One of the most important cities of the central region in Portugal, Aveiro, is ideal for walking. It's not very big and hilly as Porto and Lisbon, so save your pocket money for some delicious local sweets and explore Aveiro on foot while burning calories of the "ovos moles." Many of its attractions are completely free of cost, thus here is the list of five free things to do in Aveiro.
The best thing Aveiro has got to offer culturewise are several well- preserved art nouveau buildings, most of which are concentrated in João Mendonça Street and Dr. Barbosa de Magalhães Street, right in the city center. How important these buildings are is indicated by the fact that Aveiro is a member of the "Réseau Art Nouveau Network," along with Barcelona, Brussels, Budapest, Glasgow, Helsinki, and Havana. The most breathtaking and photographed one is certainly Casa Major Pessoa, which was converted into the Art Nouveau museum in 2008.
Most of the adventures in Aveiro happen around the canals of its Lagoon - Ria de Aveiro. The best way to get to know this place of unique biodiversity is simply by walking around it and observing its wildlife. Also, parts of the Lagoon have been used for salt production, and there is an eco-museum, where you can check out the process. However, the best thing about the Lagoon is that hundreds of flamingos live here and you can easily spot them in the afternoon around Ria of Aveiro. Some of them spend the whole year in Portugal, and some annually move from Spain, France, Italy, but also Turkey or Algeria.
Although the first thing you notice once you arrive in Aveiro is its unique "moliceiro" gondola-like boats, I suggest you save 10€ and visit the Lagoon on foot. Thanks to the newly constructed walkaways, locally known as "Passadiços," Ria de Aveiro has been more accessible than ever to those curious to have a close up of its peculiar flora and fauna. The total length of the walkway is around five kilometers (starting from Esgueira quay), it's linear and not challenging at all, as it's completely flat.
Aveiro is one of a few cities in Europe where you can have free coffee! "How is that?" you may be wondering. A local youth association, Agora Aveiro, has been implementing a project called "Coffee on hold" (Café Suspenso) for a few years now. The project involves several cafés in the city where a person can "pay forward" for a coffee, or another beverage, soup or a pastry, and so a person in need can benefit from it. You can look for your free coffee in one of the following cafés in Aveiro: Má Ideia, A Mulata, Monlou, among others.
For an amazing sunset, make sure you end your day at one of the beaches loved by the locals: Barra or Costa Nova, both about 10 kilometers away from the city center. Although these beaches are not swimming-friendly (waves are usually huge and the water too cold), it's quite amazing being there just to watch the ocean. There's another beach, S. Jacinto, which is usually empty but equally beautiful. If you happen to visit it, don't miss the nearby Nature Park "São Jacinto Dunes." Last, if you are lucky (or well organized) enough to be at the Barra beach on a Wednesday afternoon, you can't miss going up the tallest lighthouse of Portugal, free of charge.
Besides the "five free things to do in Aveiro" itinerary, here's another tip -- there are also free municipal bicycles in Aveiro. Just ask for "BUGA" kiosk in the city center and enjoy the ride if you feel like.
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