My visit to Braga was not at all what I expected, mainly due to the fact that I was still struggling with a cold that had reached the coughing stage and I was totally devoid of all energy. If you read my previous post, Dans L’Atelier Hostel, Braga you will know that I very nearly didn’t go at all but you will also see that the stay in the hostel was the best bit.
However, I am very glad that I did make it and I ended up staying for 3 days. I managed to get out and about for an hour or so each day but that pretty much wiped me out so I have lots of photos but very little in depth information to pass on to you. If you would like to see my all my photos there is a public album on my Facebook profile HERE. I have lots of public albums of my travels on facebook if you want to have a browse.
Where is Braga?
Braga is in the Northern part of Portugal, about 57 km northeast of Porto. There are many trains from Porto each day and it costs less than €4.00 for a ticket. The train leaves from São Bente Train Station which is a definite must see in Porto, as I have already mentioned in several of my blogs. Take a look at my post “Self Guided Walking Tour Porto” (2) to see the station.
What will you find there?
The city itself has a fairly compact historic centre, easy to walk around (unless you are gasping for air like I was). A big advantage over many other places in Portugal is that it is fairly flat and large areas are paved with flagstone rather than cobbles. Oh, the joy of being able to walk with confidence and not worry about breaking a hip!
Braga is considered to be the religious centre of Portugal and the Cathedral is the oldest in Portugal. There is a high density of churches and historic buildings so if that is your thing then Braga could keep you occupied for a couple of days at least. If, on the other hand, you are a whistle stop tour sort of person a day will be plenty to take a quick look around and move on.
Bom Jesus do Monte
There is one other place in particular, about 5 km outside the city, that is a big tourist attraction, Bom Jesus do Monte. I didn’t visit it but you can read about it here in the official website. Be warned, there are approx 580 steps up to it although there is also a water powered vertical tram available.
I found that there is a distinctly different feel to Braga compared to both Lisbon and Porto. It has an air of quiet elegance about it that isn’t apparent in the busyness of the other two cities. There are some lovely shopping streets and arcades with a mix of chain store names that you may recognise, depending where you are from, and independent, high class shops.
Av. da Liberdade
You will find some of the shops along Av. da Liberdade. This avenue does go downhill so keep in mind you will have to walk back up again. Also explore the smaller streets in the city.
There is a municipal market that was being housed in temporary tents when I was there, I assume the original market must be undergoing renovations. This was a little unfortunate in regard to taking photos because around the area where the tents had been erected there were some great buildings but the tents were blocking the view of them.
Final Four Allianz Cup
Also, in another area, the Praça da República there was a major event taking place for the Final Four Allianz Cup. I’m afraid it meant nothing to me apart from a lot of noise but I am guessing there are lots of football fans who would have loved to have been there that particular weekend. I do wonder though if this area of the city is regularly used for a variety of events, it may be worth checking before you plan a visit.
On the Saturday I discovered a flea market wrapped around the building opposite Novo Banco – Centro Private Minho, this is not too far from the Praça da República.
There are some very pleasant gardens and squares to visit in Braga. My favourite was Jardim de Santa Barbara, behind the Archbishop’s Court and further back from there is the Praça do Município and the Jardim da Casa dos Biscaínhos. Opposite my hostel there was a lovely area, the Campo Novo garden.
The House of Sieves
There are many interesting buildings in Braga, too many to mention but I found this place very interesting, The House of Sieves. You can read some detail about it in the second photo.
Braga is well worth a visit and, in my opinion, a stop over for at least one night. Many people visit both Braga and Guimaraes when in this area of Portugal and that had been my original intention but because of my health issues I had to curtail my activities. If you want to read a little about Guimaraes you can do so HERE.
I apologise for the lack of in depth detail but you can certainly find lots more information about both Braga and Guimaraes online. I do hope you will pay both places a visit. Maybe someday I will manage to get to Guimaraes myself.
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