15 Best Things To Do In Braga, Portugal In One Day

Bom dia! Welcome to Braga, one of the oldest cities in Portugal and definitely the most religious one. Thanks to a huge number of churches, as many as 47, it’s often called the Rome of Portugal. What’s more, it’s an important stop for many walking Camino Portugues, one of the spiritual routes leading to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. But don’t worry if you aren’t a religious person – Braga has many more attractions to offer than just churches! Stay with us and discover things to do in Braga, Portugal in one day.

Interesting fact. An ancient Celtic tribe Bracari most likely founded Braga. Later, around 136 BC Romans conquered the region and called the city Bracara Augusta.

Things To Do In Braga, Portugal In One Day
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Braga, Portugal FAQ

Where is Braga located? 

Braga is located in the North of Portugal in the Alto Minho region in the Braga District. It’s the fourth most populated city in the country after Lisbon, Porto, and Amadora.

Is Braga worth visiting?

Yes, Braga is an interesting city worth visiting. It’s one of the biggest and most modern places in Northern Portugal with a charming historic center where you can feel like stepping back in time. It’s a place that has something to offer to everyone – there are museums, amazing viewpoints, restaurants with delicious food, and of course dozens of churches.

What is Braga known for?

Braga is best known as a city of churches, as they are literally on every corner. Besides that, the city is known for its pleasant old town, interesting architecture, museums, historical buildings and landmarks. A bit out of town, you’ll find some great viewpoints and… more churches. 

How many days do you need in Braga?

It depends on what you want to do and see in the city. One day is enough to see all the main Braga attractions, both in and outside the city, but without spending too much time in the churches or museums. If spiritual experiences and/or exploring museums interests you, we recommend staying at least 3 days in Braga.

Which is better: Braga or Guimaraes?

It depends on your preferences! Both places are very popular travel destinations in North Portugal but also they are totally different and hard to compare. In our eyes, Guimaraes is all about the medieval vibe, and Braga is about the churches. For us, Guimaraes is the unquestionable winner. But it’s best to visit both cities and form your own opinion.

Things to do in Braga Portugal in one day - Explore Old Town
Things to do in Braga in one day - Explore old town

Things to do in Braga, Portugal

Braga Old Town Streets

The best way to get to know Braga is to stroll among its charming old town streets, its historical center. There you’ll get a chance to admire old buildings, historical landmarks, and countless churches, and have a delicious coffee in one of many cafes. Just let yourself be carried away and sooner than later you’ll discover every corner. Braga Old Town is fairly compact and easy to explore on foot.

Among Braga’s old town streets, you’ll find points of interest like the Cathedral, Arch of the New Gate, Republic Square, Raio Palace, Garden Of Santa Barbara, Biscainhos Museum, and Museum of Archeology D. Diogo de Sousa. And of course many churches, restaurants, cafes, and small shops.

Braga Tourist Office is located in the heart of the city, on Avenida da Liberdade, just right next to Republic Square.

Learn more iconDiscover: Accommodation options in Braga

Exploring Braga Old Town Streets
Braga Old Town Street near Republic Square
Things to do in Braga Old Town in Portugal
Old charming buildings in Braga Old Town
Statue on the balcony in Braga Old Town near Cathedral
Braga Old Town Streets with Cathedral view

Republic Square

Republic Square (pt. Praça da Republica) is located in the heart of Braga. Locals, as well as travelers, love this beautiful square. Locally it’s known as Arcada Square, thanks to the 18th-century arcade building. For a long time, it served as a sheltered place for merchants selling their products. 

Nowadays, in this big, traffic-free area you’ll find a beautiful fountain (pt. Chafariz da Praça da República), restaurants, and cafes, including two really famous: Cafe Vianna (oldest cafe in Braga, dating back to 1858) and Café Astoria. There is also a big green space, Park Avenida Central.

