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Religious Heritage Site, a Blend of Tradition and Modernity, Keeping Stunning Bom Jesus do Monte Sanctuary.

Braga

Braga is a city of contrasts, which combines history and vitality, perfect choice for a one day trip.

Braga is an ancient city in northern Portugal with unique architecture. It’s a famous center of Catholicism as the residence of the archbishop was established here in the 16th century. The unique Braga landmarks, created in different historical eras, attract the believer and average tourists around the year.

Near the Archbishop's Palace there is a small square with a fountain. In one part there is now an ancient library with 10 thousand manuscripts and 300 thousand books. And in the other, right next to the fountain, is the rector’s office of the University of Minho. The city is divided into 2 parts, old and new. As for Braga tourist attractions, they are located in both parts.

The old city, the entrance to which is framed by the gates of the Arco da Porta Nova, is the main tourist attraction. Previously, there was a medieval road connecting the city with a nearby village. Most of the attractions in Gothic and Baroque style were created in the 18th century.

The historical center consists of the charming squares, beautiful old streets and churches. Some call the city "Portuguese Rome", as in total there are more than 30 churches. One of the most popular spots is the Biscainhos Palace with its amazing facade and lush interior, decorated in the Azulejo style. 

But the main attraction is the sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte. Most tourists are attracted by the Baroque staircase with more than 500 steps at the top of the hill. It is one of the most visited religious sites in Portugal after Fatima. Each level has a fountain. The first of them symbolizes the wounds of Christ, the next five - human feelings, the last three - virtues. At every corner there are chapels decorated with wooden bas-reliefs depicting episodes from the life of Jesus Christ, ending with a scene of the Crucifixion in the church altar. In addition to parks, grottoes and miniature ponds with boats, there are also several cheap and noisy restaurants.

There is the funicular, located right next to the stairs, which is an exciting attraction itself. The funicular, built in 1882, is the first in Portugal. As for Nossa Senhora do Sameiro, it's a must-see place for all the history lovers. It's a 19th-century neoclassical building located on a high hill south of Bom Jesus do Monte.

One more must-visit attraction is Se, a magnificent cathedral, founded in the 11th century on the site of an early Romanesque church. It was completely destroyed in the 16th century, and then expanded in later centuries. The building, kept till our times, is a mixture of several architectural styles. The most notable elements of its structure are the towers in the style of Manueline architecture from the 15th century. Inside the cathedral are kept several Gothic chapels, old tombs and many beautiful wooden features. 

A bit outside the center, 3 km northwest of Braga, there is an elegant chapel of Saint Frutuoso Chapel, one of the oldest Christian buildings in Portugal, destroyed by the Moors and rebuilt in the 10th century. 

After viewing the architecture, it's highly recommended to take a walk in the picturesque gardens and parks. For example, the Santa Barbara Gardens, located on the territory of the Bishop's Palace, are one of the most beautiful in the city. The park was built in the Renaissance style. The flower beds are planted in the correct geometric shape. In the center there is a fountain and a statue of St. Barbara.

It is believed that she protects people from fire, storm and sudden death. Tours to Braga are a great opportunity to get acquainted with religious architecture of various styles. And don’t forget that in the province of Minho there are wineries that make Vinho Verde, “green” wine. The visitors have a chance to know how this slightly sparkling Portuguese drink is made.

 

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All About Braga

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When to Visit

The climatic conditions in Braga are determined by the Mediterranean climate, which is traditional for the central part of Portugal. The summer season is short, warm, and dry, while the winter season is cold and wet. Throughout the year temperatures rarely fall under 0°C, the usual range is from +5°C to +27°C. 

Braga is a city, rich in architecture and sightseeings, opened for visitors round the year. Overall, it experiences a pleasant climate, with distinct seasons offering a variety of outdoor experiences for residents and visitors. Still, before coming here it's highly recommended to check the weather forecast and choose proper clothes and shoes for long walks.

