Aveiro: Old-World Cruising in the Venice of Portugal
The canalâs waters reflect the sun and soft light dapples the faÃ§ade of a grand old mansion. Iâm on a gondola-like boat gliding alongside cobbled slipways, lush parks, and ornate art nouveau townhouses, beating the crowds to an undiscovered European gem.
It may sound like Venice, but Aveiro, in central Portugal, is a smaller, more relaxed affair. No hordes of tourists here. With a population of around 78,000, Aveiro is an easy day trip by train, car, or bus from Lisbonâ" two hours awayâ"and Portoâ" about an hour.
Curiosity brought me here on a relaxing overnight stay. Atmospheric cafÃ©s and restaurants ply their succulent wares on pavement terraces, as the sun glints off the cityâs lagoon. A lunch of locally caught scabbard fish or grilled mackerel at a canal-side restaurant will cost you less than $15, including wine. Enjoy a coffee and delicious pastry to the sound of church bell s and chattering starlings, and youâll see change from $2.
If you do only one thing in Aveiro, though, make it a guided tour on a typical moliceiro boat. These brightly painted craft are a lot like gondolas and were once used for the local trade in salt and seaweed.
A cruise of just under an hour takes you through Aveiroâs maritime past, its ornately tiled historic architecture, and its bustling fish market. Cruises leave from the central Rossio area every half-hour from midmorning until dusk and cost less than $10. You may have time to sample the 15th-century Aveiro City Museumâs intricate splendor while you wait.
The city itself is no museum, though. Youâll find a vibrant community of students keeping things lively and a relaxed hospitality industry ensuring English-speaking guides and hotel staff year-round. Itâs also worth noting that excellent surfing beaches are just a few miles west.
At the Vera Cruz grocery on decoratively cobbled PraÃ§a 14 de Julho, the staff roast coffee and dispense the regional specialty, ovos moles (rich, egg-based sweets), from dark wooden drawers more steam-age than information-era. Finding it? Just follow the smell of roasting coffee.
Get Your Free Portugal Report Here:
Romance, culture and adventure awaits in Portugal. Learn more abo ut Portugal and other European countries in our daily postcard e-letter.
Simply enter your email address below and we'll send you a FREE REPORT - Portugal: The Jewel of Southwest Europe.
This special guide covers real estate, retirement and more in Portugal and is yours free when you sign up for our IL postcards below.
Get Your Free Report HereNo spam pledge. We value your privacy.
Here are some of the most popular destinations for expats in Portugal
Fun and Interesting Facts about Portugal
Cost of Living in Cascais, PortugalSource: Google News Portugal | Netizen 24 Portugal