Guimarães is a city situated in the district of Braga, in northern Portugal. It is one of the most beloved cities in the country, both for its incredible historic town centre - listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001 – and its friendly environment. Guimarães is proof of how a medieval settlement became a modern city in Europe and has plenty of reminders of that early history that still stand as imposing and striking as they used to be.
Guimarães is considered the place of birth of the Portuguese nation and is one of the richest places in the country, in terms of culture, history and art. If you’re visiting this beautiful city but you’re not sure where to start your journey, here are our best suggestions for things to do:
1. Guimaraes Castle: Guimarães' most iconic place
Visiting Guimarães without visiting its castle is like going to London and not seeing Big Ben. It’s one of the main attractions of the city and although it dates all the way back to the 10th century, it still stands proud and tall. The castle is associated with the ‘birth’ of Portugal, because it became the official royal residence after the country won its independence from Spain, in 1139. It is one of the most important historical remnants of the country and it is one of the places you shouldn’t miss when you visit Guimarães.
Address: Rua Conde Dom Henrique, Guimarães, Portugal
Price: from 2 USD
Opening times: 10am - 6pm (Monday - Sunday)
Website: Guimaraes Castle
2. Paço dos Duques de Bragança: A place built for love
Paço dos Duques de Bragança dates back to the 15th century and was built for Afonso I’s mistress, at his command. The Burgundian architectural style of the palace reflects the Duke’s tastes acquired from his trips through Europe, although the palace does not look the same today as it did in the 15th century. Some of its rooms are used as a museum, with original Persian tapestries and paintings exhibited. It’s very close to the castle, so if you’re visiting one, you should really visit the other! This place will surely surprise you with its glamorous architecture and give you an insight of how the Portuguese kings used to live.
Paço dos Duques de Bragança
Address: Rua Conde Dom Henrique, 4810-245 Guimarães, Portugal
Price: from 6 USD (free on the 1st Sundays of every month)
Opening times: 10am - 6pm (Monday - Sunday)
Website: Paço dos Duques de Bragança
3. Sao Francisco Convent and Church: Gold over blue
Although this convent has suffered many alterations and has been rebuilt over the centuries, it is still an architectural gem worth visiting. From its painted ceiling to the white and blue tiles of its walls, this place will surely impress you with its unique beauty. The complex gold carvings decorating the arches of the church will amaze you with their intricate details. It is a stunning place that reflects Portuguese culture in a very original way.
Sao Francisco Convent and Church
Address: Rua da Cruz 34, Guimarães, Portugal
Opening times: 9.30am - 12pm / 3pm - 5pm (Tuesday - Saturday). 9.30am - 1pm (Sunday). Closed on Monday.
Website: Sao Francisco Convent and Church
4. Alberto Sampaio Museum: Beautiful architecture, amazing art
Built in 1928, due to the need to exhibit the possessions of religious institutions that were extinguished in the region, this museum is a must-see for history lovers. The exhibitions are mainly composed of religious art pieces, from jewellery to paintings, sculptures to textiles and ceramics. You’ll also find very important artefacts from the history of Guimarães, itself.
Alberto Sampaio Museum
Address: Rua Alfredo Guimarães 39, 4810-250 Guimarães, Portugal
Price: from 3 USD
Opening Time: 10am - 6pm (Tuesday - Saturday). Closed on Sundays and Mondays.
Website: Alberto Sampaio Museum
5. Centre for Art and Architecture: Guimarães’ cool side
Os Inquéritos [à Fotografia e ao Território] ∙ Paisagem e povoamentoPosted by CIAJG - Centro Internacional das Artes José de Guimarães on Monday, 15 February 2016
This is a surprising place amongst the medieval buildings in the city. The Centre for Art and Architecture offers very original exhibitions and workshops for art lovers but also theatrical and musical performances. It has an impressive architecture and stands out for its modernity. It’s the perfect place to visit if you love modern art.
