The city of Guimarães, in Northern Portugal, will always be associated to the foundation of Portugal, so people know it as the “birthplace of the Portuguese nation“.
Some of the main political and military events took place in the year 1128 and led to the independence of a new nation: Portugal.
The “cradle city” is one of the most important historic cities in Portugal and its historic centre is UNESCO World Heritage. All this made Guimarães one of the biggest tourist centres in the region. Its streets and monuments breathe history and amaze everyone visiting the city.
Here are the places and things to do in Guimarães:
1. Guimarães Castle
In the mid 10th century, Mumadona Dias Countess ordered the construction of a monastery. With constant attacks from the Moors, she decided to build a fortress to protect the monks and the Christian community in the surrounding areas. This is why Guimarães primitive castle was built.
In the 12th century, Dom Henrique Count and Lady Teresa became its residents and probably it was here that Dom Afonso Henriques was born. With its defensive role lost, the castle was abandoned and progressive degradation took place until the 20th century. At this time, the castle was classified as a National Monument so restoration works were done.
2. São Miguel do Castelo Chapel
According to the legend, it was here that the first king of Portugal, Dom Afonso Henriques, was baptised. However, this information might be incorrect because this temple dates back to the 13th century. Still, the supposed baptismal font that was used in the ceremony is kept here.
3. Palace of the Dukes of Bragança
This palace was built in the 15th century, commissioned by Dom Afonso, first duke of Bragança. In the 19th century it was converted into barracks. In the mid 20th century, and after a period of abandonment, it was restored and converted into a museum, where you can find treasures from the 17th and 18th centuries.
The palace (the second floor) is also the official residence of the Portuguese Republic President when visiting the North of Portugal.
4. Rua de Santa Maria
The street of Santa Maria was one of the first streets to be opened in Guimarães in the 12th century. It was meant to be a connection between Santa Clara convent (the present city hall of Guimarães) in downtown and the castle located uphill.
Throughout the street, you will discover many architectural features of past times: Casa do Arco (nº 28), Casa dos Peixotos (nº 39), Casa Gótica dos Valadares de Carvalho (nº 9), Casa dos Carneiros where you can find Raul Brandão Public Library (nº 58) and many others that give this street and city a unique atmosphere.
5. Praça de Santiago
A small 17th century chapel in honour of Santiago was located in this square but it was demolished in the 19th century. However, you can still find the original place of the chapel because of the disposition of the granite slabs on the floor.
Santiago square is a nice place no matter what time of the day. There you can relax and enjoy in one of the many bars and other commercial establishments. It is very pleasant at night because of the establishments that make of this place a meeting point for inhabitants and tourists.
6. Largo da Oliveira
In this square you will find the Church of Nossa Senhora da Oliveira which was built in 1387.
Aside from the church you can also see Padrão do Salado – a historic and unique monument in Portugal because of its form and architecture. According to some people, this monument was built as a tribute to the victory of Dom Afonso IV over the Moors, in 1340, at the battle of Salado.
At this place you can also see Domus Municipalis, a majestic monument that was the city hall in the late 14th century. If you examine this monument, you can admire the porch suspended on five Gothic arches, five balcony windows and a statue in the façade representing Guimarães.
7. Monte da Penha
Monte da Penha (Penha hill) is the highest point in Guimarães and it is here that you will find a statue in honour of Pope Pious IX. Here, you will also be astonished by the marvellous views that stretch for many kilometres.
Monte da Penha has several infrastructures such as: a camping ground, a mini-golf course, a tourist mini-train, an equestrian centre, walking and picnic areas, monuments, caves and viewpoints.
You can go to Monte da Penha by car – it’s just 6 km from the historic centre; instead of driving there, you can take the cable car which is 1.7 km away from Largo das Hortas (a 5-minute walk from the city centre).
- Site: www.penhaguimaraes.com
8. Citânia de Briteiros
Citânia de Briteiros is an amazing set of ruins of an important Proto-historic settlement dating from over 2000 years ago in a period known to archaeologists as the Iron Age. It is one of the most important proto-historic settlements in the Iberian Peninsula not only for its dimension but also because of its walls, city planning and architecture greatness.
The numerous structures of every type you’ll find here, freely disposed, obey an early but effective city planning and offer astonishing but very objective clues to understand people from these places, located up in the hills. Even though they were at a higher ground, they walled themselves .
You have three options if you want to go to Guimarães: by car, by train or by bus.
