It’s around 2km from the Ribeira along the riverfront pavement and quayside to the Ponte da Arrábida (heading west towards Foz do Douro). This is a good half hour’s walk, which is enough for most people to get a flavour of the Douro; there are several attractions en route, and you can then jump on the tram or the #500 bus back to the city centre or on to Foz and the beach
First stop is the imposing Neoclassical Alfândega, or customs house, constructed on the riverbank just west of Ribeira between 1860 and 1880. It’s a vast building, originally designed to store the cargo of up to forty ships, which has been renovated as the Museu das Alfândegas (Tues–Fri 10am–6pm, Sat, Sun & hols 3–7pm; e3; www.amtc.pt). Its mighty rooms and storage areas, supported by cast-iron columns, are the backdrop for a variety of exhibitions using computers and other trickery to recount the history of Porto, its trades and industries. The building also encompasses the Museum of Transport and Communications, which has always had a place here – the “car through time and space” exhibition entertainingly relates the development of the motor car to social and economic advances.
Museu das Alfândegas
A few hundred metres west of here, at Rua de Monchique 45–52, the Museu do Vinho do Porto (Tues–Sun 11am–7pm; e1) occupies an eighteenth-century former wine warehouse. It traces the history of the port wine trade, a dry subject in many ways though tackled here with vim – there are plenty of activities for children. Further downriver, the azulejo-fronted Igreja do Corpo Santo de Massarelos is unlikely to be open, but it has an interesting lineage. Founded first in 1394, and rebuilt in 1776, it’s dedicated to São Pedro Gonçalves Telmo (St Elmo), patron saint of sailors. Prince Henry the Navigator was a member of the Almas do Corpo Santo brotherhood, founded in Porto by mariners who survived a storm when returning from England. The brotherhood kept a number of fighting ships, seeing action fending off north African pirates.