Porto: All the vantage points to capture your perfect shot of the Dom Luis I Bridge

I have to say, my favourite element in Porto (besides the delicious Pastel de Natas) has to be the Dom Luis I Bridge, which connects Oporto to Vila Nova de Gaia, across the Douro river.

jermpins Dom Luis I Bridge porto
Dom Luis I Bridge from Douro river cruise

Often mistaken by many saying that it is designed by Gustave Eiffel, the same engineer who designed the Eiffel tower; the Dom Luis I Bridge is actually designed by Théophile Seyrig, a disciple of Eiffel (although the project proposal was first presented by Gustave himself).

Often confused with the other similar looking Maria Pia bridge, which is about 1 km east along the Douro river; Maria Pia is designed by Gustave himself 9 years before Dom Luis I. The most obvious difference between the two is that Maria Pia is single deck, while Dom Luis I is double deck.

jermpins Maria Pia Bridge porto
Maria Pia Bridge by Gustave Eiffel

The Dom Luis I stands up confidently, and is very much visible if you are anywhere near the river banks. It is simple, not pretentious, but still has its unique character. It stands out against the colourful and rustic backdrop of Oporto, not like an eyesore, but more like a dash of modernism mixed into a pot of old fashioned beauty.

The iron structure resembles a lot the bottom section of the Eiffel tower, minus its signature “Eiffel Tower Brown” colour. It is amazing how the beauty of these two structures can last so many generations !


I could stand in awe of the bridge from either side of the river banks. But, if you are like me who loves taking photos (and shameless selfies), read on this post as I share some of my favourite vantage points to snap your perfect Dom Luis I photo !

1. The view that sings Porto – From Vila Nova de Gaia (upper)

For me, this is the shot that sums up Dom Luis I and Porto, modern meets old fashioned. You want the Don Luis I against the backdrop of Oporto. To take this shot, you want to cross the Dom Luis I to Vila Nova de Gaia, the other side of Oporto.

jermpins Dom Luis I Bridge from Vila Nova de Gaia (lower) Porto
Dom Luis I Bridge from Vila Nova de Gaia (lower)

Now, it is important to note that Oporto and Gaia landscapes have two tiers. The majority of Porto main city centre is on the upper tier, so from Sao Bento train station, you can walk southward to reach to Dom Luis I upper deck, and cross over to Gaia upper. 

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Dom Luis I Bridge from Gaia upper
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Dom Luis I Bridge from Gaia upper

The Metro also runs on the Dom Luis I upper deck, so you can take the Metro Line D (Yellow) from Oporto upper and alight at Jardim do Morro stop.

jermpins Metro Line D on the Dom Luis I upper deck Porto
Metro Line D on the Dom Luis I upper deck

The Ribeira (river bank, Oporto side) is on the Oporto lower tier. You get there by either walking downhill (across houses and back alleys) or taking the Funicular dos Guindais. From Ribeira, you can cross Dom Luis I lower deck, and cross over to Gaia lower (where the Port wine cellars are located). On Gaia side, you can access Gaia upper and lower using cable car, Teleférico de Gaia.

jermpins Dom Luis I Bridge from Gaia lower Porto
Dom Luis I Bridge from Gaia lower

Tip : Accessibility between Gaia upper and lower is not the most convenient, i.e. cable car. You want to plan out your itinerary in advance. We did them both on different days, Gaia lower together with Port wine tasting.


2. Close up and under – On the Douro river cruise

To face Dom Luis I from the front, there’s no other way than to do it over the water of Douro river. For this, you can take the Douro river cruise.

Tip : You can get tickets for 15 EUR from the many authorised ticketing booth / kiosk. Otherwise, we got our tickets directly from the boat operators on the Ribeira for 14 EUR. 

 

The river is 45 minutes and you get to see 6 bridges, including Gustave Eiffel’s Maria Pia. It might get a bit chilly if it is windy, so bring a jacket / windbreaker.


3. Close up and eye level – From Funicular dos Guindais

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To take this shot close up and at eye level, you have to take the Funicular dos Guindas. The funicular is quite small, so if you want the best chance for this shot, you need to be slightly competitive and make sure you get the window.

The ride costs 2.50 EUR one way.

Tip : The queue for the funicular from the top is usually very long. So, what we did was we took the stairs (to the east of the Funicular dos Guindais terminal) down to the Ribeira. And on our return, we took the funicular up (and got the shot above). And we are so glad we took the stairs, for it led us to the next vantage point !


4. Off the beaten path

As we took the stairs from Oporto upper to Ribeira (instead of the funicular), we are so thrilled to have discovered this off the beaten path gem. We walked through narrow alleys, in between houses; and we got this beautiful partial view of the Dom Luis I !

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Dom Luis I Bridge from off the beaten path

I thought that it is extra magical, the partial view in between houses. It is almost as if this view belongs to the local and not the tourists. Or perhaps another way to put it, it is like how some tattoos look extra interesting when it is partially covered by clothing – maybe it is just me ?

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Dom Luis I Bridge from off the beaten path
jermpins walking route porto
Walk down the stairs on this off the beaten path

I hope you are inspired to take your perfect shot of the beautiful Dom Luis I Bridge ! If you do walk the upper deck, be careful walking on the Metro tracks. It is not especially dangerous as the Metro slows down when it crosses the bridge. But, just be vigilant and do hold on to your kids if you are travelling with them !

jermpins On the Metro track on top the Dom Luis I Bridge Porto
On the Metro track on top the Dom Luis I Bridge

18 thoughts on “Porto: All the vantage points to capture your perfect shot of the Dom Luis I Bridge

  1. I must admit, that this is the first time I read a blog post about a bridge and I am so glad that I did. I thiiink my favourite perspective is the one from Vila Nova de Gaia but I love the one off the beaten track and it would be something I’d try. Great post! Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ll be visiting Porto this winter and I really enjoyed this post! I loved all of your pictures and I think it’s a great idea to share some of the best photo spots in town. It was a perfect read for an aspiring photographer like myself 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much enthusiasm about a bridge before! It’s great that you take so much joy in photographing it from all the right angles. This will be a great article for people looking for the best spots to capture the bridge.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Bridges have so much story and history as well. It helps to connect people and lives. Though sometimes its not all good stories during its construction, but knowing what it is now is pretty admirable.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love how you explored this bridge from every possible angle. I gotta say, I think that river cruise would be my personal favorite. Hoping to book that for myself during my visit here next year, so thanks for the tip!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You have no idea how I dream of visiting Portugal! Beautiful architecture, ocean, beaches – there is everything I am looking for. This bridge actually looks like the work of Eiffel, it’s easy to go wrong. Thanks for the tips where to take a photo, if I’m in Porto, I will definitely do as you wrote. I suppose this bridge is one of the most instagrammable spots in Porto, is not it?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I won’t say it is the MOST instagramable, cause all of Porto are beautiful ! But it is definitely my favourite ! You should keep an open mind, explore Porto on your own, and discover your personal favourite ! Safe travels ! =)

      Like

  7. Dom Luis 1 Bridge is really popular now on Instagram and other social media platforms – I see a lot of these when I see anything related to Porto. I am so glad to have found this post where you actually gave tips and exact places to catch the best shots of this bridge. Thanks for the share.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh yes! It it very important to take unusual angles when you photograph some well-known sights. Professional photographer shouldn’t repeat the photos, shot by hundreds of others. Such instructions are valuable

    Liked by 1 person

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