 

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Getting Around

Braga has a developed public transport network, perfect for the exploration of Braga historical sites. The main routes run from the railway station and the central square. From these points you can easily get to the suburbs and neighboring cities using one of 40 routes. The cost of a one way trip around the city is 1.50 euros.

You can purchase tickets onboard or at designated kiosks. You can also buy a full-day pass for 3.25 euros. Additionally, Braga is connected to other major cities in Portugal via the national railway network. The train station, located in the city center, offers connections to destinations like Porto, Lisbon, and beyond. For those who come by car there are all the comfortable options for parking near the main attractions. Also it's possible to rent a car or bike to go into the suburbs, and explore life of locals in Braga outside the historical center.

To get to the Bon Jesus church from the Biscainhos stop, located near the Arco da Porta Nova arch in the Old Town, there is bus number 2.

 

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Travel Information

You can get an unforgettable experience while traveling in Braga if you consider a few simple Braga travel tips:

1. How to make the first trip to Braga unforgettable?

The best time to visit Braga is Easter during Holy Week. Tourists can take part in all the events, getting unforgettable impressions for many years.

Braga is famous for its temples, cathedrals and churches. While visiting it, don't skip the most important one, the cathedral in the central part of the Old Town, built in the Romanesque style. Additionally, the visitors can get Braga cultural experiences by visiting numerous museums. The exhibit in Pius XII Museum, which includes tools from the Paleolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Ages, and a great collection of ceramics from prehistoric and Roman times. In the same building as the Pius XII Museum is located the Medina Museum. The collection, presented here, includes 83 oil paintings, 21 drawings, portraits and landscapes by famous Portuguese artist Enrique Medina.

2. What is a list of Braga hidden gems?

Only 40 minutes away from Braga is the Peneda-Gerês National Park. The park has an unforgettable magic atmosphere like a canvas frozen in time with pure air, crystal clear waters of its lakes, and the granite mountains carved by time. It's one of those places where you'll feel silence and unity with nature. And if that description sounds boring and you'd like to have a more active trip, try visiting Castro Laboreiro, a village where castle ruins are flanked by 16th-century bridges, medieval churches and mills. Great option is to rent a car and go to Soajo, a secluded village overlooking the Lima River and adorned with the famous stone granaries. The landscapes, seen here, are the same as on postcard images of Portugal.

3. What dishes are the must-try in Braga?

Braga is the heart of Minho, the region with a rich authentic cuisine. There are many examples of unique dishes, such as the famous Caldo Verde, considered one of the seven culinary wonders of Portugal. One more option for all the lovers of seafood is Braga cod. Add the traditional Papas de Sarrabulho and the centuries-old Abade de Priscos pudding to your meal to get your own impression of the regional kitchen.

The traditional cataplana soup is one more highlight of Braga local cuisine. The soup is prepared in an interesting pan, consisting of two hemispheres with locks. In some recipes it's filled with cod, octopus, monkfish, etc. One more unique dish is the horseshoe-shaped Alheira de Mirandela sausage, which also combines several types of meat other than pork. It’s also worth trying the desserts that are famous throughout Portugal. Pastel de nata, puff pastry with cream, is also a traditional must-have.

 

Top Attractions Near Braga

Explore Braga's excellent selection of attractions, from ancient historic wonders to vibrant cultural sightseeing

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Frequently Asked Questions

Get clear and useful insider tips for the most common queries about Braga

Are there any traditional Braga festivals or must-visit events?

Yes, Braga is a great place to see different kinds of celebrations throughout the year. As for the most interesting, among them should be mentioned St. John's celebrations in June, the Holy Week processions, the Roman Festival, and International Folklore Festival.

 

What is the nightlife like in Braga?

The nightlife in Brage offers options for any choice. There are plenty of live music venues in local clubs and bars. The most popular spots for evening entertainment for both locals and tourists are Rua do Souto and Rua dos Chaos.

What are the options for accommodation in Braga?

There are numerous accommodation options for those who want to come to Braga for a few days. Pay attention to the boutique hotels housed in historic buildings, guesthouses with traditional decor, and rural retreats, typical for Braga countryside.