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  • Writer's pictureCarlos

Braga: A Fascinating City in Portugal

Bom Jesus de Braga
Bom Jesus de Braga

Braga, a city situated in the picturesque northwest region of Portugal, is a captivating destination that boasts a remarkable blend of history, culture, and natural beauty.

With its roots dating back to ancient times, Braga stands as one of the oldest cities in the country, proudly showcasing its rich historical heritage.

Braga Cathedral
Braga Cathedral

The city's charm lies in its ability to transport visitors through time, allowing them to immerse themselves in the stories of the past.

From the moment you set foot in Braga, you are greeted by magnificent churches, cathedrals, and religious festivals that add to its enchanting atmosphere. These architectural wonders serve as a testament to the city's religious significance and its deep-rooted traditions.

As you explore Braga, you can't help but feel a sense of awe and admiration for the craftsmanship and dedication that went into creating these magnificent structures.

The religious festivals, in particular, are a sight to behold, with vibrant processions and elaborate ceremonies that showcase the city's devotion and cultural heritage.

Braga's natural beauty is equally captivating, with its lush landscapes, rolling hills, and breathtaking views. The city's location in the northwest region of Portugal allows for easy access to the stunning countryside, where you can embark on scenic hikes, explore ancient ruins, or simply take in the tranquility of nature.

Whether you're a history enthusiast, a culture lover, or a nature enthusiast, Braga has something to offer everyone. It is a city that invites you to slow down, immerse yourself in its rich tapestry of history and culture, and appreciate the beauty that surrounds you. A visit to Braga promises an unforgettable journey through time, where you can't help but develop a deep appreciation for its captivating allure.

Historical Significance

Braga, a city with a rich history spanning over 2,000 years, showcases its ancient origins through its impressive architecture and well-preserved landmarks. This proud display of its past is a testament to the enduring legacy of Braga.

The city was an important center of the Roman Empire and was known as "Bracara Augusta," leaving behind impressive remnants of its Roman past, such as the ruins of Roman baths and several well-preserved domus.

View of the city
View of the city

The historic city center, with its narrow, winding streets, is filled with medieval buildings, churches, and grand plazas, offering visitors a glimpse into Braga's rich history.

Religious Heritage

Braga is often referred to as the "Portuguese Rome" due to its significant religious importance. The city is home to numerous churches and religious sites, including the iconic Bom Jesus do Monte sanctuary, a Baroque masterpiece perched on a hill overlooking the city.

The imposing Braga Cathedral, one of the oldest in Portugal, stands as a testament to the city's religious prominence and architectural grandeur.

The Archbishops Court in Braga, also known as the Paço Arquiepiscopal de Braga, is a historical and architectural gem located in the heart of Braga, Portugal. This magnificent structure has played a significant role in the religious and cultural history of the region.

Basílica do Bom Jesus
Basílica do Bom Jesus

Bom Jesus do Monte is a notable sanctuary located near the city of Braga in northern Portugal. The sanctuary is renowned for its stunning baroque architecture, lush gardens, and a monumental stairway that leads to the church at the top. The construction of the sanctuary began in the late 14th century, and it has since become a significant pilgrimage site and a popular tourist attraction.

Visitors can witness captivating religious processions and festivities, further emphasizing Braga's deeply rooted religious traditions.

Charming Atmosphere

Beyond its historical and religious allure, Braga exudes a charming and vibrant atmosphere. The city's lively squares, quaint cafes, and bustling markets create a welcoming environment for both locals and tourists.

The center of Braga is renowned for its many charming streets and historical landmarks, making it a delightful area to explore. From bustling avenues to narrow cobblestone lanes, the streets in the heart of Braga offer a mix of modern amenities and well-preserved historical sites.

Detail of old building
Detail of old building

Rua do Souto is a picturesque street lined with a variety of shops, cafes, and historic buildings. Its charming atmosphere and lively ambiance make it a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, with a diverse range of shops offering everything from traditional handicrafts to modern fashion, cozy cafes where visitors can relax and savor local delicacies, and architectural gems such as the 18th-century Palácio do Raio, known for its stunning facade adorned with intricate designs.

Dom Paio Mendes Street is steeped in history and features a blend of medieval and baroque architecture. It is named after Dom Paio Mendes, a prominent figure in Braga's history. The impressive Sé de Braga, a majestic cathedral dating back to the 11th century, is a prominent landmark along this street. There are several traditional restaurants serving authentic Portuguese cuisine, providing a delightful culinary experience for visitors.

Rua do Anjo is a narrow, winding street characterized by its old-world charm and quaint alleyways. It offers a glimpse into Braga's past and provides a serene environment for leisurely strolls. The street presents architectural treasures such as the Church of São Marcos, an elegant Baroque church known for its ornate interior and religious significance.

Archbishops Court
Archbishops Court

Rua dos Capelistas is a street that is synonymous with elegance and sophistication, featuring upscale boutiques, stylish boutiques, and refined establishments that cater to discerning tastes.

Additionally, Braga's culinary scene is a delightful fusion of traditional Portuguese flavors and innovative gastronomic experiences, allowing visitors to savor the local cuisine in a variety of inviting eateries.

