Is Aveiro Portugal Worth Visiting?

Can we speak honestly about Aveiro Portugal? Is it really a town in Portugal worth visiting or adding to your itinerary?

Aveiro Portugal
moliceiro boat in Aveiro

Sometimes I think that honesty seems largely eclipsed by enthusiasm in the blogosphere. Perhaps it’s because we travel bloggers travel to objectively beautiful places and mostly have phenomenal experiences.

But that can’t always be the case, can it?

Sometimes a place doesn’t live up to its billing. Or doesn’t suit. Or something dreadful happens there to color our opinions, like a flat tire or faux Air Bnb or torrential rain.

Aveiro didn’t really suit me. I think Aveiro is ridiculously overhyped.

It’s a popular day trip from Porto or stop on the way from Lisbon to Porto. It’s often referred to as “adorable,” “picturesque,” “romantic,” “must see,” and — wait for it — the “Venice of Portugal.” Huh.

Art Nouveau buildings in Aveiro Portugal
Art Nouveau buildings in Aveiro Portugal

I quote this from Lonely Planet, a notoriously picky analyst:

Aveiro (uh-vey-roo) is a prosperous town with a good-looking centre and a youthful, energetic buzz. It’s occasionally dubbed the Venice of Portugal thanks to its small network of picturesque canals. But where the Italian city has gondolas, Aveiro has moliceiros – colourful boats traditionally used for seaweed-harvesting but now used for canal cruises.

Makes you want to go, doesn’t it?

Is Aveiro Worth Visiting Or Overrated ?

Aveiro was my least favorite stop during my 10 days in Portugal road trip. I’ve been to Venice several times and, believe me, there is no similarity.

I wish I had skipped Aveiro entirely and spent time elsewhere. I was completely disillusioned. There are plenty of better places to spend your valuable time in in Portugal.

Here are the reasons Aveiro isn’t worth a visit:

These pretty cottages are not in Aveiro.

1. No Striped Houses

The cute striped cottages you see on travel blogs or websites touting Aveiro or when you google Aveiro?

They’re not actually in Aveiro. They’re a 20 minute drive away at Costa Nova beach.

You have to budget time if you want to drive or bus there for an Instagram photo of these admittedly photogenic houses. We didn’t and so didn’t see them.

Neither will you, if you plan on spending time in Aveiro itself. Or have been duped into thinking they’re in Aveiro proper.

our boat for the expensive 45 minute canal tour
our boat for the expensive 45 minute canal tour

2. The Mediocre Canal Ride

Aveiro is advertised as having a “must see maze of canals” filled with brightly painted gondola boats. To be sure, the boats, called moliceiros, are cute enough. Not Venice cute, mind you, but reasonably attractive looking.

The canal tour is decidedly not “cheap” or “reasonable,” as I’ve read elsewhere. At 10 euro per person, it’s kind of pricey for what you see.

I didn’t enjoy the cruise much. There’s just not much of interest to see from the boat to justify the time or money invested.

You’ll see boring tiny bridges, haystacks, salt pans, and industrial buildings. And you won’t understand a thing anyway because the guides don’t speak English.

My daughter and I couldn’t wait to get off the boat. Here are the best photos I got:

a small ribbon bridge … how unique …
not even remotely interesting sculptures
a “fancy” bridge
buildings that have color, but aren’t exactly quaint or otherwise appealing

Not exactly super enticing, is it?

Is this how you want to spend your time and money in Portugal? Looking at salt pans? I think not …

3. Art Nouveau Center? Not Really

Aveiro is also billed as a city-museum of Art Nouveau architecture.

Wait a minute now. I love Art Nouveau. But Aveiro?

There are indeed a few lovely and striking facades, particularly along the quays in the Rossio area. But if you want Art Nouveau, head to Barcelona, Prague, Paris, Nancy France, or any number of places.

Art Nouveau facade in Aveiro
Art Nouveau facade in Aveiro
Museum of Art Nouveau in Aveiro
Museum of Art Nouveau in Aveiro

4. The Inadequate Art Nouveau Museum

The Aveiro Art Nouveau Museum is located in the Casa Major Pessoa. It is indeed a beautiful building with Art Nouveau detail in the facade and wrought iron details.

I’m just not sure if this qualifies as a “museum.”

It has a lot of written material and virtually no exhibits. The best part is the charming Casa de Chá tearoom on the first level.

Igreja da Misericórdia in Aveiro
Igreja da Misericórdia in Aveiro

5. Igreja da Misericórdia de Aveiro

This 16th century Church of Misericordia in the Praca General Humberto Delgado was the first one I encountered in Portugal with allover inside and out azulejo tiling. So it was of some interest.

But, believe me, it pales in comparison to the slew of spectacular churches in Porto.

Why leave Porto for Aveiro when Porto is so much better? Colorful vintage-y Porto is a real dream, not an overhyped mediocre town.

Plus, if you’re day tripping from Porto, why not go to somewhere really great? I vastly prefer Coimbra, Guimaraes, Viseu, or Braga to Aveiro.

little square in Aveiro
little square in Aveiro

6. Cute Streets

I agree that Aveiro has some lovely streets with patterned sidewalks. You’d expect that for a town with some history.

I just don’t think they’re enough to justify a day trip.

I will say I had a very tasty lunch at Porta 35. It’s a cafe serving mostly gourmet burgers on the quaint Rua do Tenente Rezende.

There’s also a fair amount of vegetarian and vegan fare to be had.

Porta 35 in Aveiro
Porta 35 in Aveiro

In sum, I found Aveiro underwhelming. Perhaps I wasn’t there long enough to appreciate its more subtle charms.

But I didn’t really want to stick around to ferret them out. I didn’t think Aveiro was worth visiting.

If you’re looking for a stop between Lisbon and Porto on a road trip, pick medieval Óbidos or Coimbra.

Unless you desperately want to sink your toes in the sand at Costa Nova outside of Aveiro, I’d advise skipping the town. Portugal has much more to offer.

You may enjoy these other Portugal travel guides and resources:

If you want to give people the real scoop on Aveiro, pin it for later.

is Aveiro worth visiting

8 thoughts on “Is Aveiro Portugal Worth Visiting?”

  1. Don’t agree at all. Aveiro is beautiful in its singularity. Different to any city in the peninsula Ibérica, just for that is worth the visit.

    Reply
  2. Thanks! I prefer a real post and not just fluff about a place. I have to admit that I was interested in stopping by for a few hours but looking at the pics I think I’ll pass.

    Reply
    • If you have plenty of time, it may be worth a visit. But I think there are so many better places to spend your time in Portugal.

      Reply
  3. I’m sitting here in Aveiro now and just came across this post.

    I wish I read it before, and not all the fluff pieces by travel bloggers wanting to be the cool ones discovering an “off the beaten path gem”.

    This place sucks.

    Reply
    • I hear you, it didn’t appeal to me at all either. Yes, there’s a couple nice Art Nouveau buildings. But it’s entirely skippable, so many better places in Portugal to see.

      Reply

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