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Explore Guimaraes With logo

The Birthplace of Portugal, UNESCO World Heritage Site with the Iconic Guimaraes Castle.

Guimaraes

Guimaraes is a city that played a fundamental role in the formation of the country, preserving the Majestic Castle of Guimaraes.

Guimaraes, the first capital of independent Portugal, is famous for its perfectly kept historical buildings with an unforgettable medieval atmosphere with an ancient castle. The castle is basically a fortress, which protected the city for many centuries from attacks by the Moors and Normans. Nowadays the first Portuguese capital is a popular holiday destination with a colorful old city center, included in the list of World Heritage Sites. This unique complex illustrates a significant period of history.

The first attraction to be seen in historic Guimaraes is the central square Largo da Oliveira Square, named after an ancient olive tree, which is several centuries old. In a short walk distance from here is the Guimaraes castle, an important medieval monument, built in the 10th century. It has a long and tangled history and has undergone a number of changes, but still kwot till out times in its medieval beauty and prosperity. At the end of the 15th century, it couldn't be used as a fortress anymore due to the time changes. The monument has a mystic aura of interesting legends. At the same time, it's one of the first national monuments, fixed in photographs in 1881. More than a thousand years ago there was an ancient monastery, and only two hundred years later after a long rebuilding process appeared the castle. Nowadays, tourists have an opportunity to visit it, walking around the moors and ancient halls, perfectly kept till our times, enjoying gorgeous views of the surrounding area. 

Other famous historical monuments are also located within a short distance from the central square. The Church of Our Lady of Oliveira is on the list of the most beautiful religious monuments in the city, built in the 14th century. This striking monument is in the Gothic style, keeping numerous interesting artifacts within its walls. In the focus of attention is a beautiful altar, which was installed here in the 18th century, and carefully kept till our times.

One more place to visit is the Palace of the Dukes of Braganza, one of the most significant in the town. The palace was created in the 15th century on the model of Burgundian palace complexes, bristled with numerous turrets and needle-chimneys.

A very interesting object of Guimaraes tourism is the Chapel of São Miguel do Castelo, a miniature chapel in the Romanesque style, built in the 12th century with an impressive massive stone. There is a legend that Afonso Henriques,

the future famous king of Portugal, was baptized in this chapel. Even the font that was used for baptism is preserved.

To create a full impression of the city, Guimaraes city guide recommends the visitors to open up the curtain of the cultural side of it. The Martin Sarmento Museum, founded in 1885, and named after the famous archaeologist, is one of the most meaningful objects. Additionally, it’s one of the oldest and largest museums in Europe. The founder dedicated his life to the exploration of the territory of the city and its surroundings, discovering hundreds of interesting artifacts. 

But the historical heritage is not everything as the natural treasures, such as Mount Peña, are no less valuable. To see the nature and breathtaking landscapes of Guimaraes in all its beauty, the visitors should see Park on Penha Hill, walk alone on hidden paths, admiring the lush greenery around. It's possible to get here by rented car or by cable car as transport. The second option is the best choice for the first visit since during the trip you can appreciate the beauty of these places.

At the end of the day, it's highly recommended to visit one of the many local restaurants. The pleasure of dining in the heart of the city and the view would create a great memory from the visit.

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All About Guimaraes

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When to Visit

The best time to visit Guimaraes is between April to November, when there is warm weather without rain, as on most of the territory of Portugal. Spring and autumn average temperatures are between 15 to 22.2° C, perfect for outdoor activities and exploration. Summer from June to August is a high season, when the temperature may exceed 30° C, hence, it is not the best time for visitors to dive into the Guimaraes history without the crowds. Due to the increase in tourists, the accommodation costs will be at a year-long high during this season. The winter season is quite cold, with an average temperature of around 0° C, so it can be not comfortable to express the city this time, but still, all the main attractions are available.

