Braga is a great day trip from Porto. It’s easy to get there – we took the train from the Campanha station to Braga. We chose to take the Urbano train, which takes about an hour, and the round trip fare was only €6.60. The Braga train station is just a short 5 minute walk from the historical centre of the city.
Although Braga is a sprawling city with a population of ~120,000, the focus of a tourist visit is the historical city centre and the Bom Jesus do Monte.
After a quick pastry stop 😉, we headed directly to the Bom Jesus do Monte. We caught the #2 bus from the Avenida da Liberdade. The bus stops at the bottom of the funicular that rises to the church. The funicular was built in 1882 and is the oldest water balance funicular in service in the world. You can catch the funicular as Harvey & I did or choose to take the path and climb the 573 steps of the sanctuary’s stairway. Our ambitious fellow travellers chose this option and thoroughly enjoyed it. Harvey & I did choose to take the funicular up and the stairs and path down!
The Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2019. The first documentation of a chapel on this hill is from 1373. That chapel was rebuilt in the 15th and 16th centuries and a church dedicated to Bom Jesus (Good Jesus) was built in 1629. The current Sanctuary was built between 1784 and 1811 under the patronage of the Archbishop of Braga. The Sanctuary is considered a Christian pilgrimage site.
The grounds surrounding the church are beautifully manicured and were bright with flowers and greenery, even on our visit in late October.
As I mentioned, the stairway rising to the basilica consists of 573 steps in a zig-zag pattern. The stairway is flanked by chapels holding larger-than-life terra-cotta depictions of the Via Crucis (the Way of the Cross).
Back in the historical centre of Braga after descending the stairs and catching a bus down, we wandered the streets for a bit enjoying the great buildings, fountains and green spaces.
In Braga, we also tried out a Portuguese specialty – ginja or ginjinha in a chocolate cup. This sweet liquor is made from aguardente (brandy or fortified wine) that’s been infused with sour cherries, sugar and cinnamon. It’s dark red, super sweet and surprisingly strong, with an ABV of around 18-24%. The small amount served in a chocolate cup (which you then eat) is a perfect little treat!
We found the day trip to Braga to be very worthwhile and we would definitely recommend it if you have a day to spare when visiting Porto.
Coming soon to finish our Porto blog series – the food and Port of Porto!
Bev & Harvey
Portugal looks beautiful. Great place to visit. Nice to go with friends.
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Wow, it looks beautiful! We didn’t get there, but hope to get back to Portugal.
We would love to go back also. Such a great country!