova was once a fishing village, and there’s a reminder of this time shown in the delightful weatherboard cottages, painted with vertical stripes.

Seafood is a popular choice in this region with fresh fish grilled or casseroled and eels, beloved in this region, served casseroled or marinated. It’s one of those rare chances to taste seafood that is straight off the fishing boat.

A serious sugar rush

Along with the pleasant canals and seafood, Aveiro is famous for its sweets; one in particular, ovos moles (soft eggs), made with just eggs and sugar. It has been said that to visit Aveiro without tasting ovos moles is a sin. They were originally made by nuns in Aveiro’s convents as traditionally nuns were gifted eggs by soon-to-be-married couples. The recipes were then passed to the townsfolk when the convents closed. Inspired by the nearby ocean and shellfish in the Aveiro Lagoon, the ovos moles are hand-shaped to resemble clam and whelk shells.

Portugal River Cruising with Scenic

Our 5-star Scenic Azure has set the standard for luxury river cruising, with only 48 cabins and an almost 1:2 staff to guest ratio. Specially designed to navigate the beautiful Douro River, 87% of the luxury suites have Scenic Sun Lounges so you can relax with a glass of wine stretching out in the warm Portuguese sun.

With your own dedicated Cruise Director on board, the luxurious Scenic Azure features free Wi-Fi, an all-inclusive Wellness Centre, a wide choice of dining venues and unlimited complimentary beverages. During your Portugal River Cruise on-shore excursions you'll enjoy wine tasting from world-renowned wineries in Spain, Portugal and northern Portugal.

Your truly all-inclusive luxury European river cruise with Scenic includes all tips and gratuities, personal airport transfers to first-class transport and local guides. The only time you'll need to reach for your wallet is if you have any personal expenses.
Scenic Azure, Douro River Cruise
Scenic ERC brochure