Explore the Charming Streets of Costa Nova
There are times when I discover a photo online or in a magazine and I know we just have to visit a place! This was the case with Costa Nova, the pretty, striped houses had immediately cast their spell on me. Surely this sleepy seaside village could be a contender for the prettiest and most photogenic villages in Portugal? We had to find out and I booked us for a long bank holiday weekend to explore the charming streets of Costa Nova.
How to Get There
Getting there was surprisingly easy, flights into Porto are plenty to come by from most cities in Europe. The popularity of Portugal’s second largest town has grown and the hilly, cobbled streets have attracted an increasing number of tourists. We had visited before so for this trip we bypassed the city and from Porto Airport we drove south in our hire car, past towering eucalyptus forests and villages towards Aveiro and the Praia do Costa Nova do Prado. After about an hour and a half we had arrived on the lagoon side of the village and were immediately welcomed by the charming views of the colourful houses. The pretty village claims a prime site on a narrow strip of land between the pounding surf of the Atlantic Ocean and the calm waters of the natural salt water lagoon behind.
Arrival in the Pretty Village
I was excited to leave the car and wander the streets of Costa Nova. Sadly our late arrival meant that we would only be able to take a glance at the architecture and local life before we needed to have dinner. I had contemplated about choosing an apartment in the village, but in the end had chosen the friendly boutique hotel Costa Nova at the centre of the village, just a stone throw from the market hall and many restaurants and cafes.
Dinner at Restaurant Katakero
Our dinner at Restaurante Katekero introduced us to the local cuisine, fresh fish and meat grilled on their barbeque, plus fresh cheeses for starters. The food was certainly tasty and the family owners very welcoming. Jerome opted for a steak with fries while the adults were more adventurous in our choices.
On the Streets of Costa Nova
The following morning we headed out onto the streets to discover the colourful houses. With no real itinerary or goal in mind we strolled along the streets that took our fancy, starting in the road behind the hotel. The whimsical houses could have sprung straight from a children’s picture book. Bright stripes with a contrasting white were a common feature on the local houses, however now and again we stumbled onto tiled walls with classic Portuguese azulejos, and others featuring sixties style psychedelic patterns and colours. The residents here, obviously proud of their pretty houses, had added some flower power and kitsch into the rainbow mix.
Venture Away From the Day Trippers
We were surprised there were few other tourists around considering the hype of Costa Nova online and on Instagram at that time. However, it might have been the time of year, and a large number of the day trippers to the area did not venture far from the main road, or stay long, this meant we had the side streets almost all to ourselves.
In the village there are plenty of other attractions besides the colourful houses, although these are without a doubt the main captivating sight in Costa Nova. Upon our arrival in the charming fisher village Jerome had spotted a mini golf course and had been keen to play a few rounds. The crazy golf course consists of two different circuits. Sadly one was closed due to an international tournament. However, we had fun practicing our mini golf skills at the kooky, pirate adventure course. The 18 holes were blended very well into with Costa Nova’s seaside architecture. The obstacles were designed with bright stripes and seaside features, including a fierce shark. The boys finished way ahead of me, and Jerome would have loved to play another round but settled on a winners ice cream instead.
Heading Towards the Beach
Rather than playing again we headed towards the beach for lunch, only to find many of the seafront beach bars and restaurants along the Praia da Costa Nova still shut, it still being early in the season. However, one of the bars had enough foresight to be open on this beautiful, sunny Saturday. The menu offered a small selection of basic dishes, including sandwiches and hot dogs, by far not our favourite food, but enough to choose from for a casual lunch. We played a few rounds of poker dice while waiting for our food.
A Stroll Along the Sandy Beach
Afterwards we took a stroll along the sandy beach and dunes with the waves pounding onto the almost deserted shore. Only few were brave to put up their windbreakers and sunbathe. Some local men tried their luck at fishing, although despite us watching them for quite a while, they appeared to have no luck! Later on, we swapped the sandy beach for a wooden walkway and made much faster progress along the protected dunes. Every now and then behind the dunes the colourful house facades peeked across the golden mounds and through the grasses. Jerome tried balancing on the handrail and once the boardwalk ended we found a spot in the fine sand to sit and enjoy the warm afternoon sun and watch the waves. Jerome and Chris tested the cold water of the Atlantic Ocean by dipping their feet into the foamy sea but it was not swimming weather.
Sailing on the Salt Water Lagoon
At some point the temperatures started to drop and we left our serene patch on the beach and took a wander back into town. Instead of taking the route along the beach we headed for the lagoon side to investigate if it was possible to hire a sailing dingy for the following day. After inquiring about options at Riactiva, Jerome and Chris decided to reserve a catamaran for an hour to sail across the calm saltwater lagoon.
Tasty “Pasteis de Nata” at Atlandia
Before arriving back at the hotel we made a brief stop at Atlandia for some famous Portuguese “pasteis de nata”. The tasty little treats could well rival those we had in Lisbon at the well-known pastelleria in Belem. For dinner although there were a selection of alternatives we opted to return to Katakero after having enjoyed the food the previous night. It gave us a chance to try different local dishes from their extensive menu that we had spotted. Discover more about our sailing sojourn and more of the prettiest village in Portugal in the following posts.
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Where we stayed in Costa Nova:
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