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Is Braga Worth Visiting? Unwind and Work Remotely

Is Braga worth visiting? Let's explore this gateway to Northern Portugal, a historic city, vibrant culture, & perfect workcation destination.

Have you heard of Braga? This vibrant city is situated in the far North of Portugal. Did you know that Braga is the oldest city in Portugal? Many people are unaware of that fact, but Braga boasts more than 2000 years of history.

We decided to spend a week's workcation based in Braga. We thought this would give us ample time to explore the city, the surrounding region, and answer the key question: Is Braga worth visiting? I have my opinions on the subject, but I'll let you make your own call.

Getting to Braga

There are multiple ways to get to Braga. You can drive to Braga from Lisbon in about 4 hours. That's what we did. We drove and added in stops in Viseu and Figueira da Foz to help break up the long (by Portugal standards) journey.

Fountain near the Avenida in Braga Portugal

Parking can be challenging in Braga. There is limited street parking. Parking meters can be plugged for a max of 2 hours at a time. Street parking is free between 7 pm and 9 am and all day on Sundays. Alternatively, park at Parque Visconde do Raio for 15 EUR per 24 hours like we did.

If you prefer not to drive, you could fly to Porto. Porto Airport is about 45 minutes from Braga. You can drive the shorter distance from Porto (perhaps with a brief stop in Matosinhos on the way) or take a bus.

Braga is also accessible by train from Portuguese cities like Lisbon, Coimbra, and Porto. Braga is even served by Flixbus.

Where to Stay in Braga

Wondering where to stay in Braga? Hotel choices are limited in the city. 

Since we were staying for a week, we booked an Airbnb along the pedestrianized stretch of Av. da Liberdade. From here we could walk everywhere including along the lovely Avenida Central.

Stone arches in Jardim de Santa Bárbara in Braga Portugal

Things to Do in Braga

Ok, we've made it to Braga! Now let's talk about what there is to do here.

Celebrating São João

If you visit Braga in June like we did, expect to experience a festive atmosphere. June is festival season throughout Portugal. Festas dos Santos Populares (Festivals of the Popular Saints) are an excuse to get outside, eat sardines, and welcome summer. 

Statue of São João in the center of a fountain in Braga PortugalDecorations for Festas dos Santos Populares in Braga, Portugal

In Braga, they celebrate Festas de São João de Braga. Starting on June 14th, Braga comes alive with colorful decorations by day and brilliant lights and music at night. Visiting Braga during the festas de São João will give you a peek into Portugal's historic soul. 

Braga lit up for the festas de São João

We delighted in performances by local drum troops that went on nearly all day. We also saw bands playing the cavaquinho, a little Portuguese guitar that is distantly related to the ukelele.


The party reaches a crescendo on the evening of June 23rd. Expect to see people running around bopping each other on the head with festive plastic hammers.

Braga streets lit up for the festas de São João

Take a Photowalk

At any time of year, it's definitely worth taking a photo walk in Braga. I nearly swooned when I saw the elegant facade and spectacular blue door of Palácio do Raio; my regular readers know that I am obsessed with door photography! Wander the narrow streets of Braga and allow your camera to feast on all the historic architecture.

Door and facade of Palácio do Raio in Braga, Portugal

Sip Vinho Verde at Mercado Municipal

The modern Mercado Municipal is definitely worth a stop. Pick up some fruit to snack on during your stay in Braga. Better still, grab a cheeky glass of vinho verde, the Minho region's signature green wine and do a bit of midday people watching.

Mercado Municipal in Braga viewed from above

Browse Livraria Centésima Página

We discovered an atmospheric bookstore along Braga's Avenida Central. Livraria Centésima Página is situated inside a historic building which is worth visiting in its own right. The shop has a small English section as well as a cafe and garden. We even met the resident black cat.

Black cat in Livraria Centésima Página bookstore in Braga

Drink Local Craft Beer

Letraria is a craft beer brewery based in the region. Drop by their craft beer library in Braga. Sample local brews and grab a bite to eat for dinner while you're there.

Visit Museu Nogueira da Silva

Braga's Museu Nogueira da Silva is an elegant mansion turned museum situated on Avenida Central. The house itself is full of historical furniture and artifacts from the owners that can be appreciated by non-Portuguese speakers thanks to an English audio tour. 

Gardens behind Museu Nogueira da Silva in Braga, Portugal

The best part of visiting Museu Nogueira da Silva is definitely taking a stroll through the beautiful hidden gardens located behind the mansion and only accessible if you go through the building. I loved the sculptures and decorative Portuguese tiles scattered throughout the lush jardim.

