Braga is located in northern Portugal, about 50 km from Porto and 80 km from the Spanish border (Galicia Region). It is the third largest city in the country (after Lisbon and Porto) and the youngest district in Portugal. It was the city elected as the best European destination in 2021. The historic centre is full of restaurants with good Portuguese food and also some international restaurants.
It is a city full of Baroque churches and historic buildings. It was called "Bracara Augusta" by the Romans and was, at the time, the largest city in the north of the Portuguese territory. Therefore, it is now a city full of monuments and Roman remains, but also a city full of Baroque architecture. Besides the magnificent historical centre, the city is also appreciated for its sanctuaries, being the Sanctuary of "Bom Jesus" classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
10 Places to visit in Braga
1. Praça da República and Central Avenue
The Praça da República is located in the historic centre. It was built at the end of the Middle Ages and is a good place to take a walk and observe the movement of the city centre. Republic Square is also the site of the Convent and Basilica of the Congregates, which can be visited free of charge.
2. Avenida da Liberdade
At the beginning of this avenue, near the Praça da Républica, is the Tourist Information Office, for those who need a map. It is an avenue full of gardens with flowers, and some historical buildings like "Theatro Circo", the city's show house. Here is one of the points of concentration of commerce in the city.
3. Gardens of Santa Bárbara and Paço Episcopal
The colourful baroque garden is the most beautiful in the city, where it is worth getting lost in its maze! With the Paço Episcopal where it is currently the rectory of the university. It is a medieval building that yields beautiful photos in this setting.
4. Braga Cathedral and Museum
In the heart of the city Portugal's church, the Sé Cathedral. It is worth seeing the baroque architecture as well as its baroque pipe organs inside. Attached to the Cetedral there is the museum and other small chapels which are included in the museum visit. The church was built in 1070 and it is in one of these small chapels that D. Henrique and Dona Teresa, parents of the first king of Portugal, D. Afonso Henriques, are buried.
5. Arco da Porta Nova
It has this name because at the time it was the last entrance to the city to be built, hence the name. Built in 1773, it is another point of the city that makes for good photos.
6. Museu Pio XII
A slightly less busy option for those who like museums is the Pius XII Museum, named after the Pope of the same name, dedicated mainly to sacred art. Founded in 1957, it is a good tip for those who like museums and history. In addition, its main tower, with 40m high, has one of the most beautiful views to the city of Braga Portugal.
7. Praça Carlos Amarante
A magnificent square that makes for good photographs. The churches in this square show the Baroque architecture that adorns the city. In one of the churches, Santa Cruz Church, the legend says that whoever finds two roosters on the decoration of the façade will get married that same year.
8. Rua do Souto
Main street of the historic city centre that runs from the Arco da Porta Nova to the Praça da República. It is a totally pedestrian street, full of shops and restaurants, passing by magnificent Baroque churches.
9. Santuário do Bom Jesus
Outside the historic centre, on top of a hill with a unique view of the city, the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte has one of the most beautiful sunsets in Portugal. As if that wasn't enough, it is the second largest religious tourism destination in the country, second only to the city of Fátima. It has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can go up by lift and down its magnificent 670-step staircase (or vice versa) to the top of the hill and in front of the church. Along the staircase, in the multiple chapels, is the history of Christianity in sculptures.
10. Santuário do Sameiro
Take advantage of the climb to the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte and visit the also wonderful Sanctuary of Sameiro. Being the highest point of the city, this architectural ensemble also offers a breathtaking view. Surrounded by trees, statues and an incomparable air of peace, it is worth walking calmly around the sanctuary, enjoying the view and the calmness.
How to get There?
Porto's Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport (OPO) is located 50km northwest of the centre.
Get Bus from the airport: 9 euros (about 45 minutes trip, stop in front of the airport to Braga central bus station)
Train for Porto: 3,25 euros (60 minutes trip).
Taxi: about 70 euros (about 40 minutes travel)