Ponte de Lima is a town on the banks of the River Lima, in Minho, in Viana do Castelo district. It is the oldest village in Portugal. This village and its iconic bridge are located in the heart of the Vinho Verde region, which, together with its lively festivals and popular festivals, has made it famous throughout the country.
Ponte de Lima (POHN-t(ih) d(ih) LEE-muh, /ˈpõ.tɨ dɨ ˈɫi.mɐ/) is named for the long bridge over the River Lima. It is said that the Romans thought this was the mythical river Lethe because of its beauty and were afraid of losing their memories if they were to cross it! Their undaunted general swam across alone and called to each of his men by name to prove he had retained his memory and then they all crossed.
- 1 Loja Interativa de Turismo de Ponte de Lima (Visit Ponte de Lima), Passeio 25 de Abril (Torre da Cadeia Velha), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 09:00–12:30 & 14:00–17:30.
- The Rede Expressos has buses to Ponte de Lima from almost all district capitals, and from many cities and towns, including Beja, Braga, Bragança, Caldas da Rainha, Castelo Branco, Coimbra, Covilhã, Evora, Faro, Guarda, Leiria, Lisbon, Porto, Santarém, Setúbal, Vila Real, and Viseu. Prices vary depending on the destination city, but generally range between €10 and €20. You can see the full list of cities, schedules and buy tickets on the website.
- The nearest airport to Ponte de Lima is Porto. The Francisco Sá Carneiro International Airport (OPO IATA) is on the outskirts of Porto in Pedras Rubras. The airport receives frequent flights from the main European cities, and from Lisbon and Funchal. Several companies serve Porto airport:
- Further north is Vigo-Peinador International Airport (VGO IATA), in Spain, 15 km from Vigo. It mainly receives domestic flights such as Air Europa (Madrid, Palma de Mallorca, Tenerife-South), Vueling (Barcelona), Iberia Airlines (Madrid), Air Nostrum (Alicante, Bilbao, Málaga, Valencia) and Spanair (Barcelona, Gran Canaria, Madrid, Tenerife-South).
- Also nearby is the Vila Real Aerodrome. It receives some flights from other cities in the country, but none international. Further afield are Santiago de Compostela, Lisbon and Faro airports.
The A27 is a small motorway that connects the village to Viana do Castelo. The IP1 also passes through the village, which starts in Valença, on the border with Spain, and ends in Castro Marim, in the Algarve, crossing the country from north to south. The IP also passes through Braga, Porto, Vila Nova de Gaia, Espinho, Santa Maria da Feira, Aveiro, Coimbra, Leiria, Fátima, Caldas da Rainha, Santarém, Lisbon , Loulé, Faro and Tavira, among many other towns and villages. Several national roads (the N306, N307, N202, N204 and N201) also pass through Ponte de Lima.
Ponte de Lima is a medium-sized town, but the attractions are located a short distance from each other, in the small historic center. In fact, walking makes the visit much more pleasant (unless it comes at a time when the city is flooded with tourists, as in the Feiras Novas, when it is almost impossible to walk on the streets overflowing with people). The car is a useless means of transport, because most attractions, such as the Church of Ponte de Lima, can only be reached on foot or by bicycle. However, it can be useful to reach some attractions like the Museu dos Terceiros or to reach the north bank.
- Capela do Anjo da Guarda (Chapel of São Miguel do Abrigo), Caminho da Oliveirinha (West Bank, close to the Santo António da Torre Velha Church and the Arnado Gardens). It is on the other side of the bridge is the small baroque chapel dating from the 18th century. From the chapel there are wonderful views over the village. It features a vaulted and open quadrangular stonework pattern, decorated with medieval and baroque elements, such as the decoration of the pillars and columns. Free.
- Capela de São João, Alameda de São João (East Bank at the north end of the village near Expolima at the bottom of a lane lined with trees.). It has the shape of an irregular octagon, with a simple and rectangular exterior with cut corners. Free.
