Braga: The Complete Guide

Braga
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Feliciano Guimarães

Braga is a town steeped in history, with a plethora of churches, palaces, gardens, and fountains visible almost everywhere you turn. The Romans knew it as Bracara Augusta, and it has been inhabited by various conquerors, including the Suevi, Visigoths, and Moors. For centuries, it has served as an archiepiscopal seat and pilgrimage site, with the Visigoths reputed to have abandoned their heresies there. Braga is also a renowned religious capital, hosting Portugal’s most magnificent Semana Santa (Holy Week) observances, featuring torch-lit processions of hooded participants that may evoke images of the KKK.

Despite its rich history, Braga is a contemporary city, bustling with commerce and industry. The city centre, home to the historic core and cathedral, is surrounded by a thriving periphery that encompasses a range of manufacturing industries such as brick-making, soap-making, textiles, smelting, engineering, and leather goods. With a population of 65,000 residents, Braga’s streets are now noisy, filled with increasing numbers of unsightly and uninspired apartment blocks, and subject to traffic congestion on roads that not so long ago only had a few cars and perhaps a donkey or two. Despite being known as Portugal’s most conservative city politically, Braga has a lively nightlife that has earned it the nickname “Lisbon in miniature,” thanks to its youthful population.

History of Braga

Braga is one of the oldest cities in Portugal and has a history that dates back to ancient Roman times when it was known as Bracara Augusta. Founded over 2,000 years ago, it served as the capital of the Roman province of Gallaecia, which covered what is now northern Portugal and Galicia in Spain.

Roman Era:

  • The Romans established Braga as a major administrative and religious center, and many Roman structures were built, including baths, a theater, and temples.

Medieval Period:

  • After the fall of the Roman Empire, Braga became a significant center under the Suebi and later the Visigoths. In the Middle Ages, Braga emerged as a major religious center, with its bishopric (established in the 3rd century) becoming one of the most important in Iberia.

Renaissance and Modern Era:

  • In the 16th century, Braga was revitalized as a center of religious learning and culture, with the establishment of the Diocese of Braga. The city experienced architectural growth and enrichment, evidenced by its splendid baroque churches.

Contemporary Braga:

  • Today, Braga blends its rich historical past with a vibrant modern culture. It is a dynamic hub for education, religion, and technology, offering a unique mix of ancient and contemporary attractions. Braga continues to be an essential site for religious pilgrims and tourists alike, celebrated for its historical significance and cultural vibrancy.

Braga’s deep-rooted history, combined with its ongoing cultural evolution, makes it a fascinating destination for any traveler interested in exploring the layers of Portuguese heritage.

Visiting Braga for the first time and wondering what are the top places to see in the city? In this complete guide, I share the best things to do in Braga on the first visit. To help you plan your trip, I have also included an interactive map and practical tips for visiting!

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17 Best places to See in Braga

This complete guide to Braga not only tells you about the very best sights and tourist attractions for first-time visitors to the city but also provide insights into a few of our personal favorite things to do.

This is a practical guide to visiting the best places to see in Braga and is filled with tips and info that should answer all your questions!

Braga Cathedral

Main Facade Of Braga Cathedral
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Joseolgon
The Cathedral of Braga, also known as the Santa Maria de Braga Cathedral, holds the distinction of being the first cathedral built in Portugal, constructed several decades prior to the founding of the country. Bishop Pedro consecrated and dedicated the cathedral to the Virgin Mary in a grand ceremony on August 28, 1089, just as […]
Location: Braga Cathedral, R. Dom Paio Mendes, Braga, Portugal | Hours: 9.30am-12.30pm & 2.30-6.30pm Apr-Oct, to 5.30pm Nov-Mar | Website | Distance: 0.00km
Visiting Braga Cathedral

We recommend to rent a car in Portugal through Discover Cars, they compare prices and review multiple car rental agencies. Book your rental car here.

