In Portugal, cod is practically a way of life, and if there’s anywhere to go to truly appreciate this love, it’s to a base of the “White Fleet.” The majority of trawler captains at that era were native to Ílhavo and embarked on remarkable journeys to the North Sea and Atlantic.
Fishing and brine are still major industries in the town; you can learn more about the history at the contemporary maritime museum and see a massive trawler that is parked on a canal. Alhavo is situated on the Aveiro Lagoon, which possesses a unique personality and culture. You can also access magnificent Atlantic beaches with frothy waves here.
- Best Things to Do in Ílhavo (Portugal)
- 1. Visit the Ílhavo Maritime Museum
- 2. Explore the Aveiro Lagoon
- 3. Relax at Costa Nova Beach
- 4. Visit the Barra Lighthouse
- 5. Explore the Ílhavo City Museum
- 6. Take a Canal Cruise in Aveiro
- 7. Visit the Vista Alegre Museum
- 8. Explore the São Jacinto Dunes Natural Reserve
- 9. Sample Traditional Portuguese Cuisine
- 10. Attend the Ílhavo Sea Festival
- 11. Explore the Ílhavo Fish Market
- 12. Take a Bike Ride along the Ria de Aveiro
- 13. Visit the Ílhavo Municipal Library
- 14. Attend a Traditional Fado Performance
- 15. Explore the Historic Center of Ílhavo
- 16. Go Birdwatching at the Ria de Aveiro
- 17. Visit the Ílhavo Municipal Market
- 18. Take a Surf Lesson at Barra Beach
- 19. Visit the Ílhavo Aquarium
- 20. Enjoy a Sunset Cruise
- 21. Visit the Chapel of Senhor da Pedra
- 22. Explore the Ílhavo Salt Pans
- 23. Visit the Church of Ílhavo
- 24. Take a Kayak Tour of the Ria de Aveiro
- 25. Visit the Ílhavo Ethnographic Museum
- 26. Take a Day Trip to Aveiro
- 27. Attend a Traditional Festival
- 28. Visit the Ílhavo Municipal Park
- 29. Explore the Salt Museum
- 30. Take a Wine Tasting Tour
Best Things to Do in Ílhavo (Portugal)
1. Visit the Ílhavo Maritime Museum
Start your journey in Ílhavo by exploring the Ílhavo Maritime Museum. This museum showcases the rich maritime history of the region, with exhibits on fishing, shipbuilding, and navigation. Discover the stories of the brave sailors and fishermen who once roamed the seas.
2. Explore the Aveiro Lagoon
The Aveiro Lagoon is a stunning natural wonder that should not be missed. Take a boat tour and admire the breathtaking views of the lagoon and its diverse ecosystem. Keep an eye out for the various bird species that call this area home.
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3. Relax at Costa Nova Beach
Head to Costa Nova Beach for a day of relaxation and sunbathing. This beautiful sandy beach is known for its colorful striped houses, called palheiros, which add a unique charm to the area. Take a dip in the refreshing Atlantic waters or simply unwind on the soft sand.
4. Visit the Barra Lighthouse
Make your way to the Barra Lighthouse, one of the tallest lighthouses in Europe. Climb to the top for panoramic views of the surrounding area, including the beach and the lagoon. Don’t forget your camera, as this is a perfect spot for capturing memorable photos.
5. Explore the Ílhavo City Museum
Learn more about the history and culture of Ílhavo at the Ílhavo City Museum. This museum houses a collection of artifacts that depict the local heritage, including traditional costumes, ceramics, and photographs. Gain a deeper understanding of the town’s past through its fascinating exhibits.
6. Take a Canal Cruise in Aveiro
Just a short distance from Ílhavo, you’ll find the charming city of Aveiro. Hop on a traditional moliceiro boat and cruise along the canals that wind through the city. Admire the colorful Art Nouveau buildings and the intricate bridges that add to the city’s charm.
7. Visit the Vista Alegre Museum
Art enthusiasts should not miss the Vista Alegre Museum, located in Ílhavo. This museum showcases the history of the renowned Vista Alegre porcelain factory, which has been producing exquisite porcelain since 1824. Marvel at the intricate designs and craftsmanship of the porcelain pieces on display.
8. Explore the São Jacinto Dunes Natural Reserve
Nature lovers will appreciate a visit to the São Jacinto Dunes Natural Reserve. This protected area is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including several endangered species. Take a leisurely hike through the dunes and enjoy the tranquility of this natural oasis.
9. Sample Traditional Portuguese Cuisine
No visit to Ílhavo is complete without trying the local cuisine. Indulge in traditional Portuguese dishes such as bacalhau à brás (codfish with scrambled eggs), caldeirada de peixe (fish stew), and pastéis de nata (custard tarts). Pair your meal with a glass of delicious Portuguese wine for the ultimate dining experience.
10. Attend the Ílhavo Sea Festival
If you happen to visit Ílhavo in August, make sure to attend the Ílhavo Sea Festival. This annual event celebrates the town’s maritime heritage with live music, dance performances, and delicious seafood. Immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere and join in the festivities.
11. Explore the Ílhavo Fish Market
Visit the Ílhavo Fish Market and experience the vibrant atmosphere of a traditional fish market. Marvel at the wide variety of fresh seafood on display, including fish, shellfish, and crustaceans. Interact with the friendly vendors and learn about the local fishing industry.
