GAFANHA da NAZARÉ, Portugal – 25 Unmissable Tips! (2022)

Gafanha da Nazaré is a town that developed on a land conquered by the sea. Going back 10 centuries, there was only the ocean, in the place where today stands this vibrant port and industrial town. 

GAFANHA DA NAZARÉ

Gafanha da Nazaré has a privileged environment, between the Ria de Aveiro and the sea. Over time, with the work of fishing, the port and fish processing, the town has developed. From the waters, the town became a city. Idanha da Nazaré shelters the Port of Aveiro and all kinds of support structures to the fishing and industry derived from it. In the perimeter of Gafanha da Nazaré and its surroundings there are several attractions from the cultural, historical and recreational point of view.

 GAFANHA DA NAZARÉ
GAFANHA DA NAZARÉ

WHERE IS GAFANHA DA NAZARÉ?

Gafanha da Nazaré belongs to the municipality of Ílhavo, in Aveiro, on a peninsula between the Ria and the Atlantic Ocean. From Lisbon, by car, it is 263 Km, about 2h30 of travel time. From the city of Porto to Gafanha da Nazaré is almost 80 Km, 50 minutes by car.

HISTORY OF GAFANHA DA NAZARÉ

Gafanha da Nazaré began to be inhabited in the 17th century by people who came from the south of Ílhavo and dedicated themselves to fishing and agriculture. Later, people came to Gafanha from Minho and Beiras. They were employed in the works of the port, the lighthouse, in shipbuilding, in the codfish drying, in the salt mines and in fishing. The patron saint of the local church was Our Lady of Nazaré, the name that baptized Gafanha da Nazaré.

WHAT TO VISIT IN GAFANHA DA NAZARÉ?

There are places that you walk through in this town that are important not only for their historical and cultural interest, but also because they help you feel the strength and soul of Gafanha da Nazaré. So that you can plan the sequence of your walks, we have prepared a map of the attractions in Gafanha da Nazaré. Have fun!

AVEIRO’S BAR FORT

Barra Fort is also known by the names of Gafanha Castle, Pombaline Fort and New Fort. It is located on the island of Mó de Baixo, near the island of Mó do Meio. It was built in the seventeenth century, during the reign of D. João IV, at the time of the Restoration of Portugal’s Independence, a time when it was imperative to strengthen the defenses of the national territory. At that time, Gafanha da Nazaré was just a small newly formed settlement. This fortress was built to protect the entrance to the bar of the Ria de Aveiro.

In the 19th century, the fort ceased to have relevance from the military point of view and, in its space, a signal tower was built, which operated until the 20th century, to guide the boats entering the Aveiro bar. Since 1974, the Fort has been highlighted as a Property of Public Interest.

AVEIRO'S BAR FORT
AVEIRO’S BAR FORT

OUR LADY OF THE NAVIGATORS CHAPEL

This is a small chapel, but with great relevance in the region. The layout of the building has the peculiarity of having a facade allusive to the architecture of castles. It is located next to the Barra Fortress. The feast of the patron saint, Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes, has great expression in Gafanha da Nazaré and is celebrated on the third weekend of September.

OUR LADY OF THE NAVIGATORS CHAPEL
OUR LADY OF THE NAVIGATORS CHAPEL

CELEBRATIONS IN HONOR OF OUR LADY OF THE NAVIGATORS

The festivities in honor of Our Lady of the Navigators are particularly important for the fishermen of Gafanha da Nazaré. Originally, the image of Our Lady was carried in procession to the sea. From the 1970s on, the devotion gained another form of manifestation. The image now departs from the Chapel of Cale da Vila, dedicated to St. Peter, who was a fisherman, and is taken to the Ria, from where the procession continues by boat. Hundreds of boats of all kinds follow in procession, from river boats, to recreational sailboats and even tugboats. The boats accompany the image of Our Lady through the waters of the Ria de Aveiro, heading for the Chapel of Our Lady of the Navigators. From the banks of the ria, thousands of faithful come to watch the procession. 

PROCESSION OF OUR LADY OF THE NAVIGATORS
PROCESSION OF OUR LADY OF THE NAVIGATORS

BARRA’S LIGHTHOUSE

Farol da Barra, or Aveiro Lighthouse, has 62 m! In height it is among the largest lighthouses in the world, being the highest in Portugal. This lighthouse is the highest place not only in Gafanha da Nazaré but also in the whole municipality of Ílhavo. In operation since the end of the 19th century, the Barra Lighthouse is still an essential coastal signalling support for navigation. Before it was built, it was common for boats to sink between Foz do Douro, north of Gafanha, and Cabo Mondego, to the south.

