Bucket List Portugal: Aveiro, Iberia’s Quirky & Quaint Hidden Gem

Travelers venturing through Portugal know to stop in well-known destinations like Lisbon, Porto, and Algarve but often miss the country’s lagoon-facing hidden gem, Aveiro.

Nicknamed the Venice of Portugal, Aveiro is home to quirky boats that glide across its canals, vibrant-colored houses, and a quaint marine village. Just an hour south of Porto, those seeking a holistic Portuguese experience should add this city of exuberant architecture and sea living to their travel plans.

Find Portugal’s Quirky & Quaint:

  1. Canals of Aviero –

    Aveiro’s canals seep into the Ria de Aveiro, a lagoon that boasts being one of the last uninterrupted coastal marshlands in all of Europe. And the canal’s pointy, colorful gondolas are an ode to when the boats were used by Moliceiros, seaweed farmers, to collect the crop for fertilizer. Since these boats are no longer algae-filled, hop on and let a local guide you through Aveiro’s picturesque canals and explain the significance of popular spots like the Art-Nouveau and the Beira-Mar neighborhood.

  2. Museum of Aveiro 

    Housed in a Dominican Convent, check out this 15th-century structure to see how decades of Portuguese art and architectural styles blend into a cultural masterpiece. The museum stuns visitors with its gold-plastered chapels that are complemented with Portugal’s iconic blue azulejos tiles and lively Baroque art pieces. Besides being one of the oldest convents in Aveiro, the Convent is most known for being the former home of Princess Saint Joanna and the center of her cult. In fact, the Princess’s intricate marble crypt lies on the main floor of the museum.

  3. Salt Spa

    For four euros, soak yourself in a natural, exfoliating mud spa mixed with world-class salt at the Piscina e Spa Cale. The “Flor de Sal” artisan sea salt was a high-demand export for Aveiro since the 9th century. The salineiro’s (salt farmers) frothing process makes the “white gold” the most delicate form of sea salt in the world, so bathing in the salt is quite literally a luxury. Those who crave shockingly smooth skin should spoon mud from the bottom of the salt pan, lather it on their bodies, and lay in the sun before washing it off in the water.

  4. Fish Markets and Historic Sweets Shops

    As a maritime town, the best dishes in Aveiro are tied to its fish delicacies. Seafood lovers and daring foodies should head to Fish Market Square in Praça do Peixe to try Eel with a fruity escabeche sauce. If Eel doesn’t satisfy your tastebuds, order the creamy cod and potato-based dish Bacalhau com Natas or the flavorful seafood stew Caldeirada de enguias. When you crave a Portuguese treat, the oldest bakery in Aveiro, Confeitaria Peixinho, has the city’s sweet specialty “Ovos Moles” (soft eggs). These shell-shaped delicacies are primarily made of egg yolks and sugar but sometimes include chocolate.

  5. Praia de Costa Nova 

    Stroll through the resort town of Costa Nova and marvel at the blue skies and colorful, stripped “Palheiro” houses that hug the Atlantic coastline. These exuberant homes were used by fishermen to store their fishing supplies but in the 19th century, they began renting them to summer tourists. After exploring this charming seaside village, lay on the Costa Nova beach and relax while listening to the powerful waves lap onto the shore. Before sunset, climb up the tallest lighthouse in all of Portugal, the Farol da Barra, to get a stunning bird’s-eye view of the pristine waters.

Aveiro’s friendly village feel, bright-colored buildings, and stunning natural environment will make it hard to part ways.

To make sure that this unique hidden gem is part of your Portuguese experience, book your trip with BucketList Travel Advisors.

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