Does that make Aveiro the “Venice of Portugal” as advertised in the tourist literature? I think not, but it’s a nice town nonetheless.
We’re spending two nights in Aveiro on our way back to Lisbon, which means 1.5 days for sightseeing in this small city (population roughly 70,000) located on a saltwater lagoon a few kilometers from the Atlantic Ocean.
We arrive in the early afternoon after a 45-minute train ride from Porto and walk the mile or so to our Airbnb, where we are met by our host. Dina is friendly and helpful, and the nicely appointed apartment backs up to one of several canals that run through town.
The analogy to Venice is because of Aveiro’s canals, the origin of which is still unknown to us, despite a moderate amount of Google research. On the other hand, the colorful boats, called barcos moliceiros, are deeply rooted in Aveiro’s history as a commercial center for salt-mining and seaweed harvesting. Both activities required the use of flat-bottomed boats to navigate the shallow waters between the town and the ocean.
Today the boats transport visitors on 45 minute tours of Aveiro – lots and lots of tourists. Including us – it’s the first thing we do once we settle in and a good way to orient ourselves to the sights in town.
As evening approaches, we decide that our #1 sightseeing priority for tomorrow is Costa Nova, a small village located 20 minutes away by bus, with its two compelling attractions – a fabulous beach and zebra houses. And it looks as though we will enjoy perfect weather.
We thoroughly enjoy our visit to Costa Nova, including one of the best lunches during the entirety of our trip, at a small restaurant called Ti’Arminda. The sea bass is the best ever! Since we’re one of only three groups having lunch, one of the co-owners stops by to chat and shares that the restaurant has been owned and operated by family members for several generations.
Here are some other photos from our time in Costa Nova.
Once back in Aveiro, there’s still time to explore.
And just like that, our brief but memorable visit to Aveiro comes to an end. Next stop – Coimbra.