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While visiting Porto and its region, we took the opportunity to go on a Braga food tour to taste the local cuisine.
Only a one hour train ride away from Porto, visiting Braga is one of the most fascinating day trips from Porto to take.
It is a surprising city in a number of ways. On one hand, it is Portugal’s most important religious center.
And on the other hand, the city is lively and dynamic with a growing nanotechnology industry.
Braga’s important history and cultural diversity has given birth to a rich gastronomic tradition.
Learn what and where to eat in Braga, when you join us on a Braga food and walking tour.
Braga Food Tasting and Gastronomy
For this Braga food tour, Cristiane, native to this northern city was our local guide. This walking food tour was an immsersive experience starting at the entrance of the old town along the medieval wall.
For over 3+ hours, we learned about the culinary tradition of Braga and the rich religious history. We also sampled a variety of Braga food specialties including Portuguese white and green wine.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: Braga is best explored on a walking food tour. In a small group setting with a local guide, you can dive into the typical dishes and rich cultural history. This is one of the most important cities in northern Portugal and its mysteries are best unlocked with a local guide.
Touring The Bustling Braga Market On A Saturday Morning
Oftentimes the best way to explore the local food is by starting at a farmers market. On the tour, we visited Mercado Municipal, the main local market in Braga.
The market was buzzing with vendors standing side by side tending to their mountains of fruits and vegetables.
Your senses will be heightened by the vibrant colors, smells and noises at this lively market. It’s the perfect place to enjoy Braga’s food.
We picked up lupin beans, which we learned is a popular Portuguese local snack. A superfood, these beans are rich in protein and high in fiber.
The Portuguese love fish and the market was chock-full of fresh fish and seafood sourced from the local waters.
You’ll see some of the most beautiful fish, shellfish and sardines. The quality and freshness is simply remarkable and will leave you wanting some.
We made our way through the back alleys of the Braga market to the bread, sweets and sausages sections.
Unlike the iconic Alentejo bread we discovered in Evora, Claire fell in love with Braga’s hearty, dense, delicious, cornbread.
Known as Pão de milho or Broa de Milho, It is one of the oldest varieties of bread in Portugal.
Another popular and iconic Braga food is the chouriço sausage. These Portuguese sausages, similar to Spanish chorizo, are made with pork meat, garlic, paprika and sometimes red wine.
Eating at Farricoco – Traditional Petiscos at a Braga Restaurant
For the next stop in our traditional Portuguese food tour, we went to Farricoco Restaurante to eat petiscos.
Petiscos are part of Portugal’s gastronomy and often compared to Spanish tapas. They are small bites, but generally, smaller versions of large dishes.
The petiscos menu at the restaurant had five dishes, a local bread and sangria. Here are the highlights of our meal.
Pataniscas de Bacalhau or Codfish
One of Portugal’s most treasured dishes, with over 365 ways to eating bacalhau. At this Braga restaurant, we had pataniscas de bacalhau, which are deep fried cod fritters. They were surprisingly light and quite flavorful.
Portugal’s famous soup made with a dark green cabbage, potato puree, slices of chouriço sausage and topped with Portuguese olive oil. This was one of our favorite appetizer in Portugal, a simple and flavorful soup.
A local specialty, rojões is a traditional dish made from pork shoulder cut in cubes and seasoned. This pork meat dish was prepared with cumin spices and while tasty, it was a bit on the dry side.
This tripe dish made with cow intestines took a little getting used to. Flavored with spices and chewy textures, its definitely an acquired taste.
Moela de Frango
The regional meat specialty was moela de frango or chicken gizzards. This dish was our favorite. Deliciously prepared in a spicy onion, garlic and tomato sauce, the meat pieces were very soft and flavorful.
In Braga, you cannot miss Vinho Verde, one of the most famous Portuguese wines from the Minho region.
Vinho Verde is a light, bubbly, crisp white wine that is naturally fresh and low in alcohol content. Consumed soon after bottling, Vinho Verde is considered a young wine and often referred to as a green wine.
This wine pairs well with seafood and starters like caldo verde and pataniscas de bacalhau.
At the restaurant, we also enjoyed Portuguese Sangria. Made with Portuguese white wine, punch, oranges, and apples, the white Sangria was fresh, fruity and sweet.
This was an easy drink to accompany our heavy and flavorful petiscos experience.
