Reasons to go:
If you are in the area, have time and like quaint old towns with lots of history and centuries-old architecture, Aveiro is a must. Located 45 miles south of Porto, Aveiro is closely associated with the sea, the salt industry, the famous Ria de Aveiro and many canals, which give rise to its comparison to Venice.
What I like:
Ria do Aveiro is a 28-mile delta of the River Vouga, a shallow lagoon north and west of the town, from where salt has been extracted for centuries. A unique combination of fresh and salt water, narrow waterways and salt marshes, the Ria’s ocean side offers many white sand beaches, ideal for those looking for a tranquil summer setting.
The moliceiros – colorful swan-necked kelp boats that glide the many canals of Aveiro’s center, the best way to see the area from mid-June to mid-September. Tours depart from the main canal in front of the tourist office throughout the day, for 1 or 2-hour rides, lunch included.
Museu de Aveiro (Aveiro Museum), in the former Convent of Jesus, is closely associated with the life of Princess and Saint Joana. In the museum there is an 18th-century church whose interior is a masterpiece of Barroque art, among the finest in Portugal. Blue and white azulejos in the Refectory depict the life of Joana, who was beatified in 1693 and whose tomb is in the lower level. Also worth visiting are the 16th-century Renaissance cloisters.
Restaurants – Locals recommended O Batel and Mercado do Peixe, for fish, and O Telheiro, for meats.
Where to stay – Aveiro Palace, in an historic building in the center of town overlooking the main canal, recently refurbished, is a comfortable and convenient location close restaurants and confeitarias (places to buy the famous Aveiro’s sweets). Internet access in the hotel is spotty and can be a problem but that happens in other hotels of the area as well.
What to buy – Aveiro is famous for its original pastries, doces de Aveiro, which can be found in the many confeitarias in the town’s center – the most traditional is Confeitaria Peixinho, since 1856. Try the ovos moles, a staple of the town not for those on a diet or counting calories.