Up until a few years ago, Águeda wasn’t somewhere that you purposely stopped off at. As nice as the town is, there isn’t a lot to see and do in Águeda itself. Meanwhile Aveiro, which has the prestigious nickname of the “Venice of Portugal,” is just 35 km away and Coimbra, a definite must-visit destination in Portugal, is around 65 km away.
Águeda’s fortunes changes in 2011, however, when, as part of the annual ÁgitÁgueda Art Festival which takes place in the summer, local creative firm Sexta Feira hung 3000 umbrellas on suspended cables in the town centre.
The project was both an aesthetic one and a practical one. Águeda, like a lot of Portugal, gets hot during the summer, and these umbrellas provided welcome shade from the hot, summer sun.
But practical was just part of the goal. The umbrellas, and the accompanying street art, brightened up the town and turned it into somewhere that people started to stop off at. And, as they stopped off and took selfies and those selfies then made it onto social media, it wasn’t long before more and more people started visiting Águeda.
Since then, other cities have taken note of Águeda’s low-cost success story and created umbrella streets of their own. You’ll find them all over the world now: in places like Bucharest, Bangkok, Quebec, and Dubai. It’s even spread to other cities in Portugal, like Olhão.
This has forced Águeda to continue to innovate. What do you do when other cities start making umbrella streets as well? Well, you make a tinsel street and you make a balloon street – you keep reinventing that colourful, Instagram-worthy wheel.
If you’re visiting other Central Portuguese towns like Aveiro and Coimbra, this is a great place to stop off just to see the project. You won’t need more than a few hours, although there are accommodation options if you wish to stay overnight.
Useful Resources for Your Trip to ÁguedaHere’s our top tips and tricks for getting the best deals for your trip to Águeda.
- Accommodation: Booking.com and Airbnb are the two most comprehensive websites for finding hotels, hostels, apartments, and other types of accommodation in Águeda.
- Car Rental: Discover Cars and Rental Cars are the two most useful sites for booking local car rental.
- Airport transfers: There are taxis and Ubers at Lisbon and Porto Airport, but you can also pre-book an airport transfer with Welcome Pickups.
- Tours & Things to Do: Both Get Your Guide and Viator list lots of local tours and activities in Águeda and the surrounding Central Portugal region.
- Luggage Storage: Luggage Hero and Bounce are two great sites for finding places to store your luggage in Portugal.
- Public Transport: Cp.pt is the main website for trains in Portugal. For longer distance buses, see Rede Expressos. Flixbus.pt often has cheap tickets between cities in Portugal.
- Flights: Skyscanner and Google Flights are the two most useful websites for finding flights to Portugal: The nearest airport to Águeda is Porto Airport.
Things to do
Umbrella Sky Project
The Umbrella Sky Project is Águeda’s most iconic and globally recognized event, transforming the town into a mesmerizing palette of colors every summer. Initiated in 2011 as a part of the local art festival, Agitagueda, this project sees the town’s narrow streets adorned with a canopy of brightly colored umbrellas, suspended overhead, providing both shade and a breathtaking visual spectacle.
The whimsical display creates an almost magical ambiance, with sunlight filtering through the myriad of umbrellas, casting playful shadows on the cobbled streets below. Beyond its aesthetic appeal, the Umbrella Sky Project serves as a testament to Águeda’s commitment to art, creativity, and community engagement. Year after year, visitors from all over the world flock to the town to wander beneath this unique installation, snapping photographs and reveling in the joyous atmosphere it creates.
The Umbrella Sky Project takes place every year between July and September, as part of the Agitágueda Festival which takes place in July. The best time to visit is July, when you not only get to see the Umbrella Sky Project but also the rest of the Agitágueda Festival. If you can’t make it then, the umbrellas will still be up until September. Otherwise, the next best time to visit is in December when they do a winter edition of the umbrella sky project.
Every summer, the town of Águeda bursts into vibrant life with the AgitÁgueda Art Festival, an electrifying celebration of art, culture, and music. Taking place over several weeks, usually in July, AgitÁgueda transforms this charming Portuguese town into a hub of creativity and entertainment. From captivating street art, interactive installations, and live musical performances to a variety of workshops and activities, the festival offers a plethora of experiences for visitors of all ages.
One of the festival’s most renowned features is the aforementioned Umbrella Sky Project, which sees the town’s streets adorned with floating canopies of colorful umbrellas. But beyond this iconic spectacle, AgitÁgueda stands as a testament to the town’s commitment to promoting both local and international artists, fostering a spirit of community, and creating an inclusive environment where everyone can engage with and appreciate art. More information, including a list of events, can be found at agitÁgueda.com
Águeda has, over the years, established itself as a significant canvas for street art, offering a fresh and contemporary edge to its traditional Portuguese backdrop. Wander through the town’s winding streets, and you’re likely to encounter a plethora of murals and graffiti that narrate stories, reflect local culture, and showcase the raw talents of both local and international artists. These vivid artworks not only transform bland walls and neglected corners into vibrant artistic displays but also invite dialogue and contemplation.
During the AgitÁgueda Art Festival, this passion for street art is intensified, with new pieces often being commissioned, and art enthusiasts given the opportunity to watch artists at work. For those visiting Águeda, a street art exploration offers a unique and immersive way to understand the town’s spirit, its embrace of modernity while holding onto its roots, and its desire to be a dynamic platform for artistic expression.
It’s fun to wander around and stumble upon the street art but, if you’d prefer to be more methodical in your approach, there’s also a street art map.
Getting to Águeda
Situated on the Western Coast of the country and close to both Aveiro and Coimbra, Águeda is very easy to get to whether that’s by car, bus, or train.
- Flying: The nearest airport is Agueda is Porto Airport, which is located around an hour by car from the city centre.
- Train: Águeda’s train station is situated in the north of the city, around 700 metres from the town centre (map). There are numerous services per day, and it’s easy to get to most of the major cities nearby as well as to further afield locations like Lisbon, Porto, and Faro. Overall, there seem to be far more train services than bus to Águeda and, although it’s good to compare both, the train is probably going to be the best option for most people. Train tickets and timetables can be found at cp.pt.
- Bus: Águeda’s bus station is situated just south of the train station, around 500 metres from the town centre (map). There are daily services to most major towns and cities in Portugal, including Lisbon and Porto, although often there are only 1-2 services per day in comparison to the 10+ options the train normally offers. Bus tickets and timetables can be found at Rede Expressos or Flixbus.pt.
- Car: Águeda is very much a place that you stop off for a few hours to take photos, and that’s definitely easiest to do if you’re driving. It’s quite likely that you’ll be driving close to Águeda as well: it’s in between both Coimbra and Aveiro, two of the most popular destinations to visit in Portugal.