Braga, the “Portuguese Rome” as it is known, leaves no one indifferent to its charms. It was founded by the Romans over 2000 years ago under the name of Bracara Augusta and is one of the largest and oldest cities in our country.
A true “Minho” city (“Minho” is an area in Portugal), full of history and many stories to tell. With over 180 thousand inhabitants, Braga leaves no one indifferent to its visit. Its springs, mountains, forests and breathtaking views are also an option not to be missed. With very cheerful and hospitable people, your stay in this city in the North of Portugal will undoubtedly be unforgettable. Prepare your bags and follow us in this journey through the streets of Braga full of history.
Throughout the streets of Braga you can find more than 30 churches in historical places and the devotion of its people for all the architectural and religious heritage. Braga is also considered one of the oldest Christian cities in the world. In this city there are many treasures to discover and experiences that leave no one out. Good gastronomy, beautiful monuments, religious and popular festivals, traditions and handicrafts. Come explore fascinating places with the best tips for an unforgettable trip alone or with family. Join us on this spectacular tour and discover the best of Braga!
WHERE IS IT AND HOW TO GO TO BRAGA?
Getting to this city in the North of Portugal is very simple. As a rule, people visiting Braga have the city of Porto as a starting point. The city is about 45 minutes away from Porto by car, which is 54 km. It is one of the closest cities for tourists to visit. Getting to Braga is also practical by train and bus, but by car is the fastest option via the A3. By bus the travel time is about 1 hour, so it pays once again to go by car, because you can move more comfortably and quickly.
WHEN TO VISIT BRAGA?
If you’re wondering about the best time to visit Braga, you don’t have to think too hard. You need to pay a little attention to the weather, but this city has a mixed climate between Mediterranean and temperate oceanic climate. In the summer the temperatures are fantastic and the nights will make you want to get out of the house and go outside. In the winter, the rains are frequent but quite calm. Besides this, there are always new and dynamic things happening in the city. We highlight the events that invade and transform the city completely. The Bracarenses go out to the streets and live together with the greatest animation and respect for their city. Braga’s Saint John (São João de Braga) is a great time to visit this city because it is one of the biggest and oldest popular festivals in our country. This popular festival celebrates the birth of Saint John the Baptist and takes place in the month of June from the 18th to the 24th. An authentic Portuguese pilgrimage!
The city of Braga dates back to Ancient Roman times with foundation in the 16th century BC by the name of Bracara Augusta in honor of the emperor Cesar Augustus. It was the capital of Galécia which included 5 Roman roads and a long territory that went from the north of the Douro to the Cantabrian. After conquests and reconquests the city becomes even stronger and more solidified. So, later the whole city develops around the Cathedral and is restricted by an extensive wall. At that time, King Afonso VI of León and Castile offers Braga to his daughter D. Teresa in her marriage to D. Henrique of Burgundy. Braga continues to grow among bishops and archbishops and holds enormous power on the Iberian Peninsula. Today it is a cosmopolitan and multicultural city with large entrepreneurial projects and highlights in vast areas of economic development such as: industry, commerce, culture and services.
WHAT TO VISIT AND DO IN BRAGA?
Braga is a city full of life and with a huge patrimonial treasure. This region is much loved by the people who visit it and with great emphasis on religious tourism. There is always a lot to do and visit, showing here the dynamism and energy of the Minho spirit. The opportunities for leisure and culture are a focal point in this city that combines the best of nightlife, art, theater, exhibitions, museums and cinemas. A city always on the front line.
MAP OF ATTRACTIONS IN BRAGA CENTER
WANDER THE STREETS OF BRAGA
The streets of Braga welcome in a magical way those who visit them. The Porta Nova Arch is one of the buildings with more symbolism in the city. This is characterized by its architectural and urban beauty, but also very well known because it is from this arch that comes the expression: “Are you from Braga?”, when we leave the door open. This arch was the first door in the city built in 1512 by Archbishop D. Diogo de Sousa. It is at the end of Rua do Souto that you can reach the Arco da Porta Nova. This is the best known traditional shopping street in Braga and was also built by Archbishop D. Diogo de Sousa in 1412. Diogo de Sousa in 1466. It is an exclusively pedestrian street and it is here that you will find the main monuments such as the Cathedral and the Church of Misericórdia.
We can move on to the Republic Square located in the historic center of the city. The space is completely transformed into a public garden, ideal for a pleasant stroll. It is also known as Arcada located on Central Avenue, a building with several arches where the oldest cafes in the city are located. This place is ideal for resting and having a coffee while contemplating the beauty of the square.