Santa Barbara Garden

Santa Barbara Garden
CC BY-SA 3.0 / José Goncalves
Santa Barbara Garden is located adjacent to the eastern wing of the 14th century Archbishop’s Palace, you can find a small but charming public garden which takes advantage of the historic backdrop and also incorporates the medieval arches that remain of an arcade from the palace. The garden, designed by Jose Cardoso da Silva in […]
Location: Jardim de Santa Bárbara, Braga, Portugal | Distance: 0.10km
Visiting Santa Barbara Garden

Explore Braga yourself with our self-guided walking tour!

Episcopal Palace

Paço Episcopal Bracarense
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Alegna13
The Episcopal Palace (Paço Arquiepiscopal de Braga), is set between the Santa Barbara garden and Praça do Municipio is the Archiepiscopal Court (Paço Arquiepiscopal), one of Braga’s most significant historic buildings. The palace consists of three buildings, all connected, that date from different periods. This, each building has a different architectural style: Gothic, Renaissance and […]
Location: Igreja de São Vicente, Rua de São Vicente, Braga, Portugal | Distance: 0.10km
Visiting Episcopal Palace

Pius XII & Medina Museum

Pius XII Museum In Braga
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Krzysztof Golik
The Pius XII Museum is located in the heart of the city, it displays one of the most relevant collections of archaeology and religious art in Northern Portugal. Fine arts also have a special place here, with a gallery dedicated to artist Henrique Medina. In the Medieval Tower of Santiago the history Braga is represented […]
Location: Museu Pio XII, Largo de Santiago, Braga, Portugal | Hours: From Tuesday to Saturday, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 to 6 p.m. The Museum is closed on Mondays. As well as on 25 December, 1 January and Easter Sunday. | Price: Medina Gallery visit: 2€ Medieval Tower visit: 2€ Entire Museum visit: 4€ | Website | Distance: 0.20km
Visiting Pius XII & Medina Museum

Arco da Porta Nova

1024px Arco Da Porta Nova, Braga
CC BY-SA 2.0 / FlyingCrimsonPig
If you arrive in Braga by train, you’ll find that the Arch of Rua do Souto serves as one of the entrances to the city center. Simply head straight on along Rua Andrade Corvo from the station, and you’ll come across it. This archway was originally one of the medieval gateways in the defensive wall […]
Location: Arco da Porta Nova, Rua Dom Diogo de Sousa, Braga, Portugal | Hours: 24 hours | Distance: 0.20km
Visiting Arco da Porta Nova

Torre de Menagem

Torre De Menagem, Braga
CC BY-SA 2.0 / K. Kendall
The Castle of Braga is a historic fortification that once encircled the city. Although the only remaining parts of the structure are various gates and towers, the keep tower in the civil parish of São João do Souto is the only authentic remnant of the medieval castle. The original walls were built in the 2nd […]
Location: Torre de Menagem, Rua do Castelo, Braga, Portugal | Distance: 0.20km
Visiting Torre de Menagem

Biscainhos Museum

Biscainhos Garden
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Joseolgon
The Museum of Biscaínhos is housed within a stunning 17th-century residential palace, originally built by a noble family. This remarkable structure is a prime example of civil Baroque architecture, offering a glimpse into the lifestyles of the Baroque-era upper class. The various buildings have been preserved in their original state, and inside, visitors can enjoy […]
Location: Biscainhos Museum, Rua dos Biscaínhos, Braga, Portugal | Hours: 10am-12.30pm & 2-5.30pm Tue-Sun | Price: adult/student €2/1, first Sun of the month free | Distance: 0.30km
Visiting Biscainhos Museum

Fonte do Ídolo

Fonte Do Idolo, Braga
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Joseolgon
The Fonte do Ídolo or Fountain of the Idol is a Roman fountain located in the civil parish of São José de São Lázaro, in the municipality of Braga, northern Portugal. The granite rock fountain/spring has Latin inscriptions, dedicated to the Gallaecian and Lusitanian gods Tongoenabiagus and Nabia (built during era of Roman Emperor Augustus). […]
Location: Fonte do Ídolo, Rua do Raio, Braga, Portugal | Hours: 9.30am-1pm & 2-5.30pm Mon-Fri, 11am-5.30pm Sat | Distance: 0.40km
Visiting Fonte do Ídolo

