The best independent guide to the Northern Portugal
The best independent guide to the Northern Portugal
Costa Nova is a delightful village famed for its magnificent sandy coastline and colourful beach houses.
These quirky and charming seaside homes are painted in traditional striped patterns, attracting social media savvy visitors who flock to have their photos taken in front of their cheery exteriors.
Costa Nova lies on a narrow sandbar peninsula that shelters the Ria de Aveiro (Aveiro lagoon). On the lagoon side you’ll find a small fishing harbour and the rows of striped houses, with the seaward side facing the mighty Atlantic Ocean and boasting a glorious sandy beach. This is a wonderful beach for a calm summer’s day, but please note that there can be very strong sea breezes.
Costa Nova is a popular destination for foreign and Portuguese tourists alike. Most visitors head to Costa Nova as a day trip from Aveiro, but it is also an enjoyable destination for a longer stay.
The ‘palheiros’ houses – The colourful beach houses that were originally constructed by fishermen to store their equipment. The best set of houses are along the José Estêvão Avenue, the main promenade of Costa Nova.
The Praia da Costa Nova – The gorgeous sandy beach of Costa Nova, with it’s pristine sand dunes and huge Atlantic waves.
The Passadiços Costa Nova - The raised boardwalk footpath that connects Costa Nova to Praia da Barra, which provides a scenic 6km walking route.
The Farol da Barra – The tallest lighthouse in Portugal, which dates from 1893 and towers over the Praia da Barra beach.
Costa Nova has the finest beach of the northern Costa de Prata coastline. This massive stretch of sand extends along the entire western side of the Costa Nova peninsula, while the huge waves making it a popular surfing destination.
Many visitors travel to Costa Nova after seeing images of the Palheiros beach houses on social media - and seeing them in real life often exceeds expectations. The houses are as pretty and colourful as they appear online, and the entire centre of the village is painted the traditional colour scheme.
Costa Nova is a popular tourist destination, but it retains a laid-back ambience and authentic Portuguese atmosphere.
The calm waters of the Canal de Mira da Ria de Aveiro on the eastern side of Costa Nova
Costa Nova is a popular destination for a beach day trip or as an addition to a day trip to Aveiro.
Aveiro is a historic city famed for its colourful canal boats. It is one of the best day trips from Porto, but it only takes three hours to fully explore (plus a further 30 minutes for a canal boat ride). A stop-off in Costa Nova is frequently added to extend a day trip to Aveiro.
Costa Nova is 11km to the west of Aveiro and is connected by a bus service that is often overcrowded at peak times (details later on). It is always easier to drive to Costa Nova and there is plenty of car parking space along the main road, however it does fill up quickly in summer.
It doesn’t take long to see all of the sights of Costa Nova, and it can be fully explored in around an hour.
Insight: If you’re heading to Costa Nova purely for the beach and aren’t that interested in the houses, consider visiting Praia da Barra instead. Barra is just 2.5km to the north of Costa Nova and has the same amazing beach, however it will be less busy and has a larger selection of restaurants. In addition, there is more car parking at Barra and the bus journey is shorter.
The interactive map below shows the main sights of Costa Nova. The green line makes a suggested tour, which is 2.8km long and begins/ends at the bus stop. (Note: zoom out to see all of the markers)
Sights: 1) Palheiros da Costa Nova (beach houses) 2) Mercado da Costa Nova (market) 3) Marina de Pesca Artesanal (fishing harbour) 4) Passadiços Costa Nova (beach footpath) 5) Igreja Matriz da Costa Nova (church) 6) Praia da Costa Nova (beach) 7) Farol da Barra (lighthouse) 8) Praia da Barra (beach) 9) Zé da Tripa 10) Riactiva (water sport equipment rental)
Restaurants: 11) Dóri Restaurante 12) Marisqueira da Costa Nova 13) Praia do Tubarão 14) Bronze Seafood & Lounge Bar
Insight: Costa Nova may be famed for its seafood restaurants, but they will be extremely busy during the peak season. If you are planning a trip that combines Aveiro and Costa Nova, it is better to have lunch in Aveiro.
Costa Nova has a beautiful sandy coastline that extends for over 9km along the western side of the peninsula. This wide, sandy beach is backed by ancient sand dunes that have been pushed up by the Atlantic Ocean.
The northern section of the beach tends to be the busiest, but its huge size means there is space for everyone, even at the height of summer.
The Praia da Costa Nova is a fantastic beach on a calm day, but there is no shelter from the strong sea breezes that frequently blow in from the Atlantic Ocean. The beach also has powerful waves and strong currents; only ever swim in areas that are supervised by lifeguards.
