Guimaraes and Braga from Porto (and Bom Jesus)


It is possible that if someone wants to consider an extension after 2 or 3 days, the most frequent excursions from Porto take us to those essential places to see in Guimaraes and Braga... and there we are gone! A really charming historical center of Guimarães, Unesco heritage, and an always historical and lively Braga, although being honest, it has not excited us in excess.

Of course, it has been the previous stop in Bom Jesus do Monte, a sanctuary in the surroundings of Braga, the one that has surprised us the most because we did not expect to find a similar attraction (to which we have gone thanks to the recommendation of the readers in the networks)

What excursions from Porto do in 1 day?

If the first day we told you how to organize in the "what to see in Porto (with maps and planning)"For all the days of your stay, Braga, Guimaraes, Barcelos and many more were the options to make an excursion from Porto for 1 day (we only had one) although we had an advantage ... we didn't have to go back to sleep! since we have our own car and tomorrow we will return.

Excursions from Porto in 1 day possible (sure you can think of more):

- Aveiro and Costa Nova, a quiet day through one of the most beautiful villages including a ride on the traditional "Moliceiros" boats
- Braga and Guimaraes, starting with Braga and including the sanctuaries of Bom Jesus and Sameiro, to end up visiting the castle of Guimaraes.
- Vineyards and wineries tour, for wine history lovers
- Fatima and Coimbra, for the most religious, including the beautiful city of Coimbra
- A cruise on the Douro, crossing the river between Porto and Pinhão and returning by train
- Vila do Conde y Barcelos (or vice versa), especially in summer to return along the coast and even end up in Matosinhos
- Amarante, discovering its origin in the primitive villages that inhabited the Aboboreira mountain range

We had no doubts, the attractions to see in Guimaraes were more than enough to have opted for days ago, although we were not sure whether to complement it with Braga or not. In our case, the decision was simple when we had our own car and returned tomorrow to A Coruña (we were on our way), so we would sleep in Braga and get up early. So after checking out at the Moov Hotel Porto Centro and pay for the parking lot where the car had slept these days (28.70 EUR), it wasn't even 8:30 when we headed for the A3 (50 min, 2.55 EUR) to Guimaraes where they hadn't even put the streets (but if the hour 1 EUR), haha…

And if you do not have your own car or rental car (you already know that you have car rental discounts in our offers section)?

Guimaraes and Braga by public transport: Yes it is possible and the best option is by train. From Sao Bento Station, which we saw the other day, there are direct train links with Guimaraes or Braga (see links and prices). And combine both? For that, it is better to own or rent a car that also allows you to go to the essential sanctuary of Bom Jesus without hurry but if you still want to do it by public transport you can consider going to Braga early by train (1 hour 15 min), take public bus back and forth to Bom Jesus and other direct public bus to Guimaraes or train with change in some population, returning in train from Guimares (1h 20 min)

Do you already have your plans ready? Well, let's discover what to see in Guimaraes, our first stop of the day

What to see in Guimaraes, the cradle of Portugal

To propose a road map to follow in Guimaraes is perhaps a bit absurd. What you see in Guimaraes is dictated by your own steps as it is a population of those that is said "to get lost", with a special charm. However, we have made a tour similar to the following ...

It is noted that it is Saturday and January 2, since except for a small market that they are riding near the Plaza de Oliveira, there is still almost no one on the streets.

And what do we do while "drawing the streets"? !!Have breakfast!! Almost by chance we have found a site that a reader recommended (we do not remember now who but we were pointing) and that he could not guess more ... "Supreme Gosto"

We can almost say that whatever you order you will taste it more than anything, but watch out for toast ... double-decker, haha. Cafes, juices and toast cost us 8.10 EUR

Right next to it are the gardens that give access to the church dedicated to the patron of the city, the San Gualter Church, free and located on the outskirts of the old part.

And how to divide the visit? Well, it is possible that the best way to do this is to separate what you see in Guimaraes in 3 parts: the Sacred Hill (Castle, Church of San Miguel do Castelo and the Palace of the Dukes of Bragança), the Medieval City where we have already entered and the Monaña da Penha, important place of pilgrimage (accessed by cable car) where the Sanctuary of Penha is located and that we will replace with another sanctuary even more special.

What was the European Capital of Culture in 2012 still seems like you are entering a medieval tale. Oliveira Square is already animated at this time of the morning and next to Salado Monument (commemorating the Portuguese victory at the Battle of Salado in 1340) the Church of Our Lady of Oliveira How well worth a visit

However, it is the Rua Santa María that takes you to that deep Portugal that we all look for, a narrow and cobbled street to get lost and that flows into the Convent of Santa Clara, Town hall of the city still decorated with Christmas

Just above is one of the symbols of the city, the Palace of the Dukes of Bragança, dated from the fifteenth century and one of those buildings considered essential throughout Portugal

We do not hesitate to access (5 EUR per person - although you have the option of accessing its exhibition halls -) and we begin to appreciate the great restoration work that was carried out in 1933 of a palace that had been abandoned

The construction of this palace corresponds to the needs of Alfonso, Count of Barcelos and bastard son of King Juan I of Portugal, and shows true valuable jewels of the history of Portugal as we move through its rooms

Porcelain of the Company of the Indies, Pastrana tapestries, treasures from the colonization of Africa and artifacts of incalculable value, are some of them.

How could it be otherwise and we already saw in places like the Castle of the Mad King or the Peles Castle, those wooden carved canopy beds are not lacking where sometimes it seems that it should be uncomfortable to sleep curled up.

