Uncovering the Charm of Braga: A Complete Guide to Portugal’s Cultural Capital

Do you know why is Braga known as Portugal’s Cultural Capital?

Braga is known as Portugal’s cultural capital for several reasons. Firstly, it is one of the oldest cities in the country, with a rich history dating back to Roman times. This history is reflected in the many beautiful churches, monasteries, and other historical landmarks that can be found throughout the city.

Secondly, Braga has a strong religious heritage. The city is home to many religious institutions, including the Sé Cathedral, one of the oldest in Portugal, and the Bom Jesus Sanctuary, which is a stunning 18th-century church located on a hilltop overlooking the city.

Lastly, Braga is known for its vibrant student population, which is attracted by the city’s two universities. This results in a lively atmosphere and a variety of cultural and nightlife options.

Here are 10 places to stay for different budgets and 10 things to do in the city:

What to do in Braga?

1. Visit the Sé Cathedral

2. Explore the Bom Jesus Sanctuary

3. Visit the Palácio do Raio

4. Take a walk through the historic city center

5. Visit the Braga Castle

6. Take a day trip to the nearby towns of Guimarães and Barcelos

7. Try the local cuisine

8. Visit the Monastery of Saint Martin of Tibães

9. Enjoy nightlife in Braga

10. Bonus Tip: Try Explorial

Where to stay in Braga?

1. Ibis Budget Braga Centro

2. Basic Braga by Axis

3. Vila Galé Collection Braga

4. Melia Braga Hotel & Spa

5. B&B Hotel Braga Lamaçães

6. Hotel Dona Sofia

7. Hotel Senhora A Branca

8. Urban Hotel Estação

9. Villa Theatro Heritage Apartments

10. Hotel Moon & Sun Braga


What to do in Braga?

1. Visit the Sé Cathedral

The Sé Cathedral in Braga, Portugal is a beautiful and historic cathedral that dates back to the 12th century. The cathedral is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and it is one of the most important religious buildings in the country. The architecture of the cathedral is a mix of Romanesque and Gothic styles, and it features a stunning facade with intricate carvings and sculptures. Inside, visitors can see beautiful stained-glass windows, as well as a number of important artworks and artifacts. The cathedral also has a museum that houses a collection of religious relics and artifacts. The Sé Cathedral is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Braga, and it offers a glimpse into the rich history and culture of the region.

2. Explore the Bom Jesus Sanctuary

The Bom Jesus Sanctuary in Braga, Portugal is a beautiful and historic sanctuary that is located on a hilltop overlooking the city. The sanctuary is a popular pilgrimage site and it is known for its Baroque architecture and stunning views. The sanctuary was built in the 18th century, and it features a grand staircase with several chapels, each with its own unique decoration. The main attraction is the statue of the Good Jesus, which is located at the top of the sanctuary, it is a beautiful statue made of marble which depicts the Jesus Christ carrying the cross. The Sanctuary also offers a beautiful garden with a panoramic view of the city. Visitors can take the funicular, a cable car that goes up the hill to the sanctuary, or take the 515 steps that lead up to the sanctuary. It’s a great spot to visit for those looking for a nice panoramic view and some peace.

3. Visit the Palácio do Raio

Palácio do Raio is a beautiful 18th century palace located in the city of Braga, Portugal. The palace was built for a wealthy merchant and it is an excellent example of the Baroque architecture that was popular during that time. The palace features a grand entrance with a marble staircase, beautiful frescoes and paintings, and intricate woodwork. Inside, visitors can see the grand ballroom and several other beautifully decorated rooms, such as the chapel and the library. The palace is now used as a venue for events such as concerts and exhibitions. The palace also has a beautiful garden with a pond and a nice view. The palace is open to visitors and it is a great spot to visit for those interested in history and architecture. The palace is located in the heart of the city, near other important attractions such as the Sé Cathedral and the Bom Jesus Sanctuary.