- Igreja Matriz, Manuel Morais Street (East Margin in front of the Misericórdia Church in the heart of the historic center). Ordered to be built by D. João I in 1425, it is believed to have been completed in 1446. Over the centuries it has undergone several transformations and extensions, thus possessing several styles - Romanesque, Gothic and Neoclassical, of which the top Gothic portal is an example. It is adorned by an 18th-century century rose window. Free.
- Igreja da Misericórdia, Rua Cardeal Saraiva (East Margin in front of the Mother Church in the heart of the historic center). Facing the Mother Church of Ponte de Lima, it was built in the 15th century, and was completely rebuilt in the 18th century. The two figures of beggars on each side of the door and the front of the main altar are notable.
- Igreja de Santo António da Torre Velha, Caminho da Oliveirinha (West Bank at the end of the bridge close to Jardins do Arnado and the Chapel of Anjo da Guarda). Resulting from the reformulation of the old chapel in the 19th century, dedicated to Nª Senhora do Carmo, it received this designation due to the tower of the medieval stronghold, which coexisted with the church until the middle of the 19th century. The tower stands out for its gargoyles. Free.
- Jardins Temáticos do Arnado, Caminho da Oliveirinha (West Bank by the Santo António da Torre Velha Church near the Chapel of Anjo da Guarda and the bridge), ☏ . This garden was born from the idea of creating a garden in which to travel through the history of garden art. By reusing the pre-existing structures of the agricultural exploration, characteristic gardens from different eras were created, as well as plantations with a pedagogical sense, and a true botanical garden was created, including a large greenhouse. The vineyard, the granary and the rural museum represent rural culture.
- Museu Rural, Jardins Temáticos do Arnado (Arnado Theme Gardens at the bottom of the garden), ☏ . Tu–Su 14:00–18:00. The museum consists of several spaces: Tulha, with exhibitions on linen and temporary exhibitions of painting; the Kitchen, imitating an old rural kitchen, with oven and fireplace; the cellar, with various utensils related to wine and kites; and the Granary, with exhibitions related to maize culture.
- Museu dos Terceiros, Avenida 5 de Outubro (East Margin), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Located in the building of the Former Convent of Friars Minor of the Province of Conceição and in the Church of the Third Order, sacristy, consistory room and its annexes, it is one of the most notable museums in Ponte de Lima and Minho. It was created in 1974, and its collections include an important set of religious statuary, tiles, paintings and liturgical implements. The building is one of the main attractions, with the church and sacristy elaborately decorated, paneled ceilings, etc. €2.50.
- Paço do Marquês, Praça da República (East Bank at the end of Avenida António Feijó). Built in the 14th/15th centuries, in Gothic and Manueline style, it is one of the most beautiful palaces in the region. It was the residence of D. Leonel Lima. It owes its castle aspect to its defence function, since there was a danger of a Castilian attack.
- Bridge over the Lima (between the Church of Santo António da Torre Velha and the Praça de Camões). With two distinct sections, a Roman (probably built in the first century, to pass through it the route started by Emperor Augustus) and another medieval one, it has 27 arches. The Roman bridge, with seven arches, is partially covered by the massif where the Church of Santo António da Torre Velha is located. The medieval bridge has 17 arches, two of which are buried.
- Praça de Camões (East Margin at the south end of the bridge). It is the most striking square in the village, with an 18th century fountain at its centre, which bears the town's weapons. Here is Casa Havaneza, a reference cafe in the village, with excellent sweets. The square extends towards the river, until the bridge. At the entrance of the latter there is a cruise with the limiano heraldic emblem.
- Torres da Cadeia e do Postigo, Passeio 25 de Abril (East Bank by the river). United by a small wall, the Torres da Cadeia and Postigo are the only vestige of the Ponte de Lima fence in the 14th century. The Jail Tower was, as its name implies, a prison until the 1860s. Today it is used for exhibitions, book launches and small conferences. Free.