If you want to visit Citânia de Briteiros you’ll have to choose a car as your means of transportation. However, if you want to visit Guimarães historic centre and Monte da Penha you can take the train or even the bus to get to the city.
You can take the train connecting Porto to Guimarães at any time – it will be 1h12m trip for 3.10 €. Don’t take the Intercidades train because it’s more expensive (11.70 €) and will save you only 10 minutes.
Transdev buses do the connection between Braga and Guimarães at least eight times a day in a 50-minute trip for 2.75 €. The same company operates from Porto (4.60 €, 50-minute trip) and from Lisbon (17 €, 5h).
Rodonorte buses operate from Amarante (6.50 €, 1h), Vila Real (7.50 €, 2h) and Bragança (14 €, 4 h)
Once in Guimarães, go for a stroll in the historic centre and take the cable car to Monte da Penha.
Where you can eat
Cor de Tangerina
Cor de Tangerina is a restaurant and coffee house for egg-lacto-vegetarians. They focus on using natural products, of biological origin and fair trade. This will enable the union between the efforts in the promotion and appreciation of a more cooperative and comprehensive attitude on the path to necessary and pressing sustainability in modern societies.
Here, they produce everything they serve, including bread that is currently in a phase of certification as a biological product. Cor de Tangerina is located at the heart of Guimarães city, on the top of a holy hill, right in front of the monumental complex of the Palace of the Dukes of Bragança and Guimarães Castle.
The restaurant Casa Amarela is located right in the historic centre of Guimarães, just next to Praça da Oliveira. An architectonic restoration made of this centenary house a modern and welcoming place.
Its high quality cuisine offers traditional snacks with a modern twist. Casa Amarela is a multi functional place where you can enjoy a great lunch or dinner or even stop by for a snack, a cup of coffee or tea and amazing homemade cakes.
Where you can spend the night
Hotel da Oliveira **** (affiliate link)
Hotel da Oliveira is located in the historic centre of Guimarães. Every room in Hotel da Oliveira is equipped with air conditioning, a private bathroom with free personal care products and a hair dryer as well as a flat screen television with cable and a tablet.
Each room has its unique decoration with themes inspired in historical figures from Guimarães.
Guest House Vimaranes (affiliate link)
This beautiful building located in the historic centre of Guimarães has modern style accommodations. Guest House Vimaranes is just at a 10-minute walk from Guimarães Castle and from the train station.
The Guest House offers double rooms and self-sufficient studios with a totally equipped kitchenette. Every room has a television and some even have a porch.
My Hostel (affiliate link)
My Hostel has a sun terrace where you can relax and admire the garden, shared dorms and private rooms – all of this at a 2-minute walking distance from the historic centre of Guimarães. Guimarães Castle is at a 10-minute walking distance.
Some of the modern accommodations have private bathrooms and others have shared bathroom amenities. Guests can use the fully equipped kitchen to prepare their meals or vending machines with snacks and beverages. You can easily find restaurants nearby.
Where you can go out
Noitibó is a bar well known for its different and unique nights. On weekends, Thursdays and Fridays this place becomes one of the most famous and appreciated karaoke bars in the city of Guimarães.
On Saturdays, the theme parties thrown by Noitibó will make your weekend even more exciting. Aside from the usual interaction and entertainment, the experience is elevated by the participation of DJs and special guests.
Well located and with a unique decoration, Noitibó gives its customers all they want, including free parking and Wi-Fi.
In’Fusões Galeria Bar
“In’Fusões” (infusions) is probably the best way to describe this gallery bar located in Praça da Oliveira, in the historic centre. Here, you’ll find a mix of cultures, music and flavours, making this place one of the most charismatic and wanted places in Guimarães.
Free Wi-Fi access
Every month (except August) from Monday to Saturday
13h to 23h
Opening hours in August from Monday to Saturday
14h to 19h
Location: Centro Cultural Vila Flor,
Avenida D. Afonso Henriques, nº 701, Guimarães.
Monday to Friday: 9:30h – 18.30h
Saturday and public holidays: 10h – 18h
Sunday: 10h – 13h
Location: Praça de São Tiago, Guimarães.
Contact: 351 253 518 790
Are you going to visit Guimarães? Then don’t hesitate to book your hotel room, your car or the best activities by clicking the links below. This way you are helping me in the development of my blog and I’ll be able to offer you free tips and travel guides so that you can better prepare your visit to Portugal. Thank you!
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