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25 Fun Things to do in Aveiro Portugal For a Long Weekend

Explore cool things to do in Aveiro Portugal for a weekend. From Art Nouveau architecture to moliceiro boat rides, see why Aveiro is worth a visit.
Aveiro is often called the Venice of Portugal. Describing the city in these terms captured our imagination and put Aveiro near the top of our Portuguese travel wishlist and thus we embarked on a long weekend adventure in Aveiro over Easter.

Join me as we explore the myriad of cool things to do in Aveiro. Most people stay for a day or two, but we found that Aveiro should be savored and is a great long weekend destination in the Center of Portugal.

Bow of a moliceiro boat in Aveiro Portugal

Getting to Aveiro

Where is Aveiro? Aveiro is about an hour south of Porto and neighboring Vila Nova de Gaia and an hour north of Coimbra. You could easily visit Aveiro on a day trip from Porto or Coimbra. We visited from Lisbon. It takes about two and a half hours by car or by train to get from Lisbon to Aveiro. 

We intended to take the train from Lisbon to Aveiro (tickets booked well in advance cost 64 EUR per adult round trip). We ended up renting a car and driving instead since there was a train strike in Portugal for the month of April. 

While I definitely prefer relaxing on the train to driving, having a car made it easier to get around once we arrived in Aveiro. 

Beware that parking can be a bit tricky in Aveiro. We got lucky and someone pulled out a minute after we arrived. 

The metered parking in Aveiro cost 2 EUR a day at the time of writing but is free on weekends and holidays. We spent 1 EUR in total on parking since we visited Aveiro for the Easter weekend (arriving Thursday afternoon and departing Monday morning before the meters kicked in again). 

Parque de estacionamento, Cais do Paraiso is a reasonable parking lot to shoot for although it can be difficult to turn around and get out of the parking lot if it's full. This lot is outside of the historic core but within walking distance to Aveiro's main tourist attractions. 

There are also parking spots that are relatively easy to access along Jardim do Alboi.

Where to Stay in Aveiro

We stayed at Hotel Aveiro Center which we thought was well priced at 495 EUR total for 4 nights. The rooms are clean and comfortable. 

The hotel is air-conditioned, but if you visit in Spring like we did, you may have to ask for a fan (if they haven't switched from "heat" to "cool") or see if you can convince them to change the mode on the system if the weather is starting to warm up. 

Facade of Hotel Aveiro Center in Aveiro Portugal

The area is generally quiet although you can hear sporadic people walking by and pigeons cooing if the window is open.

A buffet breakfast is included. The highlight was the fresh-squeezed orange juice machine.

Hotel Aveiro Center is just a 5 minute walk from Aveiro's picturesque and historic core.

Things to do in Aveiro at a Glance

Let's take a look at things to do in Aveiro at a glance.
  1. Stroll Along Aveiro's Canals
  2. Photograph Aveiro Architecture
  3. Stop for Ice Cream
  4. Explore Aveiro's Chruches
  5. Visit Aveiro's Historic Train Station
  6. Enjoy Dinner at O Bairro
  7. Take a Ride in a Moliceiro
  8. Grab a Coffee at the Aveiro Museu de Arte Nova
  9. Tour the Aveiro City Museum
  10. Sample Ovos Moles, Aveiro's Signature Sweet
  11. Watch Your Step: Check out Aveiro's Calçadas Portuguesas 
  12. Stop for Lunch at Casa Novo Cervejaria
  13. Take a Walk in Parque Infante Dom Pedro
  14. Hike the Boardwalk at Cais da Ribeira de Esgueira
  15. Enjoy Italian Food for Dinner at Restaurante San Marco
  16. Visit the Museu Marítimo de Ílhavo e Aquário dos Bacalhaus
  17. Seek Out Lunch (and Flamingos!) Gafanha da Encarnação
  18. Visit the Vista Alegre Museum
  19. Dine at Granturino Steakhouse
  20. Visit Farol da Barra
  21. Photograph the Striped Houses of Costa Nova
  22. Walk the Aveiro Lagoon
  23. Stop for Lunch at Mimo II Gusto Italiano in Costa Nova
  24. Explore the Sand Dunes and the Beach in Costa Nova
  25. Enjoy a Salt Inspired Dinner at Salpoente

Things to do in Aveiro in Detail

Now let's take a deeper diver and explore all the fun things to do in Aveiro on a long weekend in more detail. 

