the Porto Bridge Climb experience: why Europe's only bridge climb should be on your bucket list

Porto is known as “the city of six bridges”, so it comes as no surprise that Portugal’s second largest metropolis is peppered with arches across its water. However, what most visitors don’t know is that you’re able to pay to climb to the top of the city’s most westward bridge, the Arrábida Bridge, with Porto Bridge Climb.

This is a bucket list moment I didn’t know I needed to have until I watched 48 Hour Travel Man’s recent Porto episode {honestly, how I got most of the ideas for this particular trip around Europe}. A true Richard Ayoade fan at heart, I didn’t want to leave Porto without doing the climb. Although it was not an adrenaline-packed bungee jump or a thrilling skydive, the Porto Bridge Climb was an evening I’ll never forget and is easily the highlight of my time in Porto.


read on for all the details on the porto bridge climb


the Porto Bridge Climb experience: why Europe's only bridge climb should be on your bucket list
The Porto Bridge Climb takes place over Arrábida Bridge on the Western side of Porto.

about the porto bridge climb experience

The Porto Bridge Climb takes place over Arrábida Bridge, which was, at one time, the largest concrete arch in the world. It remained the largest bridge of its kind in Europe until 1982. Just a few decades before its construction, a similar concrete bridge collapsed in Sweden, causing a frenzy in the international press. So, at the unveiling of the Arrábida Bridge, every major news outlet was in attendance to see whether the bridge would hold or not. The engineer,
Edgar António Mesquita Cardoso, ran to the middle of his masterpiece and proceeded to jump up and down to prove to those who believed he would fail wrong.

In the 1960s, under the dictatorship of Salazar, the country of Portugal was still thriving in gold reserves. However, as with most dictatorships, the people never saw any of that wealth. The people were so impoverished, in fact, that instead of paying to use the lifts to get from the city to Gaia, many would climb up the bridge and slide down on their backsides. This was especially dangerous thanks to strong winds and since the steps that are there for the bridge climb now didn’t exist at the time.

The bridge took 400 workers each day and a period of 3 years to complete. Another testament to the leadership of the time was the official death toll as a result of the bridge’s construction. On the record, 4 people died building the Arrábida. Off the record, however, we can never be sure. Many people left their families in outlying villages to work on the bridge in Porto. It’s rumoured that many of these people died but that rather than paying the costs of a funeral or returning the body, the government sent the bodies floating down the river or poured concrete over them. These bits of information regarding the history of the bridge are revealed at the top of the bridge climb and give a whole new meaning to the famous arch.

Porto Bridge Climb opened in 2016 as a way to provide visitors with a unique view of this iconic monument and a one-of-a-kind experience in Europe. Simply put, you wear a harness and walk up the arch of the bridge to its peak, where you are presented with cultural and historic facts, and a little taste of Porto {pun intended}.

the Porto Bridge Climb experience: why Europe's only bridge climb should be on your bucket list

how to get there

As mentioned above, you’re heading to the Arrábida Bridge, which is on the Western side of Porto. It can seem a little tricky to get to Porto’s most westward bridge, but it’s actually not too difficult. You can either access the bridge climb base by bus, tram, Uber, metro, or on foot.

For those who opt to walk, it takes about 25 minutes from Ribeira {wear comfortable shoes}. You can ride the tram {line 1} or the bus {STCP 500 local bus} to the same stop, Ponte Arrábida. From this stop, you’ll be dropped off near the granite stairs you need to walk up to reach the base. Alternatively, you can grab an Uber. From the city center, an Uber ride should cost no more than approximately €5.

NEED A LITTLE HELP NAVIGATING? Don’t worry! I made a map that marks the start + the peak of the climb.

the Porto Bridge Climb experience: why Europe's only bridge climb should be on your bucket list
the Porto Bridge Climb experience: why Europe's only bridge climb should be on your bucket list
the Porto Bridge Climb experience: why Europe's only bridge climb should be on your bucket list

what to expect

Upon arrival, you’ll be given a brief safety rundown and will be helped getting into your harness. It may be comforting to know that there have been no accidents or inquiries at Porto Bridge Climb. They have a perfectly clean record for safety! It also might make those who are afraid of heights more comfortable knowing that this isn’t a high adrenaline adventure. It’s a simple stair climb that leads to an amazing view.

Once we were harnessed, we walked up 262 steps, 65 meters above the Douro river to the “summit”. From here, we collected our cameras and phones from our guide and were given time to take photos. Ricardo, my guide, was even generous enough to take photos of me. After we nabbed some amazing pictures in the quickly-changing light, our guide gave us the history of the bridge, including its cultural significance {totally fascinating}.

To celebrate our successful climb and to commemorate the spectacular view, we toasted miniature vegan chocolate cups filled with Port wine. It was the perfect cap to an awesome evening. After a few more photos and some more exchanged laughter, we began the descent down the 262 steps back to the base of the bridge. Ricardo helped me get out of my harness and presented each of us with a thoughtful parting gift— a postcard of the bridge.

the Porto Bridge Climb experience: why Europe's only bridge climb should be on your bucket list
the Porto Bridge Climb experience: why Europe's only bridge climb should be on your bucket list
the Porto Bridge Climb experience: why Europe's only bridge climb should be on your bucket list
the Porto Bridge Climb experience: why Europe's only bridge climb should be on your bucket list

what I loved

You mean…besides the whole thing?! The entire evening with Porto Bridge Climb was spectacular, however, I especially like the affordability, the tour group size cap, and the Porto history you learn.

I love the price point! For approximately than €15 you get to climb one of the famous bridges of Porto, drink Port wine out of a chocolate cup at the top, view the city from above its waters, and receive a souvenir postcard. It’s incredible value for money. The information given to you at the top by your guide is

The group sizes are just right too. There are never more than 13 people climbing in one group. This means there is plenty of room at the top for photos and you feel like you are having a truly personal experience. During my climb, I was only one of 3!

I’m not one for tours, but the highlights of the tours I do go on are always the cultural and historic information I’m given about whatever destination I’m in. Getting to know more about Porto while staring down at it from the top of one of the city’s bridges is something I’ll never forget. Learning about local history helps make travel more meaningful.

the Porto Bridge Climb experience: why Europe's only bridge climb should be on your bucket list

how to book your bridge climb in porto

You can book your Porto Bridge Climb experience on their website’s booking page.


Disclaimer: I was a guest of Porto Bridge Climb, but, as always, all my opinions are my own and my experience is expressed authentically. 



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the Porto Bridge Climb experience: why Europe's only bridge climb should be on your bucket list
the Porto Bridge Climb experience: why Europe's only bridge climb should be on your bucket list