One of the first trips we made from Porto was to this beautiful town where Portugal was born. I tell you everything you can see for a day in Guimaraes.
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How to get there
Guimarães is a city very near to Porto so it is easy to make the day trip from there.
The easiest way to get from Porto is by train. This is taken at the São Bento station which is conveniently located in a central area.
Train station in Guimarães is also close to the historic center of the city so you can get there walking in 10 mins.
The train journey takes about an hour and 15 minutes and there are several departures during the day.
It might interest you what to see and do a week in Porto,
If you are considering to spend a night in Guimarães take a look to the next deals for accommodation:
History of Guimarães
Guimarães was founded in the 9th century with the name of Vimaranes, although there were settlements since a former period
The name of Vimaranes might have had its origin in Vimara Pérez, a warrior of King Alfonso III of Asturias. He reconquered the region of Porto and was designated count of the county of Portugal.
Later, in 950, Countess Muniadona Díaz, widow of the last governor of the county of Portugal, founded the monastery of São Mamede.
This monastery became the Nossa Senhora do Oliveira church that you can see in the city’s old town.
Later the Castle and the Walls were created to protect the monastery and the city.
Guimarães is the birthplace of Portugal for several reasons. Here was established the seat of the county of Portugal belonging to the Kingdom of Galicia in that time. Also, they say, the first king Afonso I of Portugal was born here.
Guimarães also had a very important role in the battle of São Mamede in 1128 which was key to the creation of an independent nation.
As you can see, spending a day in Guimarães is essential if you want to know more about the history of Portugal.
what to see a day in Guimarães
Guimarães is a small city and tourist spots are concentrated in a small area.
Some of the attractions you can see for a day in Guimarães are:
The first thing you can do is tour the historic center, walk through its cobbled streets and admire its medieval architecture.
Aquí nasceu Portugal
If you come from the train station on Dom Afonso Henriques Avenue, one of the places you will see first is the old wall with an inscription. The inscription says Aquí nasceau Portugal, granting the recognition to Guimarães of being the birthplace of the country.
In front of this wall there is a park, the Alameda Public Garden, where you can relax after having walked for a long time. But as we just arrived, keep moving! 😉
Largo da Oliveira and Padrão do Salado
Entering into the old town we found ourselves in Largo da Oliveira square, where you”ll see the Gothic monument known as Padrão do Salado.
This interesting structure is a portico built to commemorate the battle of the Salado of 1340. In the center there is a cross decorated with images of Jesus Christ, the virgin Mary and other saints.
In this square there are some cafes and restaurants to sit, have a snack and enjoy the view of the beautiful buildings surrounding it.
One of these buildings is the Antiga Câmara Municipal or old town hall that is a 14th century building with a medieval style. It currently hosts the delegation of tourism, culture and heritage of Porto and Northern Portugal.
Nossa senhora da Oliveira church
One of the buildings around the square is the Church of Nossa Senhora da Oliveira. It was a former Monastery founded by Countess Muniadona Díaz, yet little or nothing remains of the original building
It was rebuilt in 1387 by João I with the help of the architect João García. The tower has a Manueline style and was built in 1515. The predominant style of the church is Romanesque.
Igreja e Oratórios de Nossa Senhora da Consolação e Santos Passos
A little further from the historic center is the Church of Our Lady of Consolation and the Holy Steps. It is located in front of the gardens of Largo da Republica do Brasil.
Together they make a quite photogenic landscape that should not be missed. If you come from the train station on Dom João IV Avenue you will come across this church.
Its construction was completed in 1785 but the two towers were added a century later. It is a beautiful church in the Baroque style and its interior also has Rococo elements.
Other monuments and atractions in the Old Town
Other monuments that you can see in the historic center during your trip to Guimarães are the Dos Almadas tower, the Church of Mercy and the Alberto Sampaio Museum.
The Alberto Sampaio museum displays religious art and jewelry, as well as renaissance and medieval sculptures
Walk the streets and alleys of the old town because they are quaint and charming. My trip was during Christmas season and the decorated shops looked lovely.
Besides, the architecture is very attractive. There are many churches and buildings that are worth seeing. We didn’t enter any church, but if you have the chance it’s a good idea to explore them thoroughly.
Walking along Martins Sarmento avenue you’ll arrive at the Castle and the Palace of the Dukes of Bragança, both a must-see if you spend a day in Guimarães.
The castle looks beautiful on the natural background of Guimarães despite (or perhaps due to) winter.
This castle was built by order of Countess Muniadona Díaz to protect the monastery. It was rebuilt on the 12th century by orders of Henry of Burgundy because it was too deteriorated.
Admission for adults costs €2. In an upcoming post I’ll tell you about my visit and more information about this castle.
Palace of the dukes of Bragança
The Palace of the Dukes of Bragança is a few steps from Guimarães Castle. Its exterior is imposing and sober and has the appearance of a fortress. Its towers and chimneys stand out.
It was built in the 15th century by Duke Afonso I of Braganza to have a residence for his second marriage.
It remained abandoned for a while so it deteriorated a lot. In 1937 it went under restoration to be open to the public as a museum.
You can visit it for €5 euros or pay the combined entrance to the palace and castle for €6 euros. I’ll tell you more details in a future article.
Hill and Sanctuary of Penha
If you have time or spend more than a day in Guimaraes, a good alternative to visit is the sanctuary and Penha Park.
It’s located on a hill or mountain so you have to use the cable car or a vehicle to get there. The cable car costs €4.5 round trip.
The sanctuary was built as a symbol of faith for the city. Its opening was in 1947 and was the architect Marquez da Silva who designed it.
There are many activities that you can do in this park and it’s ideal for those who like hiking. They also say the views are stunning. We didn’t get there because we didn’t have enough time.
If you have little time and don’t want to miss this city or want a guide to tell you more about the history of Guimarães, consider booking a tour:
A day in Guimarães for Christmas season
As I mentioned before we spent a day in Guimarães during the Christmas season. I want to tell you a little about the experience.
Christmas atmosphere is all over the old town. Besides the decoration of the season, they set speakers in various corners where they play Christmas music.
In the Alameda garden there was a Christmas market with stalls of handicrafts and Portuguese delights
In the stores you will find Christmas products besides the typical Portuguese souvenirs. We also visited a mall to buy some snacks and to take shelter from the cold 😅
If you can stay until it gets dark you’ll see the city even more beautiful with all the Christmas lights embellishing the buildings.
Coming back to Porto
The bad thing about winter is that it gets dark soon and we had to go back to Porto. The good thing is that there are frequent trains so there’s no problem with transport.
These were some activities that you can do a day in Guimarães and you definitely have to visit this city.
Have you already visited Guimaraes? What other activities would you suggest doing in a day? I await your comments and/or questions in the box below ⬇
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Until next post and bon voyage!