During our epic road trip throughout Europe in January, when we departed from Spain and crossed into Portugal border, we swinged by the pretty little town..with the name of Aveiro.
Introducing the little town of Aveiro
Aveiro is a lovely tranquil city/ town on the west coast of Portugal, a great 2-3 Days stop to include for a little serenity and some gondola watching. It is also widely known and describe as ‘The Portuguese Venice’. However, if you are short of time, Aveiro in a day is also possible, though a little rush.
We arrived rather late in the evening at Aveiro Portugal after a long drive, and went straight to check in at our lovely nautical theme guesthouse – Aveiro Rossio Bed & Breakfast.
We didn’t manage to see much of Aveiro that night given it was already too dark, but we were very thankful for the cosy and warm welcome of our guesthouse that helped us to recharge for the night before we could check out the beautiful town the following day.
Aveiro in A Day
Mornings: Gondolas and Chanels
Bright and early the next day at sunrise, we went out to explore the lovely Aveiro city. It is beautifully quiet and peaceful if you start out early before all the hustle and bustle of the daily commute begins. The colourful gondola boats line the river and are all painted beautifully with different designs and motifs. They are callled ”barcos moliceiros”, and it used to be the type of fishing boats to harvest for seaweed. Its long narrow shape enables it to navigate the canels while transporting as much seaweed as possible. Reminded me a lot of Myanmar Inle Lake as well.
However these days, the boats are used to ferry tourists for a tour of the canels in the pretty city.
Aveiro Canels and long gondolas. These gondolas are also known as ”barcos moliceiros”
Taking a relaxing walking tour of Aveiro Town
We decided to skip the river cruise and just walk around the little cobbled streets and alleys instead.
Some of the art nouveau buildings you can see here in Aveiro are the Cathedral of Aveiro, with its prominent bell tower at the top. The Museu de Aveiro is also a beautiful place to visit, which used to be a convent school. The building’s secret – house a rather intricate and lavish tomb made of marble. Pity we didn’t have time to see it.
So try to weave in at least 1 full day to check out the lovely town of Aveiro when you are driving around this part of Portugal, you won’t regret it.
Highlight: Join the Portuguese Festivals in Aveiro
Epiphany (Dia de Reis) in the Month of January
We were lucky to have witness this super peculiar yet interesting festival they have here in Aveiro. Epiphany is also known as ‘ Three King Day ‘ which many Europeans celebrate around the world. Different countries have different practices or ways to celebrate, so despite missing it in Spain, we made it over to Portugal in time for it.
The days leading up to the festival, there were street stalls selling this white hard cake/ flour thing which I subsquently found out it is designed to look like the Portuguese king’s crown bolo rei. These white cakes are bought in bags and are used at night when it turns dark. And thats when all the activity happens.
Once it turned dark, we started walking towards a specific cathedral that was mentioned where the Dia de Reis action will begin.
To our surprise, we discovered there has already been a crowd of people gathered there with crazy long nets and upside down umbrellas. What is happening??
And we soon found out, during this pre-Lenten celebrations, this king cake made out of sweet brioche dough and then glazed, after being purchased, they will bring it up to the top of the cathedral and throw it down over the edge to the sea of catchers below, all prepared with their nets, umbrellas and full enthusiasm.
Cez was intially just standing by observing and being a spectactor, but before long, he was running around trying to catch some falling King’s cake, acting as crazy as the locals there. I on the other hand was trying to capture some really cool shots but spend half the time just dodging falling King’s cake and resulting in a whole bunch of blur photos of falling cake.
I must say the entire experience was lots of fun and we had really good memories there. We couldn’t finish all the King’s cake we caught, and had to donate it away at our bed and breakfast place. But all in all, it was a lovely stay at Aveiro Rossio Bed & Breakfast and good sweet memories of the lovely town of Aveiro.
A fan of Portugual food and treats? Check out my guide on the best eats in Lisbon
Other best festivals in Portugal:
- Festa das Fogaceiras is held yearly on January 20 in Santa Maria da Feira – young girls in their traditional dresses carrying castle-shaped fogaças cakes balancing on their heads to give thanks for blessings of good health.
- Carnaval is on February or March (47 days before Easter). Traditionally carnival starts on the last Friday before Lent and ends on Shrove Tuesday.
- Semana Santa in from March – April.
- Festa das Cruzes held on 1–3 May is called ”Festival of the Crosses” in Barcelos. It is the largest annual event in Barcelos, Minho.
- Fátima on 13 May – Fátimaor Peregrinação de Fátima is Portugal’s most famous Christian pilgrimage.
- Festa de São João held in Porto during 23 June ( Same day as my birthday too! )
- St Martin’s Day or ‘São Martinho’ is held on 11 November.
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CindyMay 13, 2018 at 11:02 pm
Aveiro sounds wonderful and I love this festival. Flinging cake down at the crowd – it’s a bit like manna from heaven! Sounds like a blast.
Lydia YangMay 14, 2018 at 3:33 pm
And it definitely was a blast, Cindy. I hope you’ll get the chance to see Aveiro one day- it’s simply wonderful!
KatMay 14, 2018 at 2:22 pm
I was travelling in Portugal in September last year – missed Aveiro unfortunately – but I can see why it’s a pretty charming town. Your post is making me miss Portugal, it’s such a lovely country!
Lydia YangMay 14, 2018 at 3:37 pm
Portugal is indeed charming, Kat. It’s a pity you didn’t get the chance to explore Averio. That’s one more reason to visit Portugal again, right? 🙂
CindyMay 14, 2018 at 4:36 pm
I’ve been to Portugal several times and have totally fallen for this country. However, I have yet to visit Aveiro and would love to go. You say they’re tossing cake to the crowd?! That seals the deal. Lovely post.
Lydia YangMay 15, 2018 at 8:44 pm
Thanks, Cindy! Falling for Portugal is so easy as the country is truly amazing! 🙂
The UntouristsJuly 1, 2018 at 11:53 pm
Wow how lovely. Didn’t know this side of Portugal. I a must sure tech food must have been a,mazing too…
Lydia YangJuly 2, 2018 at 9:34 am
Thank you, Param and Shikha! Portugal never ceases to amaze. It is simply mesmerizing! 🙂