4. Take a walk through the historic city center

The historic city center of Braga, Portugal is a charming and picturesque area that is full of historic buildings and landmarks. The city center is home to several important religious buildings, including the Sé Cathedral, the Bom Jesus Sanctuary, and the Sanctuary of Sameiro. The city center is also home to several museums such as the Martins Sarmento Museum, which houses a collection of art and artifacts from the region. Visitors can also explore the beautiful gardens and parks in the city center, such as the Passeio dos Clérigos and the Jardim de Santa Bárbara. The city center also has a variety of shops, cafes and restaurants, perfect for a stroll around the city. The city center is a great place to explore the history, culture, and architecture of Braga, and it is a must-see destination for anyone visiting the city.

5. Visit the Braga Castle

The Braga Castle is a medieval fortress located in the city of Braga, Portugal. The castle is believed to have been built in the 9th century, during the reign of the Visigothic King Afonso III. The castle was later used by the Moors and the Christian kings of Portugal. The castle has been rebuilt and restored over the centuries, and it has been used for various purposes, including as a palace, a prison, and a military fortress. Today, the castle is open to the public and it offers a great view of the city. Visitors can explore the castle’s walls and ramparts, and see the remains of the castle’s various structures, such as the keep and the towers. The castle also has a small museum where visitors can learn more about the history of the castle and the city. The castle is a great spot to visit for those interested in history and fortifications, it is located on a hilltop and offers a nice panoramic view of the city.

6. Take a day trip to the nearby towns of Guimarães and Barcelos

Guimarães and Barcelos are two small towns in Portugal known for their rich history and traditional culture. Guimarães, also known as the “birthplace of Portugal,” is home to the Castle of Guimarães, a medieval fortress that played a crucial role in the country’s history. The town also has a well-preserved historic center, with narrow streets lined with traditional houses and the Palace of the Dukes of Braganza, a beautiful medieval palace. Barcelos is known for its pottery, and for the traditional ceramic rooster that is a symbol of the town. Visitors can see the production of these ceramics in local workshops and also purchase them as souvenirs. Both towns are rich in history, architecture, and traditions and are great places to visit for those who want to learn more about the cultural heritage of Portugal.

7. Try the local cuisine

Braga, Portugal is known for its delicious local cuisine that is heavily influenced by traditional and regional ingredients. Some of the most popular dishes in Braga include “cozido à portuguesa” which is a hearty stew of meat, vegetables and beans. “Tripas à moda do Minho” which is a traditional dish made of tripe and beans, seasoned with local herbs and spices. The “francesinha” is a sandwich originating in Porto, but also very popular in Braga, it is made with bread, ham, steak or roast meat, and covered with melted cheese and a special sauce. The “pão de ló” is a traditional sponge cake. The local cuisine is also famous for its seafood, and visitors can try dishes such as octopus, hake or cod. Desserts also have a special place in the local cuisine, “cabrito assado” is a traditional sweet made of kid’s milk and honey. There are also many local places to try the local cuisine, from street vendors to traditional restaurants.

8. Visit the Monastery of Saint Martin of Tibães

The Monastery of So Martinho de Tibes, founded in the eleventh century, reached its height of splendor in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It assumed this role in 1567 and remained so until the Benedictine Congregation of the Kingdoms of Portugal was abolished in 1834. With the church, sacristy, and cemetery cloister still being used by the parish, religious activity has continued even after it was closed. The building’s remaining space as well as the church fence were sold to private parties. They held onto them up until 1986, at which point the Portuguese State bought them. The monastery complex, which has been in existence since 1944 but has been classified, has undergone repair and rehabilitation work recently. The monastery still fulfills its cultural and educational roles in addition to its reception roles, which were created by a religious community and are in charge of running a hostel and a restaurant.