Praça da República (Braga)

Braga Praca Da Republica
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Gerd Eichmann
Praça da República , popularly referred to as Arcada, is located in the parish of São José de São Lázaro , in the historic center of the city of Braga , in the district of the same name , in Portugal. It constitutes a square that opens up between the São Francisco and Barão de […]
Location: Praça da República, Braga, Portugal | Distance: 0.40km
Visiting Praça da República (Braga)

Palácio do Raio

Raio Palace
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Joseolgon
The Palácio do Raio was built during the reign of king João V (1706-50), this is a wonderful example of Baroque civil architecture and designed by André Soares for José Duarte de Faria. He was a knight of the Order of Christ in addition to being a highly influential trader. In 1834, the property was […]
Location: Palácio do Raio, Braga Norte, Braga, Portugal | Hours: Museum: 10am-1pm & 2.30-6.30pm Tue-Sat | Website | Distance: 0.40km
Visiting Palácio do Raio

Termas Romanas do Alto da Cividade

Termas Romanas Do Alto Da Cividade
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Joseolgon
The Roman Thermae of Maximinus, also known as the Termas Romanas de Maximinos in Portuguese, are the ruins of a grand public bathhouse and monumental building constructed as part of the urban renewal of Bracara Augusta, the Roman provincial capital of Gallaecia (later Braga). The complex consisted of a bathhouse building and a theater, both […]
Location: Termas Romanas do Alto da Cividade, Rua Doutor Rocha Peixoto, Braga, Portugal | Hours: 9.30am-1pm & 2-5.30pm Mon-Fri, 11am-5.30pm Sat | Price: adult/student €1.85/0.95 | Distance: 0.50km
Visiting Termas Romanas do Alto da Cividade

Museu D. Diogo de Sousa

Museu Dom Diogo De Sousa
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Joseolgon
The D. Diogo de Sousa Regional Museum houses a diverse collection of archaeological artefacts from the Braga region, spanning a wide range of cultural and chronological periods, from the Palaeolithic era to the Middle Ages. The Roman artefacts are especially noteworthy, featuring tombstones and everyday objects that provide insight into the lives of people from […]
Location: Museu de Arqueologia D. Diogo de Sousa, Rua dos Bombeiros Voluntários, Braga, Portugal | Hours: 9.30am-6pm Tue-Sun Jun–mid-Sep, to 5.30pm mid-Sep–May | Price: adult/student €3/1.50, Sun free | Website | Distance: 0.50km
Visiting Museu D. Diogo de Sousa

Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte in Braga

Sanctuary Of Bom Jesus Do Monte In Braga
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Béria Lima de Rodríguez
The  Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte in Braga is situated on the slopes of Mount Espinho in northern Portugal, providing a panoramic view of the city of Braga. It is designed to resemble Christian Jerusalem, featuring a sacred mountain crowned with a church. Over a period of more than six centuries, the sanctuary was […]
Location: Bom Jesus do Monte - Tenões 4700 Braga | Hours: Church: Summer 8 AM – 7 PM, Winter 9 AM – 6 PM. | Website | Distance: 4.10km
Visiting Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte in Braga

Monastery of São Martinho de Tibães

Monastery Of São Martinho De Tibães
CC BY-SA 4.0 / jfilipemo
The Monastery of São Martinho de Tibães is the ‘mother house’ for the Benedictine order of monks in both Portugal and Brazil, the Monastery of São Martinho de Tibães was founded in around 1060. The monastery has four cloisters and the most important is decorated with azulejos and a granite fountain at the centre. The […]
Location: Monastery of São Martinho de Tibães, Rua do Mosteiro, Mire de Tibães, Portugal | Distance: 4.40km
Visiting Monastery of São Martinho de Tibães

Sanctuary of Our Lady of Sameiro

Santuário Do Sameiro
CC BY-SA 3.0 / CTHOE
The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Sameiro, also known as the Sanctuary of Sameiro, is a Marian shrine located in Espinho, near the city of Braga, Portugal. The construction of the neoclassical sanctuary was initiated in the 19th century by Father Martinho da Silva. Although it does not have much artistic interest, the main altar […]
Location: Sanctuary of Our Lady of Sameiro, Avenida Nossa Senhora do Sameiro, Braga, Portugal | Hours: Winter, Monday through Saturday from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm and Sunday from 6:30 am to 5:30 pm Summer, Monday through Saturday from 7:30 am to 7 pm and Sunday from 6:30 am to 7 pm. | Distance: 4.80km
Visiting Sanctuary of Our Lady of Sameiro

Citânia de Briteiros

Citânia De Briteiros
CC BY-SA 3.0 / TarichaRivularis
The Citânia de Briteiros is a remarkable protohistoric settlement located atop the São Romão hill, overlooking the Ave River valley and just a few kilometers from Guimarães. This site offers scenic beauty and is known for the grandeur of its walls, architecture and urbanism. The ancient walls enclose streets and rectangular or circular dwellings, often […]
Location: Citânia de Briteiros, Briteiros, Portugal | Hours: 9am-6pm Apr-Sep, to 5pm Oct-Mar | Price: adult/child incl museum €3/1.50 | Website | Distance: 9.60km
Visiting Citânia de Briteiros

Capela de São Frutuoso (Braga)

Church Of São Francisco And Capela De São Frutuoso De Montélios, Braga
CC BY-SA 2.0 / François Philipp
The Monastery of São Salvador, which is thought to have been established by São Frutuoso, the bishop of Braga around 560, was originally intended as a tomb for the bishop. The present chapel was built in the 9th or 10th century. The chapel is one of the few surviving examples of pre-Romanesque architecture in Portugal. […]
Location: Capela de São Frutuoso, Braga, Portugal | Distance: 16.90km
Visiting Capela de São Frutuoso (Braga)

Best Time to Visit Braga

Braga, known as the “Portuguese Rome” for its abundant historical churches and rich cultural heritage, offers a delightful experience throughout the year. However, certain times may be more favorable depending on weather and events:

Spring (March to May): Spring is arguably the best time to visit Braga, as the weather is mild and the city is alive with color from blooming flowers. This season is perfect for exploring the many religious and historical sites comfortably. Braga is especially vibrant during Holy Week when it hosts numerous solemn processions and religious events, drawing visitors from around the world.

Summer (June to August): Summer in Braga is warm and sunny, ideal for enjoying the city’s outdoor cafes and parks. The São João Festival in June is a highlight, featuring street decorations, music, dance, and traditional festivities that animate the entire city.

Fall (September to November): Autumn brings cooler temperatures and fewer tourists, making it a pleasant time to visit. The changing leaves add a picturesque touch to the city’s historic streets and parks, providing a beautiful backdrop for leisurely explorations.

Winter (December to February): Winters are generally mild in Braga, though it can be a bit rainy. This quieter season is great for those who prefer a more relaxed visit without the crowds, offering a chance to experience local life more authentically.

Average Temperatures in Braga

  • January 14°C 27
  • February 16°C 23
  • March 20°C 21
  • April 23°C 17
  • May 25°C 12
  • June 27°C 7
  • July 33°C 3
  • August 32°C 3
  • September 29°C 10
  • October 25°C 30
  • November 18°C 27
  • December 15°C 30

How to get to Braga

By Air:

  • The nearest airport to Braga is Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport in Porto, located about 53 kilometers southwest of Braga.

By Train:

  • Braga is well-connected by train with frequent services from Porto. Trains depart from São Bento or Campanhã stations in Porto, and the journey takes about an hour.

By Bus:

  • Buses also operate regularly between Porto and Braga, offering an alternative to train travel. The journey is about the same length and provides flexibility with numerous daily departures.

By Car:

  • Driving from Porto to Braga is straightforward, taking the A3 motorway directly north to Braga, with the journey typically lasting less than an hour.
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