- Portugal, Travel

Visit Aveiro and Costa Nova while on your family holiday in Portugal

If you go on family holiday to Portugal and want to see more than just the second largest city, Porto, you might consider going on a day trip to Aveiro. Portugal has a lot of wonderful places to see and Aveiro is one of them.

A day out in Aveiro

This charming city is only around 75 km south of Porto on the west coast of Portugal along the Ria de Aveiro lagoon. It is well known for its canals, beautiful traditional boats called Moliceiros and colourful architecture. Some refer to it as ‘The Venice of Portugal’ which is rather an overstatement. However, it doesn’t mean it’s not a lovely city worth visiting. Quite the opposite. If you had enough of busy streets of Porto, Coimbra or Lisbon, you should definitely visit Aveiro. Quite frankly, I fell in love with it.

Why we like Aveiro

It isn’t a large city so the best way to explore it is on foot or on a Barco moliceiro. Barcos moliceiros are traditional boats that were used to harvest seaweed. Nowadays they are used as a tourist attraction. Some of them are decorated with very funny pictures. The tour takes 45 minutes and cost €10 per adult, children pay half of the price. Our boy loved it because he was made ‘a captain of the boat’. If you are pressed for time, I’d say you can skip the moliceiro tour and instead walk around as everything is within walking distance.

As mentioned above, Aveiro is not known only for the moliceiros but also for its architecture. A photographic old train station is famous for the blue tiles, the azulejos, depicting traditional scenes from Aveiro and the region. Walking around surrounded by colourful buildings and boats made me feel happy and I enjoyed every minute spent there. Only wish we could stay longer.

If you decide to visit Aveiro, you must try Ovo Moles. It is local delicacy from Aveiro District, made of egg yolks and sugar. It is served with coffee in the local restaurants and cafes but you can also buy it in a dessert shop. It’s perfect for those with a sweet tooth like myself. But I’ll tell you a secret, I was the only one who liked it! Also, on the street, they sell Tripas de Aveiro with chocolate or Ovo Moles filling.

How to get there

If you are staying in Porto, it is very easy to travel to Aveiro by train. Trains from Porto depart initially from São Bento Train Station, the one with beautiful azulejos, and then pass through Porto’s Campanhã Train Station. The journey lasts just around one hour and the return ticket is around €7 for an adult. Alternatively, you can hire a car but unless you brought your children car seat, be prepared to pay much more than the cost of the train tickets.

Visit Costa Nova

Costa Nova is located only around 12 km from Aveiro. It is a long peninsula with the Atlantic ocean on one side and the lagoon on the other. It used to be a fishing village but in the mid-19th century the beach became very popular and when bathing in the sea became fashionable, the local fishermen began to rent out their Palheiros, the fisherman huts built to shelter machinery. These now holiday houses are painted in bright colours and draw the attention of many visitors and holiday-makers.

One local guy told us a hilarious story about these houses. Apparently, these fishermen used to go fishing for a long period of time and then returned home to stay for a couple of weeks before going away again. While they staid at home, all they did was drink, and more often than not, got so drunk that they couldn’t find their own home so they all painted the houses in a different colour. I’m quite sure it’s not true but who knows…

Why we loved it

Whatever is the reason for painting the house, I think it was a fantastic idea. They look so picturesque and cheerful that you won’t be able to resist taking a lot of pictures of them. Because we visited in February, which despite lovely sunny weather is considered winter, we had the whole place to ourselves. I could spend the whole day walking up and down the street looking at these fun houses.

There is also a fish market where you can buy fresh seafood. But check out the opening hours with locals because, during the winter period, it might be open only till lunch time.

Then there is the beach. This sandy beach with a lot of shells to collect was a perfect place to let the kids enjoy themselves. Even daddy had a lot of fun playing in the sand. The water in the ocean was too cold to swim in it but who cares. Not being able to swim in the ocean was a price worth paying for having the whole beach to ourselves.

I can imagine, though, the whole place to be packed with tourists during the summer time. Despite that, I still think it is well worth visiting.

How to get there

In Aveiro, right opposite the new train station is a bus stop where you can catch a bus to Costa Nova. If you are unsure, just ask the locals. Some of them speak English but those who don’t try their best to communicate and help out.

What else?

If you are staying longer or decide to skip the moliceiro tour you might have enough time to visit Barra beach. The same bus that goes to Costa Nova beach stops on the Barra beach first. Barra beach is first on the bus route and is slightly more commercial than the Costa Nova. Barra’s lighthouse is the tallest in Portugal and one of the tallest in Europe.

Lighthouse on the Barra beach
Lighthouse on the Barra beach

Have you been to Portugal or are you considering visiting? Let us know what you think. If you’ve been to some other family friendly desticantion get in touch, we want to know as we are always looking for new adventures.


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