Many of Europe’s great cities have an "old quarter," the original part of town from which centuries of cosmopolitan evolution spread outward. In Porto, the old town is known as The Ribeira, as it looks out onto the River Douro. In days past, it was once the major entrepot for international shipments, but its modern waterfront is now lined with restaurants, bars and cafes, making it a popular leisure hub and nightlife destination. The main drag, Cais da Ribeira, leads to Praca da Ribeira, a square dominated by two large fountains (one is bronze cubist monument and popular with pigeons) and populated with revelers going between its myriad bars and restaurants.
If you are able to, visit Porto and the Ribeira on June 23 for the annual Festa de Sao Joao (Festival of St. John). While this festival is in memory of St. John, its celebration includes a peculiar tradition - hitting people in the head with plastic hammers. What this practice has to do with the patron saint of lovers is anyone’s guess, but the city turns into a raucous party of drinking, dancing and live music.
The Ribeira is also notable for its 14th century stone wall and the Barredo District, a still-occupied neighborhood that has remained the same for centuries.
I must admit when we arrived in Porto and saw how hilly it was I was a bit nervous about our intended cycle tour, but it was so well-planned with interesting regular stops it wasn't dificult at all! Emma was a fantastic guide, really passionate about Porto and willing to answer all our questions. We had a fab time and would highly recommend this tour.
Even in Winter this tour was amazing. There were only 6 of us and I was told the maximum is 8 people so it's a personalised tour and you don't feel like sheep. We stopped in Amarante and enjoyed some Portuguese cakes, a church and a market. We also stopped at the Nossa Senhora dos Remedios church which was beautiful, make sure you climb up or down all the steps - beautiful surrounding forest!! There were 2 wine tasting stops which were great and a very filling and delicious lunch in Paseo de Regua. We also had a couple of viewing stops to take lovely photos! Our guide was very knowledgable and so friendly!! She answered any questions we had. Overall, the tour was a fun, relaxing day trip which was extremely good value. My boyfriend and I are only 19 and 20, but the other people on the tour were in their 60s and all travellers involved (no matter what their age!) had a ball!
Excellent Guide, beautiful scenery, and great food and wine.
Porto and the Ribeira once formed an important harbor port, but now the Rua de Sao Joao’s only traffic are boats mooring to take on tourists going on river cruises. Around the Ribeira is a warren of streets packed with colorful old houses now serving as galleries, boutiques and classy restaurants.