Ovar is the capital of the traditional Portuguese tiles! But the city’s charms go far beyond the tiles… In this article we will tell you everything you should visit and know about Ovar. Are you ready?
The city is rarely thought of as a tourist destination. But barely! The county offers a lot to those who visit it. We suggest you to plan a 2 nights (3 days) stay so that you can discover and enjoy all the charms of the city (vareiros are the inhabitants of Ovar).
The suggestions are diverse and cover gastronomy, monuments, traditional Portuguese tiles, nature, and much more. In this article we will give you more than 25 unmissable tips for your trip!
OVAR, LAND OF FISHERMEN!
The first documents found that mention Ovar date from the 11th century. The first written reference to the people of Ovar as a fishing community is from 1354. But, having in mind the natural riches of the region (the salt mines and the estuary), it is strongly believed that man has populated this region since pre-history (pre-history is the period between the beginning of time and the year 3000 BC). It was during the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century that the town of Ovar progressed significantly. In this period the royal road Porto – Aveiro was built, which gave an important contribution to the development of the village. In 1865, it was the turn of the railways to arrive here and bring with them the industrial development.
WHERE IS OVAR?
If you live in Lisbon, you will need only 2 hours and 46 minutes to get here (a distance of 285 kilometers).
If you live in Porto, it’s only 32 kilometers that you can easily do in 32 minutes (by car).
WHAT TO VISIT IN OVAR?
To help you organize your tour to the different attractions in Ovar, we have prepared a map for you. We hope you find it useful!
The historic center of the city of Ovar is almost an open-air Tile museum. A cluster of buildings and houses “dressed” with tiles of various colors and dating from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
SCHOOL OF ARTS AND CRAFTS
It was an old paper mill. It has the task of preserving the collective memory of the county. In 2004, the school of Arts and Crafts became the stage for exhibitions related to the world of arts and crafts of the region. The building is also the headquarters of the Atelier of Conservation and Restoration of the Ovar Tiles.
MUNICIPAL MARKET OF OVAR
It opened its doors in 1955 and was renovated in 2012. The market is one of the city’s architectural references. It continues to be a place that emanates energy, vitality and where the local culture manifests itself clearly to those who want to know it. It also works as a complement to local commerce. It can be visited on Thursday and Saturday mornings.
BUÇAQUINHO ENVIRONMENTAL PARK
It is located in the northern part of the county and was inaugurated in 2013. The park of Buçaquinho has a vast area of 24 hectares. Here we can find numerous species of fauna and flora that give this park a great environmental importance. In the park we can find: a pine forest, a children’s park, a garden of aromatic plants, six ponds, an observation tower, a café, a multimedia zone and an association that promotes environmental education. If you like cycling, you will be glad to know that here you can rent a bicycle for free and ride the Atlantic Ecopista (10 kilometers long), which connects Esmoriz beach to Furadouro through the forest road. A magnificent option to walk, cycle, observe birds, amphibians and feel the magnificent aromas of aromatic herbs (rosemary, lavender, mallow, anise, tobacco flower). In 2016, the park won an award given by Green project Wards.
URBAN PARK OF OVAR
It has an area of 7.5 hectares and was opened in 2013. Theáster River runs through the park and is the element from which everything else revolves. The natural elements of the park have always been respected during the development of this structure. The park has trees, lawns, crossings and bridges. It is the perfect place to go for a walk and to do sports, educational and recreational activities.
To speak of the Joszefar Cooperage is to speak of the art of good barrel construction. If you visit this museum you will understand perfectly how important cooperage was, is and will be in the wine business. You will understand all the stages in the production of barrels and you will realize how difficult and heavy is the work to be a cooper. Magnificent!
ETHNOGRAPHIC MUSEUM OF VÁLEGA
The ethnographic museum of Válega is located in one of the parishes of Ovar. By car it will take you 11 minutes to cover a distance of 6,8 kilometers (between the center of Ovar and the Museum). Let’s start by clarifying the concept of Ethnography:
A branch of the human sciences that has as its object the study of the culture of a community or one of its fundamental aspects
It opened its doors in 1998. The building that houses the museum dates back to the 18th century and is classified as property of municipal interest. The Ethnographic Museum of Válega is a consequence of the objects collected over time by the Folklore Group and the local parish.
