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Central Portugal / Portugal

The striped houses of Costa Nova | Portugal

Outside the city Aveiro, 7 miles south of Porto, is the small polka-dotted fishing village Costa Nova.

Aveiro once had one of Portugal's most important ports and the city prospered from fishing and salt production. But at the end of the 16th century, everything changed overnight. A large storm moved in over the area and large sandbars were formed by the waves. Sandbanks that effectively closed off the city and harbor from the sea.

Costa Nova - Portugal

Not only was the port cut off from the sea and the fishermen lost their income, a lagoon had now formed in the stagnant water by the city. The stagnant water in the lagoon led to disease and the city's inhabitants fled.

It wasn't until the beginning of the 19th century that a channel was dug in the sand bank between the lagoon and the sea, and Aveiro finally had a way out to the sea again. Around the same time as the canal opened, a fishing village also began to be built by the sea - Costa Nova - "the new coast". So that the fishermen could distinguish the "old coast" at Sao Jacinto from the new coast.

Costa Nova - Portugal

Today, Costa Nova is more of a holiday resort than a fishing village and the old fishermen's houses have been converted into charming and well-maintained small family homes. But it is not the resort and the beach itself that attract the most here, but the colorful and polka-dotted houses.

Costa Nova - Portugal
Costa Nova - Portugal

Yellow, red, blue and green. The stripes on the houses come in all the colors of the rainbow. The origin of the exuberantly beautiful houses comes from the time when the poor fishermen started renting out their fishing cabins to tourists during the summer months. To attract the tourists, they started painting the houses in the same colors as the decorated boats moliceiros.  Since then, the tradition of painting the houses with stripes has been carried on from generation to generation.

Costa Nova - Portugal

In the middle of Costa Nova is a well-visited fish market. Here you will find fresh seafood from the lagoon and fish from the depths of the Atlantic every day. Mussels, longnecks and crabs abound here. From the sea comes fish of all sizes – everything from barracuda to small fish for frying. Large buckets filled with rum from various fish take up one corner of the market. I've probably never seen rum grains that big in a fish market before, I wonder what fish lays such big eggs?

Costa Nova - Portugal
Costa Nova - Portugal
Costa Nova - Portugal

Costa Nova would not have become such a popular holiday destination if there had not been a beach. The beach in Costa Nova is long and wide, with rolling sand dunes and a well-maintained wooden boardwalk. However, the weather is a bit changeable here on the Atlantic coast. When we were here, the fog lay thick over the beach and the fine-grained sand blew at us in the wind. Despite the weather, the beach was still not empty. Under motley parasols and windbreaks, the tourists huddled together. According to the weather forecast, it would be 16 degrees in the water that day. Perhaps it's not so strange that I didn't see many people swimming.

Costa Nova - Portugal
Costa Nova - Portugal
Costa Nova - Portugal

Costa Nova and Aveiro have a special little cake that everyone visiting the city should try. It is Aveiro Soft Eggs - "soft eggs from Aveiro". Shaped like shells, fish and clams, these are little rice paper cookies filled with a glossy cream of egg yolk and sugar. Maybe not something you eat that many of, but very good to enjoy in the sun together with a strong little coffee.

Costa Nova - Portugal

There are plenty of restaurants in Costa Nova, most (not unexpectedly) specializing in fresh seafood. We settled on the outdoor seating at Marisqueria Costa Nova and ordered lunch. It was packed with guests. The vast majority of the guests were well-dressed Portuguese enjoying their weekend off with a large plate of seafood and a bottle of vinho verde. Those of us who were driving and going further stuck to a slightly more modest lunch with coca cola and a plate of freshly caught fish. Not too playful either.

Costa Nova - Portugal

How do I get to Costa Nova?

Costa Nova is located 1 mile west of Aveiro, by the waves of the Atlantic. It can be a bit tricky to set the GPS right, but you hit the nail on the head Costa Nova do Padro or Costa Nova Beach, then you're right. Be prepared for it to be a popular destination. We visited the town on a weekend and ended up in traffic queues of Averio residents going out to Costa Nova for lunch.

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Want to see more from our driving holiday in Portugal? Look into my Portugal page!

Costa Nova - Portugal
Costa Nova - Portugal
Costa Nova - Portugal
Costa Nova - Portugal

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About the blogger

Travel blogger, gastronaut, photographer and family adventurer with over 55 countries in his luggage. Eva loves trips that include beautiful nature, hiking boots and well-cooked food. On the travel blog Rucksack she takes you to all corners of the world with the help of her inspiring pictures and texts.

6 Comments

  • Ann-Louise Paulsson
    20 January, 2019 at 19: 17

    What wonderful houses! What a dream to walk around there and photograph them. Love colorful houses!

    Reply
    • Eve on rucksack.see
      20 January, 2019 at 19: 29

      Of course they are beautiful! ?I had never seen anything like this before, I think the striped houses are absolutely wonderful! I actually get happy just seeing pictures of the striped houses now that I'm writing about them. ?

  • Maria's Memoirs
    21 January, 2019 at 20: 16

    so what fantastic houses <3 I'm weak to colourful, so now I got another place to put on my bucket list...

    Reply
    • Eve on rucksack.see
      23 January, 2019 at 19: 25

      Colorful is wonderful! If I ever got around to buying a summer house, I would paint it striped 🙂

  • Maria's Memoirs
    21 January, 2019 at 20: 17

    PS do you think it is difficult to get there by public transport?

    Reply
    • Eve on rucksack.see
      23 January, 2019 at 19: 28

      You can get to Aveiro easily by train from Porto (seems to run about once an hour), then it shouldn't cost too much to take a taxi a mile to Costa Nova. I didn't see any local buses, but I'll admit I didn't check for that either…

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