Ponte da Barca Minho | Portugal Visitor
Ponte da Barca: Gateway to Peneda-Gerês National Park
Ponte da Barca is a relaxed riverside town 17 km upstream on the River Lima from Ponte de Lima.
Along with the even smaller town of Arcos de Valdevez, 5 km to the north it serves as a convenient gateway to explore the delights of the Peneda-Gerês National Park, Portugal’s only national park.
The small town of less than 3,000 people is mostly located on the south bank of the River Lima. The river has its source in Spain and reaches the Atlantic at Viana do Castelo, about 42 km west.
Ponte da Barca (“Bridge of the Boat”) is named after the boats that used to ferry pilgrims across the river on their way to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain before the medieval bridge was built.
The bridge (Ponte de Ponte de Barca) dates from the 15th century and is modeled on the more well-known bridge in Ponte de Lima. A National Monument, it is 80 meters long and has 10 arches.
The historic, granite pillory (pelourinho) was moved to its present location in the Jardim das Poetas near the river in the 20th century. It stands next to an 18th century structure that was built for market traders and stall holders. Simple in design, the pillory is engraved with the royal coat of arms.
The Jardim das Poetas itself is dedicated to two locally-born brothers, Diogo Bernardes and Agostinho da Cruz, both monastic poets in the 16th century.
Churches in Ponte da Barca include the mainly 16th-century Igreja de Ponte da Barca (Igreja de São João Baptista). The church includes an impressive bell tower and is classified as a National Monument.
The Igreja da Misericórdia de Ponte da Barca is a 16th-century church restored in the 19th century with the addition of the Rococo facade. Within are some wonderful art nouveau azulejos tiles.
4 km to the west is the Igreja de Bravães (Igreja de São Salvador) – the remains of a former 12th century Benedictine monastery. The church is famous for its superb Romanesque doorway carved with both human and animal figures – including monkeys! If the building is open, visitors can admire the ancient frescoes within. The bell tower is separate from the main church and still stands.
Arcos de Valdevez
Arcos de Valdevez, 5 km north, lies on the River Vez, a tributary of the Lima. Like Ponte da Barca it is a laid-back place with willow-lined green spaces on the river bank, ideal for a picnic.
There’s an historic 19th century bridge, a Praia Fluvial (river beach) and a couple of museums to enjoy. The outdoor Museu da Água ao Ar Livre do Rio Vez explains the flora and fauna of the river, especially the abundant bird life, using interpretive panels.
The Centro Interpretativo do Barroco on the other side of the river is housed in the beautiful Igreja do Espírito Santo. The museum uses modern, interactive displays to explain the Baroque period of ecclesiastical architecture in the Igreja do Espírito Santo and the wider Alto Minho region as a whole.
Market & Festivals
A lively market alternates between the two riverside towns of Ponte da Barca and Arcos de Valdevez on Wednesdays.
The main festival in Ponte da Barca is the Feira de São Bartolomeu in August from 19-24th with the main day on August 24. There is music and dancing in the streets that goes on most of the night.
Ponte da Barca Tourist Office
Loja Interativa de Turismo
Rua Conselheiro Rocha Peixoto, 9
4980-626 Ponte da Barca
Tel: 258 455 246
Arcos de Valdevez Tourist Office
R. Prof. Dr. Júlio Almeida Costa
970-606 Arcos de Valdevez
Getting to Ponte da Barca
There are expresso long-distance and more local services to Braga (50 minutes), Bragança (6 hours), Coimbra (3 hours, 30 minutes), Ponte de Lima (20 minutes), Porto (2 hours, 5 minutes) and Lisbon (5 hours, 25 minutes).
Infrequent Avic buses run from Soajo and Travassos to Arcos de Valdevez. From Arcos de Valdevez there are also buses to Vilarinho de Souto, Portela de Alvite, Miranda, Aguiã, Eiras, Távora, Sabadim, Giela, Prozelo, Ermelo por Oliveira. Vila Verde, Braga and Extremo.
There is one bus a day from Ponte da Barca to Lindoso, 2 buses to Porto Bom and one to Auditor (20 minutes).
The bus station is now off the Avenida da Liberdade roundabout with the N203 highway southwest of the center.
By car Soajo is 20 minutes from Arcos de Valdevez on the N202 highway.
Viana do Castelo Station in Viana do Castelo and Braga Station in Braga are the two nearest major railway stations.
Portugal Hotel & Hostel Accommodation
Book Accommodation in Ponte da Barca
Hotel Fonte Velha
Rua Plácido de Vasconcelos 27, 4980-637 Ponte da Barca
The hotel has free private parking, WiFi and a terrace.
See a listing of hotels in Ponte da Barca.
See a listing of hotels in Arcos de Valdevez.
There is a range of good places to eat and drink in Ponte da Barca. Cantinho do Parada serves excellent local Portuguese cuisine washed down with a glass of the local vinho verde.
Vai à Fava on Rua Dr. Alberto Cruz is another recommended choice.
Restaurante O Moinho has views of the river.
In Arcos de Valdevez try Taberna da Benda north of the center or O Braseiro in town for meat-lovers.
Vegetarians are unfortunately in for a bit of a hard time but Vai à Fava and the pizza restaurants have vegetarian options.
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The average high June temperatures for Portugal is between 22C and 26C.
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