The Ribeira district, Porto's historic centre

If picturesqueness, history and strolling through a pedestrianised district are among your favourite activities, the Ribeira suburb is the ideal place to spend a day's holiday. The Ribeira, the historic centre of Porto and a UNESCO World Heritage site, is sure to win you over with its medieval streets, its promenade along the quays with a view of the Vila Nova de Gaia wine cellars just across the river, its shops, its festive restaurants where you can sample Portuguese specialities, and its terraces where you can sip a Port wine.

You can visit the fortified Sé cathedral, the Paço Episcopal, the narrow streets of Miragaia and the Port Wine Museum (Museu do Vinho do Porto). At the end of the day, watch the sun go down as you taste the famous Petiscos (Portuguese tapas) while listening to jazz on one of the crowded terraces where the festive atmosphere reigns every evening.

Breathtaking view of the historic Ribeira district, Porto, Portugal.

- © joyfull / Shutterstock

The Sé Cathedral

On the hillside above the old town, Porto Cathedral, known as La Sé, is the most important cathedral in Porto and resembles a fortress. Its construction began in the 12th century and it was remodelled in the 18th century in the Baroque style. It hosted the wedding of King John I to Princess Philippa of Lancaster and the baptism of Prince Henry the Navigator, their son. It has two towers and a granite façade. Inside, the decoration is crude, apart from the altar and its chapels, which are reminiscent of the Baroque style.

You can also enter the cloister from inside the cathedral, where the facades are decorated with earthenware depicting the life of the Virgin. Take time to admire the panoramic view over Porto and take a selfie in front of the entrance.

Porto's Romanesque cathedral (Sé do Porto)

- © abogdanska / Shutterstock

👉 Practical information

Address: Terreiro da Se, Porto 4050-573

Opening times: April to September 9am-6.30pm, October to March 9am-5.30pm, closed at Christmas and Easter.

Admission: entry to the cathedral is free. 3 to visit the cloister and the Casa do Cobildo. Free for children under 10.

Don't miss: the service on Sundays at 11am and on public holidays.

São Francisco de Porto Church

Dating from the 13th century, it was built by the Franciscan friars. Originally Romanesque, then Gothic and Baroque, this church is known for its ostentatious nature, with 300 kg of gold used to gild every last one of its ornaments. It even closed its doors to worship for several years. Once inside, in the left-hand nave, take a moment to admire the Tree of Jesse, a unique work of art depicting the genealogy of Christ.

The church museum houses a fine collection of sacred art, including a portrait of Saint-Louis, while the catacombs in the basement contain the graves of the Franciscan friars and a number of noblemen. Through a glass window in the floor, you can see an ossuary containing thousands of human bones, a real work of art but one that may not appeal to everyone.

👉 Practical information

Address: 4050-297, Rua Infante Dom Henrique

Opening times: November to February 9am-5.30pm, March to October 9am-7pm, July to September 9am-8pm

Price: €7.50 per adult

Please note: it is forbidden to take photographs inside the catacombs, even with a mobile phone. However, photography is permitted in the catacombs.

Palácio da Bolsa (Stock Exchange Palace)

It is one of the most visited monuments in northern Portugal and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Palais de la Bourse was built between 1842 and 1910. The rooms are decorated with beautiful paintings and works of art: the Louis XVI salon, the French Renaissance salon, which bears witness to the trading activity of the period, and the Arab salon, decorated with more than 20 kg of gold, have welcomed Portugal's most illustrious visitors.

Sunset over the Palácio da Bolsa

- © trabantos / Shutterstock

👉 Practical information

Address: Rua do Infante Dom Henrique, 4050

Opening times: April to October 9am-6.30pm, November to March 9.30am-12.30pm and 2pm-5.30pm

Price: €10 per adult, €6.5 for students and senior citizens, free for children under 12.

Please note: guided tours are available in 4 languages, but the language is chosen by the first person to buy a ticket. Be patient, it would be a shame to miss out.

Cais da Ribeira (Ribeira quays)

This is the most picturesque spot, on the quays along the river. Here you can admire the pastel-coloured facades, the flat-bottomed boats and a panoramic view of the wine cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia on the other side of the river. Under the arcades, you can have a drink, listen to music and eat a few pesticos in a tascas (tavern).

View of the old town of ribeira with its colorful houses near the Douro river

- © Nataliya Nazarova / Shutterstock

Dom-Luís Bridge

A metal bridge with a hint of the Eiffel Tower, which is to be expected as it was designed by a disciple of Gustave Eiffel at the end of the 19th century. Amust-do: cross the bridge on foot for one of the best views of the river and the old town from a height of 60 metres.

Dom-Luis Bridge

- © Markus Mainka / Shutterstock

🍴 Where to eat in the Ribeira district?

Puro 4050

Chic restaurant with an original mozzarella bar. Don't forget to make a reservation.

Address: Largo de Sao Domingos 84

Phone number: 222 011 852

Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 12.30pm to 3pm and 6.30pm to 11pm

DOP

With its chef, Rui Paula, you can enjoy fine, flavourful dishes.

Address: Largo de Sao Domingos 18

Tel: 222 014 313

Opening times: Monday 7pm-11pm, Tuesday to Saturday 12.30pm-3pm 7pm-11pm

Vinhas d'Alho

Enjoy a delicious meal while listening to fado sung by the lady of the house.

Address: Muro dos Bacalhoeros, 139

Phone number: 222 012 874

Opening times: Every day from 12pm to 10.30pm

⭐ Where to sleep in the Ribeira district?

Exmo Hotel by Olivia Porto
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Exmo Hotel by Olivia

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