Day Trip to Braga – Is it worth it?
Every list of recommended day trips from Porto I could find contained a day trip to Braga, the third most populated urban area in Portugal. So after you’ve explored Porto you might consider doing a day trip there but is it worth it?
When I visited, the city itself was very quiet. There were almost no tourists compared to other day trips from Porto. Though that might have been because of the 37°C heat (in Porto it was only about 28°C on that day). That’s why the best time to visit Braga is between September and November, it’s not too hot and not too crowded.
It’s quite easy to get to Braga from Porto but it does take some time, between 1 and 1.5 hours depending on what train you take, and it can get very crowded on the train.
You can get a slow urban train (U) for €3.25 one way or a faster Alfa Pendular train (AP) for €15.10 one way. The urban train sets off at São Bento station, a popular site in Porto known for its tile works. The urban train also stops at Campanhã station, where the fast train sets off. You can check the timetable on the Portuguese railway homepage.
I went for the urban train since it’s cheaper and it sets off at São Bento train station. As soon as I walked into this stunning train station on my first day in Porto, I thought it would be really cool to actually catch a train from here. And the day trip to Braga was a perfect reason to finally catch a train from there.
Visit The City’s Churches
Braga is not called the religious capital of Portugal for nothing, it has a LOT of churches.
The highlight is definitely Bom Jesus do Monte. The sanctuary on the hill is one of the 10 most famous landmarks in Portugal. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the main reason people do a day trip to Braga.
It’s a bit outside the city, but with good bus connections. The bus stop is right in front of the train station and you can pay the driver. I would recommend visiting in the morning because then the MANY steps are still more in the shade. Otherwise, you can also get the funicular to the top. The surroundings of the church are stunning and you get a nice view of the city as well, the church itself is nothing special in my opinion. The hilltop is actually the only place that was touristy, although a lot of the people seemed to be there for spiritual reasons and not just for sightseeing.
The second and last church I want to mention is Braga Cathedral. Apparently, it has a bit of every architectural movement in it, I don’t know enough about architecture to have noticed that. I did notice however how amazing the organ looked. We had to enter through a side door and pay a bit for the entrance to see the church and the courtyard. Included in the ticket price is also the courtyard, where a small fountain is surrounded by a lot of flowers.
Enjoy The Colourful Flowers
I noticed that most cities in the north of Portugal don’t have that many flowers in the city landscape. I assume it is because it gets quite hot and it doesn’t rain much. That’s why I noticed the beautiful flower arrangements in Braga even more, they are just so colourful and pretty. So it’s really nice to just walk around the city and discover them.
Speaking of flowers, my highlight was the Jardim de Santa Barbara. A small garden in the middle of the city with flowers, a fountain and an old arch. What more do you want from a small park in the city? Okay maybe something to sit on, it’s still really pretty though. We had a drink in the restaurant right next to the garden. To tell you the truth it’s not great, but the location is fantastic with the view of the Jardim.
Go For Some Cheap Food
There are definitely fewer vegan options than in Porto, but the options that do exist are way cheaper. We had lunch at Vegan Details which seemed like a popular place for people who work close by to get a quick lunch. The restaurant is on the ground floor of a half-abandoned-looking mall, in other words, not the best atmosphere. There were two options on the day we were there, rice stroganoff and chickpea salad. Both options were decent, especially for €5.50 each. For dinner, we headed back to Porto though.
Is a Day Trip to Braga Worth it?
In general, I got the impression that Braga is more visited by older people and even some religious pilgrims. The vibe of the city was not as young as in other cities I’ve visited in the North of Portugal. We still had a great time on our day trip to Braga. I would recommend visiting Braga if you like one of the following things: churches, shopping or flowers. Couldn’t really say much about shopping since I’m not too fond of it myself but I noticed a lot of shops on every street.
Does Braga not seem like the right day trip for you? Check out my list of day trips from Porto.