The northern section of the Praia da Costa Nova, close to the Bronze Seafood restaurant
Insight: If you visit the beach and it is too windy, there is a small beach on the eastern side of Costa Nova, close to the junction with the A25, that is sheltered from the prevailing wind. It is not as scenic as the Praia da Costa Nova - and it is not advisable to swim in the lagoon waters - but there will be less wind.
The Praia da Costa Nova is fantastic for surfing, while the calm waters of the Ria de Aveiro are great for kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and windsurfing. Equipment rental and lessons can be booked at Riactiva (www.riactiva.com), which is at the south side of Costa Nova.
A Portuguese family prepared for a windy day on Costa Nova with many windbreakers
Costa Nova is a relaxed and traditional beach resort, making it a fantastic destination for a holiday or part of a tour of northern Portugal.
While Costa Nova is only a small village, it has much more character than the other larger resort towns of northern Portugal, such as Figueira da Foz, Espinho or Povoa de Varzim.
During the day, Costa Nova will be busy with tourists heading to the beach or to see the Palheiros houses, but after 4pm, it calms down and is peaceful. Nightlife is very low-key, with evenings spent in the restaurants or beach bars.
There is only a limited number of accommodation options in Costa Nova, and demand is always high during the summer. If you plan to stay here, it’s advisable to book as early as possible. The map below shows the locations of accommodation in Costa Nova, and if you set it to the dates of your stay it will show availability and prices.
Insight: There is a basic campervan car park to the south of Costa Nova (GPS: 40.610, -8.753).
Costa Nova is famed for its seafood restaurants (known as Marisqueira), which serve up the fresh catches from the town’s fishing fleet.
The small boats of Costa Nova’s fleet fish the waters of the Aveiro Lagoon for shellfish, crab and prawns, which are used by the restaurants to create delicious Ensopado (fish stews).
Some of the best restaurants in Costa Nova include the Marisqueira da Costa Nova, the Dóri Restaurante and the Praia do Tubarão.
The excellent Marisqueira da Costa Nova dates back to 1942 and has been owned by the same family since its establishment. Dóri Restaurante is next to the fish market (the Mercado da Costa Nova) and has the reputation of being the best fish restaurant in Costa Nova. The small Praia do Tubarão is a favourite with the Portuguese.
During the peak season, these restaurants will be very busy, with queues to even enter. Good alternatives include the Restaurante Dom Fernando, Restaurante O Cais and Canastra do Fidalgo.
The best restaurant close to the beach is the Bronze Seafood & Lounge Bar.
The Restaurante Marisqueira Costa Nova serves delicious fish dishes, but is always busy
Insight: The regional delicacy of Costa Nova is ‘tripa’, a lightly cooked cookie that is filled with ‘ovos moles’ (egg cream) or chocolate and sprinkled with cinnamon. Due to its appearance tripa has the unfortunate name of ‘tripe’, but like all Portuguese desserts it is delicious and rich, – the perfect treat during a long day of sightseeing.
The best place to try tripa is from the ‘Zé da Tripa’ kiosk, where the dessert was first created over 60 years ago.
The Passadiços Costa Nova is a raised, wooden footpath that leads from Costa Nova to Praia da Barra. This 6km path follows the beach and provides fantastic views of the beaches, sand dunes and ocean.
This pathway was constructed to protect the fragile sand dunes from erosion, and the project included the planting of native beach plants to secure the beach.
The Passadiços Costa Nova is not really suitable for cycling, but there is a purpose-built cycle path that runs along the edge of Ria de Aveiro on the eastern side of the peninsula.
Costa Nova is connected to Aveiro by a bus service operated by Transdev.
The bus departs from the Aveiro bus station, but the ‘Galitos’ bus stop (GPS 40.640, -8.656) is much more convenient, as it is closer to the main tourist area of Aveiro.
The bus journey takes a tedious 40 minutes, as it passes around the docks of Gafanha da Nazaré and heads to Praia da Barra first. A single ticket to Costa Nova costs €2.35, and the ticket is purchased from the bus driver.
The timetable is seasonal, and annoyingly, there are no printed timetables at the bus stop. To see the latest timetable, please see the Transdev website: www.
Note: This bus route can get very busy, and no more passengers will be allowed to board once all of the seats are taken.
There are taxis (€15) and Ubers (€8-10) to Costa Nova. These are easy to hire in Aveiro, but are difficult to find or book when coming back. When heading back to Aveiro from Costa Nova, always plan to catch the bus.