Worth a Trip: Aliança Underground Museum
Between Aveiro and Coimbra, in the village of Sangalhos in the Bairrada wine-producing region, the magnificent Aliança Underground Museum is part adega (winery), part art museum. Guided tours take you beneath the winery to a vast 1.5km network of tunnels housing an extraordinary collection of African and Portuguese art. Also down here are cellars crammed with huge oak barrels of maturing wines and brandies.
Exhibit highlights include a haunting collection of funerary objects from Niger and a marvellous selection of contemporary Zimbabwean Shona sculpture. Other key 'stops' – maps of the museum are set out like the London Underground – are the fossil and mineral collections, and the display of Portuguese ceramics. These include a range of azulejos (hand-painted tiles) and quirky animals by former ceramics company Bordallo Pinheiro (still an icon in Portugal).
The scale of the wine production is also impressive – the largest oak barrels, all specially made on-site, are capable of holding 17,000 litres of brandy.
Tours, which must be booked in advance, are available in English, Spanish, French and German, and include a glass of sparkling wine.
Worth a Trip: Museu Marítimo de Ílhavo
The wonderful Museu Marítimo de Ílhavo is in a modern, award-winning building in the town of Ílhavo, 8km south of Aveiro. It covers the history of Portugal's maritime identity, from cod fishing (with superb fishing vessels from the 19th and 20th centuries) to oil paintings on the bows of the moliceiros (the traditional seaweed-harvesting boats). A highlight is the codfish (bacalhau) aquarium, showcasing the Atlantic cod, which the Portuguese have been fishing (and munching on) for centuries. Combined entry with the associated Santo André ship museum costs €8.