Aveiro in 48h
Aveiro had been on my travel bucket list for almost a year now. It started , as most stories usually do, with a blond girl that does not like to call herself blond. Ana is from the magical city of Aveiro and was the one who first painted a mental image for me of the city with striped houses and Venice-like gondolas. The rest is history. When the opportunity arose to attend a conference on a Friday morning in Aveiro, I did not hesitate to make a long weekend out of it and stroll through its narrow streets with colourful houses for a full 48h. Here´s a brief city guide I put together for people who want to visit the city of Art Nouveau and delicious sushi.
Where to stay?
We opted for a little studio off booking.com and let me tell you that it was absolutely magical. You can find it here . The place was small but very cozily decorated and super clean. Our host left us a little goodie bag with local liquors and ovos moles as well as a welcome message on the wall and we genuinely didn´t want to leave it after our two night stay. There´s a big supermarket right next to the building and the local train station is two minutes away. There´s free underground parking and a lovely balcony where we had our breakfast on both days. We´ll be definitely booking it again when we return to Aveiro.
What to do? While we opted to drive to Aveiro (it´s some 250km from Lisbon), we didn´t really need the car for the weekend. The city is small and you´ll definitely want to walk around as much as you can. On the first day we opted to stroll around downtown, admiring the fish market designed by Gustav Eiffel himself. A canal leading right up to it is surrounded by pretty restaurants and colourful houses. Legend has it that the sailors would get so drunk once they returned from sea, that they barely recognized their houses and kept going to sleep in the wrong house, causing lots of marital disputes. They ended up painting their houses in very vivid and different colours to distinguish them properly.
In between stopping for delicious green wine, we also took the moliceiro, Aveiro´s version of a gondola and navigated the city´s canals for some 45 minutes. Ana had warned me in advance that it´d be a tourist trap but the moliceiros are just so colourful and majestic that we didn´t mind spending 10€ each for a trip and a story. We opted for the Cale de Oiro company, which consequently also offered us a 20% discount in the Zeca shop. More about this - later.
We spent the rest of the day visiting museums and churches: Museu de Arte Nova, Museu da Cidade and Museu de Aveiro (Santa Joana) and the Sé de Aveiro church. I personally love museums but three in one day is a bit much even for me. The thing is, you can get a ticket for these three museums plus a fourth maritime one we didn´t visit for only 5€. We simply had to take advantage of that so we visited these three in half a day. I´m preparing a separate post about Aveiro´s museums so I don´t spam you with pictures and details here. We ended the day by visiting Costa Nova, the coast line with beautifully striped houses, which I´ll try to sum up in only three pictures below.
On day number two we opted for a tuk-tuk ride through the city to complement the knowledge we had already gathered thanks to our moliceiro guide. Aveiro is a city of Art Nouveau and as strange as it might seem to associate this style of art with Portugal, Aveiro truly is a natural at this. The city has 28 houses in Art Nouveau style, its most iconic one being the Casa de Chá (simultaneously Museu de Arte Nova). The 45 minute tuk-tuk ride takes you on a magical trip of these houses and for the mere price of 7,5€ per person is totally worth it. It also takes you to the salinas, showcasing Aveiro´s most prominent activity: salt production. Boats similar to the moliceiros, called mercanteis used to transport up to 18 tonnes of salt back in the days. Information overridden, we then sat down for another glass of wine, wrote some postcards for our families and also did some shopping as Aveiro´s flee market fills its downtown streets every last Sunday of the month.
Where to shop?
Zeca is a store in downtown Aveiro where you´ll find tasteful and quirky memorabilia to bring a piece of the city back home. With the discount from the moliceiro trip, we bought packs of salt, magnets of the houses in Costa Nova and post cards for our family along with some wonderful teas for cold winter days. Aveiro´s mall might not be the first thing you think about shopping at but it is remarkably well gifted. My personal favourite was Zara, which had about twice as much selection as I´m used to. Also, if you´re there on the last Sunday of the month, don´t miss out on the flee market. It has some genuine gems.
What and where to eat?
Seafood, tripas and ovos moles. O Arco da Velha restaurant will serve some delicious octopus for either lunch or dinner and Barba Azul has the best sushi in the world. And I mean sushi so good that it turns someone like me - who used to despise sushi - into a junkie. It is so good that I am reserving a special post just for it. Tripas are a type of edible lining from the stomachs of various farm animals. Doesn´t sound too appealing? Go for the chocolate ones - they´re like a delicious chocolate pancake instead. As for the ovos moles - they´re yet another sweet local speciality of a pastry with an egg filling. There is nothing left to say than: you simply must try them.
What do locals love about Aveiro?
Ana was born and raised in Aveiro, always living in the city center, she moved to Lisbon more than 10 years ago. Here are some of her favourite things about Aveiro:
Café Ramona (my teenage years´ delicious and super affordable burgers with all the bacon goodness we deserve);
Pizzarte (one of the hippest food places in Aveiro, I grew up with it quite literally - my mom keeps telling the story of how my first dish there was pea soup and how they turned off the lights of the whole restaurant for my 13th birthday celebration) - you guessed it, it's a pizza place, but I would strongly recommend their salty crepes with cream and egg (Fantastique is the name of my favourite one) or their curry veggie pasta;
Confeitaria Peixinho (my morning class breaks were spent in line there, waiting for a chocolate or ovos moles croissant - they have a special way of filling them, and it is oh-so-amazing);
Mercado Negro (being almost 3 hours away from Lisbon and 1 hour from Porto, most of my first concerts were held in this venue's beautifully intimate showroom - I got to see amazing international indie bands perform just in front of my nose as if they were in my own living room. They also have (had?) multiple small local stores... music, clothing and a café where I spent a lot of time chatting away with my friends over our school books);
The Clandestino Bar (right in Praça do Peixe, where I spent most of my nights out - great place for what I (as a teenager) thought was an alternative atmosphere for drinks);
Café Atlântida in Costa Nova (calm down, I know pasteis de nata are not from Aveiro, but please try the ones from this place when you go visit the main street - they're a local treasure and well kept secret);
Parque Dom Pedro Infante (or Parque da Macaca as locals call it - yes, there was a monkey there YEARS ago, it peed on me once, let's not get into that - is where I held hands with my first boyfriend, right when crossing one of its bridges by the lake - pretty for a casual stroll, but I wouldn't feed the geese - they're mean);
Barba Azul once more (don't you dare miss it and its almond shrimp tempura... if you don't want to go all the way to Barra you can eat at its "cousin" Subenshi where they have the same shrimp);
São Jacinto (it has a beach but most importantly it has the Natural Reserve of São Jacinto Dunes where you can hike and watch birds).