The “Ria” conquered Aveiro and it became its heart. It is what identifies the city, gives it brightness and life and it has permanently marked local traditions. In Aveiro, everything happens around its 47 kilometres of water next to the sea. It is the “Ria”, a silver mirror, which reflects the colour of the moliceiro boats and the Art Nouveau houses; it is what makes Aveiro so seductive and unique.
The Aveiro “Ria” began to form during the 15th century, when the shore line moved back and left behind sandpits along an area of eleven thousand hectares which created a lagoon. Nowadays, it has become a real network of canals and islands which has made Aveiro earn the title of “Portuguese Venice”. The water shelters many species such as lamprey clams, storks, herons and some birds of prey or mammals like genettas and otters. Its wealth is so exceptional that the Lagoon has been classified as a protected area.
A great part of the Aveiro population has always depended on the “Ria” to work. It has enabled harvesting seaweed, fishing, producing salt and it has also stimulated shipbuilding. Over the last few years, the “Ria” has adapted to modern needs and has enabled the city to develop its tourism through activities such as sea sports. It receives its visitors with open arms.
Apart from tours on board a moliceiro boat, the Aveiro “Ria” has many other activities to offer you. You can try sea sports and venture in windsurf or kite surf or be amazed by Aveiro as seen from the sky if you choose to air travel over the “Ria”. You can also rent a BUGA, Aveiro’s Water Bikes and take a relaxed ride between Lago da Fonte Nova and the Capitania.
The "Ria" is the ideal spot for birdwatching activities, as well as a privileged destination for birdwatchers worldwide due to the excellence of its natural habitats for protected species, such as the purple heron (Ardea purpurea).
It's the greatest wet zone in the half north of Center of Portugal region and a paradise for birdwatching aficionados! Classified as Special Protected Zone, its salt-marshes and marine meadows are very important habitats for estuaries. The habitats are specially relevant for nesting of aquatic birds, mostly salt ponds, lagoon systems and dunes. There are several different spots for birdwatching.
The site holds 20,000 or more wintering waterbirds on a regular basis, with important congregations of sea-duck offshore (Melanitta nigra) and waders on the intertidal flats (notably the dunlin, Calidris alpina). The freshwater marshes and estuarine areas support important breeding numbers of several waterbirds.
There are many ways to explore all the endless beauty of the Aveiro Lagoon. Taking a boat trip on board of a traditional moliceiro can be a great way to feel the uniqueness of this dazzling lagoon. However you can enjoy this one-of-a-kind ecosystem by taking part on the Great Route of Aveiro Lagoon that has recently opened 2 additional walking and cycling routes: the golden and the green routes that lead visitors across the surrounding region.
The blue route is 130,8 km-long along its shoreline and paths as diverse as the landscapes and the biotopes of a unique lagoon ecosystem in Portugal. From the salt marshes to the habitat of "Bocage", from the pine forests planted in the dune cords that hold the Ocean, to the farming fields of villages that have lived with the Ria for centuries, this is a route that unveils us the diversity and richness of the relationships that human beings establish with the natural world.
The golden route is the longest and the most diversified of the 3 great routes of the Ria de Aveiro. This 234 km-long route goes deep into the sea, the mountains and the Vouga Valley, where visitors will find the most scenic and spectacular waterfalls of the country. Ideal for bike tours, this route covers the Vouga Ecotrail, crossing some of the most distinguishing towns of the region.
The green route is 194 km-long that can be explored on foot or by bike, as well as boat. The green route takes you across the most diverse landscapes, such as the Vouga Valley, the endless vineyards of Bairrada wine region, the riverside woods of Alfusqueiro River or the urban heart of Aveiro.