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Visit the oldest cathedral in Portugal, climb the steps of Bom Jesus do Monte, stroll along the pedestrian streets and through colorful gardens, and take a photo with the brilliantly blue Braga sign…these are all things to do in Braga, Portugal.

Braga makes a great day trip destination from Porto and can easily be combined with Guimarães, which we’ll get to later in this guide. Visiting Bom Jesus do Monte is the highlight, but there are a few important historical landmarks to visit, plus a great list of restaurants, should you be in Braga during lunch or dinner.

Interesting Facts about Braga

Braga is famous for being home to the oldest cathedral in Portugal, the Braga Cathedral, or in Portuguese.

The city was founded in 16 BC, during the reign of Emperor Augustus and the time of the Roman Empire and was known as Bracara Augusta. It was eventually conquered by the Suebi, a Germanic people from Central Europe. Braga remained prosperous through the Middle Ages and was a main center of Christianity in Iberia, until Santiago de Compostela was built.

Because of its rich, long history, as you walk through Braga, you will see quite a few churches and museums. The city center is relatively compact and you can walk to everything on our to-do list below, with the exception of Bom Jesus do Monte.

Best Things to Do in Braga

In no particular order, here are the best things to do in Braga.

1. Visit the Braga Cathedral

The Braga Cathedral (Sé de Braga in Portuguese) is Braga’s most important landmark and one of the most important buildings in Portugal.

The Diocese of Braga dates back to the 3rd century AD. The cathedral was consecrated in 1089, making it the oldest cathedral in Portugal. Over the centuries, it was enlarged and modified several times. It was the most important religious site in Iberia until the consecration of the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral.

Braga Cathedral Exterior

Braga Cathedral | Things to Do in Braga

On a visit to the Braga Cathedral, there are several things to do.

The interior of the cathedral is spectacular, with the organ being a must-see. As you walk down the nave, look up above you to see the organ. If you walk towards the altar and then look back, you get another great view of the organ.

You will also see the cloister and several chapels that were built next to the cathedral.

Braga Cathedral Organ | Things to Do in Braga

The organ in the Braga Cathedral

 

Inside Braga Cathedral

Another view of the organ and High Choir

 

Braga Cathedral Courtyard

The courtyard next to the cathedral | Things to Do in Braga

The Cathedral’s Treasure Museum (sometimes also referred to as the Museum of Sacred Art) contains religious artifacts and the cross from the first mass celebrated in Brazil. Photos are not allowed in this museum.

There is a fee to enter the cathedral, cash only when we did this in 2023.

2. Arco da Porta Nova

Arco da Porta Nova, which translates to Arch of the New Gate, is a triumphal Baroque and Neoclassical arch. It was built as the western entrance into the medieval walls of Braga in the 18th century.

Arco da Porta Nova Braga | Things to Do in Braga

Arco da Porta Nova | Things to Do in Braga

3. Castle of Braga

The Castle of Braga was once the medieval walls and fortifications that surrounded the city of Braga. All that remains at this point is the main keep tower. Called Torre de Menagem, this medieval tower sits in the city center and you can see the top of the tower from various places in Braga.

On our visit, the tower looked permanently closed, but if it opens I imagine it would give you a great view over Braga.

Torre de Menagem

Torre de Menagem

4. Take a Stroll Along Rua do Souto

Rua do Souto is a pedestrian street that runs through the heart of Braga. It starts at Arco da Porta Nova and ends near Praça da República, the main square in Braga.

Shops and restaurants line this street. If you have a hankering for something sweet, don’t miss Chocolateria Equador, a chocolate shop, or Café a Brasileira, a famous café that sits near Praca da Republica.

Rua do Souto Braga | Things to Do in Braga

Rua do Souto | Things to Do in Braga

 

Chocolateria Equador | Things to Do in Braga

Chocolataria Equador | Things to Do in Braga

5. Praça da República

Republic Square, also referred to as “the Arcade,” is the main square in Braga. It dates back to the Middle Ages.

Its centerpiece is the fountain, or chafariz. Sitting on the square is the Basilica dos Congregados. This is a great photo spot in Braga, as you can capture the square, the fountain, and the top of Torre de Menagem in one photo.

Praca da Republica Braga | Things to Do in Braga

Praça da República | Things to Do in Braga

 

Praca da Republica Gardens

The gardens along Praça da República

 

Praca da Republica Braga Photo | Things to Do in Braga

Praça da República | Things to Do in Braga

6. Basilica dos Congregados

This 18th century baroque cathedral sits on Praça da República. It is free to enter and worth a quick visit.

