Arouca 516 - The Longest Footbridge in the World

Arouca 516 - The Longest Footbridge in the World

Portugal
Portugal

When Is the Best Time

Arouca 516 is the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the world and Portugal's new wonder. The unique footbridge is rising 175m/574 feet from the Paiva River and Gorge. It is a 1.5-hour drive south of Porto and 3.5 hours from Lisbon, the capital city.

For sure it’ll be the most visited attraction in Portugal in the future. 516 Arouca is already nominated for Europe's Leading Tourist Attraction Development Project 2021. Please, vote for Arouca 516.

Arouca Bridge from the distance from Paiva side
Two pylons transmit the loads from the main cable to the ground - View from Canelas Entrance

The footbridge is 516 m long, surpassing the former record holder, the 494 m long Charles Kuonen Bridge in Switzerland. The "Ponte 516 Arouca" was inaugurated on May 2 in 2021.

The beginning of Arouca bridge from Alvarenga side
The beginning from the Alvarenga side - A fascinating construction to cross the Paiva Gorge

The best time to travel to the Arouca footbridge is from March to October with 200-300 hours of sunshine monthly. The best time of the day is the afternoon for awesome shots of the bridge from either side.

Paiva River below us - View through the bridge construction
Paiva River below us - View through the walkway of the bridge.

Paiva River and Gorge are most impressive at a higher water level when the river is thundering during the winter and spring. To get access to the bridge, an online ticket is required. Due to COVID19 limited entry of 500 people daily, a maximum of 35 day-visitors for each tour, duration roughly half an hour. Tickets tend to be sold out for days in advance, and I bet for summer, it’ll be weeks. You can enter the bridge guided only. Ticket Booking
 

Small group tour on Arouca 516
Private Group Tour from Alvarenga 

Wheelchair Accessible

This exceptional suspension bridge is even wheelchair accessible. Please, get in contact with them before for an extra slot! There is a similar bridge in Germany called Geierlay, but that isn’t accessible by wheelchairs, nor is it managed that well. There is an entrance fee requested for Arouca 516. IMO it is worth paying for the stunning bridge construction and the guides. Due to the pedestrian suspension bridge, jobs were developed, giving the guides a job instead of leaving their hometowns.

Entrance Fee Arouca 516

Guided common group tour
Our tour with our knowledgeable guide Emanuel
  • 12 Euros per adult
  • 10 Euros from the age 65
  • 10 Euro for the age 6-17
  • younger than 6 for free

Crowds on the Bridge

Two men alone on Arouca 516
The guides are giving you the opportunity for private pictures without a mask.

The guided tours are well organized. Due to the limited access, people spread pretty well on the bridge. It is just at the beginning of this fascinating walk a bit crowded. However, if you want to get your private experience, tours are offered for small groups of 4 to 5 people. These groups have priority, and other groups are not allowed to enter during their tour.

Bridge Opening Hours

First step onto Arouca 516 bridge

  • May-September from 8am-8pm 
  • November-March from 9am-5pm 
  • April and October from 9am-7pm

Photographer Tip

View from Paiva Walkway up to the Arouca footbridge
View from the Canelas side - The Paiva Walkway down to the bottom - Aguieiras Waterfall

Book your tour from Canelas entrance, which gives you also access to the stairs down to the bottom of Paiva River and the bridge as well. The light is perfect for fantastic shots in the afternoon, roughly from 2-5 pm, depending on the month and sunset.

Top Tours from Porto

We had good and bad experiences on guided trips. So check the recommendations of the tour company first or book one of my recommend tours via GetYourGuide. I book my tours via GetYourGuide. It is always well organized. They remind you via e-mail for your meeting point. The app is very helpful; provides you with the online voucher and directions.

 

Weather Arouca

View to Arouca 516 from Paiva Walkway
View from the Paiva Walkway

The weather in the north of Portugal, 330 km/ 205 miles north of Lisbon, is less stable than in the south. It frequently rains in Arouca except for the summer months. The area is situated almost 500 meters above sea level. It’s a moderate climate; freezing temps are rare; however, snow can occur. 

Spring (March-May)

Heather in bloom
The colourful Arouca Geopark in May

Day temps are on average below 20°C but can reach 25°C during the day. Drizzle, fog, partly cloudy, and sunny days this all occurs in the springtime. Due to the precipitation, the region looks awesome full of blooming flowers and bushes. UV Index between 5-8; take precaution! 

Summer (June-September) 

Ponte 516 Arouca with a blue sky

Although day temperatures are meant to be slightly above 20°C, the reality is different. Day temps occasionally reach 30°C though nights are still refreshing cold around 12°C. The sun is intense in the summertime, often underestimated. Nights are cold, slightly above 10°C. 

Autumn (October-November) 

Arouca bridge with dark and rainy sky

Increasing rainfall from October onwards. Day temps are still pleasant in October, and also November isn’t cold on average, around 15°C. Nights tend to be chilly, especially in November, just around 5°C. 

Winter (December-February) 

Most rainfall in the wintertime; however, day temperatures are on average around 10°C. Nights are chilly but usually above freezing. A cold and strong wind often occurs and let you feel colder than it is. Snow can occur in the wintertime. 

Tip

It can be very windy on the bridge, although warm at both entrances.

Where to Stay Close to Arouca 516

Hotels in Arouca
This was our room at Solar de Capela

You can either stay nearby what we did or combine your visit with other beautiful locations in Portugal.

 

Best Months to Visit

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Location and Tips

Porto, Alvarenga, Arouca Geopark
Portugal
Portugal

Arouca 516 is not for people who suffer from vertigo. The walking suspension bridge is situated in the Arouca Unesco protected Geopark. It is an incredible adrenaline rush crossing this spectacular pedestrian bridge in Portugal.

