Portugal? It’s got more spotlights shining on it than a West End
production as of late. Sure, Porto might be known for its
exceptional wine offering. Yes, Lisbon might be the country’s
unofficial culinary capital. But it’s the western city of Aveiro we
think you’ll love. Set along the hypnotic waters of the Ria de
Aveiro lagoon, this sun-baked spot remains relatively off the
tourist map. Flanked by a beautiful canvas of art nouveau
architecture, Aveiro’s streets are divided by a handful of narrow
canals navigated by traditional moliçeiro boats, which are used to
both harvest seaweed and whisk you from A to B.
The perfect day? A stroll beneath the soaring palm trees of
waterfront park Jardim do Rossio; a pastry pick-up from M Bakery Aveiro; a wander
around the buzzy Beira Mar district; a balmy beach afternoon; and
an evening spent singing and dancing at neighbourhood Lovecraft Beer Lounge Aveiro. Read on for our top
picks of where to eat, stay and play while in town.
A beautiful facade, left, and the dune-flanked boardwalk of
Praia da Costa Nova. | Photo credit: Leandro & Ricardo /
Make tracks to Praia da Costa Nova. Just a 10-minute drive from
the city centre, this sprawling stretch of powder-white sand is
ideal for both beach bums and surfers, thanks to its wild Atlantic
waves. The area is also known for its candy-coloured cottages,
which were originally constructed in the 18th century by fishermen
to store their equipment in. Head down mid-morning; that way you
can take the 6km-long stroll along the weather-beaten boardwalk
from Costa Nova to Praia da Barra before temperatures begin to
soar. After which, reward yourself with a visit to the 1893-built
Farol da Barra – Portugal’s tallest lighthouse. Climb its 288 steps
to be rewarded with magical views.
Where to stay?
Aveiro’s accommodation landscape isn’t exactly brimming with
boutique stays, but that shouldn’t stop you from exploring the
culture-rich city. Make this one-bedroom studio your base – a contemporary
space with two spacious balconies, brass pendant lamps, velvet
furnishings and the kind of plush headboard you’d save on your
Pinterest interiors board.
What about food?
Everyone knows that the best way to taste the true flavour of a
destination is to try its signature dish. Aveiro’s? Ovos moles – a
pastry-like delicacy crafted from egg yolk, sugar and often
chocolate. Snag one from M Bakery Aveiro, or alternatively book into one of the
daily workshops at Oficina do Doce to learn how they are made.
Make restaurant Raiz your choice for dinner, whose veggie menu
includes an exceptional organic chickpea and vegetable curry – and
a pretty great lentil bolognese, too. Subenshi Sushi
delivers on the tempura front, while the stylish, canal-facing Cais
do Pescado is known for its meat and seafood entrees – the octopus
with pepper purée gets our vote.
A moliçeiro boat cruises along the canal, alongside a plate
of ovos moles. | Photo credit: Ricardo & Franca / Unsplash.com
And for a drink…
Neighbourhood Alavarium Bar, which has a deckchair-dotted
courtyard, tropical cocktail menu and the kind of light bites you
can’t help but order twice. We suggest swinging by mid-afternoon,
when a late lunch looks like club sandwiches and paper-wrapped
fries accompanied by a passion-fruit mojito. If it’s a craft ale
that you’re craving, then it’s over to Lovecraft Beer Lounge Aveiro.
Who to take with you?
That friend who still bangs on about their trip to Lisbon from
three years ago. They’ll appreciate Aveiro’s old-school charm and
Essentials to pack
Sport effortlessly glossy locks with the Dr Barbara Sturm Repair Hair Mask, a blend of
organic shea butter and plant-based squalane that promises to both
hydrate and protect hair against heat damage. It’s infused with
lavender extract to reduce scalp sensitivity, too.
How to get there
Take a direct flight from London Gatwick to Francisco Sá
Carneiro Airport, from where the city centre is around an hour’s