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 Olhao. 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. Having been to a few of those umbrella streets, and having also been to Águeda, and despite my obvious bias, I have to say that nowhere else does it quite like Águeda does.