Porto's Ribeira Waterfront at Night

The central North bank area on the river Douro in the Portuguese city of Porto is known as the Ribeira. It is very busy during the day with sightseeing tourists queuing up for tickets to go on the six bridges river cruise, wandering round the shops and having something to eat or drink at the many cafes.

The Cais da Ribeira waterfront cafe at night

Porto's Cais da Ribeira waterfront is the place to eat and drink.

At night time the Ribeira is again full of tourists. This time they are nearly all looking for a place to eat. There is a wide variety of restaurants to choose from. Some are just cafes and bars with a few tables outside, whilst others are posh four star restaurants. In late spring, summer and early autumn it is lovely just to sit outside, soak in the holiday atmosphere, have a meal and a drink, whilst watching world walk past.

Most of the restaurants and cafes have menu boards at the front with pictures of the meals they serve, what they are called in Portuguese and an English translation next to it. There is usually a price shown by the side of the picture. Because Porto is very near the sea there is an abundance of good fish meals at reasonable prices.

If you like cod then order local speciality called Bacalhau con Natas. It is cod served in a cream sauce. There is also a dish called Bolinhos de Bacalhau, which is codfish cakes. The grilled sardines and salmon are a good choice normally served with a side salad and some French fries. For the more adventurous there is a dish called Polvo which is octopus and also Calamares.

View from the cafes and resturants lining the Cais da Ribeira waterfront

This is the view from the Cais da Ribeira waterfront resturants and bars at night.

For the meat eater there are international Italian dishes like pasta Bolognese, meat topped pizza, lasagna, beef burgers, hotdogs and steak. Be adventurous and try some local dishes. There is one dish called Tripas a Moda do Porto which is tripe stew. If that does not sound appetising then try a Portuguese sausage. These are called Alheira. They are not like your normal sausage. The filling is soft and savoury.

Most famous local meat dish is called the Francesinha. I love this dish. It is a heart attack on a plate. Everyone should order one of these (unless you are a vegetarian). It is a giant sandwich that contains layers upon layers of different meats. It is coated in a savoury tomato sauce and some restaurants place a fried egg on top. Look around you in the restaurant to see the size of the portions that are brought to the tables. I found the Francesinha portions served in the restaurants and cafes around the Riberia more than suitable for one person. If you order a Francesinha away from the tourist areas you normally find the portions are much larger so I would suggest that you only order one between two.

The Ribeira square at night

Praca da Ribeira square at night on the banks of the River Douro in Porto

Most of the Waterside buildings are illuminated with floodlights including the massive iron bridge that crosses the river Douro. It is just a wonderful place to spend time in the evening. During the late autumn, winter and early spring it can be cold. Make sure you pack some warm clothing. If there is a chill breeze coming off the river then you may want to consider choosing one of the restaurants in the Ribeira Square. Most of them place heaters out on the street near all the tables. Some also provide blankets. Many of the restaurants have wifi. Just ask for the password.

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