Modern Vibrancy

While preserving its rich historical and cultural heritage, the city of Braga has successfully integrated modernity into its fabric. This can be seen in the city's contemporary infrastructure, which includes well-designed roads, bridges, and buildings. Braga is also home to numerous educational institutions that provide quality education to its residents, ensuring a bright future for the younger generation. Additionally, the city boasts thriving commercial areas, bustling with shops, restaurants, and businesses that cater to the needs and desires of both locals and tourists. Braga's ability to strike a balance between tradition and progress is truly commendable, making it a remarkable destination that offers the best of both worlds.

The University of Minho is a renowned public research university located in Braga and Guimarães, Portugal. It was established in 1973 and has since grown to become one of the most prestigious universities in Portugal and Europe. The university is known for its strong emphasis on research and innovation, offering a wide range of courses across various fields of study. The university is a leader in research and innovation, with several research centers and laboratories dedicated to advancing knowledge in various disciplines. It has made significant contributions to scientific research and has established partnerships with numerous international institutions, fostering a culture of innovation and collaboration.

The city's modern developments harmoniously coexist with its ancient landmarks, creating a unique juxtaposition of the old and the new, adding to Braga's allure as a multifaceted destination.

Arco da Porta Nova
Arco da Porta Nova

Where to Eat

Here's a list featuring some traditional Portuguese restaurants in Braga, including their specialties:

  • Restaurante Dona Júlia: This restaurant offers a cozy and welcoming atmosphere, serving traditional Minho cuisine with a modern twist. They are known for their delicious "Bacalhau à Lagareiro" (codfish cooked with olive oil and garlic), "Arroz de Pato" (duck rice), and "Pudim Abade de Priscos" (a rich and creamy egg custard dessert).

  • Taberna do Migaitas: Located close to the Braga Cathedral, this traditional tavern serves typical Portuguese dishes like "Francesinha" (a layered sandwich filled with meat, sausage, and cheese), "Leitão à Bairrada" (roasted suckling pig), and "Alheira" (sausage made with bread and meat, often served with rice and vegetables). They also offer a good selection of regional wines.

  • Cantinho da Lília: This family-run restaurant is known for its generous portions and friendly service. They offer a variety of traditional dishes, including "Cabrito Assado" (roasted kid goat), "Cozido à Portuguesa" (a hearty stew with various meats and vegetables), and "Pão de Ló" (a traditional Portuguese sponge cake).

  • Solar do Theatro: Located in a historic building, this restaurant offers a unique dining experience. They serve traditional Portuguese cuisine with a focus on fresh, local ingredients. Some of their signature dishes include "Bacalhau com Broa" (cod fish with cornbread), "Polvo à Lagareiro" (octopus cooked with olive oil and garlic), and "Pudim Abade de Priscos" (a rich and creamy egg custard dessert).

  • Adega Regional Casa Carvalho: This traditional tavern offers a casual and relaxed atmosphere. They are known for their grilled meats, regional specialties like "Sarrabulho" (a rich pork stew with blood and spices), and a wide selection of local wines.

These are just a few examples, and there are many other fantastic traditional restaurants to explore in Braga. With its rich culinary heritage, you're sure to find something delicious to satisfy your taste buds.

Other view of the Cathedral
Other view of the Cathedral

Where to sleep:

Here's a list of some of the main hotels in Braga, Portugal, categorized based on their star rating and guest reviews:

Luxury (5-star):

  • Melia Braga Hotel & Spa: This hotel offers sleek rooms and suites, a contemporary spa, a bright restaurant, 2 bars, and an outdoor pool.

Upper-midscale (4-star):

  • Vila Gale Collection Braga: This hotel is housed in a grand 1508 building and features indoor and outdoor pools, a spa, and dining options.

  • Hotel Moon & Sun Braga: This hotel offers modern rooms, a rooftop pool with city views, a spa, and a restaurant.

  • Hotel Mercure Braga Centro: This hotel features contemporary design, 2 bars, a casual restaurant, and a seasonal rooftop pool.

  • Hotel do Parque: This hotel offers comfortable rooms, an outdoor pool, a spa, and a restaurant.

Midscale (3-star):

  • Hotel Dona Sofia: This hotel is located in the Old Town and features charming rooms, a breakfast buffet, and a bar.

  • B&B HOTEL Braga Lamacaes: This hotel offers modern rooms with free Wi-Fi, a breakfast buffet, and a bar.

  • Hotel Residencial Dora: This hotel offers basic but comfortable rooms, a breakfast buffet, and a bar.


  • Basic Braga by Axis: This hotel offers bright, polished rooms, a tapas restaurant/bar, and a shaded terrace.

  • Ibis Budget Braga Centro: This hotel offers compact rooms with free Wi-Fi, a 24-hour reception, and a breakfast buffet (for a fee).

Please note that these are just a few suggestions, and there are many other hotels to choose from in Braga, depending on your budget and preferences. It is always a good idea to read reviews and compare prices before making a decision.

Monastery of Tibães
Monastery of Tibães


Braga, a city known for its fascinating combination of history, religion, and modern vibrancy, stands as a captivating destination that never fails to captivate visitors with its timeless charm and cultural abundance. With a plethora of ancient monuments waiting to be explored,

Braga offers a truly enriching experience that allows visitors to immerse themselves in the city's rich heritage. Additionally, the city's religious traditions provide a unique opportunity for visitors to witness and participate in age-old rituals, further enhancing their understanding and appreciation of Braga's cultural tapestry.

Moreover, Braga's lively ambiance adds an extra layer of excitement to the overall experience, making it a city that leaves a lasting impression on all who have the pleasure of visiting.



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