Basilica dos Congregados

Basilica dos Congregados Interior | Things to Do in Braga

Basilica dos Congregados | Things to Do in Braga

7. Garden of Santa Barbara

This garden (Jardim de Santa Bárbara in Portuguese) is located next to the Archbishop’s Palace of Braga. It is free to visit and takes just a few minutes to stroll through the gardens. This is another very photogenic spot in Braga.

Garden of Santa Barbara

8. Biscainhos Museum

This museum was once the residence of one of the most influential men in Braga in the 17th century. This residence was built by Basque artisans from the province of Biscay, which gives the building its name Biscainhos.

The residence got passed through several generations of the family and then was acquired by prominent individuals living in Braga.

Now, it is a museum and on display are furniture, ceramics, decorative arts, and European and Oriental porcelain. For many visitors, the garden is the highlight of the visit.

9. Raio Palace

This is another famous residence in Braga. This residence was built in the 18th century and is famous for its wrought-iron balconies, ornate decorations, and front façade covered with thousands of azulejos (blue and white tiles).

You can simply admire the palace from the outside or tour the inside, to see the interior furnishings, art pieces, and more blue and white tiles. Photos are not permitted inside of the palace.

Raio Palace Braga | Things to Do in Braga

Raio Palace | Things to Do in Braga

10. Braga Sign

This is another popular photography spot in Braga. Sitting on Largo Carlos Amarante is the Braga sign, also called Letra do Braga.

At this picturesque spot, you can see the Holy Cross Church and the ornately beautiful Church of the Hospital.

Braga Portugal

Letra do Braga | Things to Do in Braga

Portugal Travel Guide

11. Bom Jesus do Monte

Climbing the 577 steps of Bom Jesus do Monte is one of the most memorable experiences to have, not only in Braga but also in Portugal.

Bom Jesus do Monte is an important Christian pilgrimage site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Pilgrims climb the zigzagging steps on their knees, viewing the scenes of the Stations of the Cross, on their journey to the top of Mount Espinho.

Bom Jesus do Monte is still a pilgrimage site but it is also one of Portugal’s most iconic and most visited tourist sites.

Bom Jesus do Monte is located 6 km from the Braga city center. To get here, you can either drive and park on the hilltop or take a bus (line 2) from Braga and then ascend Mount Espinho on the funicular.

This funicular is historical (it opened in 1882), it is powered by water (so it is environmentally friendly), and budget friendly (a ride costs about €2). For those who don’t want to climb the steps to the top, this funicular is a great way to save your steps.

Things to do at Bom Jesus do Monte include visiting the inside of the Basilica of Bom Jesus do Monte, walking up/and or down the Baroque staircases, riding the funicular, and walking through the park. There are a few cafes here and three luxury hotels, if you want to spend the night.

A visit to Bom Jesus do Monte lasts 1 to 2 hours.

Here are our photos of Bom Jesus do Monte. Our visit was at 4 pm in late September 2023.

Bom Jesus do Monte | Things to Do in Braga

Bom Jesus do Monte | Things to Do in Braga

 

Bom Jesus do Monte Top Terrace

The upper terrace (Largo do Pelicano)

 

Basilica of Bom Jesus do Monte

Basilica of Bom Jesus do Monte

 

Basilica of Bom Jesus do Monte Interior

Inside of the Basilica of Bom Jesus do Monte

 

Bom Jesus do Monte Photo

Bom Jesus Steps

Bom Jesus

The view from the very bottom of the steps | Things to Do in Braga

Things to Do in Braga: On a Map

How to Use This Map: Click the icons on the map to get more information about each point of interest. Click the star next to the title of the map to add this map to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.

How to Get to Braga

Braga is accessible by car, train, and bus.

If you have a rental car, Braga is a 45-minute drive from Porto and a 25-minute drive from Guimarães. In Braga, we parked at the parking garage for Centro Comercial dos Granjinhos shopping mall which is in the city center. It is marked on our map above.

Trains run frequently between Braga and Porto. If you are planning to use public transportation and also visit Guimarães on the same day, it’s best to travel by bus between Guimarães and Braga.

You can also take a tour of Braga and many of these also include nearby Guimarães.

 

How Much Time Do You Need in Braga?

To visit main sights in the town of Braga and Bom Jesus do Monte, you need a half of a day, or about 4 hours. Add on more time if you plan to sit down to lunch or dinner.