We left and headed up the hill. There is the Castle of Guimarães, the other great treasure of the city.

It seems that they are preparing to charge later but for now it is still free, but their new wooden walkways and their renovation work are going that way.

However, it still retains the 28 m tower of the 10th century and 7 square towers embedded in the rock with the Palace as a backdrop. Next to the castle, the Romanesque church of San Miguel dated from S. XII.

We return along the parallel street. Guimaraes bewitches you with its charm as the hours progress.

Its alleys, the taste of its neighbors for every detail, its little shops where you stop every moment ...


Although we always give you all the information to organize the trip on your own, if you have little time or prefer to forget about preparations, you have the following option COMPLETELY IN SPANISH and with VERY GOOD OPINIONS from other travelers. This is the same route as us but with pick-up / drop-off in Porto, tickets, food / drink included and cancellation option if you need it

Guimarães and Braga excursion from Porto

… Or its beautiful patios and defensive walls of the city, from the 14th and 15th centuries, where you can read “Here Nasceu Portugal” emphasizing that the independence of Portugal was born from this place

Go where you go, all the medieval streets "water" at Toural Square and Santiago, the heart of the city and place where we would find the big surprise of the day, a very special little store

The Art'Iago craft store It is the illusion of a woman who, knowing the complication of highlighting before the big shops and local souvenir shops, has opted for a different handicraft, created from natural products (such as nuts or chestnuts) and to put affection To each package. Do you guess that Paula has been brought -among other things-? (Gifts 33 EUR)

It was our last stop in Guimaraes, although it cost us to get Paula out of there ...

... it was time to set a route to Braga (toll 1.55 EUR), where before we went we went to meet a special place

Bom Jesus do Monte, more than a sanctuary in Braga

Although there is the possibility of ascending by cable car and public bus, reaching the top of Bom Jesus do Monte It is not difficult by car having ample parking to leave it. We arrived here by the advice of several readers on social networks (how times have changed since we began writing these stories) and what was our surprise when, without having previously read, we found that careful space that combined architecture, gardens and the best landscape.

The Bom Jesus Do Monte church, symbols of Portugal and pilgrimage sanctuary, It was born from a chapel on the hill of 1373, rebuilt in the 15th and 16th centuries, converted in 1629 into the pilgrimage church dedicated to the Bom Jesus that we know today and that has developed around a conglomerate of more chapels, hotels, gardens and spaces for pilgrims.

We decided to surround it before entering its main part and we began to understand the reason for its integrated importance in this wonderful environment

The granite ladder, object of multiple guides, It is spectacular and has a meaning for pilgrims while saving 116 m of unevenness. As they climbed the stairs, they experienced the scenes of the Passion of Christ, ending at the top where the temple of God is located. That is, a kind of purification of the believer. Its inauguration after 60 years of work, commissioned by Archbishop Maura-Teles, dates from 1783

And its interior? !Amazing! their six chapels dedicated to the Passion of Christ and its majestic scene on the altar are to frame.

We take the opportunity to drink something hot (1.70 EUR) and go down to the city center. There we stayed at the Mercure Braga Centro Hotel which is not only economical, it is perfectly located 5 minutes from the center and has modern rooms, but also has upper and lower parking to park without walking around.

Braga, a lively city ... but expendable

It is possible that the vision we give after Braga is unfair or simply that of a partial vision that deserves a second opinion (which we will do later when we return to the North of Portugal) but Braga has not told us anything. Since we entered by his Libertade Avenue We see that it is a lively city, cared for and designed for tourism.

As, despite being late, we have not been able to eat yet we have decided to enter the Astoria coffee (23.95 EUR), another recommended by our readers. Note that on the first floor there is now an option to order sushi and they serve it on the table as well.

And what route to do in Braga? The truth is that Braga is a jewel for those who wish to make a route of churches and historical monuments without leaving their old town, with corners full of magic from which parts of great Republic Square that congregates charming cafes

However, we do not deceive you if we tell you that after visiting Guimaraes and Bom Jesus, we wanted another type of itinerary, letting ourselves be lost by its set streets as the main Rúa do Souto

For it you also leave aside the Church of Mercy which gives access to the Cathedral but we will see on our return through a parallel street while we arrive at the Arco da Porta Nova

In fact, for those who come by train, the Porta Nova Arch It will be the gateway to the old city.

It is said that Braga is the "Portuguese Rome" and that during medieval times it came to rival Toledo and Tarragona as the center of Catholicism. We don't know which part will be true but its CathedralIt is certainly a wonder.

In fact it was the first cathedral in Portugal, dating from the twelfth century and after an earthquake and various reconstructions would be in the eighteenth century when the Baroque style would mark its current building attracting, like the Church of Bom Jesus, thousands of pilgrims every year.

We enjoy the rest of the afternoon enjoying its historic center and going through many other churches and historic buildings that we no longer wanted to identify for dinner in the same hotel after passing through a supermarket (8.79 EUR) and closing our trip to Porto

From the 5th day back little to tell, as it was 2 hours and 30 minutes ride to A Coruña with a major rain storm and some stop for breakfast (8.70 EUR) and many tolls (27 EUR)

Would we recommend visit Guimaraes and Braga in 1 day if you do not have a rental car or own? No. Visiting a palace, getting lost in the medieval town, moving through history in a castle, entering through narrow streets and gardens or even using the panoramic views of a cable car, are enough incentives to enjoy calmly what to see in Guimaraes without the need for more additions and long journeys on public transport.

Isaac and Paula, photo of Guimaraes, from Braga