Porto – Arrábida Bridge Climb

This is the Arrábida Bridge over the Douro River, an arch bridge made of reinforced concrete which was completed in 1963.

I’m not sure why I thought this was a good idea, since I don’t like climbing and I’m scared of heights.

Underneath the bridge. There were elevators on the bridge, but these were closed down in the 1990s as the parts to repair them were too expensive.

The climbing bit. Incidentally, I was entirely confused by the whole harness thing, which seemed a complete conundrum to put on. The guides were really helpful and friendly, although there was a visitor who was a Russian bridge engineer standing next to me who kindly explained how to deal with the very complex harness situation.

The view on the way up.

The river.

Me being very brave.

I was at one stage the only person on this trip, but there were a few walk-ups which meant that there were around eight of us in the end. There was a family where the mother didn’t want to go up, so she sat at the bottom eating cake whilst the rest of her family traipsed to the top.

There was a nice surprise of a chocolate and drink of port at the top of the climb, which was much appreciated. The climb wasn’t particularly expensive (about €14 I think), but it was an interesting attraction and the adventure lasted for around an hour. The views over the river were of course no better than just walking along the top of other nearby bridges, but it was still an experience and the guide gave lots of background information about the construction of the project. Apparently it’s the only bridge arch climb in Europe, which is slightly surprising.

One of the things that was pointed out was some graffiti which had been painted onto the side of the bridge a couple of decades ago. The guide said that no-one was sure how anyone could have gotten there to paint it, it must have been a feat of some ingenuity. The underside of the bridge had for a period been unprotected, so people used to make their own way up. This situation wasn’t though seen as ideal, and it was all blocked up.

Today, this is now one of the most popular attractions in the city centre, and it’s definitely worth having a little go. The climbing was actually relatively minimal and there weren’t really any potential safety issues as we remained some way from the side, something which entirely suited me.