Braga is one of the most surprising cities in Portugal to visit. If you are looking for a city with many historic buildings and narrow streets where there is always something different to see, Braga is the city for you to visit. The main reason to travel to Braga is to visit the pilgrimage site of Bom Jesus do Monte. This cathedral is, without a doubt, the most beautiful cathedral in Portugal and in our opinion one of the most beautiful buildings in Europe.
You can visit Braga as a day trip from Porto or stay longer. In this article, you can read everything you need to know before visiting Braga. This is to answer the question ‘things to do in Braga’.
Things to do in Braga
Braga is a city where you see fewer tourists compared to the more famous places such as Porto. This makes the atmosphere different and you can better experience the culture of Portugal. We recommend doing the 10 activities that we have put together.
Tip: use the map of Braga below to see where the best things in Braga can be found. Click on the top right corner to enlarge the map. If you click on the star symbol next to the title you can save this map in your Google Maps account. In the folder, you can show or hide different categories. You can then use this map to navigate when you are at your destination.
#1 Bomb Jesus do Monte
Without a doubt, the best thing to do in Braga is to visit Bom Jesus do Monte. Even if you are passing through Portugal and you do not have that much time, we still recommend visiting Bom Jesus do Monte and then continuing your journey. Of course, visiting Braga is also worth a visit if you have the time.
Bom Jesus do Monte is located on a mountain outside the city to the east. The great thing about Bom Jesus do Monte is the view you have and all the greenery around you. It is a pilgrimage site that is visited by travelers all over the world. The building dates from the 14th century and is magnificent to see because of its architectural style. Also, go up and down the stairs to see different statues during this walk. You also have gardens on the sides where you can sit on a bench and enjoy the view.
The best way to reach Bom Jesus do Monte is by car, public transport, or the funicular. With a car it is easy, you can park it along Bom Jesus do Monte for €3 / $3. If you are in the center you can take bus 88 and get off at the stop República II, a single ticket costs €1.55 / $1.55. From this place, you can climb the stairs. Another option is to use the cable car instead of walking up the stairs, this costs €2.50 / $2.50.
#2 Braga Cathedral
In the center of Braga, the Sé Catedral building is the most impressive building to visit. Historically, this is one of the most important buildings in Portugal as it is the oldest cathedral in Portugal. The building dates from the 11th century. The nice thing about visiting the cathedral is that you see different influences because the building has been adapted over the years.
During your visit, you will see several chapels, the tombs where, for example, the first king of Portugal lies, and a museum with important treasures. Even when you are inside, you only see how largest this building is because of the enormous columns and pillars. You can buy a ticket on the spot, a regular ticket costs €3 / $3 per person.
#3 Behold Praça da República
If you walk through the center of Braga you are guaranteed to pass Praça da República. This is Braga’s main square and is fun to walk around and see how impressive the surrounding buildings are. You will see old mansions decorated in colors and the old basilica. There are several shops where you can buy products and it is also worth walking into the tourist office if you are looking for specific information.
Markets or festivals are often organized in this square, when we were there the army held open days. This was fun to walk by as you could sit in tanks and planes.
#4 Stroll through the cozy street R. de São Marcos
When you stroll through the center you pass many streets and buildings, but the street R. de São Marcos is a street that you do not want to miss. This street extends from Praça da República and takes you to the Largo Carlos Amarante square, which we will tell you more about in the next point.
The street R. de São Marcos is a small street that you can easily walk through. The nice thing is when we were here that the whole street was covered with flags and you could buy delicacies everywhere. It could be that at the moment when you are there this is not the case.
#5 Visit Largo Carlos Amarante Square
The square Largo Carlos Amarante is a lot smaller and can easily be skipped, as it can be reached via a side street. The beauty of this square is the terraces on one side and the churches of St. Marcos and Santa Cruz on the other. The surprising thing about this square is that it is much quieter compared to other parts of Braga, giving it a different atmosphere. It is also worth taking a look inside both churches, both are free to visit.
The Church of St. Marcos is built next to the hospital of Braga and was built in the 18th century and is a special piece of architecture because the tower is symmetrical. You can also see life-size apostles in the balustrade. Inside you will be surprised by the beauty, especially the wall paintings with all the angels are beautiful to see. The Church of Santa Cruz dates from the same time, namely the 18th century and is very subtle inside with the details. For both churches, you don’t need much time.
#6 Garden of Santa Barbara
Another nice place to visit is the garden of Santa Barbara. Here you can escape the busyness of the city and surround yourself with many plants. The garden can be visited daily for free. The garden is located along the old palace so you can see the old walls with the garden which is a cool view. Many young people from Braga come to this part of the city because it is the most romantic place in the city.
Tip: buy ice cream in advance and enjoy it on one of the benches.
#7 Tuk tuk tour
If you want to do something surprising that you can often only do in Asia, it is also possible to do this in Braga, namely a tuk tuk tour. During this tuk tuk tour, you will pass the main historical and archaeological highlights of Braga. The great thing about a tuk tuk tour is that you drive through the narrow streets, which is not possible with large buses. This allows you to see a lot of the city in a short period of time.
If you are curious about a tuk tuk tour, you can read more information via the link and easily buy your ticket.
#8 More Important Buildings
In Braga, you can see a lot of historical and religious buildings. With Bom Jesus do Monte, Sé Catedral, basilica, St. Marcos and Santa Cruz you have already visited many religious buildings. If you like to see more buildings, the Sameiro church is an option. This church is located on the same mountain as Bom Jesus do Monte and is a 30-minute walk from each other. Many pilgrims walk this route, if you find this interesting you can also do this.
Another interesting place to visit in Braga is Campo Novo, a Portuguese square surrounded by buildings with red roofs. In the center of the square is a statue surrounded by centuries-old trees.