Finish on a Sweet Note at a Famous Pastry Shop in Braga
To discover how Braga locals indulge and satisfy their sweet tooth, we went to Pastelaria Lusitana, a popular pastry shop.
With sweets being so central to Portuguese cuisine, our Braga food tour had to end with some of Portugal’s tastiest desserts.
With a strong history of the Roman Catholic Church and religious influences, we were not surprised to find many conventual desserts in Braga.
Conventual desserts are desserts that were traditionally made in convents. They are typically made with a large amount of egg yolks and sugar.
We tried two traditional desserts on our Braga food tour: Tíbias de Braga and Fidalguinhos.
Tíbias de Braga are puff pastries filled with a soft, sweet, creamy paste and topped with powdered sugar. While we enjoyed this pastry, we found it a little too creamy for our taste. It’s perfect for sharing or eating in small amounts.
Fidalguinhos are traditional biscuits with a unique shape that resembles two-crossed legs. Their shape was to mock the nobles who didn’t have to work or go to great lengths to get what they wanted.
These golden biscuits are sweet and crunchy with a zest of cinnamon, and they pair perfectly with Portuguese tea or coffee.
This was the perfect sweet finish to our Braga food tour.
Where To Stay – Hotels in Braga
Braga has a lot to offer visitors. In addition to important buildings and gastronomy, Braga has a vibrant center with numerous shops and cafes worth exploring.
That said, staying more than one day in Braga is definitely a great way to fully enjoy this lively and historical city.
In Braga, you’ll find hotels for all budgets and tastes. The following hotels are conveniently located to the city’s main sights.
For a luxury stay consider Vila Gale Collection Braga, located in a beautiful historical building.
Featuring an outdoor and indoor pool, a garden, and a bar, this hotel has the ideal setting to rest after a busy sightseeing day.
Prices start at $140 per night for a Standard twin room with breakfast included
For mid-range accommodations, Tea 4 Nine Guest House and Bistro proposes an elegant fully equipped apartment in the center of Braga.
An excellent breakfast with local specialties is provided. This charming guest house also has a restaurant, Bistro, serving lunch and dinner all week.
Prices start at $100 a night for a standard queen room breakfast included
For the budget conscious, the Collector’s Hostel is conveniently located in the historic center of Braga. A cross between a B&B and designer hostel, Collector’s Hostel offers a unique feel and an original decor. Breakfast is offered daily.
Prices start at $81 per night for a suite with terrace
Porto To Braga by Train – How To Get to Braga
The best way to reach Braga from Porto is by taking public transportation and in particular the train. The train is easy to use and departs from the central station in Porto, arriving close to the center in Braga.
Take the train to Braga at the São Bento or Campanhã train station in Porto. Tickets starts at about €3.20 euros one way for a total of €6.40 euros (approx $3.30 one way/ $6.60 round trip).
You can purchase your tickets directly at the train station or in advance on the Omio platform for an additional fee.
Be sure to take the regular train and not the fast speed train. The fast speed train cost 5 times the price for only a few minutes gained. Check the dates and times on the Omio platform.
The trip takes about one hour and you can enjoy the northern Portugal landscape on the way.
Things To Do In Braga – Portugal’s Oldest and Most Christian City
Braga is the oldest Portuguese city. The medieval town is filled with narrow lanes, plazas and stunning baroque architecture. You’ll also find over 35 churches including the country’s oldest cathedral.
Walking around the city, you quickly feel the ecclesiastical power, embodied by all the religious buildings, shrines and sanctuaries.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: For a fun day trip from Porto with traditional Portuguese lunch included, consider this Braga and Guimaraes tour. In addition to Braga and its sites, visit the charming city of Guimarães as well as the sanctuary Bom Jesus do Monte.
Start at the Arco Da Porta Nova or Arch of the New Gate
The Arco da Porta Nova, or Arch of the New Gate, the oldest door of the city, welcomes visitors.
This door is historically significant for being an invitation for commerce, versus other cities where the door was closed.
In Braga, they say, “the door is always open.”
The extremely narrow streets right behind the arch lead into the main plaza. Buildings covered in beautiful tiles and wrought iron railings are everywhere.
The architectural styles range from Gothic, Romanesque, Manueline and Baroque.
Cathedral of Braga or Sé De Braga
One of the most important monuments in the city is the Cathedral of Braga or Se de Braga.
This is the oldest archdiocese in Portugal, and the Cathedral of Braga is said to be even older than the country.
