How to Spend One Day in Braga, Portugal

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Braga is a small town north of Porto in Portugal. Although it is small, Braga is definitely worth visiting especially with its long history and amazing architectural styles. The beautiful city is known for its historical and religious landmarks and is frequently referred to as the “Rome” of Portugal.

Paf and N posing in front of the word "braga"

If you’re looking for a charming Portuguese city to spend one day in, look no further than Braga, Portugal. This picturesque city is home to beautiful architecture, delicious food, and plenty of history to explore.

Read more to see how you can take a Braga day trip from Porto.

Top 11 Things to do for one day in Braga

One day in Braga - Arco da Porta Nova

1. Take a Picture in Front of the Arco da Porta Nova (Arch of the New Gate)

The Arco da Porta Nova is a beautiful arch located in the heart of Braga. The arch was built in the 18th century and is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks.

Since it’s an open gate, many Portuguese will refer to Braga as having open doors. The arch is a great place to take pictures as it marks the entrance to the historic city center of Braga.

You’ll find the arch about a short 10-minute walk from the Braga train station. When you pass through the arch, you’ll find multiple restaurants and even the backside of Sé de Braga.

Keep walking though as you’ll come across the Praça da Republica, Avenida de Liberdade, and other interesting sites.

  • Arco da Porta Nova | Address: R. Dom Diogo de Sousa 127, 4700-424 Braga, Portugal
One day in Braga - Praça da Republica

2. People Watch at the Praça da Republica

The Praça da Republica is one of the most popular squares in Braga. The square is a great place to people watch as it’s always filled with locals and tourists alike.

The square is also home to a few notable landmarks, including the Igreja de São Marcos (The church of Saint Mark) and the Igreja de Santa Cruz (Holy Cross Church).

You can also find the popular Avenida de Liberdade here, which is a street lined with shops and restaurants.

The Praça da Republica is a great place to start your day in Braga as it’s centrally located and filled with things to do.

One day in Braga - Igreja de Sao Marcos

3. Visit the Many Churches in Braga

There are plenty of churches in Braga for visitors to explore. Some of the most notable churches include the Igreja de São Marcos, the Igreja de Santa Cruz, and the Sé de Braga.

The Igreja de São Marcos is one of the oldest churches in Braga, having been built in the 12th century. The church is known for its Romanesque architecture and beautiful interior.

  • Igreja de São Marcos | Address: R. de São Bentinho 21, 4700-327 Braga, Portugal

The Igreja de Santa Cruz is another notable church in Braga. The church was built in the 14th century and is known for its Gothic architecture. The interior of the church is just as beautiful as the exterior, with plenty of intricate details to admire.

  • Igreja de Santa Cruz | Address: Largo Carlos Amarante 11, 4700-308 Braga, Portugal

And finally, the Sé de Braga is the oldest church in all of Portugal. The cathedral is known for its Baroque-style architecture and beautiful views of the city. (Read more about this church below.)

Make sure to visit some of these churches during your one day in Braga!

One day in Braga - Paf walking along the Avenida de Liberdade

4. Walk the Avenida de Liberdade

Avenida de Liberdade is the main avenue in Braga that’s home to a few important landmarks. At one end of the avenue is the Praça de Republica, or Republic Square, which is home to the city hall and a few other government buildings.

The other end of the avenue is home to the Igreja do Carmo or the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. This 18th-century church is not quite as interesting as other churches in Braga, but it does have a stunning interior.

In between these two landmarks, you’ll find plenty of shops and cafes to explore as well as a few other churches such as the Igreja de Santa Cruz and the Igreja de São Vicente.

You can also walk alongside the beautiful gardens running parallel to each other down the Avenida de Liberdade as well.

One day in Braga - Sé de Braga

5. Visit the Sé de Braga (Cathedral of Braga)

The Sé de Braga is one of the most important religious landmarks in Portugal as it’s the oldest cathedral in Portugal and is today noted as a National Monument. It’s also a very large cathedral that spans a few blocks in the city center of Braga.

It was built in the 11th century and is a beautiful example of Romanesque architecture. When visiting the Cathedral of Braga, you can’t miss the gilded double organ or the choir stalls.

You can also purchase a ticket and get up close to the organ as well as see the treasury room. Alfonso Henrique’s parents, the first king of Portugal, are also in the Braga Cathedral as well.

  • Sé de Braga | Address: R. Dom Paio Mendes, 4700-424 Braga, Portugal
  • Opening Hours: Daily 9am – 12.30pm I 2.30pm – 5.30pm (Winter) 6.30pm (Summer)
  • Entrance Fee: 2 euros for the cathedral | 5 euros for cathedral + musuem
One day in Braga - Raio Palace

6. See the Beautiful Azulejos of Palacio De Raio (Raio Palace)

The Palacio de Raio was built in the 18th century by a nobleman named João Duarte de Faria that is home to a stunning collection of blue and white tiles.

