Tourism has been a bitter sweet gift to Porto’s inhabitants.If, on one hand, it brings a lot of business opportunities, it also rises the prices of real estate and it literally transforms some areas of the city into mini Disneylands. Such is the case of Porto’s Ribeira, the most famous area of the city.
But behind all the new glitter designed to bring out the tourists, you still see the old Porto’s Ribeira in alleys, old fountains and building façades.So prepare yourself for a fun trip around Ribeira where history is living in harmony with the modern times.
Here are the top things to do in Porto’s Ribeira:
See the artifacts at Casa do Infante
Rua Alfândega, 10
Casa do Infante, at the heart of Porto’s Ribeira, is the underdog of the museums in the city. But it shouldn’t be. It has a remarkable history not only as a medieval stock exchange house but also as the birthplace of Henry The Navigator, the fifteenth century Portuguese prince who started the Portuguese Discoveries.Casa do Infante has scattered collections of tiles, pottery, coins and Roman ruins (true story), but what I find truly remarkable about this museum is the section dedicated to the Portuguese Discoveries. It is definitely one of the buildings in Porto’s Ribeira that is worth exploring if you are a history buff like myself.How to get there: the subway and train station of São Bento is 10min walking distance.
Visit the Stock Exchange Palace
Rua de Ferreira Borges
I must confess that I have a love – hate relationship with the Stock Exchange Palace. Even though it is indisputably one of the most beautiful monuments in Porto, it also has one of the most terrible tours in the city. I find the guides a bit arrogant and always rushing the tours (probably because they have another one coming shortly!), which is something no one looks forward to during their vacations.Nonetheless, the Arab room inside the Stock Exchange Palace is definitely worth it, and hence you should not skip it while visiting Porto’s Ribeira.How to get there: the subway and train station of São Bento is 10min walking distance.
Tour the St Francis Church
Rua do Infante D. Henrique
The famous St Francis Church is nothing short of amazing and it is definitely one of the best things to do in Porto’s Ribeira.The interior of this gothic church is entirely covered in Baroque golden leaf (the so called talha dourada, in Portuguese) creating a magnificent effect that I have never seen anywhere else in the world. Moreover, the ticket that gives you access to the church also gives you access to the catacombs – no, it is not scary 🙂This is one of the few monuments that it is really worth it to get a guided tour – make sure to get in contact with them via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to schedule it.How to get there: the subway and train station of São Bento is 10min walking distance.
Cais da Estiva
Taking a cruise to get to know Porto’s famous 6 bridges is one of the best things you can do in Porto’s Ribeira. There are many operators that will accommodate you, but it’s always best to take the trip in non busy hours like early morning or after 3pm to avoid large crowds on-board. The trip lasts 50 minutes and cost around €15. But is the 6 bridge cruise worth the money?As the 6 bridges cruise is a very popular tour in Porto, we recommend you to get the online ticket to the 6 bridges cruise.How to get there: the subway and train station of São Bento is 9min walking distance.
Multiple locationsThe historic tram takes you on a beautiful ride across the Douro river all the way to Foz (where the river meets the ocean). It is a pleasant 15min minute ride than can easily be expanded as Portuguese drivers tend to park their cars pretty much everywhere – and that includes the tram tracks, yes.One thing I must warn you is that this is by far the most touristy thing to do in Porto’s Ribeira, which means that there is a huge line to get inside the tram (easily above 50 people). Moreover, the driver will let anyone in until the tram is totally packed, so don’t expect much comfort or the opportunity to take nostalgic photos.How to get there: the subway and train station of São Bento is 10min walking distance.
Watch a concert at Hard Club
Rua da Bolsa, 19
The story of Mercado Ferreira Borges is a remarkable one. Even though it was meant to be a market, it served other purposes like a warehouse for military equipment then later on, a community kitchen. It was going to be demolished to build a parking garage in its place, but it survived to become not one of the most important architectural and cultural symbols of Porto. That’s why we recommend you attend a concert in this special place when you’re in Porto’s Ribeira.The Hard Club is the perfect place to listen to and discover new artists from different genres. It’s also a great way to hide from the rainy days in Porto.There is also a restaurant good for large groups. They serve everything from burgers, pizza, sandwiches, francesinhas to dishes for vegetarians. Concerts here usually starts around 9pm, but they have ones at 5pm and all the way until midnight. The price depends on the artist playing, sometimes you pay €5 and sometimes €30 for more known musicians. You can check their line up here.How to get there: the subway and train station of São Bento is 7min walking distance. It’s very close to Palácio da Bolsa (Exchange Palace).
