10+ Things To Do In Guimaraes, Portugal In One Day

Welcome to Guimaraes, a remarkable Portuguese town where you’ll feel like you stepped back in time to the Middle Ages. Narrow streets, old houses with typical medieval wooden parts, and vibrant squares create a truly unique and authentic vibe. Chances are high that Guimaraes will seduce you with its charm from the first steps! We couldn’t resist and it won our hearts in the blink of an eye! If you’re visiting North Portugal, you can’t miss out on visiting this one-of-a-kind place. Vamos, let us show you the best things to do in Guimaraes, Portugal in one day.

Interesting fact. Guimaraes was the first capital of Portugal before Lisbon took its place!

The Best Things To Do In Guimaraes, Portugal In One Day
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Guimaraes, Portugal FAQ

Where is Guimaraes located? 

Guimarães is located in Northern Portugal in the Alto Minho region in Braga District. The town is a fairly short drive from popular places nearby like Braga, Porto, Barcelos, Ponte de Lima, or Peneda-Geres National Park.

What is Guimaraes known for?

Guimaraes is best known for being the birthplace of the Kingdom of Portugal – all thanks to the fact that the first Portugal king, Afonso Henrique, was born there. Nowadays, Guimaraes is considered one of the most beautiful towns in Portugal, and what’s more, its historic center was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in recognition of being an “exceptionally well-preserved and authentic example of the evolution of a medieval settlement into a modern town” in Europe.

Is Guimaraes worth visiting?

We cannot answer other than YES! Guimaraes is absolutely worth visiting. The medieval old town full of charming streets and squares, a well-preserved castle, and many cultural and historical attractions are waiting for you there offering an unforgettable chance of stepping back in time.

Which is better: Braga or Guimaraes?

It all depends on your preferences. Both towns are popular travel destinations in North Portugal, but both are entirely different from each other. If you’re into medieval towns with unique vibes, you’ll love Guimaraes more. But if you’re more into spiritual experiences and visiting churches – you should visit Braga first. For us, Guimaraes is an undisputed winner.

Best things to do in Guimaraes Portugal - adore medieval buildings
Things To Do In Guimaraes, Portugal In One Day

Things to do in Guimaraes, Portugal in one day

Guimaraes Old Town

It’s a pure delight to slowly stroll around Guimaraes old town, which is one of the most beautiful and authentic historic centers you’ll find in Portugal. It’s a pure delight to slowly stroll around Guimaraes old town. Narrow streets, old stone houses with typical medieval wooden upper parts, and vibrant squares can make you feel like stepping back in time hundreds of years. What’s more, Guimaraes Old Town was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site!

In Guimaraes old town you’ll find points of interest like square Largo da Oliveira with the Church of Nossa Senhora da Oliveira and Padrão do Salado shrine, squares Largo de São Tiago and Largo do Toural, Guimaraes Castle, Santa Maria street, Palace of the Dukes of Braganza, or medieval walls.

Guimaraes Tourist Office is located in a small square of Largo Cónego José Maria Gomes, right behind Largo de São Tiago square.

Learn more iconDiscover: Accommodation options in Guimaraes

Exploring Guimaraes Authentic Old Town Medieval Streets
Guimaraes Portugal Old Town Medieval Street
Guimaraes Old Town Medieval Streets
Guimaraes Old Town Medieval Street
Medieval Buildings in Guimaraes Old Town
Exploring Guimaraes Old Town Medieval Streets

Square Largo da Oliveira

If you’re after old-world charm, you’ll find it in the Largo da Oliveira square. It’s a very atmospheric and lively place, surrounded by an array of old colorful medieval buildings. There you’ll also find many restaurants and cafes, perfect for a quick break with a cup of coffee or Vinho Verde.

Square got its name after a centuries-old olive tree (pt. oliveira). According to the legend, an olive tree was planted in the square, in front of the church, to supply olive oil for the altar lamps. When it got sick and stopped bearing fruits a local merchant placed a cross on the site and a real miracle happened… The olive tree came back to life! This happened in 1342, and that was when the square got its name. Unfortunately in the 19th century, the original olive tree was cut down and one you can admire today was planted only in 1985.