9. Enjoy nightlife in Braga

Braga, Portugal is a city that offers a vibrant nightlife scene, with a variety of bars, clubs, and restaurants to choose from. The city has a mix of traditional and modern bars, some of them are located in the historic city center and offer a cozy atmosphere, others are more modern and offer a more lively atmosphere. There are also several clubs and discos that offer a wide range of music and entertainment, from live music to DJ performances. The city also has a variety of bars and clubs that cater to different crowds, from students to locals. For those who prefer a more relaxed atmosphere, there are also several bars and pubs that offer live music, open mic nights, and other entertainment. Nightlife in Braga is diverse and offers something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a lively night out or a more relaxed and casual evening.

10. Bonus Tip: Try Explorial

What is the goal?

Explorial is an interactive and challenging game in which the objective is to collect as many points as possible as a group.

You explore the city on foot and get points for solving different types of tasks.

Whether you know your way around the city or are just visiting, with Explorial you are guaranteed to get to know the city in a new way.

What is needed?

To start a trail, you will need a smartphone with an active internet connection, the free Explorial app, and a valid ticket for each player.

A ticket can be purchased right here on the website. With the ticket you can start the game immediately. No reservation is necessary.

You can explore the city at your own pace. The game is not limited in time. Typically, it takes about 1-2 hours.

Where to stay in Braga?

1. B&B Hotel Braga Lamaçães

This 3-star hotel is located in Nogueiró, about 3 kilometers from the Braga Se Cathedral and 1 km from Minho University. There is free WiFi available all throughout the place and a front desk open round-the-clock. All rooms include satellite TV and air conditioning. Every one of them has a private bathroom with a hairdryer.

Visitors can relax with a drink at the bar or read the newspaper in the lounge area. Every morning, a breakfast buffet is available.

The B&B Hotel Braga Lamacaes has complimentary private parking.

2. Basic Braga by Axis

The Basic Braga by Axis offers air-conditioned, modern rooms close to the Braga Train Station. Laundry and dry cleaning services, as well as vehicle rentals, may be arranged by the 24-hour staff. The rooms are well decorated and provide with a phone, TV, and private bathroom. If one is available, a hairdryer is accessible at the front desk.

An early-morning breakfast buffet is provided. The contemporary eatery serves a range of Portuguese flavors.

The historical and commercial city center, home to Braga Cathedral and the Medina Museum, is 10 minutes’ walk from Basic Braga by Axis. Visitors can store their cars in an underground parking lot.

Axis takes part in a CSR effort and includes individuals with intellectual disabilities on its staff.

3. Vila Galé Collection Braga

Braga’s Vila Gale Collection is located there, 600 meters from the cathedral. The lodging offers rooms with a garden, unrestricted private parking, a bar, and a restaurant. This four-star hotel has complimentary WiFi, room service, and a 24-hour front desk. The hotel has accommodations for families. There is a wardrobe in each hotel room. The Vila Gale Collection Braga offers accommodations with air conditioning, a flat-screen TV, and a private bathroom with a shower and complimentary amenities. A sitting space is also present in certain rooms. haves and towels are provided in’s guest rooms.

For breakfast each morning, Vila Gale Collection Braga guests can choose from a buffet or an American breakfast.

The Padro do Salado is 25 km away and the Minho University’s Braga Campus is 4.6 kilometers from the hotel. At a distance of 55 kilometres from Vila Gale Collection Braga, Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport is the closest airport.

4. Melia Braga Hotel & Spa

The 5-star Melia Braga Hotel & Spa provides first-rate lodging with convenient access to the city’s center. There is a spa at the hotel featuring an indoor pool, an outdoor pool, a hot tub, and a sauna. All of the rooms include contemporary decor, cozy mattresses, and private bathrooms with a variety of products.

The restaurant serves a variety of foreign meals as well as regional flavors, while the bar serves a variety of regional wines. Within a short stroll are other different eateries. The Melia Braga Hotel & Spa offers amenities including a gym with exercise equipment for heart and lung health. Less than 2 kilometers separate the Cathedral and Museu dos Biscainhos from other historical sites in Braga.

