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Is Braga Worth Visiting In 2024? A Complete Guide for Travelers

Reema Bharti

Reema Bharti

· 13 min read

Yes, Braga is worth visiting. Braga, Portugal, is a hidden gem. It offers a blend of ancient history and modern vibrancy. From its stunning cathedrals to lively markets, there's something for everyone. Its streets are alive with culture, waiting for you to explore.

I visited Braga last summer and was mesmerized. The city's charm and warmth are unforgettable. Strolling through its historical heart, I felt a deep connection to its past and present. Braga is not just a place to visit; it's an experience to cherish.

How To Get To Braga?




Getting to Braga is straightforward, thanks to its well-connected transportation network. Here's how you can reach this charming city in Northern Portugal:

1. By Air

The nearest airport to Braga is Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport in Porto (OPO), which is about 40-50 minutes away by car. The airport serves numerous international and domestic flights. From the airport, you can

  • Take a Shuttle: There are shuttle services directly from the airport to Braga.

  • Use Public Transport: The Metro and buses connect the airport to Porto’s central train station, São Bento, from where you can catch a train to Braga.

  • Rent a Car: Car rental services are available at the airport, offering the flexibility to explore Braga and its surroundings at your own pace.

2. By Train

Braga is well-connected by train to major Portuguese cities, including Lisbon and Porto. The trains are comfortable, and the journey offers scenic views of the Portuguese countryside.

  • From Porto: Trains from São Bento or Campanha stations in Porto to Braga run frequently throughout the day.

  • From Lisbon: You can catch a train from Lisbon's Santa Apolonia or Oriente stations to Braga. Some services may require a change at Porto’s Campanha station.

3. By Bus

Buses to Braga depart from various cities across Portugal. The bus station in Braga is centrally located, making it a convenient option for those traveling from cities not served by direct train services.

4. By Car

Driving to Braga offers the most flexibility and allows you to enjoy the beautiful landscapes of Northern Portugal at your own pace. Braga is accessible via the A3 motorway from Porto and the A11 from other parts of the region.

Reaching Braga was an easy and pleasant part of my travel experience. Opting for the train from Porto, I enjoyed the comfort and scenic journey. The transition from the bustling city of Porto to the historic and serene ambiance of Braga was seamless and set the perfect tone for my visit.

What are the Top Attractions in Braga Portugal?

Top attractions in Braga Portugal are Bom Jesus do Monte, Se de Braga and Garden of Santa Barbara. Exploring the top attractions in Braga, Portugal, offers a journey into the heart of the country's rich history and vibrant culture. Here are the must-visit sites that make Braga a worthwhile destination. 

Bom Jesus do Monte



Bom Jesus do Monte is an  iconic sanctuary renowned for its beautiful Baroque stairway, which elegantly ascends the hillside. Visitors are rewarded with panoramic views of Braga upon reaching the top. The serene surroundings and the architectural marvel of the church itself make this site a spiritual and visual treat.

Se de Braga


The Se de Braga is a testament to the city's historical and religious significance as the oldest cathedral in Portugal.  Its mix of architectural styles, from Romanesque to Gothic, reflects the centuries of history within its walls. Inside, the intricate gold work and ancient artifacts are as captivating as the exterior facade.

Garden of Santa Barbara

The Garden of Santa Barbara is a hidden gem in the city, this charming garden is adjacent to the remnants of the medieval Archbishop's Palace. It's a perfect spot for a leisurely stroll, surrounded by vibrant flowers, well-manicured hedges, and a striking view of the Gothic wing of the palace.

Each of these attractions offers a unique perspective on Braga's past and present, from the spiritual ascent at Bom Jesus do Monte to the historical depths of Sé de Braga and the serene beauty of the Garden of Santa Barbara. Visiting these sites provides not just a glimpse into the city's soul but also a deeper understanding of Portugal's rich cultural tapestry.

Best Beaches Near Braga To Visit

Best beaches near Braga to visit are Praia de Apulia, Praia de Ofir, Esposende and Praia da Aguda.  Here's a closer look at the best beaches near Braga that are worth visiting. 

