AVEIRO TOURISM GUIDE
A colorful city crossed by canals leading to great dunes
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Aveiro is an attractive city on the southeastern edge of a scenic lagoon.
It is crossed by three canals spanned by low-arched bridges, and is divided
into two parts by the Central Canal.
North of this canal is the old fishermen's section, and the southern part is
home to the city's most historic buildings. The canal itself is lined with
fine Art Nouveau buildings and beautifully painted gondola-like boats known
as "moliceiros". These were once mainly used to collect seaweed, but now
transport tourists down the canal.
The city is great for walking because it has no hills and its places of interest are easily accessible. The major sight is the former Convent of Jesus, now the City Museum. The church dates from the 15th century, but its interior decoration and Baroque façade were completed in the 18th century. Princess Joana, a daughter of King Afonso V lived in the 15th-century convent until her death in 1489. Several miracles have been attributed to her, and she is now known as Saint Joana. Her remains were placed inside the convent, in a 17th century tomb that is considered a masterpiece of marble mosaic. There are also tile panels depicting her life, and a fine 15th century portrait of her attributed to Nuno Gonçalves, one of the country's best known artists.
The old convent's sumptuous 18th century church has exuberant gilded wood carvings and an ornate ceiling. Also of note are the 16th-century Renaissance cloisters.
Facing the museum is the small Sé (cathedral) whose baroque façade has twisted columns and sculpted figures of Faith, Hope and Charity. Inside is a 17th century organ and 17th century tiles.
A short walk away is Praça da Republica, a small square with the City Hall on one side and the 17th-century Misericordia Church (with a lovely Renaissance portal and tiles on its façade) on another.
A fun way to explore Aveiro is by bicycle. There are several bikes known as "BUGA" parked around the city. They are free, working like a shopping cart at the local supermarkets -- the 1-Euro coin inserted to unlock the bike is returned when the bike is parked again at any of the several BUGA stops around the city.
Facing the Atlantic nearby are the sandy beaches of Barra (with the country's tallest lighthouse; the second-tallest in Europe and third in the world) and Costa Nova (known for its attractive candy-striped houses). They are good beaches for a day's outing in the summer, but visitors wanting to explore the lagoon instead, may visit the city's tourism office that organizes two-hour boat trips.
The area around the dunes of São Jacinto has what is considered some of Europe's most spectacular dune land, and is also worth exploring.
An attraction outside the city is the Vista Alegre Museum that records the history of the famous Vista Alegre porcelain that is sold since 1824 when the factory was founded. It is well-known around the world, with famous names such as Britain's Elizabeth II and Spain's Juan Carlos having commissioned pieces.
When arriving in Aveiro by train, visitors are usually drawn to the train station's tile-adorned façade. From there it is about 1km (just over half a mile) to the Central Canal, walking down the main avenue, Avenida Dr. Lourenço Peixinho.
North of the city is one of the country's most spectacular castles, in the town of SANTA MARIA DA FEIRA (easily reached by bus from Aveiro).
This lovely Gothic fairytale castle was first built in the 11th century and restored in the 15th century, with four square towers crowned with a series of conical turrets. A gateway leads into the interior and the main room, the "Great Hall". There is not much inside but it retains its romantic air.
The other attraction in town is the Europarque Visionarium, a large science museum with enjoyable state-of-the-art interactive displays (in Portuguese and English) covering subjects ranging from the Portuguese voyages of discoveries to the interiors of microchips.
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- Old university town; a tragic love story
Conimbriga - Roman village; Iberia's best preserved Roman mosaics
Figueira da Foz - The country's longest beach; exceptional Delft tiles; casino fun.
Buçaco - Manueline exuberance in a garden of Eden; the site of Napoleon's defeat
Viseu - Fine old town; 16th century art
AND TAGUS VALLEY
Castelo de Vide
Vila Real de Santo António
BEIRAS (CENTRAL PORTUGAL)
Figueira da Foz
Serra da Estrela
PORTO AND DOURO
Gerês National Park
Ponte de Lima
Ponte da Barca
Viana do Castelo