A World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage neighborhood
Every worthy postcard of Porto shows the colorful and picturesque image of its most appreciated place: the Ribeira. This is the historic center of the city, something you shouldn’t miss during your visit, because this riverside promenade in Porto is a must-see for tourists and residents alike.
What will you see in Porto’s Ribeira?
In the Ribeira there is a small square called Largo do Terreiro, wherewe find the Chapel of “Nossa Senhora de Ó” and a small fountain called “Fonte Taurina”.
The fountain marks the beginning of the restaurant area, with its tables full of visitors and locals, who want to have a drink next to the most traditional area of the city.
Once in the riverfront, as you walk upstream towards the Dom Luis I Bridge, if you pay attention, just before reaching the Bridge, on the wall on your left side, you will see a metal plaque where the “portuenses” (the Portuguese name for the local inhabitants) light candles. It is a tribute to the Portuenses who died during the clashes with the Napoleonic troops on the old “Ponte das Barcas” (a bridge supported by boats) which collapsed under the weight of the people fighting and fleeing. It bears the name of Alminhas da Ponte.
The most famous bridge of Porto
Without doubt, the best view of the Dom Luis I Bridge, is from the Ribeira. Built in 1877 by Teófilo Seyrig, Eiffel’s partner (yes, the same of the Eiffel Tower), this metallic structure and the colorful buildings along the river make up one of the most beautiful sights in Porto.
The lower level of the bridge can be crossed walking or by car; the upper part can also be traversed on foot or with the metro yellow line (D line).
Walks along the Douro River
At Porto’s Ribeira pier, boats are taken for a ride on the Douro River.
When it comes to boat tours, there are many options. On one hand, there are short trips, which take you along the Ribeira towards the river mouth and back to capture nice views of the riverfront and the bridges that connect Porto with Vila Nova de Gaia. On the other hand, there are longer trips, which can last a whole day, and take the passengers upstream to visit the famous Douro valley, where the grapes are grown with which Porto wine is made.
You can book the Famous Porto Six Bridges Cruise here.
Cafes and restaurants in the Ribeira
In the Ribeira of Porto you will find many restaurants with typical food and terraces, where you can have a beer and “petiscar“, which is how locals call eating small portions of Portuguese specialties.
We recommend you to check the menu and prices. In this area, an inexpensive traditional restaurant can be next to a much more costly one.
Our favorite in the area is the “Adega São Nicolau”, at Rua de São Nicolau 1(see googlemaps). A few meters away is a more traditional and cheaper Restaurant called “Ora Viva” (see googlemaps).
Places near the Ribeira de Porto
Igreja de São Francisco
Walking along the entire quay of the Ribeira we can reach the Church of São Francisco (Saint Francis) which is the most representative gothic monument of Porto.
On the inside, the building has a baroque style, and almost every ornament is covered with gold leaves. It is worth a visit, but we warn you that you must pay a 7.50€ admission. There is a discount with the Porto Card.
Palácio da Bolsa
The Arab Hall of the Palácio da Bolsa of Porto is the most appreciated space by most visitors to this monument.
You can also see the Courtyard of Nations, the Presidential Hall and the room of the General Assembly. It is one of the most visited places in Porto.
Casa do Infante
The Casa do Infante, was the building that housed the customs house in the year 1300. It is also said that it was in this house that Prince Henry the Navigator was born. Inside are exhibited important artifacts of the city’s history.
The beauty of the Ribeira, like many of Porto’s neighborhoods, is that it has not lost its authenticity and character. In the midst of the stores made expressly for tourists, there are houses of local inhabitants going about their daily lives and of course, drying their clothes on the façade, in the open air.
You don’t have to go too far into its narrow alleys (which we highly recommend you to do, anyway) to see what we are describing. In Porto, the peixeiras – the traditional fish sellers – and the renowned international stores meet in the same streets day after day. The only difference seems to be that time has been divided in two, passing for some and freezing for others.
Hotels in Ribeira de Porto
We selected three accommodations overlooking the river in Porto's Ribeira for you.
Porto Street Fonte Taurina - Riverfront Suites
Suites overlooking the river in the heart of Ribeira de Porto.
RVA - Gustave Eiffel Apartments
Apartments overlooking the Douro River in the Ribeira and bike rental.