Beautiful images of the six bridges river cruise in Porto enchanted me as I was searching for what to do in Porto during my week-long solo trip.
Seeing the photos, I imagined myself on a traditional wooden Rabelo boat floating down the timeless Douro River with a gentle breeze in my hair. I am a sucker for a good boat tour, and it seemed I couldn’t leave Porto without doing this one (or so they say).
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So I went on GetYourGuide and booked my ticket for later that day.
In this guide, I’ll share my tips and review of the six bridges Porto cruise experience—is it worth it? And what should you expect? Are there better tours in Porto you could spend your money on?
Read more below to decide whether or not the ever-popular 6 bridges tour is a bucket-list-worthy activity to add to your Porto itinerary!
6 Bridges Cruise on the Douro River
🎟 Get around with the Porto City Card & save! — Enjoy free entry to 6 museums, unlimited transport, and a 20-50% discount on admission to popular attractions (i.e. wine cellar, river cruise, etc).
Without a doubt, Porto goes hand-in-hand with the Douro River; after all, this famous river, the third-longest in the Iberian Peninsula, spills out in the sea at the mouth of Porto. Considering the Douro Valley’s rich history and cultural significance tied with Port wine, it only makes sense to experience the river and city as one!
Below are the possible ways you can experience both Porto and the Douro River (and Valley).
Best Porto & Douro River Tours:
- Douro Valley Tour with Wine Tasting, Lunch, & River Cruise (full-day trip, 9 hours)
- 6 Bridges Cruise in Porto (50 minutes to 1 hour) — the one I did!
- Private Douro River Cruise with a Local Fisherman (2 hours)
All three of these tours offer a unique experience of the Douro River. The first is a full-day adventure to the Douro Valley complete with a river cruise, plus Port wine tasting and lunch. It’s a good option if you want to combine it all into one jam-packed day.
The six bridges cruise in Porto is the one I booked. I’ll tell you all about it in detail below!
Lastly, if you’re looking for a more private experience (after all, the boat tours tend to pack whoever in), then consider the tour with a local fisherman.
What to Expect From the 6 Bridges Cruise
The 1-hour six bridges cruise tour is all about the six bridges of Porto — surprise! ✨
There are two tour operators in Porto who offer daily river cruises: Douro Acima and Tomaz Do Douro (Douro Cruises) boats. Your ticket is valid for either operator.
Both are located at the following address: 📍 Cais da Ribeira, 4000 Porto, Portugal
💶 Cost & Reservation
The tour costs about $17 USD when booking online at GetYourGuide.
You can reserve online the day of, but if you do your ticket will be valid only on that day. You can show up anytime for a cruise between 11 AM and 4 PM.
What about the language? Can you book a guided tour?
While you can select “English” as your language, the boat tours actually don’t differentiate and don’t offer personalized tours.
During the cruise, there is an automated recording in Portuguese, French, and English that will give you a brief explanation of the history and significance of each of the six Porto bridges and some surrounding landmarks to take note of.
Once you purchase your ticket online, you’ll receive a confirmation email with a PDF. You can download the GetYourGuide mobile app to have easy access to your booked activities. However, when I showed up, the ticket lady just asked me for the code found in the PDF email attachment. She then handed me a ticket stub to show the captain before boarding.
Tip: Wait in line near the boat dock ten minutes before departure time to be among the first to board. I found that the views from the right side of the boat gave the best views both coming and going.
🛶 Does the Porto Bridges Tour Use Rabelo Boats?
The bridges tour doesn’t use the traditional Rabelo boats you see docked in the water in front of the Vila Nova da Gaia opposite Porto.
Instead, the boat tours use Rabelo-inspired motored boats with “wooden” details (but with engine power). There is indoor seating with glass windows or exterior seating.
Depending on how chilly or windy it is, I’d recommend snagging a seat on the deck for the best views!
🌉 What Are the Six Bridges in Porto?
While the tour will give you more info on each of the bridges, I wanted to quickly go over them so you know what to expect!
First off, the boats depart from Porto’s riverbank and head south, starting with the most iconic bridge of Porto: the Dom Luís I bridge.
In order, you’ll see:
- Dom Luís I
- Ponte de Infante
- Dona Maria Pia Bridge
- Ponte de São João
- Freixo Bridge
- Ponte da Arrábida
The Dom Luís Bridge dons amazing views on Porto and Vila Nova da Gaia, especially at sunset—you can’t miss the view from the top! (Just watch for the incoming trams.)
After you cross under the Dom Luís I Bridge on your boat tour, you’ll begin to hear explanations in the languages for the upcoming bridges.
The next is the Ponte de Infante, the contemporary road bridge, and thereafter the wrought iron Maria Pia Bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel—the same person who designed the Eiffel Tower, as you might’ve already guessed! It was built in 1877 as a railway bridge, but it’s no longer in working use and is considered a National Monument of Portugal.
Next is the modern São João railway bridge which replaced the Maria Pia. Finally, your boat will begin to turn around as you briefly hear about the Ponte do Freixo which enables better traffic flow in between the outskirts of the cities.
The cruise then makes the trip back to Porto, but instead of stopping, continues along the riverbank to reach the last of the six Porto bridges: Ponte da Arrábida.
While I thought this bridge was nothing special in itself, you do get a glimpse of the ocean out near Foz, in addition to a few explanations of historic buildings such as the blue-tiled chapel in honor of Henry the Navigator and the Palácio de Cristal gardens on your way to/back to the Porto Riberia.
So… Is the 6 Bridges Cruise Worth It?
While I think they could do a much better job at using the time on board to explain the bridges (or perhaps the history of the Douro River itself), the six bridges tour does give a beautiful new perspective of Porto!
There’s something about being on the water instead of just looking at it that makes Porto feel a bit more charming. You can just imagine what it might have been like to transport Port wine and other goods from the Douro Valley to here. Amazing!
Ready to set sail? Book your 6 Bridges Cruise Ticket here!
All in all, I’m glad I decided to go! I think the $17 was worth it, but looking back now, I’d probably combine it with another river cruise + Port wine tour or bundle it all together and splurge on the all-included day trip to the Douro Valley.
If you have any questions for me or about any other tour in Porto, feel free to shout!
Pin this to your Portugal bucket list!