12. Take a Bike Ride along the Ria de Aveiro
Rent a bike and explore the scenic Ria de Aveiro, a coastal lagoon located near Ílhavo. Cycle along the picturesque trails that hug the lagoon’s edge and enjoy the breathtaking views of the surrounding nature. Don’t forget to pack a picnic and make a stop at one of the scenic viewpoints.
13. Visit the Ílhavo Municipal Library
Book lovers should make a stop at the Ílhavo Municipal Library. This modern and well-equipped library offers a wide selection of books in various languages. Take some time to relax and read in the peaceful ambiance of this cultural hub.
14. Attend a Traditional Fado Performance
Immerse yourself in the soulful sounds of Fado, a traditional Portuguese music genre, by attending a live performance. Many restaurants and bars in Ílhavo offer Fado nights, where you can enjoy a delicious meal while listening to the heartfelt melodies of talented local musicians.
15. Explore the Historic Center of Ílhavo
Take a stroll through the historic center of Ílhavo and admire the charming architecture. Marvel at the traditional Portuguese houses with their colorful tiles and ornate balconies. Visit the local shops and cafes, and soak up the authentic atmosphere of this quaint town.
16. Go Birdwatching at the Ria de Aveiro
The Ria de Aveiro is a paradise for birdwatchers. Grab your binoculars and explore the various birdwatching spots along the lagoon. Spot flamingos, herons, and other bird species as they gracefully glide through the water or rest on the marshy shores.
17. Visit the Ílhavo Municipal Market
Experience the vibrant local culture at the Ílhavo Municipal Market. Wander through the stalls filled with fresh fruits, vegetables, and local products. Engage in friendly conversations with the vendors and sample some of the delicious regional specialties.
18. Take a Surf Lesson at Barra Beach
Barra Beach is a popular spot for surfers of all levels. Sign up for a surf lesson and ride the waves under the guidance of experienced instructors. Feel the adrenaline rush as you catch your first wave and experience the thrill of surfing.
19. Visit the Ílhavo Aquarium
Discover the fascinating underwater world at the Ílhavo Aquarium. This modern aquarium features a wide variety of marine species, including colorful fish, playful dolphins, and graceful sea turtles. Learn about marine conservation efforts and the importance of protecting our oceans.
20. Enjoy a Sunset Cruise
Embark on a romantic sunset cruise along the coast of Ílhavo. Watch as the sun sets over the horizon, painting the sky with vibrant hues of orange and pink. Sip on a glass of champagne and create unforgettable memories with your loved ones.
21. Visit the Chapel of Senhor da Pedra
Located near Ílhavo, the Chapel of Senhor da Pedra is a unique religious site. This small chapel is built on a rock formation by the sea and offers stunning views of the coastline. Take a moment to reflect and enjoy the peaceful ambiance of this spiritual sanctuary.
22. Explore the Ílhavo Salt Pans
Learn about the traditional salt production methods at the Ílhavo Salt Pans. Take a guided tour and discover the intricate process of harvesting salt from the sea. Marvel at the geometric patterns created by the salt pans and enjoy the serene surroundings.
23. Visit the Church of Ílhavo
Pay a visit to the Church of Ílhavo, a beautiful religious building with a rich history. Admire the stunning architecture and intricate details of the church’s interior. Take a moment to appreciate the peacefulness and spirituality of this sacred place.
24. Take a Kayak Tour of the Ria de Aveiro
Explore the Ria de Aveiro from a different perspective by taking a kayak tour. Paddle through the calm waters of the lagoon and discover hidden corners and channels. Enjoy the tranquility of nature and observe the diverse wildlife that inhabits this unique ecosystem.
25. Visit the Ílhavo Ethnographic Museum
Learn about the traditional way of life in Ílhavo at the Ílhavo Ethnographic Museum. This museum showcases the local customs, traditions, and crafts of the region. Admire the intricate embroidery, handmade ceramics, and other artifacts that depict the cultural heritage of Ílhavo.
26. Take a Day Trip to Aveiro
While exploring Ílhavo, take a day trip to the nearby city of Aveiro. Known as the “Venice of Portugal,” Aveiro is famous for its picturesque canals, colorful boats called moliceiros, and delicious ovos moles (traditional sweets). Explore the charming streets and indulge in the local delicacies.
27. Attend a Traditional Festival
Experience the vibrant local culture by attending a traditional festival in Ílhavo. From folklore festivals to religious processions, there are various events throughout the year that showcase the town’s traditions and customs. Immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere and join in the festivities.
28. Visit the Ílhavo Municipal Park
Escape the hustle and bustle of the town and relax in the tranquil Ílhavo Municipal Park. Take a leisurely stroll through the well-maintained gardens, enjoy a picnic on the lush green lawns, or simply sit and admire the beauty of nature. This is the perfect place to unwind and recharge.
29. Explore the Salt Museum
Learn about the history and importance of salt production at the Salt Museum in Ílhavo. Discover the fascinating process of salt extraction and its impact on the local economy. Explore the interactive exhibits and gain a deeper understanding of this ancient trade.
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30. Take a Wine Tasting Tour
End your visit to Ílhavo with a wine tasting tour at one of the local wineries. Sample a variety of delicious Portuguese wines, including the famous Vinho Verde. Learn about the winemaking process and savor the flavors of this renowned wine region.
With its rich maritime history, stunning natural landscapes, and vibrant cultural scene, Ílhavo offers a wide range of activities for every traveler. Whether you’re interested in history, nature, or simply relaxing on the beach, Ílhavo has something for everyone. Plan your visit to this charming town and discover the 30 best things to do in Ílhavo, Portugal.