If you are due to be staying in Braga for a few days or more, it is well worth considering taking a trip to explore Portugal’s famous northern city of Porto. Porto is just 50km from Braga and can be reached easily by car, bus or train.
In fact, many visitors will arrive in Braga via Porto’s international airport, but it is well worth making a trip in its own right to explore this delightful city at your leisure.
Porto is Portugal’s second-largest city and is renowned all over the world for its culture, history and architecture. It is recognised by UNESCO as an important World Heritage Site thanks to its impressive monuments, buildings, castles, parks and lush landscaped gardens.
Start your trip to Porto at the Torre dos Clerigos, one of the most famous structures in the city and the tallest in Portugal. The tower was designed by Nasoni, an Italian architect famous for the baroque style during his heyday in the late 18th century.
From here, there are wonderful views out across the magnificent city skyline, taking in monuments such as the Porto Cathedral. Porto Cathedral dates back to the 12th century and is one of the oldest monuments in the country. It has undergone many renovations over the years, but has largely preserved its Romanesque style, especially to the façade.
The Porto Cathedral is just one of the many extravagantly designed and decorated churches dotted throughout the city’s streets. Amongst these, the Sao Francisco Church is well worth a visit for its baroque decoration and catacombs packed with artefacts that date back to its period as a monastery.
The focus has shifted somewhat these days; however, as the Sao Francisco Church is no longer used for religious services and ceremonies but has instead been restored as a classical music venue.
The strong religious tradition of Porto is evident in the Soares dos Reis National Museum, as well as in the city’s many religious buildings and monuments. The Soares dos Reis National Museum showcases many artworks and artefacts from the monasteries and convents that have graced the city over the centuries, along with other paintings and jewellery that have a non-religious context, but which are none-the-less attractive and interesting in their own right.
Another museum that is well worth a visit during your trip to Porto is the Serralves Museum, or Serralves Museum. The Serralves Museum is a world-class museum of modern art which has featured exhibitions by some of the leading protagonists in the world of contemporary art.
In many ways, Porto is a museum in its own right. Many people enjoy spending their trip to Porto simply strolling through the city’s attractive streets, taking in the sights, smells and sounds of this buzzing metropolis.
Start at the central promenade, the Avenida dos Aliados, with its attractive buildings and proximity to many of the other interesting tourist spots in the city. From the Avenida dos Aliados, head towards Liberty Square for a drink and a bite to eat in one of the restaurants or cafés, or head towards the Rua de Santa Catarina for some serious retail therapy.
If you prefer to stay away from the hustle and bustle, another option for your trip to Porto is to spend your time exploring the Jardim Botanico. The Jardim Botanico is located in the Rua do Campo Alegre and is part of the ancient Quinta do Campo Alegre estate, which was bought by the Portuguese government in 1949 and converted two years later into a botanical garden for the enjoyment of Porto’s visitors and residents.
The gardens are divided into three parts, the Jardim do Peixe, the Jardim dos Jotas and the Roseiral, each of which is designed to maximise its individuality, personality and charm, and to showcase some of the most exotic plant and animal species in the country.
No trip to Porto would be complete without sampling a tipple of the local grape-based speciality, but thankfully there are many opportunities to do so. The city is lined with cafés and bars offering a wide selection of port wine and other specialities, or if you have the chance to spend a little longer on your trip to Porto, do consider heading out of the city centre to one of the famous port wine cellars, nestled in the lush greenery of the Douro Valley.
A cellar tour gives you the opportunity to learn all about the history of port wine and how it is made, as well as tasting a range of samples to get a feel for its delicious depths and diversity.