Ribeira: Porto’s riverside

October 19, 2023

Fundamental to the formation of Portugal, Porto was populated long before the kingdom’s foundation. Urban development united the upper zone, Sé do Porto, to the lower one, Ribeira, on the bank of the river Douro. Part of the UNESCO World Heritage and Porto Historical Centre, Ribeira is an ancient place and the city’s heart. On this old bank of the Douro River, the sounds of languages spoken by tourists and locals, the shops, restaurants, and bars, the colorful typical buildings, and the breathtaking view of the Douro fascinate anyone. In addition to this explosion of sounds, smells, flavors, and colors that are a must for visitors, some places stand out and are worth a visit.

Praça da Ribeira, also known as Praça do Cubo, is an old square in Porto, Portugal and one of the oldest in the world. Surrender to the city’s energy in this place that was once the first gateway to Porto. In the square’s center, where there was a 17th-century fountain, there is now a sculptural piece by José Rodrigues, known as Cubo da Ribeira. Much contested in the 1980s, the artwork showcases Porto’s evolution without losing its essence. Shops, restaurants, street performers, and drinks complement this place.

Muralha Fernandina, of which little remains, represents the medieval belt of walls in Porto. Its construction began in the 13th and ended in the 14th century. You can still see this wall at some points and imagine how it protected the nucleus that gave rise to the city of Porto. Don’t forget to visit Muro dos Bacalhoeiros, an extension of Muralha Fernandina, from where visitors get a magnificent view of both banks of the Douro River.

Ribeira's architecture is a living testament to the city's rich heritage and an open invitation to explore its hidden gems.

Ribeira’s buildings and facades, Porto

Casa do Infante is another mandatory stop on your visit to Porto, as it is the house where Infante D. Henrique was born, the leading figure of the maritime discoveries and expansion made by the Portuguese. In addition to the Historical Archive of Porto, the complex provides an opportunity to explore two periods in the history of Portugal: the maritime discoveries and the Roman occupation, in the museum it houses.

Porto connects to Vila Nova de Gaia via the Luís I Bridge over the Douro River. The beautiful bridge and Ribeira are part of the UNESCO World Heritage. The bridge was designed by engineer Théophile Seyrig, most likely a disciple of G. Eiffel, and was inaugurated in 1886. The Luís I Bridge is not only one of the most beautiful bridges in the world but also was the longest bridge with the largest forged arch in the world in 2017. It is possible to cross this bridge on foot on the lower deck.

In Ribeira, many more activities are waiting for visitors, in addition to those already mentioned. For example, cycling along Ribeira do Porto, visiting Ribeira de Gaia, crossing the Luís I Bridge, taking a boat trip on the Douro River from Ribeira do Porto, buying souvenirs for family and friends, visiting the place at night, and, last but not least, enjoying a glass of Port Wine while sitting on one of the terraces and contemplating the river.

Ribeira is the most emblematic neighborhood of Porto and one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Cais da Ribeira, Porto

Join us on our Food Tour and uncover the secrets of this vibrant neighborhood in Porto. Immerse yourself in the local culture and embark on this culinary adventure with Cooltour Oporto. As you explore the flavors of Porto, we’ll also take you on a journey through the historic Ribeira district, offering you a glimpse of its UNESCO World Heritage charm. Visit our website and our app at app.cooltouroporto.com and book your Food Tour today!