Portugal’s coastal towns like Lagos and Aveiro are known for the summer vibes – warm breezes, lapping waves and intense sunshine. This is when most people would go; but we are not most people! We got the cold winds, crashing waves and moments of sun mixed with winter clouds. Nonetheless, just as with the southern coastline and towns of Portugal, we found our way around and saw a quieter side of the summer hotspots in the middle of winter.
The photo above is not photoshopped. I did not digital enhance this photo by taking tourists strolling along out of the shot. There was no one around. Lest you think the day was blustery and cold, it wasn’t. It was, as you can see, a perfectly sunny and perfectly mild brisk winter day. The weather was perfect in my opinion. We took photos, looked at the waterfront on the “marsh” or intercoastal side of the barrier island and then drove to the beach.
The beach was just as quiet, but also just as beautiful. While the temperatures were too cold for me to don a bathing suit, they were great for a walk in the sand.
Having our fill of salty air and breezes, we headed inland a few minutes. Aveiro is a quick drive over the bridge and easily visible on your drive out to Costa Nova. Aveiro is not a bustling city like Lisbon or Porto, rather a larger town with plenty to see and do but with fewer traffic jams and stop lights. There was a bit of a frenetic energy the day we visited, but I attribute the buzz to the Christmas season.
The cobblestone streets, colorful tiled walls and intricate architecture are par for the course when it comes to Portugal cities, or European cities for that matter. But there is one feature that makes this city almost uniquely its own – boats. But, not just any boats – gondolas. Plus, to make it better, these gondolas move site seers through the city via canals. It’s like a little Venice, Italy.
Aveiro and Costa Nova are easy day trips from Porto – only an hour or so drive by car. Once there your experience will depend on the season. Both towns are very busy and alive during the warmer summer months. However, we found the energy or Aveiro mixed with the almost eerie quiet of Costa Nova in the winter months the perfect recipe for a great day in Portugal.