- Centro Equestre do Vale do Lima, Quinta da Sobreira, Feitosa, Ponte de Lima. Open Monday-Saturday. Summer 08:00-20:00 and 21:00-24:00. Winter 09:00-19:00. A modern riding centre, in the rural surroundings of Ponte de Lima, with excellent conditions. With 8 hectares, it has a pair of uncovered riding stables and a covered one, a teaching track and 50 boxes. About €15 for an individual riding lesson.
- Feiras Novas, East Margin. Third Week of September. For some, the best time to come to the village is one of the craziest parties in Alto Minho, lasting three days. With parades and numerous popular celebrations, it is one of the last popular festivals of the year. During this time, the village was invaded by literally thousands of outsiders, making traveling through the historic center virtually impossible due to the crowd.
- Feira do Cavalo, Expo Lima, East Bank (at the northern end of Alameda de S. João, near the Chapel of S. João). June July. With race horses and excellent riders, it is one of the most renowned equestrian fairs in the country.
- Festival Internacional de Jardins, São Gonçalo Way, West Bank (going along the Caminho de São Gonçalo from the N306, take the first right, towards the car park (this park pays at Feiras Novas, so it might be a good idea to leave it out and go on foot). The entrance is marked with a large poster.), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org . May 30 - October 30. Imitating the festival in Chaumont-sur-Loire, France, it features modern gardens from around the world, from Portugal to China.
- Vaca das Cordas. May-June (on the eve of the Body of God). A traditional and characteristic event in Ponte de Lima, dated 1646. The tradition consists of a bull, which, tied by ropes, leaves the Casa do Conde D'Aurora and travels through the streets of the city, until reaching the beach of the river. During the journey, several are those who venture to face the animal.
Ponte de Lima is a region relatively rich in traditional handicrafts, from woolen covers, embroidery, lace and other weaving products to rustic furniture and basketry. Also of interest are the regional clogs. You can also buy regional food and drink. Barrosã meat, famous for its succulence, the highland goat, with a characteristic flavor, and Vinho Verde ("green wine"), the region's gastronomic symbol.
There are several places to go shopping in Ponte de Lima:
- Comércio Tradicional. Most of Ponte de Lima's traditional commerce is found in the historic centre, including clothing stores, traditional drugstores, shoe stores, etc.
- Maria Teresa, Passeio 25 de Abril. This regional products store is the perfect place to buy a souvenir from the trip. Maria Teresa sells traditional towels and linen from Ponte de Lima.
- Market (by the river, around the bridge). Every two weeks on Mondays. One of the best known fairs in the region and a landmark of everyday life in Ponte de Lima, since time immemorial that has been held on the banks of the River Lima. It is the oldest registered fair in Portugal. With hundreds of "tents", you can find various items, from clothing to accessories, and, depending on the days, food. The fair grows a lot during the New Fairs, also extending to Avenida dos Plátanos, and also appearing some bars and restaurants between the tents.
- Antique market, Avenida dos Plátanos (on the banks of the Lima River). Every second Sunday of every month. A monthly antiques fair, with several interesting articles.
- Mercado Municipal de Ponte de Lima, Largo Pomar do Marquês. Various food products for sale, but other than that the offer is limited. It also has several restaurants and shops.
- Baú D'Avó, Ponte de Lima Municipal Market, e-mail: email@example.com .A craft store on the market, selling various decorative pieces, using materials such as sieves, etc.
In Limian gastronomy, the most prominent dish is sarrabulho rice with rojões - a delicious dish, with various spices, and full of tradition. Pork is one of the main ingredients of the region's cuisine, being essential in dishes such as "Clara Penha pork leg", the belouras, the green chorizo, the farinhotas. The slaughter of the pig itself was and still is a reason to bring family and friends together.
Another ingredient much appreciated in the kitchen of the village is lamprey. It can be cooked in different ways, but the best known are Lampreia Rice and Lampreia à Bordaleza.
