Heading south from Aveiro to Cascais, Portugal

In En-Route, Europe, Our Journeys, Portugal, Trip-Types, World Travel by Janis1 Comment

And the coastline in between...

There are so many reasons why a road trip is a fantastic idea, and I’m convinced it’s the perfect way to tour Portugal. Jumping in and out of the car to visit lovely towns and villages, and don’t get me started on the incredible views along the shoreline.

Praça do Marquês do Pombal, Aveiro, Portugal

Our loop of the country resumes, and we’re now heading south through central Portugal, along the west coast.

We spend time discovering Aveiro, a short hop to Costa Nova, and then we wind south along the Atlantic Ocean to Cascais.

Venice of Portugal

If there’s water I’m happy, and what does Aveiro have? Canals, so I’m going to enjoy this.

Canal de Sao Roque, Aveiro, Portugal

Aveiro’s industry has historically been around the salt pans, although in 1575 due to a storm the town’s harbour became silted up and direct access to the sea wasn’t gained again until 1808.

Salt panning street art, Aveiro, Portugal

A reference guide

Our recent new found love is Portugal, it is such a beautiful country. While planning our trip, I used the DK Eyewitness books. I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.

We used a previous version of this book to plan our north to south Portuguese road trip, now you can grab the revised copy.

DK Portugal cover

Go with the flow

Strolling around the Old Quarter of Aveiro is very easy, and with its narrow lanes and waterways, you’ll find yourself just following your nose instead of a map, and wander off around another little corner.

Canal da Praca do Peixe, Aveiro, Portugal

However, where I’m sure you will head to is the Central Canal, which wraps itself around the Jardim do Rossio.

Moliceiros on the the Canal de Sao Roque, Aveiro, Portugal


You can’t help but automatically be drawn to the colourful moliceiro boats. These boats were used initially for harvesting seaweed for fertiliser (and some still are).

A flurry of moliceiros, Aveiro, Portugal
Moliceiros plying their trade, Aveiro, Portugal
Moliceiros floating along, Aveiro, Portugal

The vibrant boats are so eye-catching, and if you take a look at the front curved prow, some of the hand-painted images are a little bit saucy.

Saucy decoration, Aveiro, Portugal
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Take to the water

If you’re like me and love a boat trip, why not enjoy a tour in moliceiro for half a day around the canals and lagoon.

Moles for sale

Before you head off to discover more of the town, hunt out the little cabin selling Ovos Moles.

These small local delicacies are bite-size sweets wrapped in rice paper, with a rich egg yolk and sugar filling mmmmm.

An Ovos Moles stall, Aveiro, Portugal


Another beautiful part of Portugal’s history is its ceramics, these are found all through the old quarter. Adorning buildings, balconies and pathways.

A local café, Aveiro, Portugal

There is also such a lovely mix of styles from the intricate to the smooth Art Deco lines.

Grand architecture, Aveiro, Portugal
Is it Art Deco?, Aveiro, Portugal

Local Brew

It would have been rude not to, so Gary took one for the team and sampled the local beer.

Local Brew, Aveiro, Portugal

Tick Tock

Driving around this region of Portugal is very picturesque, and we stopped quite a few times if you’re on a schedule just be aware of the time ‘it just flies’.


We’re now on our journey south, however, before we head on that trail, we couldn’t resist visiting Costa Nova to see the colourful palheiros.

Strolling along Costa Nova, Portugal

Heading west directly towards the Atlantic Ocean we turn down into Aveiro Lagoon, just a short drive along and the charming candy-striped homes unravel out ahead of us.

The beach houses of Costa Nova, Portugal

Traditionally these buildings would have been used by the local fisherman for storage, however, nowadays they have become popular with tourists as holiday homes & who can blame them.

Bright stripes of Costa Nova, Portugal
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Have You?

Visited Portugal and discovered any towns or cities that you really want to share with us, as we can’t wait to start planning our next road trip?

To the beach

Back in our trusty steed and we’re on our way again, trying to stick to the coastal route as much as we can. Although we did drive along a very bumpy road through a partial forest which the car wasn’t too pleased about.

