Porto was one of those cities that we really knew not too much about. Is Porto worth visiting we asked ourselves? Is there enough things to see in Porto. We had seen pictures of the beautiful Porto bridges and that was enough to attract me to this amazing city. Porto sits on the coast and the Douro River in the north of Portugal. This city is an amazing gem that appears to me to be untouched by mass tourism. Porto riverfront is teeming with bars and restaurants while the rest of the city rises above the river out of the gorge that was created by the Douro river.
The iconic Porto bridges are a must see. Actually one cannot miss the bridges. They are the most prominent things to see in Porto Portugal. Whether you just look at the bridges walk over them pass through them on a sailor sail under them on a Porto river cruise.The bridges in Porto play a big part in the Porto tourism scene.
The Porto Bridges
When you see a picture of Porto, it is most likely a picture of one of the city’s many bridges. Porto bridges are the iconic symbol of the city and its iconic bridges hold many world records for their construction techniques. The bridges vary in ages and the materials they are built with. From classic iron of the 18th century through to modern concrete structures that span the Duoro River. The Bridges are located from the Porto Historical Centre through to the suburbs and river mouth of the Duooa River. A current Porto sightseeing map will show where all the bridges are located.
Porto Bridges Dom Luis I Bridge: Avenida de Vímara Peres Porto
This is the most famous bridge in Porto (pictured above). Designed by Teófilo Seyrig, Seyrig was a pupil of Gustav Eiffel of the Eiffel Tower Fame. The Dom Luis bridge was opened in 1886 and comprises 2 overlapping iron decks. This masterpiece is 395 meters long and 8 meters wide. The Metal arch is still considered to be the world’s biggest arc ever constructed of forged iron. Today the top deck is used for trams and tourists. The view from the top deck is amazing. We wandered out to the middle before making our way down to the amazing Porto old town. There are some of the best restaurants in Porto lining either side of the river. You can walk down to the old town or take the Porto Santa Maria Funchal down.
Porto Bridges Arrábida Bridge: A1 Autostrada do Norte
This is a modern concrete bridge opened in 1973. This bridge has a span of 270 meters. The bridge sits 70 meters above the water of the Douro river. This bridge was once the longest re-enforced concrete bridge in the world. On the left-hand side of the bridge is the best port houses to visit in Porto. The Porto Port has been stored in wine caves for centuries. The merchants used to bring the Port Wine down the river Douro by boat and store the port barrels in the caves until they sold them. For those of us game enough, you can do a Small Group Arrábida Bridge Climb Tour
Book your Small Group Arrábida Bridge Climb Tour
Experience Porto and its iconic Arrábida Bridge from a different perspective on a climb of the arch, and discover what was once the largest concrete arch in the world up close and personal. In 2016, the arch of the Arrábida Bridge became the only one in Europe open to visitors. Get up close and personal with this Porto bridge
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Bridges in Porto – Maria Pia Bridge: Avenida de Gustavo Eiffel
This is Gustavo Eiffel Bridge. Many people going to Porto think the Dom Luis is the Eiffel bridge. Eiffel worked on this bridge with Theóphile Seyrig who went on to design the Dom Luis Bridge. Maria Pia was opened to the public in 1877 to much fanfare. Eiffel’s bridge served the people of Porto faithfully for 114 years. Shifting people, and goods from one side of Porto to the other. Maria Pia has a double-hinged arch that supports a single-track railway deck on truss pillars.
The Portuguese Government Classified Eiffel’s Ponte Maria Pia masterpiece as a national monument in 1982. Eiffel’s design was ahead of its time. Maria Pia gained it international recognition in 1999 as being of historical importance to civil engineering. It has not been in use since 1991. Maria Pia is no longer operational and stands as a historical landmark for Porto and a reminder of the brilliance of Gustave Eiffel’s Porto Bridge
Where to stay and see the bridges in Porto
We stayed at Hotel Do Norte. The Hotel do Norte is one of the oldest of Oporto. It was completely renovated in June 2008 and the rooms are now modern, some with private balcony with magnificent views to the Capela das Almas. The hotel is a great budget family accommodation option. The hotel is located 50 meters from a metro station that is serviced by the airport train
Porto Bridges São João Bridge
The futuristic-looking São João bridge replaced Eiffel’s, Maria Pia. This bridge was constructed between 1984 and 1991. This bridge is located near the replaced Maria Pia. The bridge spans 250 meters across the Douro river. São João is used as a railway bridge only. To me, it seems out of place when compared with the classic iron bridges that Porto is famous for. That being said this bridge is located up the Douro River away from the UNESCO world heritage old town of Porto. We travelled over this bridge on a bus. The Porto hop on hop off tour crosses the Douro river on this bridge.
Porto Hop on hop off bus tour
Modern and lively, Porto is Portugal’s second largest city. The charm and character of its old quarters, filled with cafés and shopping centres, is matched by the cathedral area, perfect for exploring. The civic centre of the city is situated in the Central Baixa quarter, with broad avenues lined with banks and outdoor cafés, not forgetting the 2-tiered covered daily market.
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Porto Bridges Infante D. Henrique Bridge
The Prince Henry bridge was built to replace the upper level of the Dom Luis Bridge which is now used as a metro line. The bridge is 371 meters long and 20 meters wide. This bridge has an arch span of 280 meters which is a world record. This is newest Porto bridge opened in 2003.
Porto Bridges Freixo Bridge
This Porto bridge is on the far outskirts of the city. You can not see it from the centre of Porto and chances are unless you go to the suburbs you will not be able to view it. This bridge opened in 1995. This bridge is an amazing 715 meters in length and is actually a double bridge with two lanes on each section to allow two-lane traffic to flow in each direction.
Porto today only has 6 bridges but it once had 7 bridges. The remains of the 7th bridge in Porto, Ponte Pensil can still be seen on the banks of the Douro River. This bridge was in use from 1843 to 1887.
Traveller pro tip: take one of the many porto river cruise boats down the Duoro River to get the best views of the bridges of Porto. The boat ride gives you an amazing perspective of the height and scale of these iconic structures. Have a meal on the river side in the shadow of Dom Luis bridge.
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