Republic Square, Praca da Republica, in Braga Old Town
Building in Republic Square. Praca da Republica, in Braga

Braga Tower

Behind Republic Square, you’ll find an important historic landmark. 30m high Braga Tower (pt. Torre de Menagem) is the last standing remains of the 13th-century fortified castle which was demolished in the early 20th century. 

Avenida da Liberdade

While still on Republic Square don’t miss a stroll along Avenida da Liberdade, Braga’s main shopping street lined with beautiful and colorful flowers. This is also where you’ll find 20th-century Theatro Circo, which is considered one of the most beautiful theaters in Portugal. 

Learn more iconBook now: Braga and Guimarães Full-Day Trip

Avenida da Liberdade in Braga, Portugal
Shopping streets in Braga - Avenida da Liberdade
Avenida da Liberdade in Braga, Portugal

Raio Palace

Raio Palace (pt. Palácio do Raio) is an impressive building located in the Braga old town, best known for its spectacular blue facade covered in blue azulejos. It was designed by Andre Soares and built in the 1750s as a private residence of Joao Duarte de Faria, a wealthy merchant, and knight of the Military Order of Christ, better known as the Knights Templar. Nowadays Raio Palace is classified as a Property of Public Interest.

Raio Palace was renovated in 2014-2015 and now is home to a small museum. Inside you can learn about the history of Braga, as well as see various religious artifacts. Entrance cost €2 (April 2024). To check out opening hours visit scmbraga.pt website.

Raio Palace in Braga, Portugal
Blue azulejos on Raio Palace in Braga Portugal

Braga Cathedral

Braga Cathedral (pt. Sé de Braga) is Portugal’s oldest cathedral, which is actually… older than Portugal itself! Its construction started in the 11th century, in 1070, and in August 1089 it was consecrated under the devotion of Santa Maria de Braga. Back in time, it used to compete for power with the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral. Currently, it’s the most important religious building in the city, as it’s the seat of the Archdiocese of Braga. Because the Cathedral was modified many times over the years, it combines several architectural styles: Baroque, Romanesque, Gothic, and Manueline. Braga Cathedral has been a National Monument since 1910. 

The entrance to Braga Cathedral is paid. You can choose from a few options: visit only a Cathedral (€2), Chapels & High Choir (€2), or Treasure Museum (€3) or buy a combined ticket to all of them for €5 (April 2024). For current prices and opening hours visit se-braga.pt website.

In our opinion, Braga Cathedral isn’t that spectacular, at least from the outside. We decided not to pay to see the inside because well.. we‘re not that huge fans of churches.

Braga Cathedral, Sé de Braga - view from the front
Treasure Museum in Braga Cathedral

Garden of Santa Barbara

Garden of Santa Barbara (pt. Jardim de Santa Bárbara) is another great attraction in Braga. It’s located just a few steps from Praca da Republica and behind Old Archbishops Palace (pt. Antigo Paço Arquiepiscopal). It’s a charming and relaxing place filled with hundreds of colorful flowers and benches on which you can sit and take a short break.

In the central part of the garden, you’ll find a 17th-century fountain featuring a Santa Barbara statue. In the back, there are remains of Gothic arches. Garden Of Santa Barbara is open daily, 24 hours a day.

Garden Of Santa Barbara in Braga Portugal
Gothic Arches in Garden Of Santa Barbara in Braga

Arch of the New Gate 

Arch of the New Gate (pt. Arco da Porta Nova) is an iconic arch that was originally built in the early 16th century as part of Braga city walls and served as the main entrance to the city. The current version was designed in 1772 by Andre Soares. It’s made of stone, with baroque and neoclassical details. The Arch of the New Gate has been a National Monument since 1910. 