Must-Know - 2 Entrances to Arouca 516

Visitors queuing at Canela Entrance - Paiva River Walkway
Canelas Entrance - Paiva River Walkway

There are two entrances, one from the Paiva River called Canelas and the other from Alvarenga. Getting information on how and where to access was not easy. We spent two days at the bridge to figure out everything you need to know before you book and go.

The steep Paiva River Wooden Walkway
Paiva River Wooden Walkway with a spectacular view to Arouca 516

IMO the view from Canelas is more spectacular than from Alvarenga.  If you don’t book far in advance, you may not have a choice. Canelas is fully booked earlier than Alvarenga. You can’t buy tickets at the entrance gate. If the bridge tickets are sold out you can still book a Paiva Walkway ticket online. You don’t get access without a ticket!. The only alternative is a fully guided tour in a small group.

Map to get to Arouca 516

Arouca 516 Map from both entrances

These are both entrances to get to Arouca 516 walking suspension bridge. You can see where we parked the car as well as the way walked to the Alvarenga and Canelas entrance. We always use Locus Pro to record our hikes. Another map of the entire hike along Paiva River is added at the end of the article. 

Parking Arouca 516

All parking areas are marked for both entrances. The exact locations are added with a Google Maps Link. Restrooms are available at one of the parkings in Alvarenga; I added this link at well. 

Parking Sign for Arouca 516

Paiva River - Canelas Entrance 

  • Biggest Parking

    Biggest parking for Canelas Entrance
    Picture was taken in the evening when we left Arouca.

    There is a huge parking area nearby the river. This is the biggest of all and the easiest. The footpath is well marked. You reach the Paiva River, and from here, it is a steep climb up on long staircases. This walk takes roughly 20 minutes to reach the gate before the bridge. Link Google Maps 
     
  • Parking at the gravel access road to the parking area

    Parking at the access road to the biggest parking area

    Visitors also park their car at the beginning along the gravel road. This is the shortest and easiest way to get to Arouca 516, just a 10 minutes walk. We got a late slot for the bridge; therefore, a parking space was available. Google Maps Link
     
  • Smallest car park

    Smallest car park 4 spaces next to Paiva River and staircase

    Just four spaces are available next to the wooden staircase at Paiva River. Google Maps Link

Alvarenga Entrance

One of the many smaller parking areas in Alvarenga

If you enter the bridge from the Alvarenga side, there are several parking areas available all are well marked. The trail from the village to the footbridge is marked with red bands. Our parking in Alvarenga the only one with restrooms Google Maps Link

Red bands are leading from Alvarenga to Arouca 516

This is the nicest trail of all to get to Arouca 516.

3 Ways to Experience the Bridge 

Ponte 516 Arouca view from below

You like to visit the bridge for sunrise or sunset without the crowds? Forget it, no chance to get on the bridge on your own. There are fences and huge gates to close the bridge from either side. 

  1. You access the bridge from one of the sides, Canelas or Alvarenga, and you leave the bridge from the same entrance. This is what most people do to get back to their car. 
  2. What I recommend and thanks to my husband Markus, we entered the bridge from Alvarenga, and I left the bridge from the Canelas side. You get access to the wooden staircases with the Arouca 516 ticket or the Paiva Walkway ticket only. The advantage you can watch this outstanding bridge from all sides, outlooks, and the bottom. This way is easy to implement. Lots of taxis offer their service for the shuttle back to your car.
  3. Book a tour for your best experience of this fascinating suspension bridge in Portugal. These tour groups are just 4-5 people instead of 35. 
     

How Much Time to Spend

Paiva River, Gorge and Walkway situated in the forest
Paiva River, Gorge, and Walkway at the bottom

For the unique bridge, 3-4 hours are needed. If you are into hiking and you like to explore the entire area, plan an entire day. Walk down to the bottom of Paiva Gorge and hike the entire 8.3 km trail in this awesome landscape.

Need to Know

Arouca 516 and Waterfall
12 steps, highest 35 m/ 115 foot – Canyoning Tours are offered down the waterfall

There is still a lack of infrastructure; some improvements are needed, and more jobs could be developed. There aren’t any restrooms next to the bridge, no opportunities to rest for the elderly, no souvenirs, beverages or snacks are available. Bring a sandwich and a bottle of water for your visit!

11 Arouca 516 Facts

Arouca 516 - The new Instagram Spot

  1. Length 516 m/ 1.693 foot 
  2. Maximum depth to Paiva river and canyon 175 m/ 574 feet 
  3. The walkway is 3 feet/ 1.20 m wide and accessible by wheelchair 
  4. One pylon on each side transmit the loads from the main cable to the ground 
  5. Four anchorages and 70m of steel main cable drilled into the rock are required to transmit the horizontal and vertical forces of the main cable to the foundations 
  6. Building time two years with helicopter support. These pilots had alpine experiences delivering all the goods into the canyon.
  7. 24km/ 15 miles of steel cable holding up the bridge
  8. Costs 2.3 million Euro 
  9. The bridge consists of 127 interlocking metal cages, and the initial design was modified to prevent oscillatory instability.
  10. It is a 100% Portuguese project, designed and built by Portuguese
  11. It opened on May 2 in 2021, to the public

 

We got the wonderful drone footage provided by itecons and Pedro Cardoso. 

 I took all pictures. I have the copyright for all of them. If you like to use one of my photos get in contact with me.

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Created by
Micha Herber-Bleich
Micha Herber-Bleich
I love adventurous trips and my husband…