Who visits it finds pieces that represent the domestic life, the agricultural life and the industrial life of Válega. The period represented is the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. The temporary exhibition room, the traditional kitchen, the museum reserve and a store are part of it. If you visit the museum, be sure to try the products of the region and the chapel of our lady of good success to admire the sacred art (sacred art is all the art related to the sacred) is there. For more information consult the museum’s website HERE.
JÚLIO DINIS HOUSE / MUSEUM
As you have already understood, this is a house that has the function of keeping alive the work and the memory of the writer’s passage through Ovar. It was in 1863 that Júlio Dinis lived in Casa dos Campos (it was his aunt’s house), when he was trying to recover from tuberculosis (which would end up killing him in 1871, when he was only 31 years old). Many of the objects that can be found there actually belonged to the writer. The house is also representative of the architecture and atmosphere of the time. We remember Júlio Dinis’ most famous works: “A Morgadinha dos Canaviais” and “Pupilas do Senhor Reitor”.
OVAR MAIN CHURCH
It began to be built in 1665 in honor of St. Christopher. Fourteen years later, in 1679, it finally began to receive the faithful. Later, in the 18th century the chancel was finished. It is located at the entrance of the city of Ovar on a small rise. The access to the church is made by a staircase.
VÁLEGA MAIN CHURCH
Válega is a parish that belongs to the municipality of Ovar and is only 9 minutes by car from the city center. There you will find one of the most spectacular churches in the country: the mother church of Válega (also known as the church of our lady of Amparo). Although there are no records, it is thought that the church was built around the year 1150. Over time it has undergone several renovations. The church is entirely covered with painted tiles. The facade of the temple is masterful but its interior is equally beautiful.
PASSOS DE OVAR CHAPELS
There are 7 chapels in rococo style (the rococo style emerged in Paris and lasted between 1720 and 1770). They were built in the 17th century and their architectural style is unique in Portugal. The route represents the Passion of Christ. It starts in the Matriz church and goes through 5 chapels that are located in the historical center of Ovar (Chapel and Horto’s pass, Meeting pass, Chapel and Cirineu’s pass, Chapel and Veronica’s pass, Chapel and Jerusalem’s daughters pass). The Way of the Cross ends at the Calvary chapel. The procession of the steps continues to be of enormous importance to the people of Vareira and takes place during the Easter period.
RIKE A BIDE IN OVAR
Ovar offers you more than 40 kilometers of bike paths (almost always in flat routes) distributed over 13 trails that connect Ovar to the beaches, the dunes and the ria. If you ride through the city’s 11 parks, you’ll find more than 100 bicycles available for you. It’s a courtesy from the Ovar City Hall that you can’t refuse. In Ovar there are no excuses for not pedaling!
SURFING IN OVAR
If you like surfing, you can’t miss Ovar because in its surroundings there are several beaches that offer perfect waves! The village of Cortegaça was and is an example of a village that has been dedicated to attracting surfers.
It is one of the most famous Carnivals in Portugal! Also called Vitamin of Joy, it was first organized in 1952. It brings thousands of tourists to the city of Ovar every year during the month of February. The Carnival has three Carnival Corsos and two thousand participants.
OVAR HOLY WEEK
The procession of Ovar has been repeated annually for more than 400 years. The procession has two processions with two litters: the litter of Our Lady of Sorrows and the litter of Our Lord of the Steps. They meet on the way to Calvário, near the Capela do Encontro. The day of the procession also offers the opportunity to hear the singing of the Orfeão de Ovar. The singing takes place in the chapels. The population of Ovar no longer adheres to the event as in the past. The streets and the balconies are no longer dressed up as in the past. Still, it’s still an event worth seeing!