1. Stroll Along Aveiro's Canals

I could immediately see why Aveiro is known as the Venice of Portugal. You'll find an endless stream of colorful boats (moliceiros) plying the canals. 

Climb the staircase to the plaza above Ria Cafe to get unobstructed views of the canal and historic facades in Aveiro without a bunch of traffic in your way.

Collage of pictures of the painted bows of moliceiros in Aveiro Portugal

O Marnoto, the statue of the man responsible for harvesting salt with wooden instruments, is a landmark on the bridge spanning the canal. This is a popular spot for photos and is particularly lovely at sunset on the way to dinner. 

Moliceiros in the canal in Aveiro Portugal

In this area, you can get a closer look at the artwork on the bows of the Moliceiros. Note that you may blush... These colorful boats often feature risque themes.

2. Photograph Aveiro Architecture

Aveiro is known for its early 20th century Art Nouveau style. Grab a map of historic buildings from the Tourist Information Office or keep an eye out for markers on the pavement as you stroll around town. 

Art Nouveau buildings and a moliceiro in Aveiro Portugal

I absolutely love doors and the door game in Aveiro is definitely strong. I was stopping every two seconds to take pictures. The Art Nouveau doors are especially striking.

There are lots of historic facades in Aveiro that have seen better days. Slowly but surely, new life is being breathed into these once glorious buildings.

I also noticed that the azulejos come in a much wider variety of bold patterns in Aveiro than they do in Lisbon making the buildings even more interesting to photograph. For more on the history of Portuguese tiles, make sure to schedule time for a visit to the National Tile Museum in Lisbon.

Close up of a Portuguese tile pattern in AveiroClose up of a Portuguese tile pattern in Aveiro

3. Stop for Ice Cream

Ice cream at Milano cafeteria is definitely worth a stop. We tried sweet mango and salty flor de sal flavors which worked surprisingly well together.

Cup of ice cream from Milano in Aveiro Portugal

4. Explore Aveiro's Chruches

There are a number of impressive churches that you can explore in Aveiro. Many of the churches look rather unassuming from the outside, but are eye-poppingly beautiful on the inside. Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Apresentação in Aveiro is worth popping into for the gilded and richly tiled interior.

Igreja de São João Evangelista / Igreja Carmelita de Aveiro is located on Praça de Pombal. It has a plain white facade which may lead you to believe it's not worth visiting, but the church is filled with gilding, tiles, and oil paintings. 

Gilded interior of Igreja de São João Evangelista in Aveiro Portugal

Aveiro's churches are very impressive and free to visit. 

5. Visit Aveiro's Historic Train Station

Late afternoon is a good time to visit Aveiro train station. The historic estação is covered in amazing blue and white tiles that light up in the afternoon. 

Walk into the modern station and onto the platform to see the tiles that face the tracks. Grab a beer and some boat-shaped ovos moles de Aveiro at Tricana D'Aveiro where you can steep in the beautiful views of the station.

Aveiro Train Station in the afternoon light

6. Enjoy Dinner at O Bairro

We booked a table for dinner at O Bairro in Aveiro. O Bairro is big on foam. All of our dishes were covered in it which added a certain elegance to each dish. 

We enjoyed scallops with citrus and avocado to start followed by the fish of the day and shrimp with risotto. This was all washed down with a bottle of vinho branco from Bairrada.

Collage of dishes from dinner at O Bairro in Aveiro Portugal

The most memorable dish was our sobremesa: Natas do Céu. This dessert featured fluffy cream with ham flavored ice cream along with raspberries and mango. The gelado de presunto was a stroke of genius!

7. Take a Ride in a Moliceiro

No trip to Aveiro is complete without taking a ride in a moliceiro. The experience is touristy, but I think it was worth trying Aveiro's signature tourist attraction. 

