Braga, Portugal | A 2-day itinerary

Braga was founded around the 1st century BC, as a Roman settlement and was called Roma Portuguesa. However, it didn’t last long before the Germanic tribes invaded it from the north and took control. Many centuries passed by, before the city of Braga was claimed by the Portuguese. During the Reconquista, the city of Braga became the main religious center of Portugal. Thus, lots of religious buildings were built in this region during that time.  

Braga, Portugal | A 2-day itinerary

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Today, Braga is the third biggest city in Portugal after Lisbon and Porto. The city is set in the Minho region of Portugal and is close to the border with Spain. Braga is also one of the wealthiest cities in Portugal, which makes it a desirable place to live for many. Additionally, the city attracts a large number of visitors due to its rich culture and history, which can be seen everywhere. As the religious center of Portugal, Braga became home to many monasteries and churches. Among them is the Sé de Braga, which is the oldest cathedral in Portugal and the seat of the Archdiocese.

Unlike Porto and Lisbon, Braga is more chilled out and quiet. It is not very crowded and one can explore the city at peace and without any rush. Due to this fact, Braga is usually recommended as a day trip from Porto. In a day, one can easily visit all of the city’s religious marvels and have some time to rest and relax as well.

This 2-day Braga itinerary, by Alexandrina from Earthosea, features some of the city’s most notable monuments and is ideal for a first time visitor. Take a look.

How to get to Braga?

Getting to Braga is fairly easy. The city is only an hour away from Porto and one can use various means of transportation to reach Braga. If transportation is needed from Porto’s airport to Braga, then one can use GetBus, which costs 8 euros one-way. The bus ride usually takes less than an hour and is pretty convenient. However, most people prefer to use the train and one can be caught either at Sao Bento station or at Campanha. The ticket price is around 4 euros and the ride takes around an hour and a half.

Things to do in Braga on Day 1

Bom Jesus do Monte

Starting the day by first visiting Bom Jesus do Monte is suggested, as to avoid the crowds of people around noon. The easiest way to get to Bom Jesus do Monte from Braga is by catching bus number 2. The ride costs 1.65 euros and in less than 30 minutes you will be in front of the funicular that takes people to the sanctuary.

Bom Jesus do Monte is probably the most visited landmark in the region. Back in the days, Bom Jesus do Monte used to welcome lots of pilgrims walking on the El Camino path. They would usually climb up the stairs of Bom Jesus do Monte to the top on their knees to show their devotion and gratitude to God. 

Bom Jesus do Monte in Braga

Bom Jesus do Monte in Braga

The religious landmark was finished in the 18th century and is a prominent symbol of Braga. Its staircase is a jaw-dropping Baroque masterpiece. It is known as the Sacred Way and is built in a zig-zag way. To get to the top of the monument, one has to climb all of its 577 stairs, which lead to the Basilica of Bom Jesus do Monte and its garden.

Climbing the stairway of Bom Jesus do Monte is an absolute must. During the climb one can witness some of the most fascinating fountains of the religious complex. Some of the popular fountains are the fountain of the Wounds of Christ and the fountain of the Five Senses. At the end of the stairway is the fountain of Virtues, which represents the fountain of Faith, Charity and Hope.

If for some reason you prefer to use the funicular to get to the top of Bom Jesus do Monte you can simply get a one-way ticket for 1.50 euros. The ride usually takes around 20 minutes and goes through a tough terrain and a forest.

Sameiro Sanctuary

After visiting Bom Jesus do Monte you can head to Sameiro Sanctuary. Just behind Bom Jesus, there is a pathway that leads through its pond and then to the pathway to Sameiro Sanctuary. Usually, it takes around 30 minutes of walking to get to Sameiro Santuary from Bom Jesus. The pathway goes through a little forest and is a fairly easy route. 

Sameiro Santuary in Braga

Sameiro Sanctuary was built around the 18th century and was dedicated to Virgin Mary. It is Portugal’s biggest shrine and is among one of the most important religious buildings in the country. Inside the shrine one can observe its beautiful arches and the huge altar dedicated to Virgin Mary. Outside the shrine, one can enjoy some of the most beautiful views over the city of Braga.

Unlike Bom Jesus do Monte, Sameiro Sanctuary is not so well-known and most of the tourists often overlook it. However, it is a very beautiful place to visit in the hills of Braga and is for sure worth the time and effort.

Getting down to the city of Braga from Sameiro Sanctuary is fairly easy with bus no 88, which stops at the bus stop in front of the entrance of the religious complex. It departs every 30 minutes and the ride to Braga takes around the same time.

Things to do in Braga on Day 2

Braga’s City Center

Braga’s city center is quite easy to navigate and does not require lots of walking around to get from one landmark to another. As you can imagine, there are lots of religious buildings in the city, due to Braga being the religious center of Portugal. 

Braga’s city center

One of the churches in Braga that needs a special mention is the Igreja de Santa Cruz. This is one of the most visited churches (by the locals) in Braga. And this is due to the local legend associated with it. As per the legend, if a person can find the two roosters on the façade of the church he or she will get married the same year. Thus, since the Portuguese are quite religious, they usually come here to look for answers to their most sacred wishes.

After visiting the church, one can head to Raio Palace, which is close to Igreja de Santa Cruz. It is one of the most well-known Baroque buildings in the city. In the past, the palace was the residence of a wealthy Portuguese merchant. However, today the palace is more of a museum housing incredible collections of sculptures, paintings and sacred books. It is definitely worth a visit. Worth mentioning here is the fact that the entrance to the palace is free from Tuesday until Saturday. 

Raio Palace in Braga

Another landmark that is worth visiting is the Arco da Porta Nova. This is one of the oldest gates to the city and dates back to the 16th century. Most of the people visit it, so they can enjoy the beautiful golden hour.

If you are a fan of gardens, then Jardim de Santa Barbara is your place. It is next to the Castle of Braga which has just one of its towers left and which can be climbed for free by those interested. From there one can enjoy beautiful views over the city of Braga.

Sé Catedral de Braga

Sé Catedral is the oldest religious building in Portugal and the first building ever built in Braga. The cathedral of Braga is located in the heart of the city center surrounded by residential buildings. Its exterior is typical of the Portuguese architectural style - Manueline.

On the inside, the cathedral is covered in rich, golden ornaments from top to bottom. All of the ornaments on the top are accompanied by purple flags, which are traditional for Braga. The ceiling of the cathedral is an incredible artwork and is said to be the most beautiful in Portugal.

There is an entrance fee of 2.50 euros to enter the cathedral of Braga. The cathedral can be visited every day during the week.

Where to stay in Braga?

Braga offers accommidation in all budgets and to cater to all choices. Whether you are looking for B&Bs, inns, guest houses or hotels, you will find everything in Braga and the surrounding areas.

Click here to compare and book hotels in Braga.

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