Then we stop at the Largo do Paço, also located in the historic center. This consists of four buildings where the former residence of the Archbishops used to be. In this square are also present the Public Library of Braga and the Noble Hall of the University of Minho. In the center you can also see the Castles Fountain from 1723. To finish this tour through the streets of the city we invite you to also visit the Casa dos Crivos located in Rua de São Marcos. This building is known for being an example of the typical houses of the center of Braga from the 17th century. You can’t miss this beautiful walk through enchanted streets full of history.
MOST IMPRESSIVE MONUMENTS IN BRAGA
To help you plan your cultural visits, we have prepared a map for you. We hope it will be useful!
BRAGA’S CATHEDRAL (SÉ DE BRAGA)
The Cathedral of Braga was the first Portuguese cathedral to exist before the foundation of Portugal. It was designed in the late eleventh century by Bishop D. Pedro. Its architectural details stand out for a mixture of Gothic, Romanesque and Baroque styles. In this real work it is possible to see the imposing and grandiosity of true historical treasures. Its incredible ancient details also include the Tesouro Museu da Sé de Braga. This collection has pieces of enormous architectural value with more than 1000 years of Christian life. By visiting the various rooms of this place you will make a huge trip back in time and fall in love with all the corners and learn about the history of this magnificent city. In addition, the Cathedral of Braga has majestic organs that you can see on the balconies and the tombs of Henry of Burgundy and his wife Teresa of Leon, the parents of King Afonso Henriques. This cathedral is one of the most visited places in the city of Braga and has been classified as a National Monument since 1910.
BRAGA CHURCH OF MERCY (IGREJA DA MISERICÓRDIA DE BRAGA)
The Church of Mercy of Braga is part of the Cathedral, but it is a distinct monument. It was built in 1562 and underwent modifications in the 18th century. It was classified as Property of Public Interest in 1977. Here you can contemplate an altar in baroque carving and an interior with 35 painted wooden panels. As you observe every detail of this place you will also find religious figures such as the image of Our Lady of Mercy. This is undoubtedly the most beautiful and imposing church in the city of Braga and deserves to be visited by everyone.
SAINT GERARD’S CHAPEL (CAPELA DE SÃO GERALDO)
The Chapel of São Geraldo is also part of the Braga Cathedral. It is here that the patron saint of the city of Braga, São Geraldo, is buried. This church dates from the 16th century and over time has undergone some restorations and is covered in gilded woodcarving and tiles by the painter António de Oliveiro Bernardes. It is on Saint Geraldo’s Day that the chapel opens to the public to praise this saint and show the altars full of fruit instead of flowers. A chapel with a lot of history and magnificent corners that you will really want to visit.
BRAGA CITY HALL
The Braga City Hall is located in the Paços do Conselho de Braga. A showy building with a distinct architecture. The current building replaces the previous buildings in a Renaissance style ordered built in the eighteenth century by the Archbishop of Braga, D. José de Bragança. A central building of the city of Braga and cultural heritage considered one of the most remarkable of the Iberian Peninsula. Since 2002 it is classified as Property of Public Interest.
PÓPULO’S CHURCH (IGREJA DO PÓPULO)
Braga is undoubtedly a city full of history and with an incalculable beauty in churches and monuments. The Church of Pópulo was built in the 16th century at the request of Archbishop D. Frei Agostinho de Jesus. It is also in this church that the archbishop is buried since 1623. A large part of this building has undergone restoration work, especially the towers, the facades, floors and closings. Here you can visit the image of the virgin from the Church of Santa Maria do Pópulo in Rome and an important tile covering worth seeing.
MEDIEVAL PALACE OF BRAGA (PAÇO MEDIEVAL DE BRAGA)
This is undoubtedly one of the places you really must include when visiting the city of Braga. The medieval Paço de Braga is currently occupied by the Public Library and the rectory of the University of Minho. All the facades of the buildings face the Largo do Paço and were built at the request of archbishops D. Manuel de Sousa, D. Rodrigo de Moura Teles and D. Agostinho de Jesus. Agostinho de Jesus. The Medieval Paço consists of several buildings and outdoor areas such as the Jardim de Santo Bárbara. A magnificent garden full of history where you can see a building similar to a fortification highlighted by large granite blocks and window openings in ogival arch. A place worth visiting and reminiscent of ancient stories of kings and queens.
