Welcome to Portugal. In this blog post, we’ll give our top 6 activities for an amazing stay in the beautiful city of Braga – a charming and historic destination in Portugal with stunning Baroque churches, cobbled streets, and lush green gardens.
Braga Portugal, what’s in a name?
First things first, before we start with our to-do list, it’s important to know where the name comes from. It proves how much this city is embedded in culture and it explains immediately the vibe you should be expecting!
Braga in Portugal has its name from the ancient Roman name Bracara Augusta. This name was given to the city in honor of the Roman Emperor Augustus. It was established as a Roman administrative center in the province of Gallaecia, which covered modern-day northern Portugal, Galicia, and Asturias in Spain.
Taste Local Food
As is the case in every country, you’ll only properly discover it through its food. Braga Portugal offers a rich variety of local delicacies that are worth trying. We recommend you booking a local food tour to really discover the hidden restaurants only the locals know!
Even without the tour, there are some super good restaurants in the city, we tried these two and we can definitely recommend them.
Tibias de Braga: This is a famous Portuguese sweet treat native to Braga Portugal. They are shaped like tibias, hence the name.
Local Cuisine at Casa de Pasto das Carvalheiras: This restaurant offers delicious small plates that combine both traditional and original tastes.
Historic Walking Tours
Braga is a city with a rich history that can be best explored on foot. We recommend you do the self-guided Braga City Walk. It is a small city, so it’s perfect to visit it on foot. The self-guided walking tour takes you through the historic center of Braga Portugal, introducing you to its most significant monuments, including the Braga Cathedral, the Garden of Santa Barbara, and the Arco da Porta Nova.
Visit Santa Barbara Park
The Santa Barbara Garden was one of our highlights in Braga Portugal. It is located in the historic center of the city, next to the eastern wing of the 14th-century Archbishop’s Palace. It is a beautifully taken-care-off garden that offers a tranquil oasis amidst the city’s bustling streets.
The garden is home to a variety of plants and flowers, which add a splash of color to the space. The Fountain of the Castles, which is adorned with the coat of arms of the Archbishop who had it built, is a prominent feature of the garden. The garden makes use of the medieval remains of the palace to create a beautiful backdrop.
The Santa Barbara Garden is easily accessible from Braga’s main square. Visitors can walk along the paths, admire the floral displays, and unwind on the benches. It’s a great place to unwind after a day of sightseeing. The garden is open daily and there is no admission charge (!).
Visit Braga Cathedral
Braga Cathedral, also known as Sé de Braga, is a historically and religiously significant site in Portugal. It is the country’s oldest cathedral, having been built several decades before the country’s founding.
The cathedral is in the heart of Braga, just a 10-minute walk from the main train station and close to Braga Castle. The cathedral is open from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and again from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. It’s even open until 6:30 p.m. during the summer.
While the nave is free to visit, there is a small fee to see the Treasury and Capela dos Reis. A guided tour through the chorus costs €2 per person. In our opinion, it’s worth paying 2 euros for the experience.
The Sé Catedral de Braga was built in the 11th century and has seen many architectural styles, including Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque. It has a magnificent choir as well as several chapels, including the Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Piedade.
Cascata do Arado
Now, this location is a bit further away from Braga, but it’s perfect when you rent a car. It’s about a 50-minute ride equalling 36 kilometers from Braga Portugal to this amazing waterfall.
Cascata do Arado is a stunning waterfall located in the heart of Peneda-Gerês National Park, Portugal’s only national park. Here are a few reasons why you should consider visiting it:
Natural Beauty: The waterfall is a sight to behold, especially after heavy rains when it is at its most powerful. The surrounding landscape, with its lush greenery and dramatic rock formations, contributes to the overall appeal.
Trekking Paths: Cascata do Arado is encompassed by a multitude of trekking paths, each offering varying degrees of challenge. Certain routes present panoramic views of the waterfall from diverse perspectives, while others guide you through the breathtaking natural landscape of the national park.
With its captivating waterfalls and picturesque surroundings, Cascata do Arado presents ample photographic opportunities. Regardless of whether you’re a novice or a seasoned professional, you’re certain to capture some extraordinary images.
The waterfall is conveniently located, being just 3 kilometers away from Ermida village and approximately 8 kilometers from Vila do Gerês. This makes it a perfect destination for a day excursion or a stop during an extended visit in the region.
Capelas dos Reis, Capela de São Geraldo and Capela da Glória
The next 3 activities on our to-do list are hidden gems. So don’t tell anyone…
Capelas dos Reis (Chapel of the Kings)
This chapel can be found within the Sé de Braga, the city’s cathedral. The tomb of King Henry and Queen Philippa of Lancaster is its main draw. With its stunning stone carvings and grand arches, the chapel itself is a testament to Gothic architecture. This is a must-see for anyone interested in architecture or history.
Capela de São Geraldo (Chapel of St. Gerald)
Capela de So Geraldo is well-known for its stunning Azulejo tilework, which is typical of Portuguese architecture. The chapel, named after Gerald of Braga, is located in the heart of the city and serves as a place of quiet reflection amidst the hustle and bustle. It’s a great place for those looking for a spiritual experience or to admire local artistry.
Capela da Glória (Chapel of Glory)
The Capela da Glória is part of the iconic stairway leading up to the church in the Bom Jesus do Monte Sanctuary. The chapel is small, but it is lavishly decorated. Visiting the chapel also allows you to enjoy the sanctuary’s breathtaking views and tranquil atmosphere. It’s a must-see for anyone visiting the sanctuary.
About the Authors
This article was written by Alexander & Laura, the owners of the Travel Blog Lost Between Oceans. They specialize in blog posts about Europe and the US. Specifically, they love to write about Portugal and Italy.