For 13 EUR per person, you get a 45 min boat ride through the canals. Go early to avoid the crowds and heat of the day. 

Some of the bridges in Aveiro are very low and so the moliceiro drivers have to remove the tall ornate points from their boats to fit underneath.

Prow of a moliceiro with the tip folded over

The moliceiro tour in Aveiro takes you past iconic Art Nouveau buildings, the salt pans (salt production and harvesting takes place for 4 months in the summer), the oldest bridge in Aveiro and a circular bridge (Ponte dos Botirões) in the shape of a net used to catch eels.

Moliceiro viewed from Ponte dos Botirões in Aveiro

Instead of love locks, people tie ribbons along the bridges over the canals in Aveiro to profess their love. The colorful effect is striking as you float underneath.

The moliceiro boat tour in Aveiro goes all the way to Antiga Fábrica Jerónimo Pereira Campos, a historic ceramics factory now turned into a town hall and civic center.

Moliceiro traveling under the oldest bridge in Aveiro Portugal

8. Grab a Coffee at the Aveiro Museu de Arte Nova

The Aveiro Art Nouveau museum is rumored to be small and not worth the price of admission. However, there is a small cafe on site where you can get a coffee and ovos moles and check out the amazing architecture and tiles without paying for a museum ticket.

Courtyard at the Aveiro Art Nouveau Museum

9. Tour the Aveiro City Museum

Take a quick spin through the Aveiro City Museum co-located with the tourism office. For 3 EUR you get admission here and the Art Nouveau museum (we didn't realize this was a combo ticket until after the Museu de Arte Nova closed for its lunch break). 

Allow about 30-45 minutes to tour the exhibits which explore Aveiro through the centuries. The first records of Aveiro date to the 10th century.

10. Sample Ovos Moles, Aveiro's Signature Sweet

We stopped into Peixinho, a 19th century confeitaria which sells ovo moles, pão de lo (popular around Easter) and other sweets. The atmosphere inside the shop was as good as the treats! 

Interior of Peixinho sweet shop in Aveiro

11. Watch Your Step: Check out Aveiro's Calçadas Portuguesas 

Aveiro is known for amazing Calçadas portuguesas (Portuguese mosaic sidewalks). Look for cool patterns and sea creatures. You'll find the signs of the zodiac near Praça Marquês de Pombal.

I enjoyed seeking out some excellent examples of Calçadas portuguesas. Looks like I was on a true Sidewalk Safari this weekend!

Don't forget that the calçadas can be treacherous! You'll recall that I fell and sprained my ankle during our trip to the Óbidos Chocolate Festival.

Collage of Calçadas Portuguesas in Aveiro

12. Stop for Lunch at Casa Novo Cervejaria

Time for lunch at Casa Novo Cervejaria. Squid rings and a tortilla with homemade chili oil hit the spot. We washed it down with a large Warsteiner (it felt a little odd to drink German beer in Portugal). Be warned, in Aveiro tortilla is served soft, just like ovos moles.

Collage of lunch dishes at Casa Novo Cervejaria in Aveiro

13. Take a Walk in Parque Infante Dom Pedro

Next stop? Parque Infante Dom Pedro. The park features a bright yellow water tower, Arte Nova bandstand, and Painéis do Parque Municipal, with trellises and a grand staircase. There is even a small cave at the bottom featuring stalagmites and stalagtites.

Collage of pictures of Parque Infante Dom Pedro in Aveiro, Portugal

By the pond in the park, we saw a pair of ducks with ten chicks. Now that's a bumper crop!

Climb up the accessible ramp to a pathway in line with the treetops. From here you'll get beautiful views and can more easily cross the busy street.

14. Hike the Boardwalk at Cais da Ribeira de Esgueira

We took a Bolt from Aveiro to Cais da Ribeira de Esgueira (~10 min ride, 5-6 EUR). Why did we take a ride service when we had a rental car? We weren't sure about the parking situation and I didn't want to give up my spot in Aveiro city. 

Here you'll find boardwalks for pedestrians and cyclists. Supposedly this is a good spot for birdwatching and rumors have it that flamingos frequent the area. Unfortunately, we mis-timed our visit to high tide and saw very few birds.