PALÁCIO DO RAIO (PALACE OF LIGHTNING)
A magnificent building, full of color and sublime. The Raio palace was built between 1752 and 1755 during the reign of King João V on the initiative of a Knight of the Order of Christ, José Duarte de Faria. Here stand out authentic details of times past such as complete facades of tiles and magnificent interior staircases. Currently, it is an Interpretive Center with more than 10 rooms that shows to those who do not know Braga the true history and richness of the city. In addition, you can contemplate sculptures, paintings, sacred art and consult very important documentation. We recommend in your visit to this Palace to observe carefully the colorful ceilings full of detail. A Palace full of history and magic.
All these tips are perfect for getting to know Braga better. In every corner of this Minho city you can breathe history, cultural richness and people with great value. Fall in love with the oldest city in Portugal!
BOM JESUS DE BRAGA (GOOD JESUS OF BRAGA)
The Sanctuary of the Bom Jesus de Braga as it is also known is one of the most sought after places by visitors, but also by the people of Braga. This shrine was built in devotion to the Senhor Bom Jesus in 1722 by the initiative of D. Rodrigo de Moura Teles. Inserted to this sanctuary is a huge staircase that includes the Bom Jesus Way of the Cross, the oldest elevator in the world and a wooded area where the Bom Jesus Park is located. Its Italian-inspired church was designed by Carlos Amarante and construction began in 1784. This sanctuary is classified as a National Monument and declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
One of the places you can’t miss. The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Sameiro dates from the year 1863, when Father Martinho António Pereira da Silva was vicar in the city of Braga. This shrine is the second most devout place of pilgrims and visitors in Portugal. The basilica consists of two towers with a majestic and grandiose bell carillon. Inside, it is possible to visit the 1.32 meter sacred image of Our Lady with a 2.5 kilogram crown of solid gold. This magnificent work came from Rome in 1880 and was blessed by Pope Pius IX. A beautiful site worthy of a mandatory stop. You will get an incredible view of the city of Braga at an altitude of 566 meters. It is during the pilgrimage season between the beginning of June and the end of August that this place waits for many devotees. Since 2004 the Sanctuary holds the Golden Rose by Pope John Paul II, a distinction for recognizing relevant services to the church or to the city.
BEST VIEWPOINTS IN BRAGA
MAP WITH THE LOCATION OF VIEWPOINTS NEAR BRAGA
Breathe fresh air and enjoy every moment of peace and quiet at the Miradouro do Picoto. This viewpoint offers a 360º view where you can see all the charms of Braga and the mountains that embrace this city. Over the years this place has undergone some changes and is now a huge urban park with native forest. In Monte do Picoto you can also rest and enjoy walking around the park, but also practice some activities such as: climbing, paintball, arborism and others. A must-visit place with a pure contact with nature.
MOUNT SAMEIRO VIEWPOINT
The view you will have at the Miradouro do Monte Sameiro is really privileged. If you are one of those people who love to observe the cities from up high, this is undoubtedly one of the best viewpoints in Braga. Through your true eyes you can contemplate a magnificent green landscape and still see the mountains that surround the city of Braga as the Serra dos Picos, Serra do Carvalho and Monte de Santa Marta. A view and a contact with freedom and authentic nature make Braga one of the favorite cities of its visitors!
OTHER ATTRACTIONS IN BRAGA
BOM JESUS ELEVATOR
To get to the Sanctuary of the Bom Jesus de Braga you can walk up the steps, by car or by elevator. This elevator is an authentic work of engineering from the nineteenth century because it has the system of counterweight water going up the slope of 300 meters in about 3 to 4 minutes. This is operated by the Confraternity of Bom Jesus and connects the upper part of the city to the Sanctuary with a side by side route from the Bom Jesus staircase, ending near the statue of São Longuinho. In 2013 it was classified as a Monument of Public Interest, being also the first funicular built in the Iberian Peninsula.
VIANNA CAFE AND ASTÓRIA CAFE
After an intense walk around the city you need to recharge your batteries. Nothing better than visiting and socializing with friends in the two most emblematic cafes in the city of Braga. The Café Vianna was opened in 1871 and is located in the Arcada building in downtown Braga. An iconic place full of history, visited by numerous national and international personalities for a tasty coffee. Camilo Castelo Branco and Eça de Queirós were also passing references to this place. Café Astória is also an obligatory stop. It is located next to Café Vianna and charms any visitor or citizen of Braga for the beauty and quality of its space. Two places not to be missed!