If you keep your visit to half of a day, you can use the other half day to visit nearby Guimarães. We provide the details on how to do this later in this guide.

Where to Eat in Braga

We ate a late lunch at O Filho da Mãe and it was fantastic. This restaurant serves a fusion of Portuguese and Brazilian food in a modern setting. The service is excellent. We tried the dried meat croquettes, sea bass, and shrimp with ginger fried rice and everything was excellent.

O Filho da Mae

Where to Eat in Braga

Shrimp with ginger fried rice at O Filho da Mãe

Omakase Experience gets rave reviews for is sushi, some people stating it is the best sushi they’ve had.

Steakhouse Churrasqueira Nacional, Tasquinha do Fujacal, and RetroKitchen also get fantastic reviews.

Guimarães and Braga Day Trip from Porto

Since these two towns sit near one another, they make a great day trip from Porto.

Start your day in Guimarães. You can drive here (about 50 minutes) or take the train (about 1 hour, check the timetable and prices here).

Spend the morning in Guimarães, starting at the Palace of the Dukes of Braganza and the castle, then work your way through town. At the end of your visit, if you are doing well on time, you have the option to add on Penha Park, which is worth it if you like the idea of getting panoramic views from the viewpoints in the park.

Midday, travel to Braga, by car or by bus. Buses leave frequently and take about 25 to 45 minutes to get to Braga. If you have a rental car, this takes about 25 minutes.

We ate a late lunch in Braga at O Filho da Mãe and we highly recommend it. Check hours on Google before you go since they are not open 7 days a week and close in the early afternoon (3:00 pm) on the days that they are open.

Spend an hour or two strolling through Braga and then end your visit at Bom Jesus do Monte. Since we had a rental car we drove here but you can also get here on the local Braga bus #2.

Return to Porto by car or by train (get timetables and prices here).

This tour from Porto visits Guimarães, Braga, and Bom Jesus and includes your transportation, entry fees, and lunch.

Igreja do Hospital

The Church of the Hospital in Braga

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Braga worth visiting?

Braga is host to two of Portugal’s most important historical and religious sites, Bom Jesus do Monte and the Braga Cathedral (the oldest religious site in Portugal). Braga is worth a quick visit to see these sites and while you are here, it is also worthwhile to stroll through the historic heart of Braga and grab a bite to eat (there are a handful of amazing restaurants in Braga).

Which is better, Braga or Guimarães?

Guimarães is a small, compact city famous for its medieval architecture, picturesque streets, palace, and castle. It’s a joy to explore and photograph. We liked it a little bit more than Braga, which doesn’t have quite the same amount of charm as Guimarães. However, in Braga, it is well worth it to visit Bom Jesus do Monte, a famous landmark in Portugal.

What is Braga famous for?

Braga is famous for the Braga Cathedral (the oldest cathedral in Portugal) and Bom Jesus do Monte (an important Christian pilgrimage site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site).


If you have any questions about the best things to do in Braga or how to visit Bom Jesus do Monte, let us know in the comment section below.

More Information for Your Trip to Portugal

GUIMARÃES: Don’t miss our Guide to Guimarães. Like Braga, this makes a great day trip from Porto and can be visited on the same day as Braga.

PORTO: We cover the best things to do in Porto in our Porto Bucket List. In our Guide to the Wine Cellars in Gaia, get recommendations on which wine cellars to visit and how to plan your time. See the best of Porto in our 2 Days in Porto Itinerary.

PORTUGAL ITINERARY: If you have 10 days in Portugal, here are 5 different ways to plan your trip.

DOURO VALLEY: Get started with our Douro Valley Travel Guide, which covers the essential things to know when planning a trip to this wine region. We also have a guide to 8 Wineries to Visit in the Douro Valley.

ÓBIDOS: Óbidos is a hillside town that is a joy to explore. Learn more in our Guide to Óbidos.

ALGARVE, PORTUGAL: Here are 10 gorgeous beaches to visit in the Algarve. Learn how to hike the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, one of the most beautiful walks in Europe. Don’t miss our guides to Ponta da Piedade and Algar Seco, find out where to stay in our Algarve Hotel Guide, get a list of the best restaurants in Albufeira, and learn why October is the perfect time to visit the Algarve.

We have TONS more information about Portugal in our Portugal Travel Guide, including Lisbon, Sintra, Porto, the Algarve, and the Douro Valley.

 

Things to Do Braga Bom Jesus

 

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