You’ll be in awe when you walk up to the palace and see the spectacular tiles lining the front of the building. The palace is now open for tours as it is currently a museum.

The entrance fee is 2 euros to enter. You’ll find exhibits of sculptures as well as a few medical documents from when the palace acted as a hospital.

  • Palacio de Raio | Address: Braga Norte 920, 4700-327 Braga, Portugal
  • Opening Hours: Tuesday – Saturday | 10am–1pm | 2:30pm–6:30pm
  • Entrance Fee: 2 euros
One day in Braga - Jardim de Santa Barbara

7. Take Pictures at the Jardim de Santa Barbara (Garden of Santa Barbara)

The Jardim de Santa Barbara is a park located in the center of the city of Braga, Portugal situated behind the archbishop’s palace.

The park is home to a beautiful fountain and a few statues. The most notable statue in the park is the Monument to Santa Barbara, which represents the patron saint of the garden.

The Jardim de Santa Barbara is a great place to relax and take in the sights and sounds of the city.

One day in Braga - Museu dos Biscainhos

8. Visit the Museu dos Biscainhos (Residence of Biscainhos)

The Museu dos Biscainhos was a residence in the city of Braga, Portugal but is now dedicated to the history and art of Portugal. The museum is housed in a beautiful 18th-century palace that was once the residence of the Lago family.

The museum has a large collection of ceramics, furniture, and glassware from the 18th-century residence. Once inside, you’ll also be able to see the Baroque interiors and beautiful azjulejos lining the walls.

Behind the residence, you’ll also find a beautifully manicured garden with terraces and planter boxes filled with vegetables and other plant life.

  • Museu dos Biscainhos | Address: R. dos Biscaínhos s/n, 4700-415 Braga, Portugal
  • Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday | 10am–12:30pm | 2:30pm–5:30pm
  • Entrance Fee: 2 euros; Gardens are free access
One day in Braga - an open street in Braga

9. Wander Through the Old Town of Braga

The Old Town of Braga is full of narrow streets lined with charming shops and cafes. After seeing some important sites of the historic center, continue exploring the streets of Braga.

You wander your way around to Centésima Página, an 18th-century bookstore on Avenida Central, or walk the gardens at Nogueira da Silva Museum.

You could even stop at Doh!, a donut restaurant paying homage to Homer Simpson for a quick snack break.

If you’re visiting Braga in May, you might find yourself in the middle of the Braga Romana, which is a festival filled with entertainment and food lining the streets!

One day in Braga - Bom Jesus de Monte Stairs

10. Explore the Bom Jesus do Monte (Good Jesus of the Mount)

The Bom Jesus do Monte is a hilltop sanctuary in Tenões, a small district about 5 miles outside of Braga, Portugal. This cathedral is one of the most important religious landmarks in the country and is home to a beautiful church, chapels, and gardens.

The sanctuary was built in the 18th century and is reached by climbing up 577 steps to the top! Once the church is in sight, you’ll find a zig-zag pattern going up to the sanctuary with fountains lining the stairs.

The first 5 fountains are meant to represent a different sense such as sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell so you can fully experience the pilgrimage of climbing these steps. The next 3 fountains represent the three theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity.

At the top, you will find panoramic views of the city and the surrounding countryside with even more religious statues surrounding the cathedral itself.

Fun fact: Pilgrims in the past would climb all 577 steps on their knees to experience a fraction of the pain that Jesus Christ felt as he was being crucified on the cross.

To the left of the Bom Jesus do Monte, you’ll find a garden area with a pond full of turtles and a cave of stalactites.

How to Get to the Bom Jesus do Monte

One day in Braga - Paf and N standing in front of a tuk tuk at the top of the Bom Jesus de Monte

Since the Bom Jesus do Monte is outside the city center of Braga, you’ll need to find a way to reach the cathedral. Here are a few ways you can do so:

  1. Ride the bus number 2: You can ride this bus from the Braga train station to the last bus stop, which will drop you off right at the stairs of the Bom Jesus Sanctuary. The bus stop is the one directly outside the train station and the cost is under 2 Euros. You can also take the bus from Avenida da Liberdade, which is where the Praca de Republica is located. When you arrive, you can take the funicular up, which is one of the only cable cars powered with water.
  2. Hire a tuk-tuk with a tour guide: Right in front of the Igreja de Santa Cruz, or the Holy Cross Church, you’ll find a tuk-tuk service that will take you on a Braga City tour as well as drive you to the Bom Jesus do Monte, and even the Sameiro Sanctuary as well. It’s about 50 Euros for a tuk-tuk to the Bom Jesus do Monte.
  3. Go with a tour company: Book a ticket with a tour company and do an organized tour for the day. They’ll take you to the most important sites in Braga, drive up to the Bom Jesus do Monte, and will most likely have a stop in Guimarães as well.

