January 19, 2020
Many people call Aveiro, Portugal the Venice of Portugal; however, this would be a huge disservice to Aveiro. We think it stands on its own merits and beauty. Aveiro is about an hour south of Porto. It is the end of the line on the Comboios train from Sao Bento station in Porto.
In the summer, they have large crowds, but a visit in January is very enjoyable. The canals, boats and the town are extremely clean. Every two weeks they open the dikes and drain the canals with the outgoing tide. Then, when the tides turn, the canals are refilled with clean water and the dikes are closed until the next cleaning cycle. No smells and it’s a great water and flood management for the city.
The boats that ride the canals are called Moliceiros boats. These boats were designed to gather up the seaweed that was once farmed on these canals. A second type of boat on the canals were used for hauling the salt. The salt production from the nearby salt flats were used to preserve the cod that they caught in the waters off Newfoundland. Since ice is now used to preserve the cod, the salt flats are only farmed for tourism.
It’s nice to take a Moliceiros boat ride around the canals of Aveiro. The ride lasts 45 minutes and costs €13.
After our boat tour and lunch at one of the many restaurants, we headed to the edge of town to stroll through the salt flats. This area is teeming with bird life and we were fortunate enough to see a large flock of flamingos. One of the locals told us that the flamingos used to migrate to Africa during the winter. Now, due to a warmer climate, they stay on the salt flats. It’s a great nature walk just on the edge of town.
Strolling through town along the canals is very interesting. There are so many beautiful tiled buildings and many in the art nouveau design.
Directions: From the Sao Bento train station, you will purchase a Zone 9 ticket to Aveiro. A round trip ticket will cost you 7,10€. You can check the train timetable from the Comboios de Portugal website.