Aveiro Car Hire
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Often dubbed the ‘Venice of Portugal’, Aveiro is a picturesque maritime city with a crisscrossing network of canals. But while Venice has gondolas, Aveiro has moliceiros - colourful boats that were traditionally used to collect seaweed and now collect passengers all across town. Located on the west coast of Portugal, the city is set on a saltwater lagoon called Ria de Aveiro, and is famous for its rich history of playing an important role in ceramics and ship building, as well as being a natural shipping port for centuries. Aveiro is also famed for its beautiful Art Nouveau buildings in pastel shades that are dotted around the city, many of which feature distinctive Aveiro ceramic tiles.
A lesser-known alternative to the Algarve or South Portugal, Aveiro also has easy access to the coastal resort towns of Barra and Costa Nova (a top choice thanks to its charming candy-striped beachside houses), both of which can be reached via the lagoon boat rides or road. So, not only is the city home to canals and culture, it also ticks the boxes for a beach holiday!
Enjoy can find you the best car hire deals for your trip to Aveiro - with reliable partners and at very affordable prices. For example, a Fiat Panda or similar mini-size car starts at just €12.67 (£11.62) a day in the off-peak season, an economy-size car such as the SEAT Ibiza starts from €12.67 (£11.62) a day, while a spacious, full-size Renault Espace (which seats seven people comfortably) starts from just €34.22 (£31.37) a day off peak. Pre-book your hire car online with Enjoy Travel and enjoy secure, stress-free travel around Aveiro and Portugal, with the best prices guaranteed.
Guide to Aveiro
If you want a holiday destination in Portugal that includes excellent food options, ornate religious buildings, museums and beach time - but without crowds of tourists - then Aveiro is the place for you. It’s also a popular day trip destination from Porto or Coimbra.
Aveiro’s network of canals are what gives the city its charm and character, and the waterways are worthy of spending (at the very least) a few hours of your time exploring. The canal branches take you through historic districts such as Rua joão mendonça, running into the Ria de Aveiro lagoon, as well as the new city area. You can follow the canal routes by foot, rent a BUGA (the city’s free-to-use bicycle system) or of course, take a traditional moliceiro tour.
The canals act as a self-guided route around the heart of the city, bringing you past pretty Art Nouveau buildings and a stylish canalfront shopping area called Forum Aveiro, which has two-storey galleries and bridges spread over a long central walkway. There’s also a scenic waterfront park, Jardim do Rossio, with grassy lawns and palm trees that’s the perfect place to spend an hour or two with a book.
Art and Culture
History buffs and culture lovers will find plenty of things to do and see in Aveiro: the city is a certified member of the “Réseau Art Noveau Network'', along with other famed cities including Barcelona, Brussels, Budapest, Glasgow, Helsinki and Havana. You can take a guided tour to see the elaborate 20th-century buildings, with their signature floral stone motifs and wrought iron balconies. Don’t miss the Art Nouveau museum (Museu de Arte Nova).
Aveiro also has a rich religious heritage, as highlighted by Sé Cathedral de Aveiro, which was originally built in the 15th century and is a great example of Portuguese baroque architecture. Opposite the cathedral is a gem of Aveiro: the Aveiro Museum which is housed in a former Dominican convent where Portuguese Princess Joanna lived during most of her life. The museum is best known for the marble inlaid tomb of the princess and the cloister with its chapels; the chapter room and the refectory. You can wander through the historic convent and admire permanent exhibits of religious art, jewellery, azulejos (glazed tiles) and more.
Other top cultural highlights include a visit to the Vista Alegre Factory, where traditional Portuguese porcelain is made, and the Aveiro University Campus to see contemporary Portuguese architecture, where you will find buildings designed by Siza Vieira, Souto Moura, Alcino Soutinho, Carrilho da Graça and Gonçalo Byrne.
While Aveiro itself has no beach, the sandy beaches of Costa Nova and Barro are just a short distance away from the city centre. You can reach the beaches by a lagoon boat ride, car or bus. The beaches along the Silver Coast are different to that of the Algarve, with rolling sand dunes and wild waves that attract windsurfers.
Costa Nova beach is backed by the pretty candy-striped Palheiros houses that were once used by fishermen to store their fishing materials and are now souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants.
Barra beach is best known for its lighthouse, the Barra Lighthouse or Farol da Barra, which is the tallest lighthouse in Portugal. Other nearby beaches to visit from Aveiro include Sao Jacinto beach, which is popular with surfers.
Unique souvenirs & snacks
Aveiro is a great place to shop ‘til you drop for local crafts and souvenirs. Thanks to its location on a salt lagoon, you can purchase locally produced salt "Flor de sal", in its purest form, and the cheaper "sal de Aveiro" at shops across the city. Perhaps the most iconic souvenir (and the tastiest!) from Aveiro is ovos moles – soft eggs – a traditional baked sweet that dates back to the 1800s. These seashell or clam-shaped sweets consist of a paper-thin wafer that is filled with a creamy mixture of egg yolks and sugar.
