Olá amigos! Welcome to Ponte de Lima, Portugal’s oldest village. Teresa de Leão, countess of Portugal and the mother of the first king of Portugal – Afonso I founded it in 1125. The village is located in the enchanting Alto Minho region in Portugal, famous for being home to popular Vinho Verde wine, and Caldo Verde soup. This beautiful, old village is a great idea for a one-day trip while in the north of Portugal, but also can be a great home base for digital nomads and travelers who wish to stay longer in the area. Vamos, let’s discover the best places to see in Ponte de Lima, Portugal.
Fun fact: Ponte de Lima is named after a medieval bridge (pt. Ponte) that crosses the Lima river in the village.
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Ponte De Lima – Best Places To See In The Oldest Portugal Village
Legend of Ponte de Lima
Around 139 B.C. Roman troops were marching through current regions of Portugal, to conquer new territories. One day they arrived at Lima River and… were terrified to cross it. They believed that it was the mythical River Lethe (River of Forgetfulness), one of five rivers of the Underworld. Soldiers were so scared that their memories would be erased that they refused to move forward. Eventually, frustrated general Decimus Junius Brutus Callaicus decided to cross the river himself to show soldiers they won’t forget anything. He crossed the river on the horse, but that didn’t convince the soldiers. So the general started to call each of his men by name. Luckily that worked, and the soldiers crossed the river safely keeping all their memories.
More than 2000 years later this legend still lives in Ponte de Lima. On one side of the Lima River, you’ll find 24 life-sized Roman soldiers, waiting to cross the river. On the other side, there is a statue of General Decimus Junius Brutus Callaicus, encouraging them to cross it.
Ponte Romana (eng. Roman Bridge), a bridge majestically stretched over the Lima River, is an unquestionable Ponte de Lima landmark. This medieval stone bridge is from 1368, although some parts of it date back to Roman Empire times, probably early 1st century. It’s 277m long, 4m wide, and available only for pedestrians. Nowadays, it’s also a place where some Camino de Santiago pilgrims cross while heading to Santiago de Compostela. We recommend sitting for a while on the grass by the riverbank and just enjoying lovely views.
On the other side of the bridge, you’ll find places like Santo António da Torre Velha church, the Portuguese Toy Museum, and Theme Arnado Park. More on them later, first let’s discover Ponte de Lima’s charming Old Town.
Old Town is small yet very delightful, and full of beautiful old buildings and charming corners. Let’s discover what places you can visit there.
Igreja Matriz Ponte de Lima
Igreja Matriz Ponte de Lima, or Igreja Paroquial de Ponte de Lima, is a village parish church. It was built in the 15th century in Gothic style, to replace a 13th-century church that became too small to fit all the people. Over the next centuries, the Igreja Matriz expanded, until the version, we can see today. Entrance to church is free.
Paço do Marquês de Ponte de Lima
Paço do Marquês de Ponte de Lima (eng. Palace of the Marquis) is a 15th-century building that was erected as the residence of the mayor, Leonel de Lima. Currently, it hosts the Interpretation Center Of Military History (pt. Centro de Interpretação da História Militar), a museum where you can learn for example about the importance of the geostrategic location of Ponte de Lima, military history, as well as see the evolution of weapons and uniforms. To enter you need to pay a symbolic €1 per person (December 2022).
Also, on the street just below Paco do Marques (Av. António Feijó), you can see the statue of Countess Teresa de Leão, the founder of the village in 1125.
Torre da Cadeia Velha and Torre de São Paulo
Torre da Cadeia Velha and Torre de São Paulo (eng. Tower Cadeia Velha & Tower Saint Paul) are two well-preserved towers, the remains of the town’s 14th-century ramparts. Back in the days, there was a prison in Cadeia Velha, and now it is serving as a Tourist Information Centre. On the front wall of the Tower of Saint Paul, you’ll find an interesting azulejos (hand-painted-tiles) picture titled “Cabras são Senhor!” (eng. They’re goats m’lord!). It’s a reference to a story in which the former king of Portugal Afonso I almost attacked a herd of goats, mistaking them for Moors.
