The town of Aveiro, located about an hour south of Porto in the Central region, is one of Portugal’s hidden gems. Known as the Venice of Portugal, Aveiro’s charming canals, picturesque wooden houses and tranquil seaside location make it a perfect place to visit as a day trip, or as a stop along the route between Lisbon and Porto.
The town was established in Roman times and served as an important seaport until the end of the 16th C. when a storm closed off the port. The old town center is crossed by a network of canals that is reminiscent of Venice, down to the gondola-like boats known as barcos moliceiros. The colorful moliceiro boats that tourists ride today are traditional flat bottom boats that were once used for collecting seaweed from the lagoon. Also located in the town center is the 15th C. Convento de Jesus, which houses the town museum. The convent is primarily devoted to Santa Joana, the daughter of King Alfonso V, who lived in the convent until her death in 1490. Her beautifully carved tomb, made of inlaid marble, is showcased in its own lavish room in the convent.
Aveiro is also know for its picturesque wooden houses, once used by fisherman, that have been painted in bright colors and candy striped, so be sure to have your phone or camera fully charged for the photo ops. There are many good seafood restaurants in town along the canals that serve freshly caught seafood and local specialties such as eel stew, cod and lamprey (a jawless fish with an eel-like body).
If you decide to spend the night you can stay at the Pousada Ria (Torreia-Murtosa), located about 45 minutes from Aveiro on a peninsula next to the San Jacinto Natural Reserve. The Pousada overlooks the blue lagoon and is a perfect place to explore the region and enjoy the tranquil surroundings. For more information and reservations, click here.
Photo Credit: Joaomartinho63
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