Boardwalk at Cais da Ribeira de Esgueira in Aveiro

We walked a small section of one of Portugal's Grande Rotas which go on for hundreds of kilometers in some cases. The trails are well signposted with red and white lines. 

X means you're off the trail. = means go straight. Left and right arrows prompt you to turn.

Trail markers in Aveiro Portugal

Our bird walk at Cais da Ribeira de Esgueira wasn't a total loss. We did see a Black Kite and its huge nest.

Black kite on a branch in Cais da Ribeira de Esgueira near Aveiro Portugal

You'll find a small cafe on the pier near the parking lot. There is a bathroom, but it's for customers only.

15. Enjoy Italian Food for Dinner at Restaurante San Marco

We had walked a lot that day so decided to stay closer to our hotel for dinner. We ate at Restaurante San Marco where we enjoyed a plate of pasta bolognese and pork saltimbocca. 

A Swedish couple who recently moved to Portugal struck up a conversation with us. The food was tasty and the atmosphere was casual and lively.

16. Visit the Museu Marítimo de Ílhavo e Aquário dos Bacalhaus

We took a ride to Ílhavo in the morning. Ílhavo is about 15 minutes by car from Aveiro and is home to the Museu Marítimo de Ílhavo e Aquário dos Bacalhaus. 

Boats on display at Museu Marítimo de Ílhavo e Aquário dos Bacalhaus

It cost 9 EUR per adult for a combo ticket with Vista Alegre museum. Note that there are a couple of different combination tickets so be sure to ask for the correct one. The exhibits do not have English explanations, but we appreciated the opportunity to practice our Portuguese.

The Maritime Museum featured a room full of shells. There were drawers you could pull out filled with all sorts of treasures from the sea.

Drawer of shells at Museu Marítimo de Ílhavo e Aquário dos Bacalhaus

Museu Marítimo de Ílhavo e Aquário dos Bacalhaus (as the name suggests) also features an aquarium filled with cod. Watching the fish swim happily was another highlight of our visit. 

Allow about an hour in total to see the museum at a leisurely pace.

We left our car parked at the Maritime museum in Ílhavo and walked to Ílhavo town (~10 min on foot). We spotted some cool doors and decaying architecture but the town was pretty sleepy. Skip it if you are short on time.

17. Seek Out Lunch (and Flamingos!) Gafanha da Encarnação

On a whim, we went to Smokehouse Bar-BQ in Gafanha da Encarnação, about a 10 minute drive from the Ílhavo Maritime museum. We indulged in a crispy buffalo chicken sandwich, pulled pork sandwich, and Cajun fries with 3 finos. 

Pro tip: a small beer in Lisbon is called an Imperial. In the North of Portugal it's called a Fino.

Collage of dishes and the interior of Smokehouse Bar-BQ

Smokehouse Bar-BQ has a heavy metal biker vibe with friendly staff and pretty good prices! We paid 18 EUR total for our meal for two.

We'd parked on the water along Cais da Bruxa and walked to lunch. We noticed flamingos in the distance when we went for lunch. 

When we got back, they were a bit closer but still out of zoom range for my camera. We drove to a quiet beach along a cycle path and got some great pictures. Flamingos make me happy!

Flamingos near Gafanha da EncarnaçãoFlamingos near Gafanha da Encarnação

Two Flamingos near Gafanha da Encarnação

18. Visit the Vista Alegre Museum

Onward to Vista Alegre museum. Our birding fun continued when we spotted 2 storks tending their nests atop antique smokestacks.

Stork on a nest at Vista Alegre Museum near Aveiro

We enjoyed learning about various aspects of porcelain making in the Vista Alegre museum. We got to step inside a historic kiln. 

There are shops on the property including a Vista Alegre outlet where I bought 2 flamingo dessert plates to celebrate our birding adventure earlier. 

Interior of the Chapel at Viste AlegreExterior of Viste Alegre Chapel

The 9 EUR Integrado ticket that we purchased at the Ílhavo Maritime Museum included entrance to the Capela da Vista Alegre, a small church with 17 century tiles, a spectacular ceiling and a gilded altar. This church is now a national monument.