BARRA'S LIGHTHOUSE
BARRA’S LIGHTHOUSE

The lighthouse is located in Largo do Farol, in front of the immense sandy beach of Praia da Barra. From the lighthouse there is a stunning view of the Ria de Aveiro, with its canals, beaches and port, and also of the town of Gafanha da Nazaré. It is possible to visit the lighthouse on Wednesday afternoons. In summer visits are between 2pm and 5pm and in winter between 1:30pm and 4:30pm. Each day there are three trips up to the lighthouse, with an interval of about 1 hour between them. Since it is not possible to schedule a visit, access is on a first-come, first-served basis.

GAFANHA DA NAZARÉ MAIN CHURCH

The Mother Church of Gafanha da Nazaré was built in the early twentieth century, with a layout inspired by the architecture of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Later it underwent several renovations, presenting itself today as a reference church in Gafanha da Nazaré.

GAFANHA DA NAZARÉ MAIN CHURCH
GAFANHA DA NAZARÉ MAIN CHURCH

OUDINOT GARDEN

Jardim Oudinot is a huge urban park, with about 100,000 m2. It is located next to a channel of the Ria de Aveiro, in Gafanha da Nazaré. It is a very attractive green area, with a careful and pleasant landscape architecture. The park integrates several leisure and sports equipments, such as tennis, soccer and basketball courts, bike paths, pedestrian paths, a geriatric park, a picnic park, playgrounds, and also a recreational anchorage. In the garden space there is also a river beach, with a bar and terrace. This beach is known by the residents of Gafanha as the old Tesos Beach. In August, for five days, the Oudinot Garden hosts the Codfish Festival.

OUDINOT GARDEN
OUDINOT GARDEN

SANTO ANDRÉ’S MUSEUM SHIP

Santo André Museum Ship remembers the codfish fishing with trawls in the cold waters of the North Seas. It was built in Holland, in 1948, at the request of the Fishing Company of Aveiro. It was a modern vessel, 71.4 m long and with a large hold, with capacity for about 2000 tons of fish. For 50 years, the Santo André was part of the Portuguese cod fishing fleet. In the 1980s, with the restrictions on trawling, many vessels were scrapped, including the Santo André.

Santo André trawler has become the Santo André Museum Ship, integrated in the Ílhavo Maritime Museum. The ship can be visited from Tuesday to Sunday in Gafanha da Nazaré, at the pier in front of the Oudinot Garden. The ticket to the ship costs 3.50€ for adults, 2.00€ for young people and those over 65 years old, and the family ticket costs 10€. There is also a ticket that gives access to the Ship and to the Ílhavo Maritime Museum.

SANTO ANDRÉ'S MUSEUM SHIP
SANTO ANDRÉ’S MUSEUM SHIP

ÍLHAVO MARITIME MUSEUM

The Ílhavo Maritime Museum is about 6 km from Gafanha da Nazaré. In this space works the museum, the aquarium and the research center, which together dignify and immortalize the relationship of these lands with the sea waters and the Ria de Aveiro. The museum collection presents several objects used in the fishing of codfish and others related to the several fishing activities in the Ria de Aveiro. Also to be found in the museum is the largest collection of shells in Portugal, a compilation of different seaweeds and a large Aquarium of Codfish.  The museum space itself is worth a visit. It is an excellent work of modern architecture, whose original layout is the work of local architect Samuel Quininha and the restructuring project is the responsibility of architects José Mateus and Nuno Mateus. Admission to the museum costs €6 for adults, €3 for young people and those over 65 years old, and the family ticket is €15. The museum can be visited free of charge on the second Sunday of the month. Access to the temporary exhibitions, the library, the store and the cafeteria does not require a ticket.

ÍLHAVO MARITIME MUSEUM
ÍLHAVO MARITIME MUSEUM

MEDIEVAL BRIDGE

In Gafanha da Nazaré there is an old medieval bridge, which served to make the connection between Forte da Barra and Ílhavo. Currently, the bridge serves as a pedestrian crossing at the river beach of Jardim Oudinot.

MEDIEVAL BRIDGE
MEDIEVAL BRIDGE

BARRA BEACH

Aveiro’s Lighthouse marks far away the Praia da Barra, where the Ria joins the sea. The sand, as far as the eye can see, joins the Costa Nova beach, to the south. It is a blue flag beach, much sought after in the summer, both by bathers and water sports practitioners.

BARRA BEACH
BARRA BEACH

AVEIRO LAGOON – RIA DE AVEIRO

The Lagoon or Ria de Aveiro is a huge saltwater lagoon, which covers an area of about 75 Km2. The Ria provides a scenery of extreme beauty, being a perfect place for a dream vacation.