CENTÉSIMA PÁGINA BOOKSTORE IN BRAGA
A perfect environment surrounded by hundreds of books where tranquility and serenity also reign. This bookstore is located in the Casa Rolão a building classified as of Public Interest since 1977. In this place is preserved the baroque style of the XVII century and true classic works and more recent novelties. One of the most sought after places by visitors for the curiosity in the architecture of this space. In one place you can relax and disconnect a little from the world and buy a book and contemplate true classics. For true lovers of literature and reading pleasure, this bookstore is the right choice for an incredible visit.
A free gallery where art and conviviality come together. This space was founded in 1888 with the name Livraria Cruz and was one of the most respected and beautiful bookstores in the city of Braga. Recently, this space was transformed into a bar and the whole place preserves a little of the history of the bookstore. You can contemplate the facade, the ceiling, the doors and the floor that are totally original. A very pleasant and surprising visit.
BOM JESUS PARK IN BRAGA
A very nice park for a family outing. A very green climate with planted trees and a large artificial lake. In this park there are also trails for walking and horseback riding, and boats for rent to enjoy a ride on the lakes. An incredible place that you must visit in this city!
SANTA BARBARA’S GARDEN
This is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful parks in the city of Braga. The colors of the flowers and vegetation make this place a visit not to be missed. This garden is inserted in the Episcopal Palace of Braga. It is a public garden and since 2018 is classified as Cultural Asset of Municipal Interest.
GARDEN OF THE MUSEUM OF BISCAÍNHOS
A true baroque garden located in Braga and in our country. With more than one hectare and labyrinthine paths and other ornaments make this garden an incredible place. Here you can find countless species of trees and shrubs arranged in different levels and magnificent flowers such as magnolias, japoneiras, tílias, among others.
FONTE DO ÍDOLO
The idol fountain is an ancient monument from Roman times built in the 1st century. This is one of the only remaining monuments from the time of Bracara Augusta. When visiting this water fountain you can contemplate figures carved in granite. A place with a lot of history and recognition by the city that still preserves very important vestiges of past times.
CIRCO DE BRAGA THEATRE
If you are fascinated by theater, this place is undoubtedly enchanting. Considered a Property of Public Interest since 1983, this place also preserves the best of art. It was inaugurated on April 21, 1915 by Artur José Soares, José António Veloso and Cândido Martins. With a main hall and other spaces such as the noble hall you can contemplate the best of theater. A place full of history and truly amazing architecture.
VIRTUAL TOUR TO BRAGA
RIVER BEACH OF ADAÚFE
A true paradise near Braga. This fluvial beach is located in the parish of Adaúfe and is one of the most beautiful fluvial beaches. Bathed by the Cávado river and with a wide grass area this place is perfect for relaxing. It is one of the only fluvial beaches with the recognition of certification of the Administration of the North Hydrographic Region. Take the opportunity to enjoy its crystal clear waters and fantastic waterfalls. In addition, you can count on easy access in sand and pedestrian trails that help you get around. A wonderful place that you won’t want to miss!
MONASTERY OF TIBÃES
And you can’t end your visit to these magnificent places without visiting the Tibães Monastery. This is one of the oldest buildings in the city of Braga. Built between the 10th and 11th century this monastery is classified as Property of Public Interest and one of the most beautiful places to visit. A church with Baroque highlights and iconic images and of immense preciousness. It features incredible works of painting, sculpture, and sacred art, as well as a collection of books on various subjects. Its surroundings are also incredible surrounded by ruins of ancient buildings and verdant gardens. A must-see!
After all these suggestions, Braga will surely convince you with its enchanting sites and magic. Your trip starts here!
TYPICAL BRAGA GASTRONOMY
The typical gastronomy of Braga is to eat and cry for more. Who visits this city will find varied and very juicy typical dishes that span several generations. The quality and freshness in the confection of delicacies are features very present in Braga dishes. Thus, codfish is the dish of choice of this Minho city with its name Bacalhau à Braga or à Narcisa. This dish belonged to Eusébia, a cook from the restaurant “Narcisa” who passed away in 1972 and makes the delights of the people from Braga and those who visit the city. The Pica no Chão rice, the Papas de Sarrabulho and the Braga style Roast Kid are dishes that you also have to try and you certainly won’t regret it. But Braga’s sweets are also second to none with the Pudim Abade de Priscos. This candy is a must in your stop by the Minho city, a true candy with conventual and popular tradition. Tell me if Braga does not eat very well?