For the last leg of our little Portuguese road trip, we floated into the old port and fishing town of Aveiro, about an hour south of Porto. It’s known as the Venice of Portugal, except of course, without the Venetian price tag.
The Mister and I checked into a perfect little yellow fisherman’s house along the canal, possibly the most quaint of all the homes in Aveiro, we couldn’t believe our luck. (Serious instagram bait).
The Casa de Mercado is a two-story two bedroom historical house right in the middle of Aveiro’s old quarter, and you’ll have it all to yourself. It’s listed on AirBnb but I think you’ll find it a little cheaper through Booking.com where we nabbed it for €117 a night.
Before exploring the old town, we were itching to dip our toes in the ocean, so we hopped in the car and took a five minute drive to the beach at Costa Nova do Prado. You can also get there by bus or even by boat via the lagoon and canals.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love an empty beach and flawless views of the endless ocean as much as anyone, but let’s turn our back on the ocean blues for a moment, because there’s something rather special this seaside town has to offer…
Candy striped beach houses– and lots of them!
I went a little snap happy (crazy) on these painted houses once used by fishermen to stand out against the pale tones of the sand. The fishermen’s trend caught on today there’s an entire neighbourhood of wooden houses squeezed between the beach and the lagoon, painted in cherry red, summer yellow and sailor blue stripes.
I’m guessing this one ↑ was inspired by the lighthouse down the beach…
You’d expect a postcard perfect place like this to be overtaken by tacky tourism and stripped of its authenticity, but Aveiro’s Costa Nova still very much belongs to the locals. Not overly manicured for the tourists, even a little dog-eared; neighbours hang out in their front yards, hanging laundry, fixing their fishing rods or exchanging gossip, as if completely unaware that meanwhile on the internet, we’re drooling over their charming little homes.
Heading back down the beach, knowing that with a long winter ahead of us, this would probably be the last time the ocean and our feet would meet, we made the most of curling our toes in the sand and playing Tag with the waves.
Out on the jetty, we watched a spear fisher catch an octopus from the rocks before heading back to our little Venice in time for sunset…
See that little pink house there squeezed in between the others? That’s the Café A Barrica.
We’d been told to come here to find a special dessert, only found in Aveiro called Ovos Moles. “Just promise me you’ll try it”, said a local we’d met in the Douro Valley when she heard where we were headed. “To visit Aveiro without tasting ovos moles is a sin.”
So without knowing anything about this mysterious local sweet, we bought a whole box of Ovos Moles. It didn’t look like anything I’ve seen before. They come from the ancient women’s convents in Aveiro and inspired by their closeness to the ocean, they’ve taken on the shapes of shells, fish or clams.
A unique light pastry filled with a golden voluptuous dough encased, it almost has a sacred taste. I could have eaten the whole box. I won’t tell you what’s in these little parcels– you can look up the ingredients if you really want to cheat, but as we did, you should do yourself a service and go into this one blind.
We wondered around the streets behind the canals, watching locals go about their evening errands and chomping on our Ovos Moles, before realising we should probably save some room for dinner…
A rather unexpectedly hip spot called O’Bairro was our host for dinner, with cool decor, delicious little plates, friendly staff and a view of our very own yellow fisherman’s house, allowing us to stumble home across the canal following a little too much wine for our last evening.
If you’re looking for something a little more authentic and traditional, the local favourite is Restaurante Marisqueira Mare Cheia, supposedly serving the best seafood in town (closed the night we were there).
We woke up to this view but went to bed in Paris, dreaming of Porto, the Douro and Aveiro. I hope you enjoyed following our Portuguese journey these last few days and of course, Obrigado Portugal! I’ll be back very soon…