There are three noteworthy places in the square: 

  • Nossa Senhora da Oliveira Church (pt. Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Oliveira) – a late 15th-century Gothic church with a baroque interior. It also houses a religious-art Alberto Sampaio Museum. Entrance to the church is free, but the museum is paid. 
  • Padrao do Salado – a gothic monument with 4 arches and a cross, located right in front of the Nossa Senhora da Oliveira Church. It commemorates a victorious Battle of Río Salado that took place in 1340 near Tarifa between Portuguese and Castilian armies against the Moorish. 
  • Old Town Hall (pt. Antiga Camara Municipal) – a beautiful mostly 16th-century building, with 14th-century arches on the ground that separates Largo da Oliveira and Largo da Sao Tiago. 
Square Largo da Oliveira with Nossa Senhora da Oliveira Church in Guimaraes Old Town
Colorful Medieval Buildings in Largo da Oliveira Square in Guimaraes

Square Largo da Sao Tiago

Largo da Sao Tiago is another very atmospheric square in Guimarães. It’s located right next to the Largo da Oliveira Square, just behind Old Town Hall arches. It’s full of quaint old houses made of stone and wood, and even more restaurants and cafes. Square Largo da Sao Tiago looks like it hasn’t changed a bit since the Middle Ages, which is remarkable! In our opinion, this is the number one place to see in Guimaraes.

Learn more iconBook now: Guimarães and Braga Tour with Entry Tickets and Lunch - From Porto

Charming typical medieval buildings in Largo da Sao Tiago in Guimaraes Old Town
Authentic medieval buildings at Largo da Sao Tiago in Guimaraes Old Town

Street Rua de Santa Maria

Rua de Santa Maria is one of the oldest and now one of the most visited streets in Guimaraes. It was built in the 12th century, to connect the castle in the upper part of the town with the Santa Clara Convent located in the lower part. Also, the street was once home to Guimaraes’s wealthy families and clergymen. 

While taking a stroll along Rua de Santa Maria you’ll find many remains of the past, like buildings dating back to the 12th and the 13th century (look for Casa do Arco – no. 28, Casa dos Peixotos – no. 39, or Casa de Valadares de Carvalho – no. 9), Santa Clara Convent, or archway. The area is now also home to some independent shops where you can buy yourself a nice souvenir.

Rua de Santa Maria in Guimaraes Old Town
Convent on Rua de Santa Maria in Guimaraes Old Town

Square Largo do Toural

Largo do Toural is another square in Guimares that deserves attention. It’s quite a big area located on the border between the old and new town, which until the 18th century was outside the city walls and served as a commercial square and a livestock market. Currently, you’ll find there beautiful 18th-century buildings, a 16th-century fountain, and St. Peter’s Basilica (pt. Basílica de São Pedro).

 Interesting fact. Literally a few steps from Largo do Toural, on Rue do Anjo, you’ll find the medieval tower with the inscription “Aqui nasceu Portugal”, which means “Portugal was born here”.

Square Largo do Toural in Guimaraes Old Town Portugal
Square Largo do Toural in Guimaraes Old Town

Guimaraes Castle

Another great thing to do in Guimaraes is to visit Guimaraes Castle (pt. Castelo de Guimarães). It’s one of the city’s most important landmarks that sits on a small hill overlooking the town and its surroundings. Since the mid-10th century, it served as a military fortification to protect villagers and monks from Moors invaders. Over the following centuries, it underwent several modifications and reconstructions and played an important role in many battles. Currently, Guimaraes Castle is one of the most complete and well-preserved medieval castles in Portugal. It was listed as a National Monument in 1881.

Guimaraes Castle looks spectacular from the outside but to be honest there is not much to see inside. You can walk the ramparts and towers and admire amazing panoramic views. You can also visit Torre de Menagem, the highest tower in the middle of the fortifications, in which you’ll find a small museum featuring medieval military techniques and weapons of combat.

