Braga is one of the oldest cities in Portugal, with more than 2000 years of history. But it is also a university city, so it has a vibrant atmosphere and is full of young people.
It is commonly known as the Rome of Portugal due to all of its tourist attractions and rich heritage. Although it has no real connection to the Italian capital, it is worth noting the historical importance of the city as an archbishopric centre in the Middle Ages.
The city is located in the north of Portugal and the best way to get there from Porto Airport is with your own hire car. It is only around 55 kilometres from Porto, so it will take around 45 minutes if you drive along the A3 (with a toll) or one hour if you take the A28 and the A11 (both free from tolls). Once you get to Braga you might want to park your car before you enter the city centre, as the streets can be difficult to drive around.
Braga has some incredible cultural heritage and there are many different historical buildings, cathedrals, churches and museums that you won’t want to miss.
Also, take advantage of our car rental offers and, if you’re lucky enough to be able to explore the streets of Braga, make sure you pass through the old town and enjoy all the sites that the city has to offer. Here are some of our absolute favourites:
You can get to the cathedral in your car, via the Bom Jesus elevator (which you can also use to get back down) or by climbing the never-ending (but beautiful) stairway, which is possibly one of the most famous in Portugal. This baroque sanctuary is one of the main tourist attractions in the city and the second most important pilgrimage site in Portugal, after Fatima.
You can enjoy some impressive sights from the highest point and you can make your descent more enjoyable by taking the funicular, which was declared a National Monument. Next to it you will also find a “magic road” where, if you drop a ball or pour some water, you’ll see that it, instead of going downhill, it will go up. It’s magic!
This lively square is located in the centre of the city and is surrounded by cafes and shops, where you can sit down to relax for a while and plan the rest of your trip. There is also an enormous circular fountain in the middle of the square that has become the starting point for the majority of tours through the city’s old town.
The Sé de Braga is the oldest cathedral in the country. It was founded in the 12th century and is still one of the main religious centres today. One of the most striking interior elements is the architecture of its cloister, the museum and the tomb of the parents of the first king of Portugal. Braga is still one of the main religious centres to this day and during San Juan and Holy Week the cathedral becomes one of the main tourist attractions in the area.
One of the sites you can visit near to Braga is the Sanctuary of Sameiro, which is just 20 minutes away if you drive in your hire car. It was founded in the 19th century but the construction was not finished until 1979, making it one of the most recent places of worship. It has a neoclassical style and one of the most interesting pieces of art is the silver tabernacle on the cathedral’s main altar.
This is one of the most iconic palaces in Portugal from an aesthetic perspective, as its façade is covered with the characteristic blue and white tiles and ornate stone windows. It currently houses the Memórias da Misericórdia Interpretation Centre and a museum where visitors can enjoy the interior of the building.