10 attractions to see in Ponte de Lima, one of the oldest (and most beautiful) towns in Portugal

This city is one of the oldest in Portugal. It is in the north of the country, it is part of the Camino de Santiago portugueseIt has an ancient Roman bridge and its streets and architecture are more than beautiful. I met him during my trip through Portugal of about 20 days exploring an itinerary leaving from Lisbon (in a northerly direction). It is called Ponte de Lima, and it has about 2,000 inhabitants, although the population of the entire municipality reaches almost 50,000 inhabitants. I am going to tell you about everything, and according to my experience, the attractions to see in Ponte de Lima in a visit of at least one day.

bridge of lima is part of the district of Viana do Castelo, northern region of the country. And it is considered the oldest city in Portugal. From its extensive past it preserves the traditional architecture, in a layout overlooking the Limia River with beautiful walks along the riverbank. In this photo you can already see its imposing bridge of Roman origin and reform and expansion in medieval times.

bridge of lima

Why I recommend visiting Ponte de Lima

In my passage through the north of Portugal, bridge of lima It was one of the towns that caught me the most for its traditional beauty, its tranquility and the charm of its views of the river. And in large part to that geographical barrier that the river supposes, the town owes all its essence. Especially the Roman bridge that has been the star of the place since the 1st century.

bridge of lima

bridge of lima

For me this town is an obligatory stop on a route that, for example, takes you from Portugal to Galicia in Spain. This without underestimating other beautiful nearby towns such as GuimaraesWhat do I have in this post.

bridge of lima It has a precious collection of medieval buildings, as well as civil, military and religious constructions with a long history, added to more contemporary constructions that also reflect the architectural evolution of Portugal. It is a beautiful example of a well-preserved town and if excessive urbanization in recent times ends up affecting its size on a small scale. In short, an authentic and charming site.

bridge of lima

Why is it said to be the oldest city in Portugal?

A royal charter from Queen Teresa designates the city of Ponte de Lima as such, in the year 1125. This is no less than 3 years before Portugal was established as a kingdom. Therefore, it is the official document that bears witness to the first city of the kingdom and current country.

bridge of lima

How long to stay in Ponte de Lima.

These answers are sometimes difficult for me to give. Because first, each traveler is a world. Second, that each trip can be a world in itself. Perhaps we are doing a slow trip, or on the contrary, a roadtrip with little time. My argument is the following: Ponte de Lima can be covered and walked in a day, or you can even do without some of the attractions that I am going to name and see the city in half a day. Now, if the weather is optimal, and if you are looking for a quiet place to enjoy walks in the fresh air, to experience the atmosphere of the city, to stay for a drink on a terrace in the summer at sunset, then Ponte de Lima can be a good place to spend at least one night.

From this link you can see prices to get an idea and even book accommodation . In Ponte de Lima there are at least 130 accommodation options between the city and its rural environment.

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What to see in Ponte de Lima

Although I am going to name 10 attractions to see in Ponte de Lima, the truth is that it is not a very big city and you can easily see most of it in one day.

Walk its old town

The old town of Ponte de Lima is not very big, but in a few streets it has enough charm for us to enjoy the town, and live the place. There are cobbled streets, typical Portuguese houses, some with tiles, small palaces, even from the 15th century, or more recent. And from almost every street you can see the river and the opposite bank.

bridge of lima

The religious heritage is also interesting with the 15th century parish church, or the church of mercythat of Santo Antonio dos Frades (with tile panels), and the church overlooks Third Order of São Francisco. Another of the most photographed churches is that of Santo António da Torre Velha which is on the other side of the river, and at the end of the famous bridge.

In the photo you can see a historic fountain that stars in the main square of the city.

bridge of lima

bridge of lima

All in all, it’s nice to just go for a walk and discover that this small town has beautiful buildings, atmosphere in its streets thanks to the locals and local tourism itself, plus pilgrims from the Santiago’s road. And if the weather is good, as in my days in Ponte de Lima, it is even easier to fall in love with this beautiful city and its promenades.

bridge of lima

The Cadeia Velha Tower, which is in the heart of the town, and is the best preserved of the old wall, houses the tourist office.

bridge of lima

Also if you walk the town, you will find striking buildings from all eras. And always pristine gardens, a true hallmark of Portugal:

bridge of lima

bridge of lima

bridge of lima

Cross its Roman and medieval bridge

Actually the bridge is divided into two sections, the Roman, and the medieval. This bridge that crosses the river Lima is the main monument of the city, with its 380 meters in length and seventeen total arches, although today 15 are preserved visibly while two are buried. The Roman part consists of four arches and was built in the 1st century. The medieval extension dates from the 14th century and was necessary as the river changed its course.

bridge of lima

It is considered the medieval bridge (with a Roman section) prettiest in all of Portugal. Crossing it is one of the most beautiful sections due to its history on the Portuguese Camino de Santiago.