Pro-Tip: If you decide to go up to the Bom Jesus by public transit, purchase the funicular ticket to go up, but walk back down the stairs so you don’t miss out on the beautiful fountains.

  • Bom Jesus do Monte | Address: Estrada do Bom Jesus, 4715-056 Tenões, Portugal
  • Opening Hours: 9am–7pm | Funicular 8am–8pm
  • Funicular Fee: 1.5 Euros
One day in Braga - Sameiro Sanctuary

11. End your Day with a Sunset at the Sanctuary of Sameiro

The Sameiro Sanctuary is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Braga, Portugal. The sanctuary is located on top of Monte Sameiro, a hill outside of the city center, and offers stunning views of the city as well as the surrounding countryside.

The sanctuary is home to a church, a museum, and a few other religious buildings. You can also find plenty of gardens and walking paths to explore.

The best time to visit the Sameiro Sanctuary is at sunset when you can watch the sunset over the city from one of the highest points in Braga.

To get to the Sameiro Sanctuary, take a 30-40 minute hike through the park behind the Bom Jesus de Monte.

  • Sameiro Sanctuary | Address: Av. Nossa Sra. do Sameiro 44, 4715-616 Braga, Portugal
  • Opening Hours: Daily 9am–6pm (Summer) | 10am–5pm (Winter)

Best Places to Eat in Braga

Portugal is known for its delicious food, and Braga is no exception. The city has a variety of restaurants that offer traditional Portuguese dishes as well as international cuisine.

Here are a few of the best places to eat in Braga:

One day in Braga - The inside of Doh! (the donut restaurant)

Café A Brasileira (Brazilian Lady Cafe)

For drip brew coffee or a light snack, Café A Brasileira is a great option. Cafe Brasileira used to be an establishment for the elite who were required to enter with a tie (or well-dressed).

Today, the café has a cozy and charming atmosphere with plenty of outdoor seating.

  • Café A Brasileira | Address: Largo do Barão de São Martinho 17, 4700-328 Braga, Portugal
  • Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday 8am–12am | Sunday 8am–8pm

Frigideiras do Cantinho

This is a great place to go for a quick and affordable meal. Frigideiras are Portuguese puff pastries filled with meat, usually veal, that is similar to an empanada.

Frigideiras do Cantinho is located right around the corner near the Igreja de Santa Cruz with both indoor and outdoor seating.

  • Frigideiras do Cantinho | Address: Largo de São João do Souto 1, 4700-326 Braga, Portugal
  • Opening Hours: 8am–8pm
One day in Braga - the inside of Cafe Vianna

Café Vianna

Café Vianna is another establishment that catered to the elite in the late 1800s. With high ceilings and tall windows, you’ll feel as if you’re eating among the nobility of the past as well.

Café Vianna serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but I would highly recommend going here for lunch. You can sit on the outdoor patio and people watch or go inside to enjoy the beautiful decor.

  • Café Vianna | Address: 4710-251 Braga, Portugal
  • Opening Hours: Sunday – Friday 9am–12am | Saturday 9am–2am
One day in Braga - the sign for Tibias de Braga

Tibias a Braga

This delicious dessert restaurant sits right in front of the Arco da Porta Nova before entering the historic center of Braga, so you can stop off at Tibias a Braga before or after your exploration of the city.

Tibias are a pastry dessert named for their shape (reminiscent of the tibia bone) and are filled with various different fillings from chocolate to strawberry.

Make sure to take a seat inside this dessert shop and enjoy a tibias dessert with a cup of coffee.

  • Tibias a Braga | Address: Av. São Miguel O Anjo 5, 4700-210 Braga, Portugal
  • Opening Hours: Monday – Thursday 7:30am–9pm | Friday 7:30am–7pm | Closed Sundays
One day in Braga - Tibias dessert shaped like the tibia bone (rounded/circular end with an extended piece coming out)
Shape of the Tibias dessert

Cheesecake Story

If you have a sweet tooth, be sure to stop by Cheesecake Story for some delicious cheesecake. The café has a variety of flavors to choose from, and you can even order a custom cake.

The owner makes her cheesecake every day and they are individualized so you can try multiple flavors (if you’re like me) or satisfy your sweet tooth with a small cheesecake pie.

  • Cheesecake Story | Address: R. Dom Diogo de Sousa 20, 4700-422 Braga, Portugal
  • Opening Hours: Tuesday – Friday 1pm–7pm | Saturday 10am–7pm | Closed Sundays + Mondays
One day in Braga - train station

Map of Things to do in Braga

Read Next: 2 Days in Porto – The Perfect Weekend Itinerary

How to Get to Braga – Day Trip from Porto

Train: The best option to get from Porto to Braga is to take public transportation by train. The journey takes about 1 hour from Porto Sao Bento Station and the cost is under 10 Euros round-trip. From the train station, you can take a short walk to the historic city center of Braga.