Praia de Apulia



Praia de Apúlia is renowned for its wide, sandy shores and unique windmills that dot the landscape. This beach offers a raw, natural beauty and is popular among locals for its clean waters and dynamic dunes. It's an ideal spot for windsurfing and kiteboarding, thanks to the steady winds.

During my visit, I was fascinated by the traditional windmills and the serene ambiance. It felt like a step back in time, offering a peaceful escape from the bustling city life.

Praia de Ofir

Praia de Ofir is famous for its scenic beauty, surrounded by pine forests and sand dunes. It is Nestled between the Cavado River and the Atlantic Ocean. It's a perfect spot for those looking for a tranquil beach day or interested in exploring the nearby natural park.

Walking along the wooden boardwalk through the dunes, I felt a deep sense of tranquility. The sunset views here are simply breathtaking, painting the sky in shades of orange and pink.

Esposende Beach



Esposende Beach is a paradise for water sports enthusiasts. The beach is part of a protected coastal area, offering a blend of natural beauty and excellent conditions for surfing, bodyboarding, and kitesurfing. The wide, open spaces make it a family-friendly option as well.

My time at Esposende was thrilling. Trying my hand at kitesurfing under the expert guidance of local instructors was an unforgettable experience. The combination of adrenaline and the beauty of the surroundings was unmatched.

Praia da Aguda

A hidden gem among the northern beaches of Portugal, Praia da Aguda is charming with its wooden walkways, traditional fishing boats, and an engaging marine life aquarium. Its unspoiled nature makes it a perfect spot for a quiet day by the sea.

Exploring Praia da Aguda's small, colorful aquarium and watching the fishermen at work provided a unique glimpse into the local way of life. The beach's untouched beauty and the rhythm of the waves offered a truly relaxing experience.

Each of these beaches offers a unique experience, from the serene waters of Praia da Falperra to the adventurous waves at Praia do Cabedelo. Whether you're looking to relax by the calm seas, engage in water sports, or simply enjoy a sunset by the beach, the areas surrounding Braga provide ample opportunities for memorable beach days.

What are Best Outdoor Adventures to Do In Braga?

Braga is  a city of historical significance and architectural marvels. Braga serves as a gateway to some thrilling outdoor adventures. Whether you're an adrenaline junkie or someone who loves to immerse in the tranquility of nature, Braga has something to offer. Here are the best outdoor adventures you can embark on. 

1. Hiking in Peneda-Geres National Park

Just a short drive from Braga, Peneda-Geres National Park is Portugal's only national park and a haven for hikers. With its lush landscapes, waterfalls, and diverse wildlife, it offers trails for every level of hiker. Exploring the granite cliffs, verdant valleys, and ancient villages within this park is an unforgettable experience.

On my visit, the sheer beauty of the park was overwhelming. Each trail offered a new discovery, from hidden waterfalls to historic villages, making it a hiker's paradise.

2. Canoeing on the Cavado River

The Cávado River, with its calm waters and scenic surroundings, is perfect for canoeing. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced paddler, gliding through the water while admiring the lush riverbanks is a serene experience.

Canoeing down the Cávado was both peaceful and exhilarating for me. The gentle flow of the river made it a relaxing adventure, ideal for connecting with nature.

3. Rock Climbing at Geres

For those who crave a vertical challenge, the Geres region offers fantastic rock climbing opportunities. With routes for all skill levels, climbers can enjoy breathtaking views while scaling the rugged terrain.

Climbing in Geres tested my limits and rewarded me with stunning views from above. It's an adventure that combines physical challenge with the beauty of the natural world.

4. Mountain Biking through the Trails

Mountain biking enthusiasts will find plenty of trails around Braga that offer a mix of challenging terrain and scenic beauty. From the rolling hills to dense forests, biking is an exhilarating way to explore the countryside.

Biking through the trails near Braga was an adventure that pumped adrenaline through my veins. The varying landscapes kept the ride exciting and visually stunning.

5. Paragliding over Braga

For a bird's eye view of Braga and its surroundings, paragliding is the ultimate adventure. Taking off from the hills and soaring over the landscapes offers a unique perspective and an unforgettable thrill.

Paragliding over Braga was a liberating experience for me. Floating above the landscape, with panoramic views stretching out below, was a moment of pure joy.

6. Diving in the Canicada Reservoir

The Caniçada Reservoir, with its clear waters, is an excellent spot for diving enthusiasts to explore underwater landscapes and aquatic life. It's a peaceful contrast to the adrenaline-fueled adventures above water.

Diving in the Canicada Reservoir was a serene escape. The underwater world was a quiet, mesmerizing place that felt worlds away from the hustle and bustle above.

Top Cultural Festivals of Braga

Braga, known as the "Portuguese Rome" for its rich religious heritage, is a city that celebrates its culture through a variety of vibrant festivals. These festivals are a testament to Braga's deep historical roots and its contemporary zest for life. Here are some of the top cultural festivals that take place in Braga.

Semana Santa (Holy Week)

Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is one of Braga's most significant and solemn religious events. This week-long observance leading up to Easter is marked by a series of processions, ceremonies, and rituals that fill the city with a unique blend of devotion and pageantry. The streets of Braga come alive with elaborate floats, centuries-old statues, and participants dressed in traditional robes, creating a deeply spiritual atmosphere.

  • What to Expect: A deeply moving religious observance marking the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ. The city is draped in solemnity and reverence, with processions winding through the streets, particularly around the Braga cathedral and churches.

  • Highlight: The intricate and dramatic processions, featuring ornate floats and costumes, encapsulate the devout spirit of Braga.

Sao Joao Festival

Sao Joao de Braga is celebrated in June and is one of the city's most lively and colorful festivals. It honors Saint John the Baptist and marks the beginning of summer. The festival features traditional music, dance, and a variety of street performances. Residents and visitors partake in the festivities by hitting each other gently with plastic hammers or soft garlic flowers, a unique and fun tradition. The celebration culminates in a spectacular fireworks display.

  • What to Expect: A jubilant celebration dedicated to St. John the Baptist, marking midsummer with an all-night street party. The air is filled with the aroma of grilled sardines, and the sky lights up with fireworks.
  • Highlight: The Parque de Exposições becomes a festive hub with tents and marquees serving a fusion of traditional and contemporary foods and drinks.

Braga Romana

Braga Romana, held in May, transports the city back to its roots as the Roman city of Bracara Augusta. The streets are filled with people dressed in Roman attire, and the air buzzes with the sounds of Roman markets, military camps, and theatrical performances. This festival offers a glimpse into the city's ancient past through reenactments, workshops, and gastronomy, celebrating Braga's rich historical heritage.

  • What to Expect: A step back in time to relive the days of Bracara Augusta, the ancient Roman city. The city center transforms into a bustling Roman market, complete with processions and entertainments reminiscent of ancient times.
  • Highlight: Over 80 hours of programming involving hundreds of associations, merchants, and schools, bringing the Roman era to life.

Each festival offers a unique perspective on Braga's cultural and spiritual identity. The Semana Santa immerses visitors in the city's profound religious heritage, while the Sao Joao Festival encapsulates the joy and vibrancy of Portuguese festivity. Braga Romana, on the other hand, provides a fascinating historical insight, allowing one to wander through the past of this ancient city. These festivals, with their rich tapestry of faith, history, and communal joy, underscore why Braga is a beacon of cultural vibrancy in Portugal.

Best Places for Shopping in Braga Portugal

Best Places to shop in Braga are, Braga Parque, Rua do Souto and Avenida da Liberdade. Braga, often referred to as the 'Capital of Commerce', is a paradise for shoppers, offering a blend of traditional artisan shops and modern shopping centers. Here's a guide to the best places for shopping in Braga.

Braga Parque

  • Location: Eastern part of the city

  • Features: Over 130 stores, food court, cinema

  • Accessibility: Easily accessible by car or public transportation

  • Experience: A modern shopping haven with a diverse range of international and local brands.

Rua do Souto

  • Characteristics: Pedestrian street in Braga's historic center

  • Offerings: Clothing stores, shoe stores, souvenir shops

  • Specialty: Great for finding local products and enjoying Braga's vibrant atmosphere.

Avenida da Liberdade

  • Highlights: Main commercial area with high-end fashion boutiques to affordable chain stores

  • Additional: Several cafes and restaurants along the avenue

  • Shopping Experience: Ideal for those looking to explore a variety of shopping options from luxury to budget-friendly.

  • Rua dos Trigueiros: Known for its antique shops offering unique, vintage items.

  • Artisan Specialties: For a taste of local craftsmanship, Braga offers specialties such as cavaquinhos (small guitars) and handicrafts like linen, embroidery, and basket weaving. Recommended artisan shops include Domingos Machado and O Tear Tradicoes.

  • Braga Retail Center and Minho Center: These outdoor retail parks and shopping centers house big brands and offer quick access to large department stores, including Continente Hypermarket, Worten, and Toys "R" Us.

  • Alameda Shopping and Granjinhos Mall: Situated in central locations, these shopping centers provide a mix of shopping, dining, and entertainment options.

Tips For Shopping in Braga

Shopping in Braga is an experience that combines the charm of historic streets with the allure of modern retail. Whether you're on the hunt for traditional Portuguese crafts, the latest fashion, or gourmet delights, Braga offers a shopping scene as diverse and vibrant as the city itself. From quaint boutiques nestled in ancient buildings to sprawling, modern malls, each shopping destination has its own unique character. To make the most of your shopping expedition in this beautiful city, consider these practical tips that cater to every shopper's needs. 

  • Most stores in Braga open at 9 or 10 am and close at 7 pm, with extended hours on Thursdays and Fridays.

  • The best time to shop is in the late morning or early afternoon to avoid crowds.

  • Look out for the biggest sales in January and July, with discounts up to 70%.

  • Parking is available at all shopping centers, with some stores in the Braga city centres also offering their own parking lots.

  • All shopping centers and most stores are wheelchair accessible, ensuring a hassle-free shopping experience for everyone.

Best Time To Visit Braga Portugal

The best time to visit Braga, Portugal, is during the spring months from March to May. This period offers pleasant weather, with temperatures that are warm but not too hot, making it ideal for exploring the city's historic sites and beautiful gardens. The spring season also sees the city come alive with vibrant flowers and greenery, adding to its charm. Additionally, visiting in spring allows you to experience Braga's famous Holy Week celebrations, an event that showcases the city's rich cultural and religious traditions.

Similarly, the autumn months from September to November provide a great opportunity to visit. The weather remains mild, and the changing colors of the leaves create a picturesque setting for walks and outdoor activities. This time of the year is less crowded, giving you a more relaxed experience as you wander through Braga's streets and attractions.

During my trip in early May, I found Braga exceptionally beautiful. The climate was perfect for day-long excursions to the city’s landmarks and nearby natural attractions. The Holy Week procession was a breathtaking spectacle, full of color and emotion, offering a unique insight into the local culture and traditions.

  • Spring (March - May)

    • Weather: Temperatures range from 15 to 22.2° C, ideal for outdoor exploration.

    • Rainfall: Short and light rain showers, low humidity, and winds.

    • Experience: The city blooms with vibrant flowers, making it perfect for sightseeing and attending outdoor events.

  • Summer (June - August)

    • Weather: Long days with bright sunshine and minimal rainfall. Temperatures often exceed 30° C.

    • Tourism: Peak season, expect more crowds.

    • Activities: Ideal time for outdoor activities, including festivals like São João.

  • Autumn (September - November):

    • Weather: High levels of rainfall and occasional snowfall. The fall leaves add a unique charm.

    • Tourism: Slower, fewer tourists.

    • Suggestion: Great for those seeking a more tranquil experience and enjoying the city's beauty in solitude.

  • Winter (December - February)

    • Weather: Coldest months with temperatures dropping to single digits and increased wind speed.

    • Clothing: Warm clothing is necessary to enjoy the city comfortably.

