Top things to do in Porto’s Ribeira

Tourism has been a bitter sweet gift to Porto’s inhabitants.If, on one hand, it brings a lot of business opportunities,…

Sara Riobom
11 de March de 2019

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. And it is, indeed, one of the best neighborhoods to stay in Porto, so don’t forget to check my article about the best hotels in Ribeira.

Here are the top things to do in Porto’s Ribeira:

Visit the Stock Exchange Palace

Rua de Ferreira Borges | Porto
stock exchange palace porto

It took me some time to properly appreciate Palácio da Bolsa, the Stock Exchange Palace in Porto. That’s because when I started my career a few years ago, guided visits to what is indisputably one of the most beautiful monuments in Porto were led by somewhat arrogant guides who used to rush the tours. However, things are very different nowadays, with much friendlier and better prepared guides (as I can confirm in the many times I’ve been back there with clients).

The Arabian Room is probably the best known of the Palácio da Bolsa, but (in my humble opinion) the main atrium, with its wonderful skylight, is not far behind. And the staircase is stunning and perfect to take some Instagram – worthy photos 😉

I strongly recommend that you buy the ticket to Palácio da Bolsa online for a simple reason: the first person to make an appointment at a certain time determines the language of the visit. So, if you want to ensure that the visit takes place in your desired language, book your visit to Palácio da Bolsa in advance.

How to get there: the subway and train station of São Bento is a 10 minutes walking distance.

Tour the St Francis Church

Rua do Infante D. Henrique | Porto
gold leaf st francis church porto

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 ( to schedule it.
How to get there: the subway and train station of São Bento is a 10 minutes walking distance.

Take the 6 bridges cruise

Cais da Estiva | Porto

porto ribeira 6 bridge cruise
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 15h to avoid large crowds on-board.
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. The trip lasts 50 minutes and costs around €15.
However, there are cleverer ways to take the 6 bridges cruise, as combo tickets are way cheaper.
Namely, you can get a combo ticket for the Hop On Hop Off Bus + 6 bridges cruise + Port wine cellar visit, as you only pay 25,20€.
You can also buy the ticket to the city train tour + 6 bridges cruise + Port wine cellar visit for 25€.
How to get there: the subway and train station of São Bento is a 9 minutes walking distance.

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See the artefacts at Casa do Infante

Rua Alfândega, 10 | Porto
casa infante museum ribeira artifacts

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.
If you buy if you buy the Porto Card you can enter Casa do Infante entirely for free.
How to get there: the subway and train station of São Bento is a 10 minutes walking distance.

Take the tram line 1

Multiple locations
ribeira porto tram ride
© European Best Destinations

The 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 15 minutes 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 a 10 minutes walking distance.

Rent a bicycle

Cais da Ribeira | Porto

group friends riding bike porto
When it’s a sunny day in Porto, there are few things as pleasant as taking a nice bike ride all the way from Ribeira to Foz.
If you prefer to take a tour on your own, just rent a bike in Ribeira – you can rent for a period of time ranging from 10 hours to 5 days, depending on your preference.
If, however, you prefer to take a tour with a small group, then you can take a 3 hour electric bike tour (because no one deserves to go up and down the streets of Porto only with the power of your legs, right? 😉
How to get there: São Bento subway/train station is an 11 minutes walking distance.

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Learn about wine at the Porto Wine Institute

Rua de Ferreira Borges, 27 | Porto
ribeira porto port wine institute

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 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 a 7 minutes walking distance. It’s very close to Palácio da Bolsa.

Have a glass of wine at the Wine Quay

Cais da Estiva, 111 | Porto
best things to do ribeira wine quay

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 my 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. 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 a 10 minutes walking distance.

Watch a concert at Hard Club

Rua da Bolsa, 19 | Porto
people dancing hard club porto

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 21h, but they have ones at 17h and all the way until midnight.
How to get there: the subway and train station of São Bento is 7 minutes walking distance. It’s very close to Palácio da Bolsa (the Stock Exchange Palace).

Go for breakfast at Largo de São Domingos

Largo São Domingos, 8-9 | Porto
ribeira porto best breakfast
© Sérgio Faria

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 train station is a 6 minutes walking distance. When you’re in Largo São Domingos, the restaurant is the small one next to the bank.

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