Learn about wine at the Porto Wine Institute
Rua de Ferreira Borges, 27
It is true that the real places to learn about Port wine production are the Port wine cellars, in Vila Nova de Gaia. But if you’re walking around Porto’s Ribeira, you can learn about the Port wine industry in Portugal at the Porto Wine Institute for free. The institute has an important role in the inspection and control of wine production in the country.The exhibition space is small but interesting, with illustrations and educational videos. If you’d like, you can pay for a self-service wine tasting and even buy a bottle from its wine store. How to get there: the subway and train station of São Bento is 7min walking distance. It’s very close to Palácio da Bolsa.
Have a glass of wine at the Wine Quay
Cais da Estiva, 111
Wine Quay Bar at Porto’s Ribeira is surely one of the best places to have a glass of wine while you admire the sun reflecting off the Douro river water. The bar is also one of our top choices for wine tasting in Porto. With your wine, you can enjoy a selection of appetizers including cheese, smoked meat, canned fish, bread to dip in olive oil and more.The price for a glass of wine ranges between €3 and €7 with the option of buying full bottles to take with you. You should also make the most of the knowledge of the staff at the Wine Quay – even though they are not sommeliers, they can certainly advise you on the best wine to have.The only problem at the Wine Quay is that it is a popular spot among seagulls – bring a hat to protect you from unwanted “gifts” falling from the sky! How to get there: the subway and train station of São Bento is 10min walking distance.
Go for breakfast at Largo de São Domingos
Largo São Domingos, 8-9Before you begin your adventures in Porto’s Ribeira, you should eat at “10 em São Domingos”, one of the best places to have breakfast in Porto.The place opens at 9am ready to serve the hungry clients! They have fresh juice, coffee, Portuguese croissants, omelets, toast with different toppings and more.You can even come here for lunch and try one of their famous burger sandwiches served with a generous amount of fries.How to get there: São Bento subway/train station is a 6min walking distance. When you’re in Largo São Domingos, the restaurant is the small one next to the bank.
Before you begin your adventures in Porto’s Ribeira, you should eat at “10 em São Domingos”, one of the best places to have breakfast in Porto.The place opens at 9am ready to serve the hungry clients! They have fresh juice, coffee, Portuguese croissants, omelets, toast with different toppings and more.You can even come here for lunch and try one of their famous burger sandwiches served with a generous amount of fries.How to get there: São Bento subway/train station is a 6min walking distance. When you’re in Largo São Domingos, the restaurant is the small one next to the bank.
Rent a bicycle
Cais da Ribeira, Mercado da Ribeira, 2-4Getting to know the city, especially Porto’s Ribeira, is very special when you’re riding your bicycle.There are many rental companies around, but we recommend Durus, they are conveniently located near the Dom Luís I bridge. The staff is friendly and the bikes are in great condition. Not to mention, the prices are rather affordable.They have the option of a regular bicycle or an electric bicycle which is great to assist you going uphill. You can also rent a scooter for the day.Prices 2019Regular bicycles: 2 hours: €5; 4 hours: €8; 5-8 hours: €10; 24 hours: €14.Electric bicycles: 2 hours: €12; 4 hours: €18; 5-8 hours: €25Scooters: 24 hours: €30You can give them a call at +351 911 976 88 to check its availability.How to get there: São Bento subway/train station is an 11 min walking distance. Next to Dom Luís I bridge, there are stairs going down. Durus store should be on your left with a red sign.
Have a very-Portuguese ice cream
Avenida Vimara Peres, 88
At Gelados de Portugal in Porto’s Ribeira, you can find delicious ice creams with unique and very-Portuguese flavors.The store is pleasant and spacious to sit in. Their ice cream flavors include chestnut with Porto wine, yogurt with Algarve’s figs, Madeira’s banana and more.You will also find a huge selection of traditional desserts like ovos moles (traditional sweet from Aveiro made with egg yolk and loads of sugar), pão de ló (a traditional Portuguese sponge cake) and more. They also serve waffles, crepes, coffee and tea.How to get there: the ice cream store is a 2min walking distance from São Bento subway/train station.
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