There are 8 museums in Braga, the most important to visit is the Biscaínhos Museum. Here you will learn how the nobility lived in the palace in the 18th century.
#9 The Palace of Braga
The Palace of Braga, also called Palacio Do Raio, is located in the center and is completely different from the other buildings you can find in Braga. This is because the palace is decorated with blue tiles and therefore looks very cool. Whether you want to see the palace from the inside or not, we recommend that you see it anyway. Inside the palace is a museum that you can visit for free. We liked the palace to see only the museum did not appeal to the imagination, in our opinion you can skip this.
#10 Take a nice day trip
If you stay in Braga for a few days it is nice to do a day trip. There are many possibilities, we have visited the places Peneda Gerês National Park, Porto, and the Douro valley which are not that far from Braga. There are more options, only we recommend one of these three places because these are the highlights in the region.
If you look for variety, Peneda Gerês National Park and the Douro Valley are the best choices. Peneda Gerês National Park is the only national park in Portugal, here you can find impressive nature. The Douro Valley is ideal for a day trip if you like wine and would like to learn more about it. Just like Braga, Porto is a city, only Porto has a lot more to offer.
Day trip Braga from Porto
If you are short on time, for example, if you are doing a city trip in Porto for a few days, you can make a nice trip by visiting Braga. You can do this independently or organize with a tour. The advantage of a tour is that all activities connect seamlessly and it is cheaper than doing it independently. We recommend this tour to do as a day trip to Braga from Porto because you will visit the highlights of Braga but also visit Guimarães where you can visit an ancient castle.
If you want to visit Braga independently from Porto, you can easily buy public transport tickets here.
How many days do you need for Braga
We recommend that you stay 1 full day in Braga and continue your journey the next morning. In 1 day you have enough time to visit the cathedral outside Braga and the historic center. If you want to visit all the museums it is too short. In our opinion when you visit Lisbon and Porto you will visit enough museums so it is not necessary to visit all the museums in Braga.
Where to stay in Braga
It is best to choose an accommodation in the historic center because when you stay 1 night in Braga it is too much hassle if your accommodation is far outside the center. We recommend the two accommodations below, as they are good value for money. They are well located so you can walk to everything. For the two accommodations below, it is important not to wait too long to make a reservation because they are fully booked quickly.
Luxe & huge space
The Arch is an apartment complex that is nice to stay because in the evening you can enjoy the luxury that the apartments offer. In the morning you can start the day on the terrace. If you don’t want to spend too much money this is the place for you.
Vila Gale Collection Braga
Vila Gale Collection Braga is a 4-star hotel is located in an old palace from 1508. It is a unique accommodation because you feel like you are staying in a museum, but with all the luxuries of today. The breakfast is excellent and the rooms are attractive. It is highly recommended if you want something different than a standard hotel.
Where to eat in Braga
In the historic center of Braga, you can find many dining options. We recommend having breakfast at your accommodation. If this is not possible, it is best to have breakfast at Semente – Art, Coffee & Plant Based Food, this is a nice place because everything is vegan and surprisingly tasty. This is also a good place to visit in the afternoon or evening. In the afternoon we recommend eating at DONNA SÉ, where you can order good lasagna. Another recommendation is Nórdico Coffee Shop, here you can order pancakes or a muesli bowl.
In the evening, Casa de Pasto das Carvalheiras is the nicest place, as it is a cozy place that is loved by travelers for its value for money. Highly recommended to order the burger or one of the many bean dishes.
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Transportation in Braga
In the historic center, it is easiest to do everything on foot. A large part is not accessible for vehicles. If you are in the historic center and you want to reach Bom Jesus do Monte, you can easily take a bus in the center.
How to get to Braga
Braga can be easily reached from Porto. Also from Peneda Gerês National Park, the Douro Valley, and places south of Porto such as Coimbra. If you follow our itinerary of Portugal you will visit Braga from Geres.
If you are doing a road trip through Portugal, you can park your car at one of the two accommodations that we recommend. It is not necessary to have a car, as you can easily reach Braga by train from Porto.
For reference, see below how long it takes to reach Braga from the popular spots in Portugal:
- Porto to Braga: 45 minutes | 55 km / 34 miles
- Geres village to Braga: 55 minutes | 42 km / 26 miles
- Douro Valley to Braga: 1 hour 15 minutes | 125 km / 77 miles
- Coimbra to Braga: 1 hour 45 minutes | 175 km / 108 miles
If you travel to Portugal by plane and you are looking for a car to rent, you can rent it through Rentalcars. We use Rentalcars when we want to travel by car to discover new destinations. They’re easy to use and book with.
The best time to visit Braga
You can do a city trip in Braga all year round because of the pleasant temperature. The best period is spring to autumn (March to November). Winter (December to February) is still a great month to visit Braga because despite the lower temperatures you do a lot of activities indoors so the weather has not a huge impact. Average temperatures in spring are 18°C / 64°F, in summer 26°C / 78.8°F, autumn 17°C / 62.6°F and in winter 8°C / 46°F.
Please note that the prices in July and August are higher than the other months, due to the school holidays in Europe.
Do you want to see more in Portugal?
From Braga, you can visit different places. The most obvious places are Porto, Peneda Gerês National Park, or the Douro Valley. Porto is the nicest city in Portugal where you can visit the most beautiful historic buildings. It is a nice city for a city trip because there is a lot to do for 2 to 3 days. Peneda Gerês National Park is the only national park in Portugal and is recommended to visit if you like nature. The Douro Valley is a top place to visit for a few days, here you can drive through the hills and visit several Quintas to taste wine.
We have prepared a 3-week itinerary for Portugal and it is useful to view to get inspiration to build your itinerary. If you follow our itinerary, Porto is your next destination.
What do you think of Braga? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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