AVEIRO LAGOON - RIA DE AVEIRO
AVEIRO LAGOON – RIA DE AVEIRO

COSTA NOVA

Costa Nova is a popular bathing area in Aveiro. It is located in Gafanha da Encarnação, next to Gafanha da Nazaré. The brand image of Costa Nova are the wooden “Palheiros”, colored with white and red, white and blue stripes or other strong colors. In its origin, the Palheiros were used by fishermen to keep their fishing gear. Nowadays, Palheiros are essentially vacation homes. Costa Nova has a beautiful beach, with a huge extension of sand, bathed by the rough waters of the ocean, much appreciated by surfers.  On the opposite side of the ocean beach contrasts the serenity of the Ria de Aveiro, excellent for sports such as windsurfing, kitesurfing or canoeing.

TYPICAL HOUSES OF COSTA NOVA
TYPICAL HOUSES OF COSTA NOVA

 COSTA NOVA FISH MARKET

This market is located in the picturesque bathing area of Costa Nova. Here the fish is always fresh. There is an area of the market where you can buy ready-made seafood, to eat on the spot or to take with you.

 COSTA NOVA FISH MARKET
 COSTA NOVA FISH MARKET

VISTA ALEGRE MUSEUM

The quality and elegance of the Portuguese porcelain brand Vista Alegre is known beyond borders. The museum tells the story of the founder and the historical and industrial course of the factory’s productions, from its beginnings in 1824 to the present day.  The visit includes the workshop area, where it is possible to see the craftsmen painting the pieces. The entrance ticket to the museum also gives access to the Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Penha de França, or Vista Alegre Chapel, which is located in the area adjacent to the museum. It was built in the seventeenth century and acquired in the early nineteenth century by the founder of Vista Alegre. It is a chapel of extraordinary beauty, considered a National Monument since 1910. Visits to the museum are daily. On the second Sunday of each month, on May 18 and June 18 the entrance to the museum is free. The Vista Alegre Museum is located in Largo da Vista Alegre, in Ílhavo, seat of the municipality of Gafanha da Nazaré.

VISTA ALEGRE MUSEUM
VISTA ALEGRE MUSEUM

SÃO JACINTO

São Jacinto is a small fishing community near Gafanha.

To get there, you must take the boat at the Aveiro harbor. The trip through the estuary is beautiful and takes 15 minutes. São Jacinto is a trip back in time, where you will find a small fishermen’s neighborhood wedged between the waters of the lagoon and the waves of the Atlantic Ocean.

SÃO JACINTO
SÃO JACINTO

WATER SPORTS IN THE RIA DE AVEIRO

On one side… the ocean! On the other … the Ria de Aveiro! Gafanha da Nazaré is a paradise for water sports lovers. That is why there are several surf schools there. But there is also room for other sports like bodyboard, windsurf or kitesurf. Stand-up paddle also marks its presence and is used as a means to make guided excursions. If you want to learn how to sail, you will also find a solution there. There you will find a catamaran that will allow you to take your first steps in the art of sailing! Super!

AVEIRO RIVER
AVEIRO RIVER

VIRTUAL TOUR TO GAFANHA DA NAZARÉ

GAFANHA DA NAZARÉ GASTRONOMY

In gastronomy, fish is unavoidable, whether soups or fish stews, seafood or cod, made in a thousand ways! For the sweet tooth, there is tripas, a typical sweet of the region with soft eggs or chocolate filling.

GAFANHA DA NAZARÉ GASTRONOMY
GAFANHA DA NAZARÉ GASTRONOMY

RESTAURANTS IN GAFANHA DA NAZARÉ

A TASCA

Over 500 reviews on Google and an overall rating of 4.1 (out of a maximum of 5). It is a good option for those who like food on charcoal. The biggest compliments center on the cod and the roast chicken. Good price/quality ratio.

A TASCA
A TASCA

DUNA DO MEIO SEAFOOD RESTAURANT

It has over 650 reviews on Google and an overall rating of 4.5 (out of 5). The seafood rice and Paella dominate the praise. The restaurant is located in a quiet area with a very nice view.

DUNA DO MEIO SEAFOOD RESTAURANT
DUNA DO MEIO SEAFOOD RESTAURANT

HOTELS IN GAFANHA DA NAZARÉ

HOTEL FAROL

3-star hotel with a great location (in the center of Barra). It has an overall rating of 4.3 (out of a maximum of 5) from more than 300 reviews on Google. If you can, book a room on the higher floors of the hotel. Guests give a lot of praise for the breakfast and the friendliness of the staff.

 HOTEL FAROL
HOTEL FAROL

WHAT TO VISIT NEAR GAFANHA DA NAZARÉ?

Gafanha da Nazaré is on the coast of the country, between Coimbra and Porto. Reasonably close to Gafanha you will find several other places that also deserve our attention and visit, namely: Aveiro (6 minutes drive), Coimbra (51 minutes), Figueira da Foz (50 minutes), Porto (50 minutes).

aveiro
AVEIRO (click on the image)
coimbra
COIMBRA (click on the image)
figueira da foz
FIGUEIRA DA FOZ (click on the image)
PORTO
PORTO (click on the image)

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