Things to do in Aveiro
The great thing about Aveiro is that it’s a lovely destination to visit year-round. While summer visitors will benefit from warmer weather and strolls on the beach, there’s also lots to see and do even in cooler months. Here’s some highlights to enjoy while you’re in the area:
No visit to Aveiro is complete without a tour through the canals on a traditional colourfully painted barco moliceiro. You’ll glide past Art Nouveau buildings and underneath picturesque bridges such as Carcavelos Bridge over the São Roque canal, which links the Fisherman’s Quarter to the salt pans. During the tour your guide will tell you about the history of the city and fun facts about life in Aveiro.
Tours generally run from 10am until 6.30pm (9.30am to 7pm on weekends) and cost between €8 - €13 for a 45 minute boat ride. You can book from several different tour operators in advance, but it’s just as easy to book on the spot from one of the many boat stops along the canals.
Tour salt pans
The Troncalhada salina (salt pans) in Aveiro - once a major source of income for the region - is now one of the few remaining salt pans in the area. You can take a guided tour of the production factory to discover the history, tradition and secrets behind the salt pans. It’s fascinating to see the workers pile the salt into small pyramids to dry in the sun using traditional methods!
Visit the fish market
While you are in Costa Nova, you should visit the Fishing Market to experience local seafood at its best. At this market, freshly caught shellfish from the Lagoon – such as crab, goose barnacle, coast shrimp or whelk – is prepared immediately for you to eat as you stroll the stalls, which guarantees that the seafood is fresh and full of flavour.
Spend a day at the seaside
While the beaches near Aveiro aren’t renowned for swimming, you can still enjoy a pleasant day out at the seaside. Spend an afternoon at the fishing village of Costa Nova or sunbathing at Barra beach, which offers calmer waters than Costa Nova thanks to a couple of long breakwaters which mostly keeps the wild ocean at bay.
Looking for things to do with kids in Aveiro? Children of all ages will find the moliceiro boat rides a delight. Kids will also enormously enjoy learning how to make the mouth-watering ovos moles at Oficina do Doc and then eating their results.
Outside of the city, you’ll find a green park with a high-rope obstacle course, a horse riding center and the beaches of Costa Nova and Barra, where families can enjoy bodyboarding or watersports.
Eating out in Aveiro
As a maritime city, it’s no surprise that seafood reigns supreme in Aveiro. You’ll find lots of no-frills restaurants around the fish market district and side streets, as well as international restaurants and cafes.
For local flavours, dine at Adega Típica O Telheiro, which has a delicious menu of Portuguese classics. The grilled meats are popular, but the soft buttery squid is a must-order.
Just outside the city is a cosy, local restaurant, located in Gafanha de Áquem (6.5 km away from Aveiro), named Bela Ria. It is one of those off the beaten track places that will make an impression on you with its unpretentious ambiance and friendly service. Bela Ria is famous for the several codfish-inspired specialities it serves, so be sure to try a few of the cod dishes.
To sample the famous ovos moles, take note that the best place to taste them is at one of the several pastry shops in the Rossio area along Rue João Mendonça or from Confeitaria Peixinho, a legendary bakery that has been producing ovos moles in Aveiro for over 160 years.
Transport in Aveiro
Aveiro is well connected to Lisbon and Porto by public transport, as well as well maintained roads that make driving here a breeze. The city itself is small enough that you can easily walk around it, although cycling is also popular. The city has public transport links to nearby towns and beaches but if you want more freedom to explore, then a rental car is preferable.
Most visitors to Aveiro will fly into Porto Airport, which is about 85km north of Aveiro. From Porto, you can reach Aveiro by rental car or train. If you’re flying into Lisbon Airport (260km from Aveiro), public transport options include both trains and buses.
For moving around within Aveiro centre, buses are only necessary to get to the beach - Barra and Costa Nova beaches are a 15-20 minutes bus ride from the city center and tickets cost just €2.10.
The train station in Aveiro has handy links to Porto and Lisbon, as well as other cities along those routes. It takes between half an hour and one hour 45 minutes to travel from Porto to Aveiro by train, depending on what train you hop onto.
Driving tips for Aveiro
Drive on the right-hand side of the road in Aveiro. The speed limits are 120 km/h on the motorway, 100 km/h (60 mph) on expressways, 90 km/h (50mph) on other roads and 50 km/h (30 mph) in built-up areas. If you’re driving from Porto or Lisbon, you will pass through several tolls on the motorway - your rental car will likely be set up to pay these tolls automatically, so no need to worry about carrying loose change.
Other driving tips to note include:
All drivers need to carry a current international driving licence, passport, insurance documents, MOT certificate (necessary if the car is more than three years old), and car hire documents. Speed traps are common, so don’t be tempted to speed. Drink-driving is strictly prohibited in Portugal, and using your phone while driving is illegal, so don’t do either of them!
There are many scenic drives to do when in Aveiro, one of our favourites includes the drive from Porto to Aveiro, which takes you along the coast. The medieval town of Coimbra is less than a one hour drive and is a great place to visit on a day trip.