Top things to do in Ribeira in Porto

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

Sara Riobom
28 de February de 2024

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 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 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.

No time to read a long article? Here’s a summary

These are the best things to do in Ribeira in Porto for:

  • People who want to enjoy the fantastic views: take the 6 bridges cruise
  • Families with children: visit The World of Discoveries or have an ice cream! 🙂
  • Cultured people: visit the Stock Exchange Palace and the St Francis Church
  • Foodies: eat the best sushi in town at Tokkotai
  • Couples who just want to relax: have a glass of wine at the Wine Quay
  • Budget travellers: go for a walk near Porto’s bridges!

Here are the top things to do in Ribeira in Porto

Take the 6 bridges cruise

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 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, I 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 35€.
You can also buy the ticket to the city train tour + 6 bridges cruise + Port wine cellar visit for 29€.

If you prefer to take a private river cruise (I reckon that the 6 bridges cruise is always full of people), make sure to read my article about the best river cruises in Porto.

Visit the Stock Exchange Palace

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 😉

Tour the St Francis Church

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 Ribeira in Porto.
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 (museu@ordemsaofrancisco.pt) to schedule it.

Go for an interactive visit at The World of Discoveries

children boat

children museum porto

One of the greatest activities in Porto for families with kids is to visit the interactive museum The World of Discoveries. It has large touch screens in various languages, for kids to play. There are members of the staff dressed in costumes that explain interesting details on the Discoveries of Portugal.
The cherry on top: when you take a boat ride to explore the different continents and countries that Portugal has discovered! 🙂

If you buy the online ticket to the World of Discoveries in Porto, you are going to save some money because the tickets are more expensive at the counter.

See the artefacts at Casa do Infante

casa infante museum ribeira artifacts

Casa do Infante, at the heart of the Ribeira neighborhood, 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.

Take the tram line 1

ribeira porto tram ride

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 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.

The tickets to the tram in Porto costs around 6€ each way, but you can also get the combo ticket Tram of Porto + Hop Off Hop On bus + Guindais’ Elevator, valid for 2 days.

Rent a bicycle

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? 😉

Learn about wine at the Porto Wine Institute

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.

Have a glass of wine at the Wine Quay

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 5€ and 20€ 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!

Have a sushi feast at the heart of Porto

tokkotai japanese restaurant ribeira

As soon as Tokkotai opened its doors in the city, I went there for a business dinner. The menu is quite extensive and, not knowing what to choose, I said to the waiter: “surprise us”. And so began an unforgettable night in one of the best sushi restaurants in Porto.

Indeed, if you are tired of eating traditional Portuguese food, one of the best things to do in Ribeira is to have dinner at Tokkotai. It’s an expensive and a bit elitist restaurant, but it’s well worth it. If you’re only in Porto during the day, you can go to Tokko instead, which belongs to the same owners and is open at lunchtime.

Have a beer at Guindalense

super bock local beer porto

There’s this really down-to-Earth café in Ribeira, called Guindalense Futebol Clube, where you can enjoy a chilled Super Bock (the local beer of Porto) while enjoying one of the most magnificent views of the city. It’s cheap, it’s authentic, it’s Porto 🙂

Watch a concert at the Hard Club

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 vegetarian dishes. Concerts usually starts around 21h, but they have ones at 17h and all the way until midnight.

Have an ice cream at Gelatopia

raspberry ice cream gelatopia porto

There are very few things in life that I adore as much as eating ice cream, even in winter (much to my boyfriend’s dismay). And, luckily, one of the best ice cream shops in Porto is located precisely in Ribeira 🙂 It is called Gelatopia and it is perfect for vegans, since it sells both ice creams and delicious sorvettos, like the iconic chocolate & avocado mousse.

Enjoy the view of the bridges of Porto

luis famous iron bridge porto

All the bridges of Porto are magnificent, and the best place to enjoy them is, precisely, in Ribeira. Most tourists just stop by the famous Luiz I bridge (the bridge on this picture), but I find it worth it to explore the other bridges as well. Therefore, I recommend you to start walking from Luiz I bridge in the direction of the east (so, opposite to the Atlantic ocean) and you will soon find Infante bridge, the beautiful São João bridge (designed by Eiffel) and then the Freixo bridge. It is a lovely promenade, away from the crowds, in a flat riverside area.

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