Car: You can also drive from Porto to Braga, but it’s not the recommended method as parking can be difficult to find in the city center.

Bus: There is a bus that goes from Porto to Braga, but it takes about 2 hours.

Tour: You can also book a tour from Porto that will take you to Braga for the day. This is a great option if you want to visit other sites in addition to Braga, such as Guimarães.

Pro-Tip: When booking your train ticket, get it round trip as the leg back is an open time. This means you aren’t tied to a return time, but you’ll also already have your ticket ready if you’re running late to the train station.

Optional: Braga and Guimarães Tour from Porto

Take a day trip to Guimarães: This nearby city is considered the birthplace of Portugal. Its medieval castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is definitely worth a visit.

If you’re interested in visiting other sites in addition to Braga, consider booking a tour from Porto that will take you to both cities for the day. This is a great option if you want to spend more time exploring the area. The tour will visit important sites in both cities, and will most likely have a stop at the Guimarães Castle as well.

Click here to purchase your tour for Braga and Guimarães.

One day in Braga - avenida de liberdade

The Best Time to Visit Braga

The best time to visit Braga is during the spring or summer months when the weather is warm and sunny. However, the city is also beautiful in the fall when the leaves are changing color.

I would highly recommend visiting in May as the weather is just starting to warm up. November is the least busy and you’ll get the cooler weather for walking around as well and miss the crowds that come during the summer.

Read Next: 39 Beautiful Photos to Inspire Your Portugal Trip

Where to Stay for One Day in Braga

Many people opt to do a day trip from Porto to Braga, but if you’re interested in staying overnight, here are a few recommendations for places to stay:

The Arch: The Arch is a set of apartments located in the heart of Braga, close to all of the major attractions.

You’ll have access to a full studio apartment or a deluxe room with a private kitchenette if you’d like to cook your own meal, too.

Domus 26 Guesthouse – B&B: For a more budget-friendly stay, check out the Domus 26 Guesthouse. It’s also close to all the major attractions in the city center AND breakfast is included!

One day in Braga - woman walking in front of a shop in Braga

How to Pack for One Day in Braga

When packing for a day in Braga, be sure to bring comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. The city is very walkable, so you’ll be doing a lot of exploring on your feet.

However, if you’re visiting in the colder months, it’s also a good idea to bring a light jacket or sweater as the weather can be cool.

If you’re planning on doing any shopping, keep in mind that many of the shops in Portugal close for lunch from 12:30-3 PM so make sure to do all your shopping in the morning or later in the afternoon.

One day in Braga - Art exhibit on the streets of Braga
Art Exhibit being shown when we visited (May 2022)

Final Thoughts on How to Spend One Day in Braga, Portugal

For a charming city to explore in Portugal, be sure to add Braga to your list. This historic city should not be missed if you’re traveling in the northern part of the country.

Is Braga on your Portugal bucket list? Comment below.


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My Favorite Travel Tips + Resources

Here is a quick glance at all my go-to travel tips and resources that I use to plan every trip! For more information, check out my travel resources page.

  • Booking flights: I use Google Flights to check all routes and find the best flights. Then I compare them with Expedia (for reward points) and Skyscanner (for the lowest prices) before I book.
  • Accommodations: I love budget-friendly rentals or booking at a hotel where I can earn points. For hotels, I go through Booking.com or book directly with Marriott (for points + rewards). When I travel internationally, I’ll book through Hostelworld for very budget-friendly stays. For vacation rentals, I usually look through Airbnb, but you could also use Vrbo. Expedia also has some great bundles for hotels, flights, and car rentals altogether.
  • Transportation: For travel in the United States, I love renting through Expedia with Enterprise or Thrifty. They have been consistent and provide the best customer service. For international travel, I’ll book through Rome2Rio or Eurail for trains or bus fares.
  • Travel Credit Card: I book all my travel (flights, hotels, car rentals) through my favorite travel credit card. I also use this card for everything on my trip including dining, excursions, and souvenirs. Apart from earning 5x more points towards free travel, there are amazing benefits: no foreign transaction fees, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement (so I can book worry-free), fraud protection, emergency assistance – it’s really a great deal! Check it out here!
  • Vaccines and Medications: Check the CDC website for updates on necessary vaccines to enter a country, including updates on Covid-19 and recommended places to visit. I recommend getting all the vaccines you need before you go!
  • Tours + Experiences: I absolutely love my tours! Everything from eerie walking ghost tours to food tours, I’ll usually book something every trip either through Viator or GetYourGuide. I also love LastMinute.com for very affordable tickets to theaters and other experiences in Europe.
  • What to Pack: I almost always travel by backpack. For products I like, check out my packing guide page for all the things I take with me on different trips.