5. Ibis Budget Braga Centro

Ibis Budget Braga Centro provides affordable accommodations for travel or business in the heart of Braga. Modern and functional, each air-conditioned room has a flat-screen TV with cable channels, a work desk, and is air-conditioned. There is a shower and a separate toilet in the private bathroom.

The breakfast area offers a daily buffet breakfast, and if you want to get something to eat later, there is a vending machine with beverages and snacks. The famous Baroque attractions may be explored on foot by visitors thanks to Ibis Budget Braga Centro’s convenient location.

The Bom Jesus Sanctuary in Braga is 4.5 km distant, the Braga Cathedral is 1 mile away, and Porto is 35 km away. Ibis Budget is only around a 40-minute drive from Peneda-Gerês National Park. The Ibis Budget Braga Centre is 56 km from Porto International Airport and 2.7 km from Braga Train Station.

6. Hotel Dona Sofia

The Sé Cathedral de Braga is about 200 meters from this hotel, which is situated in the old district of Braga. It has flat-screen TVs with cable in the rooms. Warm colors are used to design the air-conditioned rooms of the Hotel Dona Sofia, and each one has a contemporary private bathroom.

Each morning, a breakfast buffet is available to visitors. There is a tavern there that serves cool beverages. The hotel has free WiFi that guests may use. The Dona Sofia’s front desk is open round-the-clock.

The Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport is located 40 kilometres from Hotel Dona Sofia and is only a 10-minute walk from the railway station. On-site private parking is cost-free.

7. Hotel Senhora A Branca

This modern hotel is located in Braga’s historic plaza and is only a 5-minute walk from the town’s center. It offers air-conditioned rooms with balconies and a front desk open around-the-clock. The rooms are each furnished with antiques. Each one has a couch and a cable TV in the seating area.

Every morning, a buffet is provided in the breakfast area. At the bar, cold, energizing beverages are available. There is also room service provided.

Additionally, the hotel provides laundry and vehicle rental services. One mile distant is the Braga Se Cathedral, one of the local attractions.

8. Urban Hotel Estação

Directly in front of the Braga Train Station lies the Urban Hotel Estação, it offers free Wi-Fi in public areas and has a front desk open 24 hours a day and the rooms are roomy and have straightforward wooden furniture. A desk, satellite TV, and a private toilet are provided in each room. There is a room service option.

The front desk staff can help with vehicle rentals and can provide you information on nearby attractions.

The Braga Se Cathedral and the city’s major retail district are both about ten minutes’ walk from Urban Hotel Estação.

9. Villa Theatro Heritage Apartments

Villa Theatro Heritage Apartments in Braga, Portugal, provide accommodations with free WiFi and air conditioning that are 500 m from the city’s cathedral. A patio, a seating area, a satellite flat-screen TV, a fully furnished kitchen with a refrigerator and an oven, and a private bathroom with a shower and free amenities are all available to visitors at the aparthotel. Also included are a coffee maker, a kettle, a burner, a microwave, and a toaster.

Villa Theatro Heritage Apartments are located 3.8 miles from the University of Minho – Braga Campus, and Salado Memorial is 25 km distant. Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport, which is 55 kilometres away from the lodging, is the closest airport.

10. Hotel Moon & Sun Braga

The historic district and Braga Cathedral are both a 2-minute walk from Hotel Moon & Sun Braga, which offers air-conditioned rooms in the city’s center. The interiors of each room are light and airy, with lots of windows. Each room comes complete with a work area and cable TV with more than 100 channels. Every room has a private bathroom with either a shower or a bathtub.

In the breakfast area, which has circular tables and wall mirrors, a continental breakfast is offered. Visitors may go to the different eateries and pubs in the area around the hotel.

The museum Medina is 1 km away from the hotel, and Braga Railway Station is 5 minutes away by car. The property is 40 kilometers from Oporto and its airport.

Want to know even more about Braga? Check this blogpost!


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