Braga is a vibrant city in the north of Portugal, where traditional and modern and perfectly mixed. For example, there are over 30 monumental churches in the city, but at the same time, it is home to many creative industries, hipsterish co-work spaces, and cool bars and cafes. Less than an hour away from Porto, visiting Braga can be a fun day trip. Alternatively, Braga can be your base when exploring breathtaking nature up north, such as the national park Geres. After Lisbon and Porto, this is the 3rd biggest city in the country and once the capital of Galicia province.
First of all, just walk around the city. Braga is not that big, and it is mostly flat, so the best way to get to know it is definitely on foot. Start with the famous "Arco da Ponte Nova" and begin your discovery of the pedestrian streets. You will be encountering several buildings of historical interests, such as the Archbishop's court, Misericórdia Church, "Palacio do Raio" palace, among others. For a short break, have a coffee in the famous café "A Brasileira" to have a real bourgeoise Portuguese experience. Once, this was a meeting point of artists and those who were against the dictatorship of Salazar.
With no doubts, the "Good Jesus" ("Bom Jesus do Monte") is the most famous site of Braga, being, since July 2019, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Even though this is a religious site famous among pilgrims, it is definitely worth a visit, even if you are not a catholic. You can choose to admire its baroque features or stunning view of the city after climbing 116 meters to reach the top. Or both.
GNRation is the best of Braga when it comes to creativity. This hub occupies a former headquarters building of the Republican National Guard (GNR) that was recovered and got its new purpose while Braga was the youth capital of Europe in 2012. You will find here Braga's creative minds, different events, and a lovely example of the requalification of a building. The primary guideline when it comes to the curation of its program is creating a relation between contemporary music, art, and technology.
"Theatro Circo" in the main avenue of Braga is one of the most prestigious theatres in the country. Besides being a real architectural jewel, it offers carefully curated programs, including music, cinema, dance, and theatre. The institution was established in 1906 in the building that was completely restored in the late nineties, to be reopened precisely 100 years after its founding. In 2006, with the Czech National Symphony orchestra, Braga got once again a place where art lovers can enjoy the finest performances inside a beautiful interior.
"Pudim Abade de Priscos" in Portuguese, is the most typical sweet from Braga and probably the only pudding in the world that contains - bacon! Don't let this stop you from tasting it in one of the traditional pastry shops, such as Doçaria da Cruz de Pedra. Pudim Abade is definitely worth a try, being recently one of the finalists in the competition for the best sweets in Portugal. Besides bacon, it's made with Port wine, many egg yolks, and just a few more ingredients. The recipe seems simple, but to make it right is actually very difficult.
This could be your one-day itinerary around Braga, but there is more to see in this upbeat city. However, do not forget that one of the most beautiful National parks of Portugal - the Peneda-Gerês, is just 40 km away. As mentioned above, Gerês is known for its thermal springs, breathtaking waterfalls, and incredibly lush landscapes. Do not miss it!
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