19. Dine at Granturino Steakhouse

Back in Aveiro, we dined at Granturino Steakhouse. Filet mignon to share and a bottle of Bairrada red wine was the perfect capstone to the day. There is a rather dramatic tree sculpture in the center of the restaurant which adds to the atmosphere. 

You can make a reservation at Granturino and many other restaurants in Aveiro via TheFork. We always prefer to make reservations online when we travel to avoid the awkward language barrier over the phone.

20. Visit Farol da Barra

Boa Páscoa! On Easter Sunday, we took a drive to the beaches near Aveiro. We parked near Farol da Barra (the Barra Lighthouse) and took a morning walk on the boardwalk between the beach and sand dunes. Surfers were just starting to arrive to catch some Easter waves.

Boardwalk between beach and sand dunes near Farol da Barra

21. Photograph the Striped Houses of Costa Nova

Next we drove about 10 minutes to Costa Nova, home of Aveiro's famous striped houses. While the best houses are along the water, you'll find more examples without tourists vying for photos if you walk a block or two inland.

Collage of 6 palheiros (striped houses) in Costa Nova near Aveiro

I adored the the striped palheiros ("haystacks" where fishermen used to store their gear) in Costa Nova. You'll find palheiros in nearly every color of the rainbow.

Some of my favorites included a tiny red house wedged between two more grand homes and an elegant palheiro with green stripes. I especially loved this composition where the yellow house seems to be photobombing the more sedate neighbor in front of it.

22. Walk the Aveiro Lagoon

Keep your eyes open along the Aveiro lagoon. We spotted our local flock of flamingos again hanging out on a sand bar. Then, suddenly, they took flight in dramatic splendor!

Flamingos taking flight on Aveiro Lagoon

23. Stop for Lunch at Mimo II Gusto Italiano in Costa Nova

We chanced upon Mimo II Gusto Italiano and stopped there for lunch. Salami pizza and a plate of rigatoni covered in shaved parm washed down with a glass of Alentejo red was perfect. Bonus points for the restaurant being in a stripy house!

Pizza and pasta at Mimo II Gusto Italiano in Costa Nova near Aveiro

24. Explore the Sand Dunes and the Beach in Costa Nova

Work off lunch with another walk along the dunes. There were a few hardy souls attempting to sun themselves on windswept Costa Nova beach with waves crashing behind them.

Windswept beach at Costa Nova near Aveiro Portugal

We had contemplated renting bikes for a ride on the boardwalk. Turns out that the wind causes drifts of sand to form on the pathway. 

Boardwalk covered in sand at Costa Nova Portugal

Conditions aren't really suitable for cycling. You'll get a good workout walking through the sand though.

25. Enjoy a Salt Inspired Dinner at Salpoente

The final act of our long weekend in Aveiro was dinner at Michelin recommended salpoente. We enjoyed a delicious tasting menu served in a restaurant occupying a historic salt warehouse on the canal.

Facade of Salpoente restaurant in Aveiro Portugal 

The tasting menu cost 69 EUR and the wine pairings were surprisingly well-priced at 20 EUR. We appreciated the good value for money and great food to wind down our long weekend in Aveiro.

Collage of wine pairings at Salpoente in AveiroCollage of dishes from the tasting menu at Salpoente in Aveiro

Is Aveiro Worth Visiting?

Aveiro has an elegant charm that makes it an easy place to love. Yes, it is a touristy town and the historic core can get crowded. 

If you make the time to stay for a few days, you'll have time to explore at night when the tour buses depart and also take a few day trips to nearby areas. 

Curved prows of moliceiros in Aveiro Portugal

I strongly recommend that you add Aveiro to your Portugal itinerary. Aveiro is most definitely worth visiting based on our personal experience.

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: 25 Fun Things to do in Aveiro Portugal For a Long Weekend
25 Fun Things to do in Aveiro Portugal For a Long Weekend
Explore cool things to do in Aveiro Portugal for a weekend. From Art Nouveau architecture to moliceiro boat rides, see why Aveiro is worth a visit.
Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog