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Rota  da  Luz 


Ovar and Aveiro are the two special Cities to begin your discovery of an area where the glorious past still glimmers throughout the areas many charming small towns. Just South or Porto and the Douro river basin, your trip will be blessed with the rich experience of sharing the region's abundant  natural beauty and rich traditions of a people with a proud history.
Enjoy these  suggested routes with small town descriptions of many special spots to stop and discover the extraordinary light. 


Portugal's  flora is the richest in Europe, and combined with the brilliant sunshine, the vivid and harmonious costumes of the peasantry, and the white or pale tinted houses to offer a wealth of colour and distinctive character that will continue to charm you with vivid memories long after your visit.  REGIAO DE TURISMO 
ROTA DA LUZ Tel.02-9412534/9482141/9482552
Rua Joao Mendonça 8 -3800 

Tel. 034-20760 / 23680 -Fax 28326 
Rua Elias Garcia -3880 

Tel. 056-572215 
Seasonal Tourist Offices in Esmoriz and Furadouro 
Other Silver Coast Tourist offices are located in Leiria, Batalha, Fatima, Coimbra, Obidos and Oporto (PORTO)

Armando França, the President of City Hall thanks Carnival City delegates for the honor of hosting the 2003 reunion. More FOTOS


Ovar is well known throughout Portugal for its wonderfully creative Carnaval as well as the religious processions of the Lenten season which immediate follow as Easter approaches.  
For 2003, Ovar played prestigious host to the year's most important annual Carnaval event, as the 23rd annual FECC Carnaval Convention made its first visit ever to Portugal. ( ), 

Visit Ovar Carnival at

ABOUT THESE LINKS: City guides feature links to the best web resources favoring official guides, google searches and long lasting amateur & public domain sites as well as leading commercial sites with event, travel and cultural information sorted by page topic. 
Dig deep to discover why we decided to do extensive development of Ovar whose region is amongst the most historically rich in Portugal.
Share the love of the country, its great history and its charming hosts at this leading web guide with not only some of the best options on where to stay but also one of the web's most comprehensive guides to Portugal
These Routes of Light (Rota da Luz) are primarily in the province of Aviero (map) just South of Porto (Oporto) and the Douro River on Portugal's Silver Coast. It has 19 counties or Concelhos for its 720,000 people almost a third who chose to live outside the urban areas. Also Portugal Maps & Location Finder at are your best map bet. Also click image to right for an expanded map. 
Route 1: OVAR <-> Aviero     North of the "Ria"
We begin the tour in Ovar a City of powerful traditions and the thriving metro center of the region. Visitors will want to locate  the unusual Stations of the Cross, attesting to the strong Lenten and pre-Lenten religious traditions which include the best known and most spectacular Carnival in Portugal. Ovar's wide sandy Furadoura beach helps the population swell an extra 20,000, to over 75,000 inhabitants during the summer months of July and August. The long list of  gastronomic distinctions begin with its famous Pão-de-Ló sponge cake.
Map by
valega churchFrom Ovar, proceed to Aveiro, stopping at Valega to see the famous church covered with azulejo tile murals. Crossing through the town of Avanca and its beautiful manor town houses and the azulejos panels at the railway station. Visit the Egas Moniz Museum that celebrates the local Nobel Prize winning scientist continue through Estarrega up to Aveiro.
eaving Aveiro, head toward Murtosa
passing Estarreha. Arriving at Murtosa, continue to Torreira, crossing the Ria at the Varela Bridge. In Torreira you will be able to see the traditional fishing method called “xaega”. Going south, you will find the Sao Jacinto natural reservation, a special place with spectacular flora and fauna and many different migratory birds.  
Heading back on the same Ria road to Ovar and thoughout the rich estuary of Sao Jacinto  you will witness many colorful Portuguese fisherman. Be  sure to appreciate the distinctive detailing of  the traditional “moliceriro” boats, and glimpse the river beach of Areinho. Continue north to Furadouro beach and then head inland to Ovar. Ovar is well know for its azulejo (colored tile) covered houses which can also be conveniently observed from your vehicle.
ROUTE 2:  Aviero <-> Vista Alegre  South of the Ria
Leaving Aveiro towards the beaches, you can see the salt marshes all along the way, and a fishing port. At Praia da Barra, where the
Ria meets the sea, there is a harbour built in 1808 and the highest lighthouse in the country. The next beach, Costa Nova, has typical coloured striped houses, called "palheiros". Continuing along the Ria, you will arrive at Vagueira beach, where fishing is still performed in the old traditional way called "x:lvega". From Vagueira continue to Vagos, taking a nice road that crosses a pine wood. From Vagos, drive towards Aveiro, stopping at Vista Alegre, a picturesque village on the left side of the road. There you will find the famous china factory, and the chapel and museum of Nossa Senhora da Penha de França. Following the road, you will encounter  Ílhavo, a charming town with beautiful houses, many of which are fine Art Nouveau examples, and the Sea Museum, which tells all you want to know about life on board of tile "bacallloeiros", the codfishing boats. From Ílhavo, head back to Aveiro.
Douro River to the Mountains
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Starting your journey from Oliveira de Azeméis, follow in the direction of S. João da Madeira, both dynamic towns, and continue north taking the IC2 road, until the exit for Castelo de Paiva. Passing through Pedorido, where the old coal mines of Pejão lie, the road follows the meandering  Douro river. From Castelo de Paiva, proceed to Arouca. At Real, take a look at the local church.

