Aveiro is the provincial capital city of Beira Litoral province, nestled next to a “ria”, or salt water lagoon and the Vouga river delta on the Atlantic coast of Central Portugal.
Its origins go back to pre-Roman times. From the 8th until the 11th century, the region was under Muslim control. The charter elevating the town to city status was conferred in 1759 by King Joao I. Aveiro was already a major salt producer in Roman times and later on, mainly due to the age-old dry codfish industry, continued to be so until the 1970s. It also played a major role in ceramics, ship building, metal working and machinery manufacture as well as being a natural shipping port for centuries. Next door to Aveiro, the city of Ilhavo still has remnants of the cod fishing and drying industry. A famous porcelain and cut glassware factory was established there in the early 1800s and still in operation today (guided tours are undertaken).
Aveiro is 68 km to the south of Porto and 58 km north of Coimbra , straddling the “ria” of Aveiro and the river Vouga a few kilometers from the Atlantic Ocean, where you can easily reach by car (5 minutes) or by bus(every hour). The city of Aveiro has a population of approximately 78,000 inhabitants, where 12.500 are students at University of Aveiro, one of the most important Portuguese Universities. Aveiro is at the center of the “Comunidade Intermunicipal da Regiao de Aveiro” (Aveiro Regional Intermunicipal Community), encompassing over 370.000 inhabitants.
The late poet, musician and teacher Zeca Afonso, and the late physicist Dr. Mario Sacramento, are both famous anti-fascist activists sons of the city. Overall the atmosphere is rather laid back and relaxed while some students are foreigners, lending it a somewhat cosmopolitan fee
Architecturally, the CBD and “centro historico” are characterized by some excellent examples of 15/16th century, Belle Epoque, Art Nuveau, Art Deco and Estado Novo buildings, while parts of the city are intersected by canals with picturesque bridges and navigated by brightly painted boats called moliceiros, similar in profile to the gondolas of Venice. Originally the moliceiro was a working boat and the name derives from molico, a type of sea weed abundant in the lagoon and formerly harvested to be used as fertilizer in the agricultural fields of the region. Although an exaggeration, the city is called the “Portuguese Venice”. The real charm of Aveiro’s life style lies in its coast, with its fantastic sandy beaches of Sao Jacinto, Torreira, Barra and Costa Nova. This local coast is branded as Costa da Prata or the Silver Coast.
Historically, the importance and prestige of Aveiro grew with the arrival in the 15th century, of princess Dna. Joana, daughter of King Afonso V, to join the sisterhood of the Monastery of Jesus. Upon her death, she bequeathed her vast wealth to the benefit of the town. Her intricately carved and decorated tomb in the monastery, constitutes a singular example of fine arts of the period. In the 17th century she was canonised, thus becoming Santa Joana. By the 19th century, city son and parliamentarian Jose Estevao, propels Aveiro to the fore of industrialization by instigating the policies for redevelopment of the harbour facilities, city canals and arrival of railways, sowing the seeds for a renewed economical boom.
However, today the best kept secret of its attraction apart from the extensive soft sand beaches that reach from Mira in the south, to Espinho in the north, is the authenticity and relative less “tourist trap” quality coupled with less costly accommodation and food when compared further South Portugal and the Algarve. The Summer season months of June to August are the busiest with holiday makers. Also, the easy access to major road networks and railways, make it’s proximity to many daytripper destinations like Porto, Espinho, Figueira da Foz, Coimbra, Viseu, Serra da Estrela etc, a strategic place to set up base. The “Beirao” people are well known for their hospitality and helpful towards anyone, local or foreign alike, as long as respect and courtesy are demonstrated.
Aveiro has humid temperate climate in summer and a not so cold but wet weather in winter. November, December and January make up the rainy season, while July and August are the driest months. Autumn and Winter tend to have strong coastal winds, excellent for kite or wind-surf, as well as for sailing. Of later times, the “primeiro banho do ano” or the first sea dip of the year, has become an annual local tradition in the early hours of every New Year’s Day with hundreds of participants vying for the T-shirt given to confirm the feat.
Access : Coordinates : 40.633333, -8.65 / By car : The city is connected to highway A1 which is the main north/south axis road of the country, but also a toll road. You can easily reach Aveiro through highway A17, which is linked to highway A8 from Lisbon and the west/east axis highway A25, linking central Portugal via Vilar Formoso to rest of Europe through Spain.
By train : The new modern design central train station is positioned in stark contrast next to the “azulejo” decorated old station (there’s talk of converting the classic building into a museum and/or regional info office), near the center of the city. Aveiro railway station is on the main “Linha do Norte” providing access to national trains to all major cities and regions (Porto, Braga, Coimbra, Lisbon and “Sul do Tejo”). In addition, the station is a stopover for all regional and commuter trains. You can walk through Avenida Lourenco Peixinho for 10 minutes and you are on the main central spot of Aveiro – The Rotunda das Pontes.
By bus : There are coaches that connect Aveiro to many Portuguese cities and also cities in Spain. These inter-cities and international bus companies have a terminus in Rua Almirante Candido dos Reis, not far from the railway station and also by the main canal in Rua do Clube dos Galitos near the moliceiro embarking jetty by the Rotunda das Pontes. If confused, just go inside any business near the railway station and ask; “aonde e a estacao dos autocarros regionais?” (where’s the regional bus station?)
By plane : The “Aerodromo Municipal de Aveiro” is actually the former military airbase of Sao Jacinto, and is planned revert to civilian use, pending certification. As of May 2018, this has not happened yet, because of bureaucractic minutiae. Its 1,372-metre runway and buildings serve private pilots and house small aircraft and the Aveiro Aeroclube.
Attractions : Aveiro Cathedral , Aveiro Museum , Camara Municipal , Antiga Capitania do Porto de Aveiro (former capitanate of the Aveiro harbour) , The harbour complex , Carmelite Church of Sao Joao Evangelista , Dom Pedro Children’s Park , Fish market , Gafanhas, Bairro de Pescadores (at the seaside) , Igreja da Misericordia , Museum of the Republic , Santo Antonio Park , Sao Goncalinho Chapel , Salt pans ( As salt production for many centuries played such a big part in the importance of Aveiro in pre industrial times ) , Farol da Barra (Barra lighthouse) ,
Activities : Surf at Costa Nova and Barra Beach , Windsurf and Kytesurf on the river and on the sea – You can rent this material on local windsurf shops , Moliceiro tours – leaving from the central canal , Sailing at Costa Nova Beach , Kayak at Ria de Aveiro or Rio Vouga , Walking tours , Take some sun at Costa Nova and Barra Beach , Hiking in the Dunas de Sao Jacinto , Teatro Aveirense , Jardim Oudinot – the Park Oudinot is along the left hand side of the main road leading to the harbour complex. It has pathways, sports grounds, children’s play areas,
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