Its production of Vinho verde (and its interpretation center)

Exactly in a beautiful palace declared of historical interest, the Vinho Verde Interpretation Center, a product of strong ties to Ponte de Lima. is in the mansion Barbosa Aranha. Ponte de Lima is a historical center for the production of vinho verde, and by visiting this place you will learn more about its history, its production and the way it is related to the city and the valley. It is also possible to do tastings. All for the price of 3 euros. (Place: Casa Torreada dos Barbosa Aranha, Rua da Fonte da Vila 38)

You can also do the Vinho Verde route through the surroundings.

The paths along the river

I remember walking and enjoying the paths along the river, authentic walks that combine nature with beautiful views of the city. There is a path on both banks of the Lima River. On the town side, there is a path that leads to a refreshing walk in the avenues (or avenue of the bananas).

bridge of lima

This same path extends along the ecovía of Ponte de Lima. On the opposite bank, there is a beautifully landscaped and very relaxing path that leads to the International Garden Festival park.

Visit the International Garden Festival Park

Ponte de Lima is mentioned as the most flowery town in Portugal. And to celebrate it, each year the city dedicates a space where authentic works of art in garden design are exhibited between the months of May and the end of October. The city summons artists once a year to redesign different spaces in the park under a specific theme. It is another beautiful walk not to be missed and to enjoy the outdoors in the city. A symbolic entry of one euro is paid with which you access the property of almost three hectares.

Right next to this park there is a municipal swimming pool open to the public in the summer months. If you are in Ponte de Lima passing through, or as a pilgrim, you can also extend your stay and enjoy its parks (and a refreshing dip in the pool).

Visit the Parque do Arnado

This park, which could well be a botanical garden due to its complexity and beauty, is municipal. And it is a free access walk. The main entrance is next to the chapel of Anjo da Guarda. In the city of gardens, you would expect the park to be well worth your time, and it more than succeeds. There are gardens that recreate a Roman villa, with ponds, in which one walks as if on a journey through time. Other gardens evoke the Renaissance, with waterfalls and the Italian stamp, another in the Baroque style with lots of ornamentation and flowers. In it Arnado Park there is an interpretation center. And as a curiosity, exactly next to the park is the Brinquedo Museum (Toy Museum).

The Portuguese Camino de Santiago.

Even if you were not doing the Portuguese Camino de Santiago, Ponte de Lima is a very usual end of stage, and chosen by many pilgrims to rest. The Camino passes exactly through the Roman bridge, and you will regularly see the atmosphere of pilgrims crossing the bridge and walking through the city. It always happens to me that meeting the road or pilgrims somewhere in Europe gives me a special feeling. bridge of lima is nothing less than one of the most beautiful points of the Camino Portugues. The later stage of the path begins in Barcelós, while the next stage ends in Rubiães.

bridge of lima

Roman statues and the myth of the Rio Lete

Next to the rides on the Lima River, you will find numerous statues that recall characters and situations from Roman mythology. For example, in the marquen opposite the old town, you will find, very close to the Roman-medieval bridge, a sculpture of the Roman general Tenth Junius Brutus On his horse.

This statue recalls the legend of the Galicians in which they scared the Romans with the threat that when they crossed the Lima River (which they believed was the Lete River) they would lose their memory. General Junius Brutus dared to challenge this legend with his army in 138 BC. He did it by crossing the river and having each soldier yell his name while he was in the water (so as not to forget). On the other bank of the river there is also a formation of sculptures of Roman soldiers that remember this fact.

bridge of lima

bridge of lima

Arrive at the Madalena viewpoint.

This viewpoint, which is not so far from the city, will give you beautiful views of the Lima river valley and the city of Ponte de Lima.

Know nearby points of interest to see in Ponte de Lima

There are not only attractions to see in Ponte de Lima, there are also points of interest in its surroundings and the ones I am going to name are not far away. If you have a car you can see and explore the landscapes around the city that are beautiful. And also know points of interest such as the following: Louou’s Fifth (it is a rural house that dates from the 18th century, and works as accommodation, but also as a place of wine production, part of the Green Wine Route)/ Paco da Gloria (18th century baroque palace, with extravagant 20th century details) / Solar of Bertiandos (A 15th century mansion with a chapel) / Park of the Monastery of Señor del Socorro (Monastery garden with fountain and great beauty with views of the surroundings).

Finally, if you are thinking of a trip to Portugal, I recommend you see the destination guide in portugal and the idea of route through the north of Portugal Leaving from Lisbon.

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