BEACHES NEAR OVAR
There are many beaches close (by car) to the city of Ovar. We will share with you the characteristics of five beaches. Five suggestions of those that we think are the best in the region.
TORRÃO DO LAMEIRO BEACH
A beach with a wide, fine, very clean sand and… an icy water. Magnificent for those who like beaches with few people. An excellent option to spend a quiet morning or afternoon. The beach has good access for people with reduced mobility and also has a bathroom.
The furadouro beach is 4 kilometers from the center of Ovar. It has a camping site that can accommodate up to 5000 people. It is surrounded by natural resources of great importance such as the Ria de Aveiro and the Pinheiro Bravo Forest. The beach hosts several sports events, such as surf, volleyball and beach soccer competitions.
Beach embraced by pine forests and dunes. It has a very extensive sandy beach, a campsite very close. It also has good quality support structures. The sea is strong, dangerous (especially outside the bathing season) and much appreciated by surfers. It is a beach with a historical connection to the fishing art.
Esmoriz beach is also known as Barrinha beach. Its brand image is the wooden fence that runs parallel to the walkway that extends along the sand and that leads us to the ocean. The little canvas tents on the beach are another traditional element but also very useful on windy days. If the weather is rough, don’t risk it! In that case we suggest a walk along the beach to the pontoon.
DUNAS DE OVAR BEACH
A wild and very beautiful beach. It has no beach support. It is very frequented by naturism lovers and surfers. To get there you have to walk a long way to the finish line or the adjacent beaches. For this reason we suggest you bring appropriate footwear for a good walk, as well as water and some food.
VIRTUAL TOUR TO OVAR
There are many good gastronomic options in Ovar! Ovar’s gastronomy is the result of the proximity with the sea, with the river and a fertile land. From the soil come to Ovar the vegetables and bread. From the waters come the molluscs and fish. Particularly noteworthy are the fish and eel stews, the eels in escabeche, the wild sea bass, the grouper and the salmon. If you prefer meat, try the veal chunks, pork, and beef (Marinhoa breed). To whet your appetite try a beautiful clam or a fried tiger shrimp. Of course we cannot forget the famous pão de ló (sponge cake).
OVAR’S SPONGE CAKE (PÃO DE LÓ DE OVAR)
Ovar’s sponge cake differentiates itself from the others by its velvety texture, its moist interior and assumes itself as the ultimate symbol of Ovar.
RESTAURANTS IN OVAR
DOM JOAQUIM TAVERN
Cheap restaurant. Over 250 reviews on Google and an overall rating of 4.5 (out of 5). As the name implies, this is a tavern with a taste of the past and a very cozy atmosphere. The food is homemade, the staff is very friendly and the price/quality ratio unbeatable. Not to be missed!
It opened its doors in 1976. We chose to recommend the toca restaurant because it has the best relationship between price, quality and customer reviews in the city of Ovar. More than 420 comments on Google and an overall rating of 4.6 stars (out of 5). It is a restaurant where you can eat the typical food of the Ovar region and also opt for a tapas accompanied by a good wine. The comments praise the pleasant and well decorated space and the quality of the food. Make a reservation because the place fills up easily.
Luxury restaurant. One of the best in the country! Over 3700 reviews on Google and an overall rating of 4.7 (out of 5). The space is modern and beautiful. The staff is friendly and the food magnificent. If your wallet breathes health, don’t miss it!
HOTELS IN OVAR
GOLDEN WAVES SURF LODGE
We chose this accommodation because it has the lowest cost and a good balance between google reviews and overall rating. It is only a 7 minute drive (3.8 kilometers away) from the center of ovar.
2-star hotel, over 35 reviews and an overall rating of 4.7 stars (out of a maximum of 5). The most complimentary comments mention super friendly staff, an extremely clean hotel, and comfortable, quiet rooms.
WHAT TO VISIT NEAR OVAR?
Ovar is in the North of the country a short distance from other cities that also deserve our visit! Below is a map with our 4 recommendations: Porto (32 minutes), Águeda (40 minutes), Espinho (29 minutes) and Aveiro (35 minutes).