Ponte da Barca is located on the left bank of the Lima river, 39 kilometres from Viana do Castelo. It owes its name to the barge ("barca") that crossed the river until the end of the 15th century. Besides carrying cargo the barges carried pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela. The bridge ("ponte") substituted the Medieval barges and the name of the town honours both.
It was the birthplace of the poets Diogo Bernardes and Friar Agostinho da Cruz. It has existed since 1120 and during the Middle Ages was integrated with Terra da Nóbrega. In the 16th it received a charter and was selected chief town in the County of Nóbrega. Two centuries later Ponte da Barca was a prosperous town of merchants and farmers. It is a picture of granite houses and palaces surrounded by green
Situated in a luxuriant green region by the banks of the River Lima, Ponte da Barca is thought to have taken its name form the boat (barca) that connected the two banks before the bridge (ponte) was built in the fifteenth century. Previously, this region was known as Terra da Nóbrega or Anóbrega, which is thought to derive from the Roman name "Elaneobriga".
The town´s historical centre has a number of manor houses (some of which have been adapted to provide accommodation for tourists), as well as some beautiful monuments dating from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century. These are well worth careful investigation, just like the surrounding area, where two monuments of special interest are the thirteenth-century Romanesque church at Bravães and the castle at Lindoso (again from the thirteenth century), which played such an important role in the defence of the region. Ponte da Barca belongs to the vinho verde demarcated wine region, and part of the municipality is included in the Peneda-Gerês National Park, which has excellent facilities for sports and leisure activities.