Biscainhos Museum

Biscainhos Museum (pt. Museu dos Biscainhos) is located in the 17th-century Baroque palace, right next to the Arco da Porta Nova. Once it was a residence of the noble family of the judge and Knight in the Order of Christ, Dr. Constantino Ribeiro do Lago. Currently, it’s a museum that gives an opportunity to take a look at the life of the Portuguese nobility. It features things like art, ceramics, musical instruments, glassware, furniture, or clocks. Outside, you’ll also find a beautiful garden. 

Entrance to Biscainhos Museum costs €2 for a normal ticket and €1 for a reduced one (April 2024). The museum is closed on Mondays. The museum is closed on Mondays. For current prices and opening hours visit museudosbiscainhos.gov.pt website.

Learn more iconBook now: Braga and Guimarães Full Day Tour with Lunch

Arch of the New Gate in Braga, Portugal
Buildings near Arch of the New Gate in Braga
Arco da Porta Nova in Braga Old Town

Churches and chapels in Braga Old Town

Braga is called Rome of Portugal not without reason. In total, there are 47 churches and chapels around the city! Unbelievable, right? Many are located in the old town and visiting them is the main thing to do in Braga for some people. Besides Braga Cathedral, in our opinion, the following are worth taking a look at:

  • Igreja De São Marcos (also called Igreja do Hospital) – one of the biggest churches in Braga, dating back to the 18th century. In front of it, you’ll find big “Braga” letters.
  • Igreja De Santa Cruz – a baroque church built in the 17th century, located on the same square as São Marcos church. 
  • Basilica dos Congregados – this beautifully looking church dates back to the 18th century, located in Park Avenida Central, just a few steps from Republic Square 
Churches of Braga - Basilica dos Congregados
Basilica dos Congregados
Churches of Braga - Igreja De São Marcos
Igreja De São Marcos
Churches of Braga - Igreja De Santa Cruz
Igreja De Santa Cruz

Museum of Archeology D. Diogo de Sousa

Museum of Archeology (pt. Museu de Arqueologia Dom Diogo de Sousa) was founded in 1918 and named after Braga’s Archbishop who lived there in the 16th century. Inside you’ll find archaeological collections from North Portugal, covering the Palaeolithic period, Roman period, ending in the Middle Ages. There are artifacts like pottery, jewelry, or personal household items.

Entrance to the Museum of Archeology costs €3 (April 2024). The museum is closed on Mondays. For current prices and opening hours visit museuddiogodesousa.gov.pt website.

Praça – City Market

We found this municipal market by chance when we were strolling along Braga streets and we loved it! It’s housed in a nice modern building lined in wood, and even has a fountain inside! In the market, you can buy many fresh products like vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, cheese or pastries.  

Praca City Market Mercado in Braga Portugal
Praca City Market in Braga Portugal

Things to do outside Braga Old Town

Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte

Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte (pt. Bom Jesus do Monte) is a city landmark and without a doubt one of the best places to see in Braga. It’s tucked away in a spectacular place on a hill, only about 5km from the old town, to which you can drive by car, or arrive by bus (line 2 from Avenida da Liberdade). The sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2019. 

The area is best known for its extraordinary Baroque stairway with 577 stairs leading to the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte. While going up take a look at many statues, chapels, and fountains, as well as stunning views over Braga behind your back. At the top visit the 18th-century church (it’s free), take a relaxing and well-deserved stroll in the Sanctuary’s garden, and of course, admire panoramic views over the city.

If you don’t want to climb almost 600 stairs (or can’t due to health reasons) there’s a great solution – Bom Jesus Funicular. Yes, you can easily reach the top by funicular, which has been shuttling up and down the hill since 1882. A two-way trip costs only €3 (April 2024).

Interesting fact. In nearby Peneda-Geres National Park, you’ll find the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Peneda, which is a smaller version of the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte. 

Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte in Braga, Portugal
Stairs of Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte in Braga, Portugal
Spectacular stairs of Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte in Braga
Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte in Braga Interior
Panoramic Braga views from top of Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte

Sanctuary of Our Lady of Sameiro

Sanctuary of Our Lady of Sameiro (pt. Santuário de Nossa Senhora do Sameiro) is located only 2km further from Bom Jesus do Monte, on an even higher hill, at the altitude of 566m a.s.l. It’s an impressive neoclassical church with a huge white dome, built in the 1860s. Even if you’re not into churches we advise you to visit this place, if only for truly stunning views of Braga and its surroundings (which in our opinion are better than from Bom Jesus do Monte). The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Sameiro can be visited for free. 

Sanctuary of Our Lady of Sameiro in Braga
Views from Sanctuary of Our Lady of Sameiro

Parque do Monte do Picoto

Parque do Monte do Picoto (pt. Miradouro do Picoto) is a great viewpoint located only 2.5km from the Braga center. From it, you can admire one of the best, and closest, panoramic views over Braga. We didn’t have a chance to experience that but read that it’s an amazing spot for watching sunsets. In the park, you’ll also find a picnic area. 

Learn more iconBook now: Guimarães & Braga Tour with Entry Tickets and Lunch

Views over Braga from Parque do Monte do Picoto
Parque do Monte do Picoto, Miradouro do Picoto in Braga Portugal
Views over Braga from Parque do Monte do Picoto

How to get to Braga, Portugal? 

Braga is located about 55km from Porto, 60km from Viana do Castelo, 40km from Ponte de Lima, and 25km from Guimaraes. The most convenient way to get to Braga is by car, bus, or train. 

Where to park in Braga?

There are some paid parking lots in Braga center, but if you don’t want to pay you can leave your car for free 1km (10min walk) from the old town, on Rua da Restauração or neighboring streets

Airports near Braga

The closest airport to Braga in Portugal is located in Porto (55km away). Other ones are located in Spain, in Vigo (100km away) and Santiago de Compostela (200 km away). From each airport, you can get to Braga by bus or rent a car. To check the connections that interest you please visit rome2rio.com website. 

Learn more iconFor great car rental deals visit Rentalcars website.

To Braga by bus

You can quite easily get to Braga by bus. For example, a trip from Porto will take about 45min (€4-14), 1h from Ponte de Lima (€3-8), and 50min from Guimares (€2-8). To learn more about bus connections that interest you visit rome2rio.com website.

To Braga by train

From some places, you can also reach Braga by train. There are connections available from cities like Lisbon, Porto, Viana do Castelo or even Albufeira in the south. Here is a map of Portugal train connections

Learn more iconFor great train ticket deals visit Trainline website.

Camping Braga

If you’re traveling by camper, places like Camping Braga or GarfePark Camping might interest you. They are located in or near Braga.

To Braga 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.

Braga Portugal - Old Town Building
Explore Braga Old Town Streets and Squares

Things to do in Braga, Portugal in one day – Summing Up

All right, that’s it about Braga. If you are a huge fan of exploring churches – you’ll have a blast in Braga. But even if you’re not, there are plenty of other attractions and things to do in the city as well. For sure, you’ll find something for yourself in Braga, even if you have only one day to explore the area.

Our opinion about Braga

For us, a visit to Braga was a day trip from nearby Ponte da Barca where we lived for a few weeks. It was quite a long day, but we managed to see all the places we wanted without rushing in about 8 hours. But we didn’t spend much time on churches and museums as they didn’t interest us. We visited Braga in late April, starting in the early morning hours. Back then we found it still quite sleepy without many tourists and mostly locals going on with their lives.

For us, Braga was a pleasant Portuguese town, but not the best or the most interesting one in the area. But we think it’s worth visiting once in a lifetime. We liked strolling among its old town streets, admiring old buildings, and learning about its history.

But what we liked most was admiring views over the surroundings from many viewpoints outside the city – really, really great! Visiting churches isn’t really our thing so we kept it to a minimum. Overall, there’s nothing to complain about, we’ll remember Braga fondly, as a city of churches.