A Charming Part of Portugal
Our long weekend in Costa Nova and Aveiro had been a very enjoyable time exploring the lesser-visited part in Portugal. The wild and almost deserted beaches along the Atlantic coast attract a different crowd to the calmer and warmer seaside resorts in the Algarve. It is easy to spend a few days in the area and we would highly recommend a stay of at least three nights to have enough time to discover the sights and enjoy life in the area. We hope our little guide here to Costa Nova and Aveiro will help you plan your trip to this charming part of Portugal’s North.
How to get there
Porto and its international airport is only an hour and a half’s drive away. Hire cars are easily available and driving was easy, apart from some rush hour congestion around Porto. Portugal’s motorways charge small fees at toll stations and are so in good conditions.
Where to sleep in Costa Nova
Hotels options in Costa Nova are still scarce however we enjoyed our stay in Hotel Costa Nova, a friendly boutique hotel. Families might prefer to stay in one of the many apartments and houses available for rent. Taking this option also gives you a great idea of what it’s like to live in one of the cute striped huts that have made Costa Nova an up and coming tourist destination.
Where to stay in Aveiro
Aveiro, offers a more varied selection of hotels and apartments, but we preferred to be in Costa Nova to be close for a stroll to the beach.
Where to eat
We ate out for lunch and dinner and savoured a large selection of local dishes. The restaurants were all child friendly, although we did not notice any children’s menus. Jerome, depending on his mood can be either an adventurous or fussy eater and while he tried to eat a la carte the restaurants seemed happy to prepare special or adapted dishes on request. Eating out in Costa Nova and Aveiro was inexpensive, especially compared to London prices.
Restaurants in Costa Nova
This charming restaurant served a traditional, local fare prepared by a lovely family. A must are the barbequed dishes, we enjoyed bot fish and meat with vegetables and returned for a second time.
The restaurant offers white table dining in one of the stand out buildings along the main street, slightly pricier than Katakero. I tried the local eel dish, an acquired taste for many, while the boys opted for meat dishes, we also shared a platter of cheese and dry cured meats from the region.
This popular café attracts the crowds thanks to their delicious “pasteis de natas”! A must with our daily afternoon coffee! A short wait for a free table could be expected
Ze of Tripa
The small kiosk sells fresh made “Tripas”, a tasty local treat. Imagine a pancake filled with chocolate, Nutella, Toblerone or “Ovos Moles, an egg custard like crème. Take one or two and have on the harbour wall with views of the salt water lagoon or on an nearby bench and watch the world go by.
We went for lunch and admittedly the food was nothing special. A very small selection of standard fast food, hot dogs, burgers and sandwiches, but a great spot to sit and watch the waves pounding onto the beach with a drink in hand.
Assalam Beach Bar
The place to be for a sunset cocktail or glass of wine or beer. No food on offer but the DJ and island vibe made it a memorable evening for us.
Visitors with their own kitchen should venture to the market hall in Costa Nova and choose from the large selection of fresh caught fish and seafood. It is also a great place to buy fruit and vegetables.
Praia de Vageiro
Ei – O refúgio do Alemão
A casual German and Portuguese restaurant, largely frequented by locals. The francesinha was delicious and the boys enjoyed their burgers. Jerome had wanted to go for some German comfort food that his Oma sometimes cooks but sadly it was not available during our visit but the grill more than compensated.
Many of the restaurants and cafes looked good but I can only recommend places we eat at so I will have to update after our next visit.
Must See and Do
Portugal’s Prettiest Village
Be enchanted by Portugal’s prettiest village. Wander the streets aimlessly to get away from the main street to discover local life and colour away from the tourist crowds.
Sandy beaches, backed by dunes, run for kilometers along the Atlantic coast and it is easy to get a secluded spot on the beach. Be aware the waves can be rough and dangerous undercurrents can be found in many places. For safety families should stick to the beach sections with lifeguards.
Swing the club on Costa Nova’s crazy golf course. The fun design offers a challenging course for kids and adults alike.
Sail, canoe or wind surf the salt-water lagoon. Whether you are already a pro or a novice, Riactiva offers a variety of water sports for all levels with or without instructors. The boys enjoyed their sailing session on the lagoon.
Why not explore the area on two wheels? The flat countryside offers easy cycling conditions with on and off road bike routes. Our bike tour to Praia da Vagueira led us along a separate cycling path, even younger children can safely enjoy a bike ride to the quiet seaside village and water park. The sailing centre hires them also.
Praia de Vagueira
Only open during the summer months, the water park offers a fun alternative to the beach. A variety of slides and pools will provide excitement.
Catch a ride on the traditional gondolas that were used to collect seaweed and enjoy a memorable sightseeing tour through Portugal’s little Venice.
Take a Stroll and Some Retail Therapy
Go for a stroll through the old town to explore the grand art nouveau buildings, the cute residential houses covered in psychedelic tiles from the 60’s and 70’s. There are plenty of restaurants and shopping for those in need of retail therapy.
When to Visit
The best time for a visit are Spring and Autumn, Summer may be busy but of course it has the advantage of sunny, warmer weather, perfect for a beach holiday! Winter might be rather wet, windy and cold.
Enjoy Costa Nova and Aveiro!
We hope our guide will come in handy and you will enjoy a trip to this off the beaten path destination in Portugal, Costa Nova and Aveiro, just as much as we did!
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