If you’re looking for the most Instagramable place on earth, you make just find it in Águeda. It’s a city that has taken it’s small, charming streets and turned them into colorful works of art and brilliantly designed Instagram photo backdrops.
Águeda is easily accessible by car and is approximately an hour or so southeast from Porto or just under 3 hours northeast of Lisbon. Since we were driving from Porto down through Lisbon and eventually on to Portimao, it was an easy stop along the way. Rental cars are fairly inexpensive in Portugal and Águeda is well worth going out of your way for. It’s also easy to find. We arrived early in the afternoon and parking was plentiful and inexpensive as well.
Águeda has several colorful streets throughout the small town. You’ll mostly see streets with umbrellas hanging over walkways and driveways. There are a number of painted staircases with colorful works of art. Lastly, my favorite street, appears to have balloons floating above, but it’s really inflatable beachball-like bubbles, labeled “CIN” which I believe is brand name for a paint company. Pretty creative advertising.
Despite arriving in Águeda later than we would have liked, it felt as if we basically had the town all to ourselves. There were a handful of tourists walking around, looking up at the installations and taking photos, but really, the town is extremely quiet. We were easily able to stand and take photos for several minutes without interruption of tourists or cars, which is rare in the more popular Portuguese cities of Porto and certainly Lisbon.
My favorite street was the CIN bubble street by far. The clouds kept moving and changing above it and it just created some of the best photos – fun, colorful and full of cheer.
Where to Eat
Since we had arrived in Águeda around lunch, we definitely were searching for a bite to eat. There are plenty of traditional Portuguese places with pastries and sandwiches, but we wanted something a little less heavy. After searching for a while, we went back to Rua Eng. Julio Portela (the bubble street) and sat at an outdoor table at 43 Sushi and Wine Bar. We arrived at the end of lunch, and there weren’t a lot of staff onsite, so the service was very relaxed. If you’re in a rush, this may not be the place to eat, but we ate an excellent meal, enjoyed a bottle of sparkling rose and watched the colorful bubbles sway in the wind above.
Our Take (a.k.a My Happy Place)
Águeda was certainly worth the trip. This place just can’t help but make you smile and our stop here was actually one of my favorite moments of our Portugal adventure (and there were A LOT of great moments). I’m not certain that I would stay overnight here, but spending an hour or two wandering around the small city is definitely worthwhile.