Arouca has a monastery -now transformed into a sacred art museum, and a rich gastronomy; particularly the veal and the convent sweets. The town is surrounded by Serra da Freita, with its picturesque mountain villages and beautiful waterfalls. From Arouca, head to Vale de Cambra, nowadays an important industrial and economic centre, and turn back towards Oliveira de Azemeis, taking the chance to visit the green
park of La-Salette.

TOWNS of the Rota  da  Luz

The town is now an industrial centre. All that remains from the past is the church and some manor houses. The main charms, however, are to be found in the neighboring villages. Peaceful green scenarios. The grandeur of the Lemos Pantheon in Trofa. The magnificent manors and cottages along Valongo do Vouga, Macieira de Alcoba and Prestimo. The idyllic lake of Pateira de Fermentelos.

The town owes its name to a hostel founded in the 12th century, of which there is practically nothing left. Its main charm lies in the luxuriant greenery of the Vouga valley. Alquerubim, sao Joao de Loure, Frossos and Angeja are country villages clinging to the hillsides along the river. Dolmens on the hilltops remind us of ancient times.

About 20 km east of Santa Maria da Feira is Arouca's magnificent monastery associated with Queen Saint Mafalda ( founded in 1091 ), now a museum exhibiting a collection of sacred art. The Baroque church holds richly carved choir stalls and a great organ with 1,352 notes. Hidden in the valley, Arouca is surrounded by rugged mountains and picturesque villages where medieval houses and churches can still be found. The Misarela waterfalls pour down from the rocky heights. From Miradouro Monte da Senhora do M6, one can admire endless horizons of mountains and hills.



The Ria runs through Aveiro breathing its energy through this city criss- crossed by canals and grandly embroidered with art nouveau houses and spanned by hump- backed bridges worthy of the title "the Venice of Portugal".  Art and history are reflected in the city's monuments, namely the Convent, now turned into a regional museum, housed in the former Jesus Monastrey, is full of mementoes of King Afonso V's daughter, Santa Joana, who died here in 1490.  Museu de Aveiro, displays a lock of the saint's hair, her belt and rosary, and a complete pictorial study of her life. Her tomb, an inlaid rectangle of marble quarried in Italy, attracts many pilgrims. Deserving a special mention: São Bartolomeu Chapel; 18th century churches of Santo António and São Gonçalo.   Within short walking distance stands the city's 15th century São Domingos cathedral and the Carmelite Church, decorated with paintings depicting the life of St Teresa. Also worth seeing is the Misericórdia Church, which dates back to the 16th century.
Aveiro's glorious days as a rich major Portugal port ended over two centuries ago with the silting and sand buildup of the harbor entry which is still much used by smaller craft. 