    • Activities: Ideal for experiencing Braga's Christmas markets and indoor attractions.

Visiting Braga in late May, I found the weather to be absolutely delightful for exploring the city on foot. The gardens were in full bloom, and the light rain showers only added to the city's charm without being a hindrance. The evenings were cool and perfect for enjoying the local cuisine at outdoor restaurants.

Is Braga Portugal Safe To Visit?

Yes, Braga, Portugal, is generally perceived as a safe city for travelers, reflecting the broader safety landscape of the country. Here are some key points regarding safety in Braga:

  • General Safety

    • Portugal has a low crime rate, and its cities, including Braga, are considered safe for visitors.

    • The Portuguese police force is efficient, with minimal cases of police brutality, ensuring a secure environment for both locals and tourists.

  • Community Relations

    • Strong community relations with Muslim, Jewish, and migrant communities contribute to the harmonious atmosphere in Braga.

    • The Portuguese are known for their peace-loving nature, which plays a significant role in maintaining the country's safety.

  • Safety for Solo Female Traveler

    • Braga is safe for solo female travelers, with few instances of street harassment reported.

    • Public transportation in Braga is reliable and safe, further facilitating ease of travel within the city.

However, it's important to note some concerns regarding crime and the judicial process in Portugal:

  • Crime and Judicial Process

    • While the crime index is low, Portugal has seen an increase in rape cases, with a significant percentage of victims being female.

    • The Portuguese judicial system faces challenges, including a long and often painful process for victims of rape, with a low percentage of rape denunciations leading to final sentencing.

  • Petty Crimes

    • Instances of petty crimes such as pickpocketing or purse-snatching are relatively low in Braga, but as with any tourist destination, visitors should remain vigilant.

  • Tap Water Safety

    • Tap water in Braga is safe to drink, adding to the overall positive health and safety standards of the city.

Given these insights, Braga stands out as a safe destination for travelers, offering a blend of security and cultural richness. Visitors can enjoy the city's offerings with peace of mind, keeping in mind general precautions typical for any travel destination.

How Many Days are Enough to Visit Braga?

Determining the ideal duration for a visit to Braga hinges on several factors, including personal interests, pace of travel, and the depth of experience desired. Here's a breakdown to guide potential visitors in planning their trip:

  • Short Visit (1-2 Days):

    • Day 1: Explore Braga's historical and religious landmarks , such as the Se de Braga and Bom Jesus do Monte. Enjoy a leisurely stroll through the Garden of Santa Barbara and indulge in local cuisine at a traditional Portuguese restaurant.

    • Day 2 (Optional): Dedicate to visiting nearby beaches like Praia da Falperra or engaging in outdoor activities in the surrounding areas, such as hiking in Peneda-Gerês National Park.

  • Extended Stay (3-5 Days):

    • Day 3: Delve into Braga's cultural offerings by attending a festival or visiting museums. Allocate time for shopping in Braga's diverse retail spaces, from traditional markets to modern shopping centers.

    • Day 4: Take a day trip to one of the best day trips from Porto, exploring more of the Minho region's charm.

    • Day 5 (Optional): Reserve for leisure or further exploration based on personal interests, such as more in-depth historical tours, additional outdoor adventures, or relaxing at a beach.

What is the Historical Significance of Braga?

Braga, one of Portugal's oldest cities, has a rich history that dates back over two millennia. Its historical significance is deeply entwined with the spread of Christianity across the Iberian Peninsula and its role as a center of religious power and architectural grandeur. Here's a glimpse into the historical significance of Braga.

Ancient Foundations

Braga's history begins in Roman times when it was known as Bracara Augusta, established in the 1st century BC. As the capital of the Roman province of Gallaecia, the city was a major administrative, commercial, and religious center. Many of Braga's ancient Roman landmarks, such as the Thermae of Maximinus, still stand as testaments to its early importance.

Religious Capital

The city's religious significance blossomed with the spread of Christianity. Braga became a pivotal center for the Christianization of the Iberian Peninsula. In the early Middle Ages, it was known as the "Rome of Portugal" for its abundance of churches and religious institutions. The establishment of the Archdiocese of Braga, one of the oldest in Portugal, cemented its status as a key religious city.

Medieval Prosperity

Throughout the medieval period, Braga remained a vital religious and cultural hub. It was during this time that the city saw the construction of its renowned Cathedral (Sé de Braga), the oldest of its kind in Portugal, which showcases a blend of architectural styles reflecting the city's evolving history.

Renaissance and Beyond

In the Renaissance and subsequent periods, Braga continued to flourish as a center of learning and arts. The city's bishops and clergy played a significant role in the cultural and intellectual development of Portugal, commissioning artworks and architectural projects that added to Braga's beauty and heritage.

Modern Era

Braga has preserved its historical and cultural heritage while evolving into a modern, dynamic city. Its universities, tech industries, and cultural festivals blend the ancient and contemporary, making Braga a unique destination in Portugal.

Personal Reflection

Visiting Braga offers a journey through time. Walking through its ancient streets, marveling at the centuries-old cathedrals, and experiencing the tranquility of its gardens, I felt a deep connection to the past. Braga is a city where history is alive, offering endless discoveries to those who wander its historic paths.

Braga's historical significance lies not just in its past but in how it has seamlessly woven its rich heritage into the vibrant tapestry of modern life. This blend of ancient and contemporary makes Braga a captivating city, where history and modernity coexist harmoniously.

FAQs On Is Braga, Portugal Worth Visiting?

1. Is Braga worth visiting?

A: Absolutely. Braga offers a unique blend of historical richness, cultural vibrancy, and stunning landscapes, making it a must-visit destination in Northern Portugal.

2. What makes Northern Portugal special, and how does Braga fit into this?

Northern Portugal is known for its diverse landscapes, from rugged coastlines to verdant valleys. Braga, with its ancient history, cultural festivals, and beautiful gardens, embodies the region's charm and heritage.

3. Can you tell me more about the Arco da Porta Nova in Braga?

The Arco da Porta Nova serves as a ceremonial gateway to the city's historic center. It symbolizes Braga's rich history and is a must-see for its architectural beauty.

4.What is the Braga Romana festival?

A: Braga Romana is a festival that celebrates Braga's Roman heritage. It transforms the city with Roman markets, parades, and reenactments, offering a glimpse into its ancient past.

5. How does Braga compare to both Braga and Santiago de Compostela?

While Braga and Santiago de Compostela are both renowned for their religious significance and historic centers, Braga offers a unique blend of Roman history and modern Portuguese culture, distinguishing it as a diverse cultural destination.

6. When is the Braga Romana festival held?

The Braga Romana festival typically takes place in May, bringing the city's Roman history to life through various events and activities.

7. What is the significance of the Jardim de Santa Barbara?

A: The Jardim de Santa Bárbara is known for its stunning floral displays and medieval ruins, offering a peaceful retreat in the heart of Braga.

8. How accessible is Braga by train?

A: Braga is well-connected by train, with the Braga Train Station serving as a key hub. Visitors can easily reach Braga from major cities like Porto, which is linked by the São Bento Train Station.

9. Are there good day trips from Braga?

A: Yes, Braga serves as an excellent base for day trips to surrounding areas, including the scenic Bom Jesus do Monte and the historic city of Guimaraes.

10.What makes Bom Jesus do Monte a must-visit in Braga?

A: Bom Jesus do Monte is renowned for its baroque stairway, which leads to a stunning sanctuary. The site offers breathtaking views and is a testament to Portuguese religious architecture.

11. What makes Braga City Centre special?

Braga City Centre is the heart of the city, blending ancient architecture with contemporary life. Its streets are lined with historical buildings, shops, and cafes, making it a vibrant place to explore.

Reema Bharti

Reema Bharti

I am a globe-trotter with a passion for exploration. From the sun-kissed coasts of Portugal to the snow-capped peaks of Switzerland, my travels are as diverse as they are inspiring. My journeys through Spain, Finland, Austria, and Germany have fueled my soul and shaped my writing.