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Getting Around

Guimaraes is a small city, so it's easy to explore it on foot to see all the meaningful spots. It's highly recommended to prepare the most comfortable shoes to walk around and see all the most significant places. As for the transport, there are also the options. In case you want to see the  sightseeings around, for longer distances there is a taxi service. It's easy to get to nearby towns by bus from the local bus station. As for those who come here by car, there is a comfortable parking area, from where it's easy to start the sightseeing tour. Guimaraes is connected with big cities and is accessible via major highways like the A3 and A7. It's about a 50-minute drive from Porto and around 3 hours from Lisbon, depending on traffic and road conditions. If you prefer rail transport, it is easy to get from Braga or Porto.

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Travel Information

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

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

The trip to Guimaraes is like traveling through the times, from one historical era to another as it's a perfect blend of historical and cultural monuments, green parks, and peaceful life flow. In the center of attention of all visitors is the royal palace, which is reminiscent of the times of the city’s prosperity, and the best example of medieval architecture. After restoration, this palace began to serve as the residence of the President of Portugal. The architecture of Guimaraes UNESCO spots, such as the monastery of Nossa Senhora da Oliveira, the Doge's Palace, and the building of the Church of St. Francis, is also unique. The monastery today houses a number of interesting items of historical significance. Among them are the weapons of King João I, which can be seen by all the visitors in an open exhibition.

2. What is a list of Guimaraes hidden gems?

Guimaraes is small, but still rich in historical, cultural, and religious sightseeings. Some of Guimaraes attractions are not so popular but still deserve attention. 

Nearby there is the beautiful garden Jardim do Lugar das Hortas, perfect for walking and taking a break from the hustle and bustle of the world. One more excellent place to relax is Mini Golfe – Penha. Here it’s possible not only to play everyone’s favorite game, but also enjoy the views of breathtaking landscapes. Those who are looking for leisure activity should visit Foxtrot Aventura with paintball, zip lining, and canyoning. A considerable dose of adrenaline here is guaranteed. And if you take Teleférico de Guimarães lift, you'll witness the beautiful views of the Pigna hills. 

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

Guimaraes local cuisine is typical to the rest of Portugal, it's rich in seafood and meat, natural ingredients, and minimal cooking to keep the real taste of high-quality products. Both small cafes and fashion restaurants offer a great variety of barbecues for smoking over coals or wood cooking. The aroma is so exquisite and unique that no one can stay indifferent. Additionally, the residents of Guimaraes, not without reason, value all kinds of pickled foods. Cooking meat for barbecues using this method is especially common. There is a wide variety of smoking meat over coals or wood, and every cooker has its own secrets. But in most cases, the meat product is marinated a couple of days before cooking. Light wines, as well as heads of garlic, lemon juice, and black pepper, can be added as seasoning. Typical Portuguese bakery such as the Pastel de nata is the best accompaniment for the meal.

Top Attractions Near Guimaraes

Explore Guimaraes' excellent selection of attractions, from ancient historic wonders to vibrant cultural sightseeing.

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Braga

One of the most significant religious heritage sites of Portugal, this ancient city is a famous center of Catholicism. Braga is a city of contrasts, which combines history and vitality, the perfect choice for a one-day trip.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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

Are there any regular festivals or cultural events in Guimarães throughout the year?

Yes, the Festas Gualterianas, dedicated to the city's saint spirit, is held in Guimarães in August. Additionally, there are the Semana Santa festivities before Easter. The dates and details of all events can be changed, so it's recommended to check them before visiting.

What are the unique souvenir options to be bought in Guimarães?

This region is famous for locally crafted items such as pottery, embroidered textiles, or ceramics. You can also find specialty food products like traditional pastries to bring back home and share with your nearest and dearest.

Are there any nearby places for the trip from Guimarães, worth visiting?

Yes, the stunning Peneda-Gerês National Park is also a perfect place for outdoor adventures. As for the nearby city of Braga, it is famous for the historic sites such as the Bom Jesus do Monte Sanctuary, and its beautiful architecture.