The best independent guide to north Portugal
The best independent guide to north Portugal
Guimarães is a delightful and charming city, which must be visited during your holiday to the Porto region. Guimarães is affectionately referred to as the birthplace of Portugal, and the city has a beautifully preserved historic centre, full of fascinating monuments and attractions.
Guimarães is ideal for a day trip from Porto; there are sufficient sights to easily fill a day’s sightseeing, and there is a direct train connecting Porto to Guimarães.
This article will provide a guide to day trip Guimarães, and includes travel advice, details of the most popular attractions and a suggested tour with interactive map.
Related articles: Guimarães introduction – Day trips from Porto – 1 week in Porto
Below is an interactive map for our suggested 1-day tour to Guimarães. The tour of the historic centre is highlighted in green, with the optional trip to Penha Hill marked in yellow.
Info: Most visitors travel to Guimarães by train and the station is situated to the south of the city. The main car park is to the north of the city and also marked on the map.
Highlights during a day trip to Guimarães are…
• The delightful Largo da Oliveira (4)
• The Medieval Paço dos Duques de Bragança palace (9)
• Ancient ruins of the Castelo de Guimarães (11)
• The view from the top of Penha Hill (613m) (Yellow 3)
The following sections of this article will provide a detailed guide to all of the stages for a day trip to Guimarães.
Braga is a historic Portuguese city which is regarded as the religious capital of the country, and is the other popular day trip from Porto.
It is too much to visit both Guimarães and Braga in a single day, even if you have a rental car, as each city requires one day of sightseeing. There are organised tours that visit both destinations in one day, but these tours only include the major sights.
In our opinion, Guimarães is the more characterful and interesting destination. Braga has more monuments and tourist sights, but these are all of a religious nature. If you have an extended stay in Porto, both Guimarães and Braga should be visited as day trips along with Aveiro, the Douro Valley and Viana do Castelo.
Related articles: Braga day trip – Porto day trips
There is a direct train to Guimarães, which departs from the São Bento train station in central Porto. The journey takes 75-85 minutes and a return adult fare is €6.40.
Insider tip: For your day trip to Guimarães, it is advisable to plan the day around train times, as there can be a wait of up to two hours between departures from Guimarães in the afternoon. Generally, for your day trip plan to be catching either the daily 15:53 service back to Porto or the 17:13 (Monday-Friday) 17:53 (weekend/public holiday) (correct Sep 2020).
For the latest timetable, please see the Comboios de Portugal (CP) website:<
Note: the link is to a PDF so may download on certain mobile phones
Guimarães train station is to the south of the city and it is a 500m walk to the historic centre from the station.
Related articles: Porto to Guimarães
Small group tours are an enjoyable and informative way to discover Guimarães, along with providing a chance to meet fellow travellers. Since the introduction of rating and reviews, the standard of group tours in Portugal has dramatically improved. Now tours are led by enthusiastic and knowledgeable guides, and cater for modern and worldly tourists.
We have worked with GetYourGuide.com for the previous six years and some of their best tours they offer for Guimarães include:
Guimarães train station is located to the south of the city and it is a short walk to the historic centre. On arrival, tourists should turn right out of the station entrance and at the roundabout turn left down the Avenida Dom João IV. After 700m this leads to the pretty Nossa Senhora da Consolação (1).
Walking down the Largo Republica do Brasil (2) leads to the historical heart of the city, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. This historic area is centred around two delightful plazas, the Largo da Oliveira and Praça de São Tiago.
On the Largo da Oliveira is the pretty Antiga Câmara Municipal (5) and the Gothic Igreja da Colegiada church. Housed in the cloister of this ancient church is the Museu de Alberto Sampaio (3), which exhibits religious art and sacred artefacts.
From the Praça de São Tiago, head north to the castle and the oldest section of Guimarães. This route passes the Convento de Santa Clara (7), the Igreja do Carmo church (8) and the pretty gardens of Jardim do Carmo.
The Paço Dos Duques De Bragança (9) is a sombre looking palace, constructed by the first Duke of Braganza in the 15th century. Inside this imposing building are staterooms decorated with tapestries and furniture from the 15th century.
Between the Paço Dos Duques De Bragança and the castle is one of the oldest chapels in Portugal, the Igreja de Sao Miguel do Castelo (10). In this small chapel the first king of Portugal, Afonso Henriques, was baptised using the font that stands by the door.
At the top of the hill are the ruins of the ancient Castelo de Guimarães (11), originally constructed in 960 and greatly strengthened during the 13th century. The castle is fascinating as it interlinks with the boulders it is constructed upon, and comprises of a keep and four watchtowers.
Across from the castle is the Misericórdia de Guimarães (13), with its stunning sacristy and church. The Misericórdia was an early religious charity that provided hospitals for the poor and needy, and purchased the Convento de Santo António dos Capuchos in 1842.
The next stage of the day heads back to the historic centre of Guimarães and takes in the sights to the western side. This is an ideal time for lunch, and there are many decent open-air restaurants in the Praça de Santiago or Largo da Oliveira.
The Largo do Toural (14) is the main square of Guimarães, and dates from the 18th century when it was used as a market and cattle fair. On the edge of the plaza is a section of the city walls with the famed inscription “Aqui Nasceu Portugal” (15) (here was born Portugal).
The cable car (Teleférico de Guimarães) to Penha Hill is located in the south-eastern side of the city and is well signposted. A return trip costs €4.50 while a single cost €2.30.
Advice: Always check the departure times of the cable car as it is a long downhill walk back into Guimarães.
At the top of the hill is the Santuário da Penha church (yellow 2) and the best viewpoint is at the summit of the hill (613m high) (yellow 3).