São Jacinto by sea

"São Jacinto is near Aveiro. A well protected lagoon / anchorage in a very spectacular area. Easy access, but the entrance may often be closed in strong winds or even in calm weather with NW-W'erly swell. Exploring the very great lagoon area or the town of Aveiro requires detailed charts. (12-99)"
portugal at  

Nearby surrounded by salt flats, beaches and lagoons you can find the colourfully painted ‘moliceiro’ boats, which still gather seaweed from the vast saltwater lagoon. Located between the Ria and the sea is the São Jacinto Dune nature reserve filled with beautiful flora and fauna. 
Torreira, a typical fishing village between ocean and lagoon, which can be reached by boat from Aveiro


boats with attitude 

SOURCE WEB GUIDE visit mega site
for more
Tagus Valley Fotos
which feature Aveiro , Batalha, Nazaré, Óbidos, Peniche, Tomar, Sintra as highlights of 1 of their 9 visitor regions of Portugal in contrast to the official tourist regions where our featured Silver Coast is broadly defined as the zone between Porto and Lisbon  Portugal Travel Guide thus lists this Tagus Valley area is the center area between their 4 other Atlantic regions Oporto, North, Beiras and Lisbon
Check for another page one pick of a google image search for moliceirosi  Image has been scaled down. See full-size image. This image might be copyrighted
"The town is quite congested, and many readers have expressed disappointment with the incessant whine of Vespas and the foul-smelling canal water. Others, however, find it worth the journey." Frommer's > Aveiro  from their extensive Portugal guide

Castelo de Paiva

A quiet and picturesque town, set among vine covered hills. Nearby, old manors, and the blue ribbon of the Douro, with its old wharves where the " rabelos" (port wine sail boats) are moored. Enjoy the historic villages of Raiva, Sao Martinho,  Santa Maria de Sardoura, and Sao Domingos miradouro where one can admire a beautiful view. The region produces interesting handicrafts such as basketry and copper artifacts. 


Once a small fish-canning village, the airy seaside town of Espinho 20 km south of Oporto has grown into a fully-fledged holiday resort. Its long stretch of golden sandy beach attracts holidaymakers from all over northern and central Portugal, particularly during July and August when the sea temperature is warmest.
What to see. With several quality hotels, a glitzy neon-lit casino and numerous fish restaurants offer summer visitors an enjoyable stay all within easy reach of the bustling city of Oporto further up the coast.

"Espinho's accommodations are a generally unimpressive lot. The best place to stay is the Praiagolfe" 
at Frommer's Portugal

Beaches are within an easy walk from the town center. Praia Baia is closest and most crowded followed by Praia Azula,  Praia Pop and  Praia do Costa Verde which all offer clean sunbathing areas and not particularly dangerous surf. For calmer waters, there's the town's swimming-pool complex, Solar Atlântico, adjacent to Praia Baia (tel. 22/734-01-52). Open from mid-May to September.
Nearby. Within 3 km of Espinho lies one of the oldest golf courses in the world. Opened in 1890, the Oporto Golf Club is a par-71 course of 5,668 metres in length, most noted for its brisk Atlantic winds and spectacular ocean views. 
Built in the 16th century, the Monastery of São Salvador at Grijó 6 km inland contains the tomb of Rodrigues Sancho, illegitimate son of King Sancho and his mistress, the beautiful Ribeirinha
 [D] Espinho Map at  

 Its whitewashed houses cling to the hillside overlooking the Antua river. Avanca, near Estarreja, is rich in monuments and proud of its museum celebrating Egas Moniz, the Portuguese Nobel Prize winner for his contribution to science. The local handicrafts are charmingly colourful and gay. 

