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Day trip to Braga (1 day tour) from Porto
Braga is the religious centre of Portugal and is a city filled with ornate churches and beautiful baroque architecture. There are sufficient interesting sights to easily fill a day of sightseeing and Braga is connected by a direct train service to Porto, which means it is ideal as a day trip. This guide will provide an overview of a typical day trip to Braga and includes transport details, highlights of the city and other useful tips.
So why visit Braga?
Braga is an ancient city that has been the religious centre of Portugal since 1070. This does mean that the majority of the attractions are of a religious nature, so if you are tired of exploring churches Braga is not for you. The main highlights of Braga are:
The Bom Jesus do Monte, is a beautiful church and the decorative stairs leading to it represent the stairs to heaven. The church is 7km from the centre of Braga and requires an additional bus journey, which is explained later in this article.
The final set of stairs up to the Bom Jesus do Monte
The Se, the oldest cathedral in Portugal is a delightful mix of design styles ranging from Romanesque to Baroque.
The Se cathedral of Braga
The charming historic centre, which is a joy to wander and is filled with traditional buildings and historic monuments.
The Jardim de Santa Barbara
Braga, Guimarães or both?
The other popular day trip from Porto is to the historic city of Guimarães, which is regarded as the birth place of Portugal. It is too much to visit Braga and Guimarães in one day, even if you have a rental car, as both cities require a day of sightseeing. There are organised tours that visit both destinations in one day but these tours only visit the major sights.
If you have an extended stay in Porto, both Braga and Guimarães should be visited as day trips. In our opinion Guimarães is the better destination due to the variety of sights and activities but the Bom Jesus do Monte church is by far the best monument of the region.
Travel to Braga from Porto
There is a direct train from Porto to Braga, which departs from the Sao Bento train station. This is a slow regional train service and the journey is a tedious 55min -1h10, depending on the service caught. The latest timetable can be seen on the CP (Comboios de Portugal) website:
As this is a regional train service tickets cannot be pre-booked but there are always seats available. A single ticket costs €3.10/€1.55 (adult/child) and can be purchased from the ticket office or ticket machines. Tickets must be purchased before boarding the train.
The train to Braga in Sao Bento train station
Braga train station is to the west of the city and is a 500m walk to the city centre. The best walking route into the historic centre is to turn right from the train station and at the roundabout turn right and walk down the Rua Andrade Corvo.
A Day Tour of Braga
A typical day in Braga is split into two, with the first section exploring the historic centre of Braga, while the second part of the day is to visit Bom Jesus do Monte. It is always advisable to have lunch in the centre of Braga as there is a better selection of restaurants and cafes. The bus to Bom Jesus departs from the centre of the town (and not the train station) so it makes sense to visit Bom Jesus later in the day.
Braga’s main sights
Braga has a small compact city centre of pleasant pedestrian streets, lined with baroque buildings and numerous churches. The most important of these religious buildings is the ancient Se cathedral, which was the first cathedral of Portugal, and is a delightful mixture of different architectural styles.
The Se cathedral of Braga
The finest of the baroque mansions in Braga is the Paláicio dos Biscainhos and this grand building also contains the city museum. The mansion is unique as it was designed to allow horse drawn carriages to pass through the ground level on the way to the stables at the rear.
The Biscainhos palace
The Torre de Menagem is the only remnants of the 14th century fortifications that once guarded the city and the tower stands at the edge of the Praçca dae Repúublica, , the main plaza of Braga. The Palácio do Raio is one of Braga’s most distinctive Baroque buildings with beautiful bright blue tiles while the Jardim de Santa Barbara is a charming park.
The 18th century Baroque architecture in Braga
It takes around 3 hours for the main tourist attractions of the historic center to be explored. It is recommended to have a late lunch in Braga centre before heading to the Bom Jesus church for the later part of the afternoon.
Travel from Braga to Bom Jesus
It is 6km from the centre of Braga to the Bom Jesus do Monte and the number 2 bus connects Braga with the base of Bom Jesus do Monte. This bus service is operated by Tub (Transportes Urbanos de Braga) and departs from the Avenida da Liberdade bus stop. There is clear map of the bus routes and departure locations on their website:
The journey takes about 30 minutes and the bus timetable can be found here:
(opens new window and is in Portuguese)
The view from the summit of Bom Jesus
Is it worth the effort to go to Bom Jesus?
The Bom Jesus is one of the finest monuments of northern Portugal and the elaborate baroque staircase is simply beautiful. For those who do not fancy climbing the 564 steps there is the world’s oldest water-powered funicular to transport you to the summit. The interior of the church is beautiful painted and has a graphic depiction of the death of Jesus, also from the top of the hill there are wonderful views over the city.
The beautiful interior of the church
What could I visit to extend a day trip?
Those tourist with access to a rental car could visit the Sao Frutuoso de Montelios chapel and church of São Francisco. This small and simplistic chapel is the oldest religious building in Portugal being constructed in the 7th century. The chapel is 4 km north of Braga and the GPS coordinates are 41.559776, -8.438829.
The ancient Sao Frutuoso de Montelios chapel