Porto day trips....to Braga - to Guimarães - to Ponte de Lima - to Viana de Castelo - Porto Guide
Day trip to Guimarães
Guimarães is an exceptionally preserved and historically significant Portuguese city. Often referred to as the birth place of Portugal, this must-see destination enabling tourists to explore the country’s past and marvel at the origins of its architecture. Guimarães is 55km north-east of Porto and is connected by a frequent and direct train service, which makes it an ideal city day trip from Porto. This article will provide a detailed guide for visiting Guimarães as a day trip from Porto, including; how to get there, popular attractions and other top travel tips.
Porto to Guimarães by train
The trains to Guimarães depart from the Porto’s São Bento Train Station. The train services are direct, but the journey takes 1 hour 15 minutes so it is worth bring something to read. A return ticket costs €6.40 and sensible daily departures are at 8:20 and 10:20, or else there is an extra service at 11:20 Monday to Friday. The daily 12:20 does not provide enough time to fully explore Guimarães. For an up to date guide to the train journey, timetable and ticket prices from Porto to Guimarães please click here.
Day trip to Guimarães an Overview
Guimarães is a tranquil city with a historical centre that is brimming with museums, monuments and churches; most of which were built before Portuguese independence. Due to cultural activities during the 13th Century this city is closely linked to the creation of the Portuguese national identity, language and architecture.
The Palace of the Dukes of Braganza
In order to see all of the top sights of Guimarães it is worth splitting the day into three segments; all of which is easily navigated on foot.
• Guimarães’ historic centre
• Castle of Guimarães and Palace of the Dukes of Braganza
• Cable car ride to Penha Hill
Time spent on each segment should be individually determined but for those interested in the outdoors it is recommended to make sure enough time is left to enjoy hiking routes. The following section provides a suggested one day itinerary:
Day Trip To Guimarães: A Suggested Itinerary
Morning: Arrival and Guimarães historic centre
Guimarães Train Station is located to the south of the city and it is a 1km walk to the historic centre. On arrival, tourists should turn right out of the station entrance and cross at the pedestrian crossing then head down Avenida Dom João IV. After 700m this road leads to the pretty Nossa Senhora da Consolação church.
The Nossa Senhora da Consolação church and República do Brasil
From this site, walk down the Largo Republica do Brasi and Rue Alfredo Guimarães to enter the main historical heart of the city, which has a UNESCO World Heritage protected status. The centre has a series of quaint squares lined with traditional houses, ancient religious buildings and is a perfect place to explore at a leisurely pace. For tourists wishing to follow an organised tour or pick up a free map, there is a tourist information office located on Largo Cónego José Maria Gomes. This is open daily from 9:30 to 18:30 (off peak opening times may vary).
The Largo da Oliveira (named after the tree)
Lunch: Praça de Santiago or Largo da Oliveira
The Praça de Santiago and Largo da Oliveira are two of the most popular squares with open air cafes and restaurants, which are an ideal stopping point for lunch or a coffee. For those on a limited budget it may be worth heading to the modern town centre, which is west of the historic area. This offers many better-value eating establishments.
Early Afternoon: Castle of Guimaraes, Palace of the Dukes of Braganza
The Castle of Guimarães lies to the north of the historic centre on a hill and is well signposted. The site is an important historical ruin, and the entire complex can be explored free of charge. The castle is open daily from 10:00 to 18:00. Whilst in this area, do not miss the Misericórdia Convent (€2.00 admission) with its stunning sacristy and pretty restored church.
The sacristy of the Misericórdia church
From here, it is recommended that visitors spend much longer in the Palace of the Dukes of Braganza (Paço Dos Duques De Bragança). This grand 15th Century palace, built by the first Duke of this region, is set in its own beautiful grounds on the top of Monte Latito. Tourists can explore the tranquil grounds and elaborate state rooms, decorated with tapestries and furniture of the era. Entrance to the palace costs €5.00
The tapestries of the Dukes Palace
Late Afternoon: Penha Hill
The cable car to Penha Hill (Teleférico de Guimarães) is located in the south eastern side of the city and is well signposted. A ride on the cable car is highly recommended, even if it is just for the fantastic views at the top. A return trip costs €4.50 while a single costs €2.30. The walk down the hill is not the most enjoyable route and for better hiking routes follow the clearly signed routes that skirt through Penha Hill parklands.
Tip: The cable car has reduced services during the low seasons, so always wise to check the last departure time as it is a long walk down the hill back into Guimarães.
The Teleférico de Guimarães (cable car) up to Penha hill
The view from the top of Penha hill
Returning from Guimarães to Porto
The train station is a 20 minute walk from the cable car station and tourists should keep this in mind when departing Guimarães to miminalise the risk of missing train services.