Leading to the beach at Praia da Vieira, Portugal

Our next stop was at Praia da Vieira, perhaps as it was the end of April things were a bit quiet and empty, but, that certainly didn’t detract from the fact, that the beach looked wonderful.

Praia da Vieira, Portugal

Ohh a lighthouse

We couldn’t resist stopping again by the lighthouse at Marinha Grande. (Well I say “we”, if there’s a lighthouse to be seen, Gary needs to stop).

The lighthouse at Marinha Grande, Portugal

Plenty of Laybys

We found that there was quite a lot of parking along the route, so it was reasonably easy to pull over. Although summer months I imagine it may get busy.  


Surely that’s not another lighthouse in the distance, next stop was at Nazaré, the views here are incredible, high up on the cliff.

Looking across the Farol da Nazaré, Portugal

Then of course there’s the perfect sweeping sandy beach below.

Praia da Nazaré, Portugal

Quick hop

As time was pressing and the weather slightly turning, we took a more direct route south until we were north of Sintra.  

Even though it was now beginning to rain, we could still see the Sintra palaces of Pena, Quinta da Regaleira, which we had visited the year before.

The bay at Praia da Cresmina, Portugal

Nearly at Cascais, we picked up the coastline again to follow it around. The shoreline here was pretty impressive, crashing waves along the rugged rock face.

The sandy beaches of Praia da Cresmina, Portugal

Tempted to?

Discover more of historic Portugal and tour its picturesque countryside or even head south to the Algarve coastline. You can do it all on a road trip, SIXT car hire cover all budgets and allow you to pick up and drop off at different destinations.

We made it

A bit late but we finally arrived, so we headed straight out before the heavens opened again.

Follow the waves, Cascais, Portugal
Praca 5 de Outubro, Cascais, Portugal

What I do like about Portuguese towns are the lovely floor tiles that they lay, sweeping along the promenades and the squares.

Cascais Town Hall, Cascais, Portugal

A little too cold

Cascais has some lovely sandy bays if you fancied a dip; however, a little bit of sun was needed to entice people out.

Praia da Rainha, Cascais, Portugal
Praia da Rainha at night, Cascais, Portugal

Along the quiet lanes

After our evening stroll the weather had finally perked up; however, it certainly didn’t bring the crowds out.

The quiet lanes of Cascais, Portugal
Ssshhhh, Cascais, Portugal

Although we enjoyed our evening in Cascais, I wasn’t too disappointed that our time was limited.

Cascais at night, Cascais, Portugal

Gary and I travel with open minds and will usually try and find traditional or local haunts in a place, however, in Cascais we struggled, for us, it didn’t quite have the charm we had hoped for.

Where we ate

The restaurant we chose for our evening in Aveiro was named ‘A Bateira’. It was a tiny little place on the corner of a lane, it had a very local feel and was run by two mature guys, one cooking, one serving and neither couldn’t speak English (which is what we love).

Gary chose the local speciality of ‘arroz de marisco’ (seafood rice casserole) & I had huge plate of pork loin.

We shared a jug of wine, and the total bill was €20.25 (unbelievably good value).

A Bateira – restaurant, Aveiro, Portugal
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Inspired to create your Portuguese road trip?

Stroll around the winding canals or jump into a colourful moliceiro to Costa Nova and see the candy-striped fisherman’s homes.

Why not checkout the latest deals on Booking.Com?


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  1. So inspired Janis and Gary! I would absolutely LOVE to do a road trip along the Portuguese coast. Dreamy. The water, the beaches, the tiled towns and brilliant colors. LOVE the look of the canal boats in Aveiro. SO charming. Thank you for once again putting Portugal front and center of my wandering wish list. Beautiful post. Cheers from Copenhagen. #FarawayFiles

  2. Thanks Erin, we can’t recommend Portugal enough, I think we’ve started to bore everyone about it. There’s just so many lovely towns that feel untouched and the people were so welcoming. Obrigada

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