Entrance to Guimaraes Castle costs €‎2 and is free for children under 12 years old (April 2024). You can also buy a combined ticket, with the Palace of the Dukes of Braganza, for €6. For current prices and opening hours please visit pacodosduques.gov.pt website. 

Learn more iconBook now: Best of Braga and Guimaraes Day Trip from Porto

Things To Do In Guimaraes, Portugal In One Day - Visit Guimaraes Castle
Inside Guimaraes Castle tower

Palace of the Dukes of Braganza

While near Guimaraes Castle, you can also visit the Palace of the Dukes of Braganza (pt. Palace Duques de Bragança). It’s a medieval palace built in the first half of the 15th century for Alfonso, the 1st Duke of Bragança. In the 16th century, after the seat of the Bragança family was transferred to Vila Viçosa, it was abandoned. In the 19th century, it became a military barracks. The Palace of the Dukes of Braganza was restored in the 20th century and became the official residence of Portugal’s President Salazar in the North of the country.

The palace has been open to the public since 1959 and now serves as a museum. Inside you’ll find a big collection of tapestries, ceramics, paintings, and medieval weapons. Palace rooms are full of antique pieces, thanks to which you can easily imagine how the place looked like when it was lived in. 

Entrance to the Palace of the Dukes of Braganza costs €5 and is free for children under 12 years old (April 2024). You can also buy a combined ticket, with Guimaraes Castle, for €6. For current prices and opening hours please visit pacodosduques.gov.pt website. 

São Miguel do Castelo Church

Between Guimaraes Castle and the Palace of the Dukes of Braganza, you’ll find São Miguel do Castelo church (pt. Igreja de São Miguel do Castelo). It’s a small and modest medieval Romanesque church constructed of granite. What makes this place special is the fact that the first Portugal king, Afonso Henriques, was baptized here, and up to this day, on the king’s birthday, a mass is celebrated here. To be honest, it’s not the best thing to do in Guimarães, but while near the castle you can make a quick stop there.

Entrance to Palace of the Dukes of Braganza in Guimaraes Portugal
Palace of the Dukes of Braganza visible from Medieval Walls

Medieval Walls

In the 13th century, Guimaraes was surrounded by walls to protect the town and its inhabitants. This defensive structure surrounded both the upper part of the town, where the castle was located, and the lower one, dominated by Santa Maria Collegiate Church. It had in total 8 gates, of which 3 had towers. Today it’s possible to go for a very short and free walk on these defense walls and get some views of the Palace of the Dukes of Braganza and the city. 

Churches of Guimaraes 

As befits a Portuguese city, Guimaraes also boasts a large number of churches. So if you’re interested in visiting them here are some of the most interesting ones: 

  • Church of Saint Francis (pt. Igreja de São Francisco) is mostly famous for its 18th-century beautiful blue and white azulejos decorating the exterior walls.
  • Church of Our Lady of Consolation (pt. Igreja e Oratórios de Nossa Senhora da Consolação) is from the 18th century and now it’s one of the most beautiful churches in Guimarães. It’s located on Largo República do Brasil, which thanks to the garden with colorful flowers in front of the church became one of the most popular photo spots in the city.
  • Sanctuary of Penha (pt. Santuário da Penha) is located outside the Guimaraes Old Town, on the top of Penha Mountain (620m a.s.l). It can offer fantastic views over the town and its surroundings. You can reach this place by car, on foot or by funicular. 

Learn more iconDiscover: Accommodation options in Guimaraes

Medieval buildings in Guimaraes Old Town
Building in Guimaraes Old Town Sao Tiago Square.

How to get to Guimaraes, Portugal? 

Guimaraes is located about 55km from Porto, 80km from Viana do Castelo, 60km from Ponte de Lima, and 25km from Braga. The most convenient way to get to Guimaraes is by car or bus.

Where to park in Guimaraes?

There are some paid parking lots in Guimaraes Center to choose from. If you don’t want to pay you can leave your car for free 1km from the old town on José Luís de Pina street or one of the neighboring streets.