Guimarães Centre for Art and Architecture
Address: Rua Padre Augusto Borges de Sá, 4810-225 Guimarães, Portugal
Opening time: 2.30pm - 7pm (Monday - Saturday). Closed on Sundays.
Website: Centre for Art and Architecture
6. Largo da Oliveira: The locals’ meeting point
This is where the local people, both young and old, meet after work to have a drink and relax with friends and family. It’s a beautiful place, surrounded by restaurants and bars, where you can enjoy traditional Portuguese food and have a great time out. The nightlife at Largo da Oliveira is very bright and entertaining, so if you’re visiting Guimarães with your friends, this is the perfect place to have some fun.
Largo da Oliveira
Website: Largo da Oliveira
7. Rua de Santa Maria: Go for a charming stroll
This beautiful medieval street in the centre of Guimarães is where you can get some of the most delicious Portuguese cakes and pastries. It also has some restaurants and cafés where you can relax and have a meal with your friends. Rua de Santa Maria is a great place to go for a walk at night, where you’ll find both locals and visitor,s enjoying their time. Why not join them and do the same?
Rua de Santa Maria
Website: Rua de Santa Maria
8. Citania de Briteiros and Martins Sarmento Museum: Where Guimarães’ stories are told
Citania de Briteiros is an archaeological site important for its size, “urban” form and developed architecture. It is one of the most excavated sites on the Iberian Peninsula, dating back to the Iron Age. Its archaeological finds are exhibited in Martins Sarmento Museum, one of the oldest archaeological museums in Portugal. Both are very interesting places to visit if you appreciate architecture and historical sites.
Citania de Briteiros
Address: Monte de São Romão, 4800 Guimarães
Website: Citania de Briteiros
Martins Sarmento Museum
Address: Rua Paio Galvão, 4814-509, Guimarães, Portugal
Prices: from 3 USD
Opening times: 9.30am - 12.30pm / 2.30pm - 5.30pm (Tuesday - Saturday); 10am - 12.30pm / 2.30pm - 5.30pm (Sunday). Closed on Mondays.
Website: Martins Sarmento Museum
9. Jardins do Palácio de Vila Flor: The most romantic place in Guimarães
The Vila Flor Palace is surrounded by wonderful gardens, overlooking Guimarães. It is a stunning place, where you can go for a walk with your other half or just sit back and read a book, whilst enjoying the sun on your face. It is very romantic with its beautiful flowers and many statues and the perfect place to rest after a morning of exploring.
Jardins do Palácio de Vila Flor
Address: Av. Dom Afonso Henriques 701, 4810-431 Guimarães, Portugal
Opening times: 10am - 1pm / 2pm - 7pm (Tuesday - Saturday); 8pm - 12am (Sunday). Closed on Monday.
Website: Jardins do Palácio de Vila Flor
10. Largo República do Brasil: Bursting colours around you
This colourful avenue is one of the main landscapes you’ll find in the postcards of the city. The church at the end only adds to its charm, making it one of the best places for a group picture. It’s like the introduction to the historic centre of Guimarães: a beautiful starting point to your walk to the castle and Paço dos Duques and to the beginning of a great holiday in this charming city.
Largo República do Brasil
Address: Largo República do Brasil, Guimarães, Norte, 4820-142, Portugal
Guimarães: Where historical heritage joins modern culture
Guimarães is beloved for many, many reasons by many, many people. It can’t simply be explained: there is something enchanting about it that will spark your imagination and make you want to go back in time and live a different life. If there’s one thing we know for sure, it is that Guimarães will steal your heart and keep it in its ancient hands until you decide to return and retrieve it. And even when you do return, the city will argue and fight and you’ll have no choice but to leave some piece of it behind. Want to know a secret? You won’t be the first.
Get Trip101 in your inbox
You can buy and claim online, even after you've left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from 140 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.
*5% off when you book with our promo code: TRIP101
*For our Canadian and US travellers, unfortunately due to financial services laws, we cannot provide a discount. This promotional code cannot be used with any other discount offer, including World Nomads Members’ discount for travel insurance policy holders.