Where to go for a day from Porto?
When my friend and I spent 5 days in Porto at the beginning of September 2018, we decided to include a day trip to a nearby city/town based on the quickest travelling time from São Bento Station and what’s there to see.
During my research Coimbra was an early favourite. The drawback was the complication involving connections of trains which could take up to 3 hours. Besides, the riverside position could make it too similar to Porto
Aveiro was considered; but apart from a journey of 75 minutes, the attractions seem to be limited to the canal and boats, albeit rather distinctive
Guimarães was recommended by a friend and was a contender. The train journey would be about 75 minutes. It’s pretty enough with a castle and a palace but ….
Then came Braga. It’s only 54 minutes on a fast train from Porto. It seemed to have so much more to offer and not a duplication of Porto. Of course once Bom Jesus came onto my rada, there was no competition.
Braga was the winner!! And my photos borne out that it was the right decision!
Braga – an ideal day trip from Porto
We bought our day return ticket the day before – it’s always best to get the ticket beforehand. It could be very frustrating to be stuck in a long queue to get the ticket while the intended train is leaving at any minute!
We were able to catch the 8.15 which got us to Braga just before 9.10. I had not realised that Braga is the third largest Portuguese city outside Lisbon and Porto.
However, my main interest was in the historic centre.
We turned right on leaving the station and soon Arco da Porta Nova at the edge of the historic centre was in sight. Through the arch we came across a café just opposite Largo do Paço and had breakfast there. Soon all the amazing squares and buildings appeared one after the other!
This is the sideway view of Sé Cathedral from a pretty and neat square
Nossa senhora da torre
Though the archway on the left Largo de Santa Cruz Square awaited!
Largo de Santa Cruz
The large letters spelling Braga stood in front Igreja de São Marcos with Igreja de Santa Cruz on the right
Avenida da Liberdade
It’s a long pedestrianised walk with a sea of yellow flowers running through it, flanked by period buildings and shops
Praça da República and Arcada
At the end of the walk we found Praça da República and the stately looking Arcada (shopping centre)
Palacio do Raio
We could have spent much more time looking around the pretty and vibrant Praça da República, but it was getting hot and we wanted to get to Bom Jesus do Monte before midday.
However it did not stop me veering off course for a quick look at Palacio do Raio with its distinctive beautiful blue tiles which matched the sky!
Bom Jesus do Monte – the main event!
All my online research suggested that No 2, departing from the bus stop off Avenida da Liberdade was the only bus to go from Braga and Bom Jesus. Even the lady at Tourist Information said so.
However when we got to the row of bus stops and I asked one of the drivers on a stationary bus (Number 33, I think) he told me that his bus was going to Bom Jesus, too. The fare was €2 per person (instead of €1.65 as widely quoted), we just thought the fare had gone up.
We were expecting the journey to take 30 minutes, but after a couple of stops the bus started to climb up some steep, winding and narrow road; 10 minutes after we set off the driver told us that we had arrived! Then the bus went onto some place else.
It appeared that we ended up at the top of Bom Jesus do Monte rather than the bottom!
That was an unexpected good fortune and we wasted no time feasting our eyes on the magnificent building and its beautiful grounds with a lovely view of the city
Instead of using the funicular we walked 580 steps down to the bottom to catch the No 2 bus (every 30 minutes). It was well worth the effort to look back on the awesome sight of Bom Jesus with its distinctive steps
The patterns of the paving were a work of art too!
As it turned out the No. 2 bus stopped right outside the train station so we were able to take an earlier and faster train back to Porto for our afternoon tea!
As usual I got the fridge magnet and photos! I wouldn’t have missed Braga for the world!!