Nestled in the lush Minho region, Ponte de Lima exudes a captivating allure that blends historical depth with the serene beauty of its landscapes. The town’s namesake is the Roman bridge, or “ponte,” that spans the Rio Lima, a vision of grace and antiquity that creates a picturesque centrepiece in the heart of the town. This charming riverside town is recognised for its well-preserved medieval architecture, blossoming gardens, and famed Vinho Verde wine.
A stroll through Ponte de Lima is a journey back in time, where narrow cobblestone streets unfold into enchanting plazas populated with ancient churches, manor houses, and sun-dappled cafes. It’s a place where old-world charm marries a vibrant cultural scene with a full calendar of festivals, the most notable being the Feiras Novas, a celebration dating back to 1826. Despite its intimate size, Ponte de Lima promises a diverse and fulfilling experience for any traveler. From its flourishing gastronomic scene to the renowned golf course and the natural allure of the Lima Valley, this quaint town encapsulates the heart and soul of Northern Portugal.
Useful Resources for Your Trip to Ponte de Lima
Here’s our top tips and tricks for getting the best deals for your trip to Monte Gordo.
- Accommodation: Booking.com and Airbnb are the two most comprehensive websites for finding hotels, hostels, apartments, and other types of accommodation in Ponte de Lima.
- Car Rental: Discover Cars and Rental Cars are the two most useful sites for booking local car rental.
- Airport transfers: There are taxis and Ubers at Porto Airport, but you can also pre-book an airport transfer with Welcome Pickups.
- Tours & Things to Do: Both Get Your Guide and Viator list lots of local tours and activities in Ponte de Lima and the surrounding Northern Portugal region.
- Luggage Storage: Luggage Hero and Bounce are two great sites for finding places to store your luggage in Portugal.
- Public Transport: Cp.pt is the main website for trains in Portugal. For longer distance buses, see Rede Expressos. Flixbus.pt often has cheap tickets between cities in Portugal.
- Flights: Skyscanner and Google Flights are the two most useful websites for finding flights to Portugal. The nearest airport to Ponte de Lima is Porto Airport.
Where to Stay
You’ll find plenty of accommodation options on Airbnb and Booking.com but if you’re struggling for inspiration, here are some suggestions.
- Carmo’s Boutique Hotel: Carmo’s Boutique Hotel is a blend of traditional Portuguese design with a touch of modern luxury, offering fifteen exclusive rooms and suites, many of them with a terrace and a panoramic view of the Lima Valley.
- Mercearia da Vila: Located in the historic centre of Ponte de Lima, Mercearia da Vila is a charming boutique hotel that used to be an old grocery store, still maintaining much of its original character. Each room is distinctively decorated, combining contemporary design elements with the building’s rustic charm.
- Quinta do Ameal – Wine & Tourism Terroir: Quinta do Ameal is 17th century manor on a 30-hectare property that produces some of Portugal’s best Vinho Verde. It’s slightly outside the city (about a 15-minute drive) but worth it.
What to See & Do
There aren’t a huge number of attractions in Ponte da Lima, and mostly you’ll just want to walk through the beautiful cobbled streets. That said, there are a few things that you don’t want to miss.
Stepping into the heart of Ponte de Lima, you’ll find the iconic Ponte Romana e Medieval, a perfect fusion of ancient Roman and Medieval architectural prowess. This stone bridge, the town’s namesake, spans the tranquil waters of the Lima River, providing an unforgettable view of the surrounding landscapes. The bridge is steeped in history – it was initially constructed during the reign of the Roman Empire, and its larger, medieval section was added later in the 14th century. Today, the Ponte Romana e Medieval serves as a charming and picturesque thoroughfare for pedestrians and a beacon of Ponte de Lima’s rich history. Make sure to take a leisurely stroll along its arches for a serene and historical journey – you’ll be walking on the very same stones that Roman soldiers and medieval merchants once did.
Largo de Camões
Largo de Camões is the vibrant heart of Ponte de Lima, named after Portugal’s iconic poet, Luís de Camões. This picturesque square is encircled by ancient stone houses, many of which have been beautifully restored and now serve as restaurants, cafes, and shops. The square is dominated by a striking 17th-century fountain, and the elegant statue of Camões adds a touch of artistic allure. Largo de Camões is not just a place, but a delightful sensory experience. As you stroll around, enjoy the sounds of bubbling fountains, the pleasant aroma of traditional Portuguese delicacies wafting from nearby eateries, and the warm colours of the historical buildings basking in the sunlight.
Igreja Matriz de Ponte de Lima
One of the iconic landmarks of Ponte de Lima is the Igreja Matriz, a beautiful Romanesque church that bears witness to the town’s ancient past. Built in the 14th century, the church boasts an exquisite Gothic portal, while its interior is elegantly adorned with stunning Baroque gilt carvings, azulejo tiles, and a majestic Rococo altar. The church also houses a collection of sacred art, including valuable 16th-century paintings and statues.
What to Eat
Ponte de Lima is a gastronomic delight, and local food here is a reflection of the town’s rich cultural tapestry. One of the dishes that symbolise this is the Sarrabulho Rice, a traditional Minho stew made with pork meat, chicken, and a variety of sausages, all marinated in pig’s blood. This dish, seasoned with cumin and other spices, is a heartwarming treat during the colder months.
Another traditional delicacy that graces the tables of Ponte de Lima is Lamprey from the River Lima. This ancient fish, which has a rich and unique flavour, is often cooked in rice or served Bordelaise style with a sauce of red wine and onions. If you’re a fan of bacalhau, Bacalhau de Cebolada is a must-try, a delightful concoction of cod, onions, and tomatoes, often enjoyed with a glass of local Vinho Verde.
For those with a sweet tooth, Ponte de Lima doesn’t disappoint. Leite creme, a variant of crème brûlée, is a popular dessert here, characterised by its creamy texture and sweet, caramelised top layer.
- Car: If you’re driving from Porto, take the A3 highway towards Valença. The journey usually takes just under an hour. From Lisbon, the drive is approximately 4 hours via the A1 and A3 highways. Always remember to be aware of the tolls on Portuguese highways.
- Train: Ponte de Lima doesn’t have its own train station, and the closest one is in Viana do Castelo, which is about a 25-minute drive away. Regular trains from Porto stop at Viana do Castelo, and from there, you can take a taxi or bus to Ponte de Lima.
- Bus: Rede Expressos, a national bus company, runs regular services from many cities in Portugal, including Porto and Lisbon, to Ponte de Lima. There’s also flixbus.pt, which often offers cheaper tickets.
- Flight: The nearest airport is Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport in Porto, about 83km south of Ponte de Lima. From the airport, you can opt for a rental car, bus, or taxi to reach Ponte de Lima, but the easiest option is always to drive.