Aveiro, “The Portuguese Venice”, is a picturesque city not far from Porto, making it an ideal day trip destination.
Famous for its canals and architecture, Aveiro city centre is a lovely and peaceful place to spend a day when you’re visiting central Portugal.
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How to get to Aveiro from Porto
The train ride from Porto takes about an hour on the urban train. Go to one of the big train stations in Porto, Campanhã or São Bento, and take a train from there.
The ticket price for the urban train is €3.45 one way. They run quite frequently and you can buy these tickets at the station. For schedules check Portugal’s railways website cp.pt.
There is also a faster Intercity train that will take you there in about half the time and is more expensive.
You’ll arrive at Aveiro’s modern train station, but as you step outside you’ll see its old train station building which is a great start for the trip.
Blue blue azulejos tiles, so typical of the region, cover the building, depicting historical scenes.
From the station, take a walk to the city centre along the wide Avenue that you’ll see just in front of you, called Av. Dr. Lourenço Peixinho.
Along the way you’ll pass by the canal and the local shopping centre called “Forum”.
It’s called the Portuguese Venice for a reason. The beautiful canals, bridges and little painted boats are all symbols of Aveiro.
The decorated gondola-like boats called “Moliceiros” run up and down the canals and if you want to take a tour you will find quite a few leaving from the centre. A boat tour usually takes about 45 minutes and costs €10.
Museums in Aveiro
There are several museums in Aveiro and you can get a single ticket for €5 that grants you entrance to all of them.
This museum pass includes Aviero Museum Santa Joana, the City Museum, the Art Nouveau Museum and the Marinha da Troncalhada Ecomuseum.
They are open from Tuesday to Sunday, 10am – 6pm, so don’t plan a day trip on a Monday if you’d like to visit any of them.
For me, four museums in one day seemed a bit too much, so I opted for the €2 pass. That’s a combined ticket for the City Museum and the Art Nouveau Museum. Both of these are on the same street and within a couple of minutes from each other.
Aveiro City Museum
The City Museum, or Museu da Cidade in Portuguese, is dedicated to the history of the city of Aveiro. It’s quite large and the exhibitions are spread over several floors.
It has a collection of items, big and small, from different time periods that are typical of Aveiro, plus some local contemporary art.
There are clear explanations in English so you can follow this historical journey easily.
When outside the museum, cross the road to take a look at the building itself. It is an impressive combination of Art Nouveau and Portuguese tiles.
Art Nouveau Museum of Aveiro
Continue along the canal, and just a couple of minutes away from the City Museum, you’ll see another impressive building.
This one is hosting the Art Nouveau Museum of Aveiro, or in Portuguese: Museu Arte Nova.
Enter and climb a ridiculously narrow but appropriately decorated staircase to reach the second floor. There you can watch a documentary film introducing the Art Nouveau movement in different places around the world. When I visited there was also a small exhibition on fashion influenced by the style.
Take the time to appreciate the marvellous interior of this building.
The top floor of the museum has a temporary exhibition. When I visited it was about tiles made in Aveiro in the Art Nouveau style. Although all the exhibition texts were in Portuguese, it was easy to follow and enjoy the display.
Art Nouveau architecture in Aveiro
At the Museu Arte Nova you can pick up a map of Art Nouveau buildings around the city. Aveiro has many of those and they are a treat.
Even without the map, you can simply walk around the small streets and just look up.
This architectural style arrived in Porto in the early 20th century. The typical elements of Art Nouveau, like whiplash lines and nature-inspired themes, were mixed in Aveiro with traditional Portuguese architecture – the gorgeous painted tiles that you will see everywhere around the centre.
I visited Aveiro as a day trip from Porto. I’ve been told it’s possible to combine it with a visit to Coimbra as well, but I think it’s best to dedicate a day to each, if you have enough time in Portugal.
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