The building dates to the 12th century with a Romanesque façade exterior and two impressive Baroque bell towers.
The interior is richly decorated with gold-leafed carvings and the huge organ in the main chapel.
The Church Influence and Medieval Vestiges
Braga is a perfect city for exploring on a walking tour and you do want comfortable walking shoes.
As we walked around the city, we were delighted by the distinctive architecture, cultural sights, and attractive landscaped gardens.
The religious significance of Braga was evident all around. Braga was once considered the religious capital of Portugal.
And even today, people from all over the country come to Braga for Holy Week or Semana Santa during Easter.
During that week there are ceremonies and processions to remember the death and rise of Christ.
The Archbishop’s Palace and Jardim de Santa Bárbara
The Archbishop’s Palace in the center of town once covered one-tenth of the city.
You will be struck by the impressive fortress-like building, which today is home to a library and various university faculties..
One of the great things to do near the Archbishop’s Palace is the must-see Gardens of Santa Barbara or Jardim de Santa Bárbara in Portuguese.
The romantic style gardens are beautifully laid out and incorporate medieval arches. These arches have artistic significance as they were once part of an arcade from the palace.
Other Things to Do in Braga
Visit Bom Jesus do Monte – A Stunning Sanctuary Outside Braga
Continuing on our walking tour around Braga, we went outside the city to explore the Portuguese sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte.
Visiting Bom Jesus, which translates to Good Jesus, is one of the most famous day trips from Porto.
It is a pilgrimage site with a magnificent Baroque double stairway that climbs 116 meters (381 feet) up to the church. It is located about six kilometers east of downtown Braga.
While there is a funicular you can take, we recommend walking and enjoying the views.
The first chapel on the site was built in 1373 and the current sanctuary dates back from 1722.
Bom Jesus do Monte, a UNESCO Heritage Site, is one of the most important tourist attractions. During Holy Week, penitents go up the stairway or “Sacred Way” on their hands and knees.
Walking up the monumental staircase is beautiful and at the same time very peaceful.
The sweeping views of the countryside were quite remarkable. Regardless of your religious affiliations, this site, rich in history, is worth a visit.
How to Get To Bom Jesus From Braga
Getting to Bom Jesus do Monte from Braga is easy and convenient.
In Braga, head to the main plaza called Praça Conselheiro Torres Almeida. Across the Roman Catholic Church, Igreja do Pópulo, you will see a popular bus stop. Wait at the bus stop ‘Conselheiro Torres Almeida II’.
Take bus number #2 in the direction Bom Jesus do Monte. The bus will drop you off at the terminus which is located at the bottom of the sanctuary and near the departure of the funicular.
Bus tickets cost $2 euros one way/ €4 euros total (approx $2.05 one way/ $4.10 round trip). Carry small change and pay the driver directly.
The trip takes about 25-30 mins and there are about 2 to 3 buses every hour going to Bom Jesus do Monte.
To go back to Braga, simply take the number #2 bus back from the terminus.
The northern city of Braga is worth visiting for the cultural sights and unique Portuguese gastronomy.
The medieval wall and vestiges along with the numerous churches and gardens are rich in history and tradition.
When you take a walking food tour with a local guide, you’ll learn about the significance of various Braga attractions. You’ll also enjoy Braga’s food while learning about the local specialties.
Our Braga food tour with Cristiane was a comprehensive experience. Starting from the Arco da Porta Nova gate, to the Braga market and the delicious Farricoco restaurant, it was an enriching experience.
Enjoy a deeper experience in Braga, when you take a Braga food and walking tour.
Have you been to Braga, Portugal and tasted Braga food? Please let us know in the comments below.
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Special thanks to Cristiane for having us on this Braga food tour. All views and opinions expressed are our own. Full bellies and happy taste buds too!
Rosemary is the editor-in-chief and strategist at Authentic Food Quest.
Traveling slow since 2015 with her partner, Claire, she has explored the cuisine in 45 countries and more than 240+ culinary cities.
Her writing about local food specialties has been featured in Lonely Planet, Business Insider, Honest Cooking, Food Insider, and Huffington Post.
As a food and travel writer, Rosemary has co-authored three books, including one in collaboration with Costa Brava Tourism.
Rosemary is an avid runner when she’s not eating and exploring new destinations. She has run ten marathons and counting.
Before Authentic Food Quest, Rosemary held senior-level strategy positions in advertising.
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