Airports near Guimaraes 

The closest airport to Guimaraes is located in Porto (55km away), and the next one is located in Vigo in Spain (115km away). From each airport, you can get to Guimaraes by bus. To check the connections that interest you please visit rome2rio.com website. 

Learn more iconFor great car rental deals visit Rentalcars website.

To Guimaraes by bus

You can quite easily get to Guimaraes by bus. For example, the trip from Porto will take about 45min (€4-9), 1h from Ponte de Lima (€7-11), and 45min from Braga (€2-8). To learn more about bus connections that interest you visit rome2rio.com website.

To Guimaraes by train

From some places, you can also reach Guimaraes by train. There are connections available from cities like Porto, Caminha, or Lisbon. Here you can find a map of Portugal train connections.

Learn more iconFor great train ticket deals visit Trainline website.

Camping Guimaraes

If you’re traveling by camper, places like Parque Campismo da Penha or GarfePark Camping might interest you. They are located near Guimaraes.

To Guimaraes with an organized tour

If you don’t want to put too much effort into planning, you can always take advantage of the guided tours and let someone else take care of all the details. For a wide selection and well-reviewed tour options GetYourGuide and Viator websites.

Things to do in Guimaraes Portugal in one day
Buildings in Guimaraes Old Town

Things to do in Guimaraes, Portugal in one Day – Summing up

Guimaraes is such an amazing town with so many great things to do, isn’t it? A charming old town full of colorful medieval buildings and lively squares, a well-kept castle and a few other historical buildings make an impressive combination! Thanks to all of that it’s clear why for many Guimaraes is one of the most beautiful cities in Portugal. Hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we did and our Guimaraes travel guide will help you plan a great trip!

Our opinion about Guimaraes, Portugal

For us, a visit to Guimaraes was a day trip from nearby Ponte da Barca where we lived for a few weeks. We visited it in early May, starting in the early morning hours, and in about 6 hours we managed to see all the places we wanted without rushing. Back then we found Guimaraes still quite sleepy without many tourists and mostly locals going on with their lives.

Guimaraes won our hearts in the blink of an eye and quickly topped the list of our favorite cities in Portugal. We really enjoyed our time there, and until today we still have fond memories of wandering among the old town. There’s nothing to complain about. We suspect that’s all because Guimaraes reminded us of one of our favorite towns in the United Kingdom – beautiful, medieval York.

Learn more iconBook now: Full Day Private Minho Tour (Guimarães and Braga)

Happy Little Traveler Team in Guimaraes, Portugal - Our opinion

Restaurants, accommodations, and map

Check out various recommended places below.

Where to eat in Guimaraes?

Here are your best, high-rated options in Guimaraes:

Where to sleep in Guimaraes?

Hotel Fundador in Guimaraes, Portugal

Hotel Fundador

Hotel Fundador in Guimaraes offers modern rooms with panoramic views of the UNESCO-listed centre, direct access to garage parking and free Wi-Fi. Guests can enjoy a buffet breakfast, Portuguese wines and local spirits at the top-floor bar, and the hotel's multilingual staff can assist with planning trips into the surroundings.

Hotel da Oliveira in Guimaraes, Portugal

Hotel da Oliveira

Stay at Hotel da Oliveira in Guimaraes, a charming hotel located in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage site, featuring individually decorated rooms with a historical theme, a rich breakfast buffet, an à la carte restaurant, car and bicycle rental services, and a library. With impeccable service, on-site parking, and excellent dining options, this hotel offers wonderful recreational facilities and is highly rated by past guests for its facilities and dining.

Pousada Mosteiro de Guimaraes Hotel

Pousada Mosteiro de Guimaraes

Stay in a 12th-century Augustin Convent at Pousada Mosteiro de Guimaraes- Monument Hotel and enjoy individually decorated rooms with modern amenities, landscaped gardens, and an outdoor pool. You can also take advantage of free Wi-Fi, car hire services, laundry services, and breakfast, as well as the hotel's fitness facility, massage, hot tub, steam room, spa, and sauna.

Accommodations photos source: booking.com

Guimaraes, Portugal - Map of places

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10+ Things To Do In Guimaraes, Portugal In One Day

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