The best independent guide to north Portugal
The best independent guide to north Portugal
Aveiro is often visited as a day trip from Porto, being connected by a direct train and offering a range of unique sights and activities. For visitors who wish to spend longer in Aveiro will discover a fascinating destination, with outstanding restaurants, a vibrant nightlife and the beautiful beaches of Costa Nova coastline.
There is a lot to love about Aveiro, and we highly recommend you visit during your holiday to Portugal.
Aveiro is a popular day trip from Porto or Coimbra. There are two routes for a day trip: a shorter one, which just visits the historic centre, and a longer day trip that also includes the beach resort of Costa Nova.
Below is an interactive map of our suggested day trip to Aveiro. The tour of the city is highlighted in green, and the Costa Nova section is marked in yellow. The grey line shows the bus from Aveiro to Costa Nova.
For a day trip, it takes around 2-3 hours to leisurely explore the historic centre of Aveiro. This sightseeing would include the Se Cathedral, Jardim do Rossio, the fish market (Praça do Peixe), the fishing district and the sights along the canals. To this, a 1-hour canal boat ride of the lagoons and waterways could be added.
A longer day trip would include all of the above plus a visit to the gorgeous beach resort of Costa Nova. Costa Nova comprises of rows of characterful and colourful beach houses located on a pristine sandy coastline. Costa Nova is a truly unique location and is a ‘must see’ on any travel itinerary.
Info: There is a regular bus service from Aveiro to Costa Nova
Aveiro is easy to travel to, as it is on the main north-south railway of Portugal, and provides direct services to both Porto and Coimbra.
From Porto, there are over 20 daily services that departure from the São Bento train station. The journey takes 1h15min, and the adult fare is €3.55/€7.10 (single/return). From Coimbra, the regional train to Aveiro takes 1h02min, the cost is €5.35 for an adult single and there are 15 daily departures.
Note: There are express trains from Coimbra and Porto to Aveiro, but they are significantly more expensive, and seats have to be pre-booked in advance, so are not really suitable for a day trip.
Related articles: Porto to Aveiro
Organised tours are a great way to discover Aveiro. They provide a knowledgeable and experienced guide, while including a variety of interesting sights in a single day. Group tours nowadays cater for worldly and modern visitors, along with providing the opportunity to meet fellow travellers.
We have worked with GetYourGuide.com for the previous six years, and a selection of their best tours of Aveiro includes:
Note: Group tours often combine Aveiro with Coimbra. This is a good use of time for an organised tour, but if you are visiting them independently you should plan one day per city. It is definitely too much to see both Coimbra and Aveiro in a single day when using public transport.
For visitors who are touring Portugal, Aveiro is the logical destination between Porto and Coimbra. The city is worthy of being included in your itinerary, as a stop for one or two nights. A one-night stay would provide time for a full day of sightseeing, or a 2-night stay would provide time to discover Costa Nova. There is rarely a reason to stay longer than two nights in Aveiro, unless you are planning a beach holiday at Costa Nova.
Aveiro has a decent selection of accommodation but Costa Nova must be booked well in advance for a stay during the summer. Below is an interactive map of accommodation in Aveiro, and if you adjust the dates to your stay, it will display current prices and availability:
The city of Aveiro is situated on the Ria de Aveiro saltwater lagoon and is not directly located on the Atlantic Ocean coastline. This means that the nearest beaches are 7 km to the west, at Praia da Barra or Costa Nova. Due to the distance, Aveiro should not be considered as a resort town but a charming Portuguese city.
The Praia da Barra and Costa Nova coastline is beautiful, with a pristine sandy shoreline stretching for over 5km. This western coastline of Portugal is dominated by the powerful Atlantic Ocean, with its huge waves and dramatic natural scenery.
Aveiro’s fortunes have always had a close connection to the ocean and that of the waterways which surround it. As a result, the city has experienced periods of great wealth, and devasting low points, to such an extent that the city was nearly wiped out.
The Romans were the first to identify Aveiro as a harbour and considered the location as the best-sheltered harbour on the western side of the Iberian Peninsula. Up until the mid-16th century, Aveiro was a prosperous city, with a major fishing fleet and significant sea trade.
This all changed in 1575 after an incredibly powerful winter storm dredged up the seabed, forming a sandbank along the mouth of the harbour. This blocked the port and created the Ria de Aveiro lagoon. Along with losing all of the prosperous trade routes, the stagnant lagoon bred diseases which ravaged the population. In less than twenty years the population of Aveiro went from 30,000 to less than 5,000.
The resilient city did eventually recover, and by the early 19th century it was an industrial centre for kelp farming and salt production. The kelp formed the basis of early fertilisers and was harvested from the lagoon and transported by the Moliceiros boats back to shore. The high-quality salt from Aveiro was used by the Portuguese fishing fleet, who fished the cod banks off Newfoundland, to preserve the caught fish and make the much-beloved Bacallao (salted dried cod).
At the turn of the last century, the emigrants who had deserted Portugal to find riches in Brazil, returned and recreated its extravagant Art Nouveau architecture in the houses they built along the canals. Today Aveiro is a major university city and the region is the manufacturing heartland of Portugal.
The nuns used the egg whites to starch their habits, so there was an abundance of egg yolks, and these were used to make sweet pastries and cakes.
With the expulsion of all religious orders in the 19th century, the culinary expertise was transferred to the local bakeries. Later, Aveiro became a major stop along the Lisbon-Porto railway, where women in traditional dress would sell the cakes onboard the train, and the taste for Ovos Moles spread across the whole of Portugal.