Right beside Tower Cadeia Velha, you’ll find gates that served as one the entrances to the city. Pass them and be sure to go all the way to the top of the ramparts to admire Ponte de Lima from above.
Chafariz Nobre do Largo de Camões
Few steps from Torre de São Paulo and Ponte Romana you’ll find another beautiful place – a lovely square, Largo de Camões, with a stunning fountain Chafariz Nobre (eng. Noble Fountain) dating back to 1603. Initially, the fountain was built in the square known today as Largo Dr. António Magalhães and transferred into Largo de Camões square in 1929. Currently, there are several cafes in the square where you can sit and relax for a while with a cup of coffee in your hand.
Capela das Pereiras
Capela das Pereiras (eng. Chapel of Pereiras) replaced a small hermitage that was located in that very same place in 1525. Later, in 1818, it was rebuilt to the form that we currently see. But what really makes this place worth visiting are the views. You see, the chapel is located in higher parts of the Ponte de Lima Old Town from where you can enjoy amazing views over the mountains, and some parts of the village.
Avenida dos Plátanos
Avenida dos Plátanos (eng. Plane Tree Avenue) is a place you can’t miss during your visit to Ponte de Lima. It’s a pedestrian-only avenue lined with plane trees planted in 1901. Avenida dos Plátanos is perfect for a lazy stroll all year round but it looks most spectacular in the summer and autumn. During the walk, you’ll be able to admire amazing views over the Lima River, Ponte Romana, and the mountains in the distance.
Museu dos Terceiros
Museu dos Terceiros (eng. Terceiros Museum) stands right beside the Avenida dos Plátanos. It spans across two churches: the former convent of Santo António and the church of the Ordem Terceira. The museum is from 1974, and inside it, you’ll find a valuable collection of sacred art, mainly sculptures from the 18th century.
Entrance to Museu dos Terceiros cost: normal – €2.5, reduced – €1.25 (April 2023). The museum is closed on Mondays. For current prices and opening hours visit cm-pontedelima website.
Museu do Brinquedo Portugues – Portuguese Toy Museum
Museu do Brinquedo Português (eng. Portuguese Toy Museum) is located on the other side of the Ponte Romana bridge, just a few steps behind Santo António da Torre Velha church. As the name suggests, it’s a museum dedicated to Portuguese toys. Inside you’ll learn about things like Portuguese toy manufacturers from the late 19th century until the mid-1980s. manufacturing techniques and materials. Of course, you’ll also see many toys like dolls, cars, trains, toy soldiers, or sandbox toys. In the building, you’ll also find a playroom and a toy shop.
Entrance to Museu do Brinquedo Português cost: normal – €3, reduced – €1.5 (April 2023). Museum is closed on Mondays. For current prices and opening hours visit cm-pontedelima website.
Ponte de Lima Market
The village can also boast the oldest documented market in Portugal – it exists since March 4th 1125! Currently, the market is open twice a month, every other Monday. It’s located near the river bank, in a place where on any other day there is a parking lot. At Ponte de Lima Market you can buy things like fresh vegetables and fruits, pastries, cheeses, clothes, or household items.
Parque Temático do Arnado
Parque Temático do Arnado (eng. Theme Arnado Park) is a peaceful, well-kept green space in Ponte de Lima. Park is located on the other side of Ponte Romana, very close to the Portuguese Toy Museum. Inside you’ll find areas that mimic different garden styles: Roman Garden, Renaissance Garden, Labyrinth Garden, and Baroque Garden. In Arnado Park you’ll also find a greenhouse and a pond. The entrance is free.