Walk up to Monumento ao Sagrado Coração de Jesus

Braga features a small abandoned church that looks a little like a lighthouse on a hill. Walk up to Monumento ao Sagrado Coração de Jesus for lovely views over Braga city and the surrounding countryside.

Monumento ao Sagrado Coração de Jesus viewed from the street below in Braga

Tour Sé de Braga

Another cool thing to do in Braga is visit Braga Cathedral (Sé de Braga). The church features a spectacular pipe organ, elegant cloister, and a courtyard of pillars. If you need a respite from the hustle and bustle on the streets of Braga, this is the place.

Pipe organ and paintings at Braga CathedralStaircase inside Braga City Hall

Poke Your Head Inside Paços do Concelho de Braga

If you pass by during business hours, definitely peek your head into Braga's City Hall. The exterior architecture is impressive, but the interior is eye-popping. Ask the guard "Posso?" ("Can I?") to confirm that it's ok to enter. We were allowed to look in the lobby and walk halfway up the stairs, but no further.

Jardim da Praça do Município decorated for festas de São João in Braga

Braga Day Trip Ideas

Braga itself does not have enough iconic attractions to justify a week there. However, Braga is a fantastic home base for exploring Northern Portugal and Galicia which is just across the border in Spain. Here are some day trip ideas to include in your Braga workcation or vacation itinerary.

Vigo

Vigo is a port city just across the border in Spain. It takes a little over an hour to drive from Braga to Vigo. Vigo is situated in Galicia, a region of Spain with it's own unique history and language. 

We read a few signs related to an open-art exhibit and thought: "interesting...the signs are in Spanish and Portuguese". We read the "Portuguese" version but soon realized this was Galician; an interesting mix of Spanish and Portuguese.

Vigo, Spain viewed from above

Wander Vigo's historic core and sit down to a filling lunch at Restaurante Valdevez Vigo. Explore along the water where you'll find an ode to Jules Verne (a giant octopus sculpture). 

I also recommend making the climb to Fortaleza de Santa María do Castro. The views from the castle overlooking the port and the sea are stunning.

✨ Looking for other city break ideas? Explore this curated list of the best cities in Portugal.

Barcelos

Another good Braga day trip outing is to neighboring Barcelos. Barcelos is not only home to Portugal's signature chicken mascot but also features the largest open-air market in the region on Thursdays. Have a wander around and steep in the atmosphere. 

Weekly market in Barcelos. This vendor is selling vegetablesPortugal's mascot, the chicken of Barcelos

Viana do Castelo

Viana do Castelo is another charming town in Northern Portugal that is popular with expats relocating to Portugal. Located on the coast, the town has a laid back vibe. Grab a menu do dia for lunch at a local cafe and then wander the narrow streets on a photo walk.

Collage of dishes from a restaurant in Viana do Castelo PortugalSé Catedral de Viana do Castelo Portugal

Ponte de Lima

Ponte de Lima is worth visiting if you enjoy Roman history. Ponte de Lima, the bridge for which the town is named, is comprised of Roman and Medieval structures. 

The bridge spans the River Lima which was known as the "River of Forgetfulness" in Roman times. It was believed that the river had the power to erase a person's memory so that they would forget everything that happened in life. 

Ponte de Lima across the Lima River in Portugal

In the second century B.C., Decius Juno Brutus debunked this myth by crossing the river and then calling out to his soldiers by name one by one. 

The other point of interest in Ponte de Lima is the Festival Internacional de Jardins. For just one euro, you can stroll 12 gardens competing to win an annual title.

Smurf themed garden at Festival Internactional de Jardins in Ponte de Lima Portugal

Guimarães and Santuário do Bom Jesus do Monte

Other popular attractions accessible from Braga include Guimarães, a town with a spectacular castle, and Santuário do Bom Jesus do Monte, a pilgrimage site featuring an amazing staircase. 

We visited both of these destinations as Porto day trips in the past, but they could also very easily be added onto a Braga itinerary.

Is Braga Worth Visiting?

So, what's the verdict? Is Braga worth visiting? If you are looking for a relaxing and off the beaten path destination in Portugal, definitely! If you are a photographer? definitely! 

Braga, Portugal's oldest city, gives you the opportunity to see a real Portuguese city steeped in history without the throngs of tourists you'll find in places like Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve. 

Arco da Porta Nova in Braga, Portugal

Whether you are visiting for a day or a week, I think it's worth adding Braga to your Northern Portugal itinerary.

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: Is Braga Worth Visiting? Unwind and Work Remotely
Is Braga Worth Visiting? Unwind and Work Remotely
Is Braga worth visiting? Let's explore this gateway to Northern Portugal, a historic city, vibrant culture, & perfect workcation destination.
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