Also in sweets the gastronomy of the region is very rich, the most famous being the burnt milk-cream.
- 1 A Tulha, Rua Formosa (East Bank), ☏ . Closed M. In this rustic-looking restaurant, various traditional delicacies are served, from fresh fish to delicious Galician meat. The medallion, shad, cod and lamprey are some of the best dishes at home. Non-smokers. Less than €15.
- 2 Taverna Vaca das Cordas, Rua Beato Francisco Pacheco, (East Margin), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Closed Su. An informal restaurant, with several starters, and dishes like old-fashioned oven rojões and duck rice. Non-smokers. Less than €30.
- 3 A Carvalheira (West Bank), ☏ . 12:00–15:00 & 19:00–22:00, closed M. Also with a rustic atmosphere, it has simple decor and a large fireplace in the center of the room. One of the specialties of the house is lamprey and shad. Non-smokers. About €2/person.
- 4 Casa Alameda, Alameda de São João 42 (East Bank), ☏ . Closed M. Located in the centre of the village and with a good view of the river, it stands out for its regional cuisine, including the famous sarrabulho rice with rojões. It is advisable to make a reservation, as the restaurant is small and often full (especially during the New Fairs). About €13/person.
Taste the Vinho Verde, characteristic of the region.
- Casa Havaneza, Praça de Camões, East Bank. One of the best known cafes in the village, traditional and with good sweets. One of the best places to relax in the afternoon with a drink in hand.
- Gira Bola, Rua Formosa, 17, East Margin (in the historic centre). Closes around 02:00. One of the oldest bars in the region. A quiet place to play a game of pool.
- Bar Boteca, Arnado Beach. Sunday to Thursday: 11:00-02:00. Friday and Saturday: 11:00-06:00. It is on the edge of Lima, and is famous for its riverside terrace. There are evenings dedicated to poetry and art exhibitions.
- Casa do Outeiro - Turismo de Habitação, West Bank, ☏ , e-mail: email@example.com . A beautiful 18th-century manor, with all the charm of an old noble house. €80/night for a room with two single beds.
- Hotel Império do Minho, Avenida dos Plátanos, East Bank, ☏ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org .Located on Avenida dos Plátanos, facing the Lima River and very close to the historic center of the village. It has a good restaurant. Double room for €42.50-65 (depending on the season).
- InLima Hotel & Spa Rua Agostinho José Taveira, Lote 6, East Margin, ☏ , e-mail: email@example.com . Opened in 2010, this sophisticated boutique hotel is located relatively close to the town centre. With a modern design and comfortable facilities, it features a spa and a themed bar. All rooms have LCD, cable TV, free wireless internet, telephone, mini bar, air conditioning and hairdryer. The suites also have a spa bath. Double room: about €75. Single room: about €60. Suite (2 people): About €150.
- Pousada da Juventude de Ponte de Lima - Histórica Cultural, Rua Pope John Paul II, East Bank, ☏ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org . With modern and comfortable facilities, it is located on the edge of Lima and a short distance from the centre. Accessible to disabled people. Bed in a dorm: €11-13. Double room without toilet: €26-30. Double room with WC: €28-32. (Depending on the season).
- Casa do Arrabalde - Turismo de Habitação , West Bank, ☏ , e-mail: email@example.com . This 18th-century manor house on the west bank of the Lima River has one of the most beautiful views of the village and the river. The bridge is two steps from the house. Single room: €65. Double/twin room: €80.
- 1 Torre de Refóios, Refóios do Lima, Ponte de Lima, ☏ .
Beyond this village are the other attractive villages of Ponte da Barca and Arcos de Valdevez. On the way to Arcos is a lovely old Romanesque church at Bravães. Plus: the city of Viana do Castelo, the towns of Caminha, Âncora, Valença, and Monção
|Routes through Ponte de Lima|
|Vigo ← Tui ← continues as ←||N S||→ Braga → Porto|