Festival Internacional de Jardins
Festival Internacional de Jardins (eng. International Garden Festival) is an annual event. From May to October in the village, you can admire 12 garden displays prepared based on the contest winners’ projects. From November to May old gardens are dismantled and new displays, from recent winners, are prepared. Everyone, from every country, can take part and send projects. If you’ll be in Ponte de Lima during the time of the displays – don’t miss seeing them.
Vinho Verde Ponte de Lima
There are two interesting places to visit in Ponte de Lima connected with the popular Vinho Verde:
- Centro de Interpretação e Promoção do Vinho Verde (eng. Center for the Interpretation and Promotion of Vinho Verde) – museum dedicated to the history of this popular Portuguese wine. Entrance cost: normal – €3, reduced – €1.5 (April 2023). Museum is closed on Mondays. For current prices and opening hours visit cipvv.pt website.
- Adega de Ponte de Lima (eng. Ponte de Lima’s wine cellar) – tour in one of the most substantial cellars in the region, during which you can see the winery, learn about the production, as well as take part in the tasting. You need to book the tour in advance via email.
How to get to Ponte de Lima, Portugal?
Where to park in Ponte de Lima?
Your best option is to leave your car in the free, huge but unpaved parking lot near the Ponte Romana (not available on Mondays when the Market takes place), or in this cobblestone parking lot, just a few steps further.
Airports near Ponte de Lima
The closest airport to Ponte de Lima in Portugal is located in Porto (80km away). Other ones are located in Spain, in Vigo (60km away), Santiago de Compostela (160km away), and A Coruna (280km away). From each airport, you can get to Ponte de Lima by bus or bus+train. To check the connections that interest you please visit rome2rio.com website.
To Ponte de Lima by bus
You can quite easily get to Ponte de Lima by bus. For example, the journey from Porto will take about 1.5h (€5-21), from Viana do Castelo 50min (€2-10), and 1h from Braga (€3-10). To learn more about bus connections that interest you visit rome2rio.com website.
To Ponte de Lima by train
Unfortunately, you can’t reach Ponte de Lima by train. But for example, you can take a train from Porto, Lisbon, or even Albufeira to Viana do Castelo, and then take a bus from it to Ponte de Lima. Here you can check out a map of Portugal train connections.
Ponte De Lima, the oldest village in Portugal – Summing Up
All right, that’s it about Ponte de Lima. Not that big, yet not that small, and absolutely worth the visit! We hope that thanks to this post you’ll get the most out of your trip to the oldest village in Portugal and won’t forget everything like the Romans feared that they will. We still remember everything just fine so you should be ok as well, but you’ll never know for sure until you try it for yourself, right? 🙂
Restaurants, accommodations, and map
Check out various recommended places below.
Where to eat in Ponte de Lima?
Here are your best, high-rated options in Ponte de Lima:
Where to sleep in Ponte de Lima?
Axis Ponte de Lima Resort Hotel
Axis Ponte de Lima Resort Hotel is a luxury resort situated in the heart of the city. The hotel features beautifully decorated rooms and suites with private balconies, modern amenities, and stunning views of the surrounding countryside. Guests can enjoy a range of facilities including an outdoor pool, spa, restaurant, and bar.
Blue House Ponte de Lima
Blue House Ponte de Lima is a cozy and modern guest house located in the heart of Ponte de Lima.. The property features comfortable rooms with private bathrooms, air conditioning, and free Wi-Fi.
Hotel Império do Norte
Hotel Império do Norte is a cozy and comfortable hotel located in the center of Ponte de Lima, a historic town in the north of Portugal. The hotel features 34 rooms, each with air conditioning, flat-screen TV, and a private bathroom. Guests can enjoy a daily breakfast buffet and relax in the hotel's bar and lounge area.
Pinheiro Guest House
Pinheiro Guest House is a charming bed and breakfast located in the historic center of Ponte de Lima. The guest house offers a cozy and welcoming atmosphere with comfortable rooms and a shared lounge area. The location is ideal for exploring the town on foot and enjoying the nearby outdoor activities.
Accommodations photos source: booking.com