Ilhavo & Vista Alegre ( (3 miles (4.75km) south of Aveiro on the IC1)
Manor houses, a charming parish church and a museum tell us the history of a town, 8 km south of Aveiro, that has always lived on fishing and salt. The importance of the Ria and the sea is still visible today all along the Barra and Costa Nova beaches. Costa nova is also well known for its typical wooden cottages painted with bright colours. Visit the maritime museum, Museu do Mar, (avenida Dr. Roca Madahil (tel. 23/432-17-97) where the region's long seafaring history is told through displays of  vessels and related equipment. 
Vista Alegre is 3 km further south. This is the famed village of the porcelain works on a branch of the Aveiro estuary, the village is the site of an open market held on the 13th of every month, a tradition dating from the late 1600s.The Vista Alegre museum  and is famous for its beautiful chinaware which traces the history of Vista Alegre porcelain from the 1820s to the present day

Home of seafarers and Ria fishermen as one can apprehend from the seaweed barges and cargo vessels (called "moliceiros" and "mercanteis") anchored along the Bico wharf. Just in front, the mirrored water of the Ria and the long sweeps of sand of Torreira.

Oliveira de Azemeis
Now a prosperous industrial town; however, one can still find a bucolic charm in the leafy park of Senhora de La Salette and the picturesque villages that nestle amid the greenery. Pinheiro da Bemposta, an old town that has preserved its pillory and town hall, is worth visiting, and so is the Ferreira de Castro Museum in Ossela.

Oliveira do Bairro
The palette of greens is endless. Pine trees and eucalyptus cover the highest points, whilst down in the plains, the rice and corn fields, and the vineyards, bear witness to the agricultural nature of the town and surrounding villages. At Oi:i, the church has magnificent carved and gilded wood altarpieces. At Palha~a, a museum shows the local customs.


"Lines of low houses exhibit colourful "azulejos" -which make the city a living museum." official site 

The streets are alive with trade as the region's metro center as City father's moving forward with an impressive amount of infrastructure a visitor will appreciate.  Surrounded by green fields, the ocean and the lagoon the colourful "azulejos" often take their inspiration from nature. The many decorated houses make the city a living museum of the azulejo. The unusual Chapels of the Stations of the Cross bear witness to strong religious traditions. 

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Santa Maria Da Feira
Conveniently situated just off the A1 motorway, midway between Oporto and Aveiro, Santa Maria da Feira derives its name from a long tradition (beginning in 1117) of holding large fairs and weekly markets in the Rossio town square.  Its winding streets are lined with 18th- and 19th-century merchants houses.
Tradition claims that the Castle rises on the place where a native temple dedicated to the god Bandeveluco-Toiraeco was located. Crowning a wooded hill on the southern edge of town, Santa Maria da Feira's castle dominates the skyline with its four towers topped with a confection of domes. On the way down from the castle (it takes about 15 minutes to walk up), the grand Convent of Loios features blue 17th-century azulejo glazed tiles decorating the façades of its two symmetrical belltowers.
 Monument Guide

São João da Madeira
The city proudly evokes its industrial past, particularly in the footwear and hat businesses. The green park of Nossa Senhora dos Milagres invites us to a stroll. 

Sever do Vouga
An interesting church dating from the Middle Ages takes us back to ancient times. Nearby, green hills covered with pine trees, and blue rivers meandering calmly through cornfields and vineyards. Attesting for over a thousand years of human presence, dolmens and other traces of ancient times can be found in the picturesque hamlets of Rocas do Vouga, Cerqueira, Cedrim and vila Seca, to say nothing of the carved stone of Forno dos Mouros.

The whitewashed cottages stand out against the green of the fertile pasture around town. In the distance, one can behold the blue of the Ria, long stripes of sand covered with pine trees, neighbouring the sea. The century-old pilgrimage to Nossa Senhora de Vagos animates its leafy park. At Vagueira, boats preparing for the traditional fishing art of the « Xivega »bring joyful activity to the beach.

Vale de Cambra
Green hills and fertile valleys, intermingled with vineyards stretch out as far as the eye can reach. In the neighboring old village of Madeira de Cambra, we call your attention to a pillory and a Roman bridge, the interesting cross of Roge and the Castelo Dam.


The Ria (spectacular saltwater lagoon) follows all along the coast of Rota da Luz and entices us with the vastness of its waters; light can melt colors, creating overwhelming scenarios. The mountain backdrop reveals Mother nature in all its plentitude, an endless succession of green landscapes accented by fresh crystalline water falls. The sea, the Ria, the mountain, always so close. come and visit Rota da Luz

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