Riding the train back to Lisbon, I admired the gallery of graffiti before each major train station. As I reflected on my trip throughout Portugal, I realized that there are many cheap and fun things to do in the country. One such example is the train, which is an economical and interesting mode of transportation. We traveled from Lisbon to explore Portugal and spent 25 euros per seat to visit one of the country's most northern cities, Braga, also known as the "North Star." I was hesitant to write about it, fearing that it would become overrun by tourists like many other cities.
Braga is a located in the northwest of Portugal. It is the capital of the Braga District and the oldest city in Portugal. The city is known for its historical and cultural landmarks, including the Braga Cathedral and the Bom Jesus do Monte sanctuary. The city is also home to the University of Minho, which was founded in 1973. Braga is known for its vibrant nightlife and is a popular tourist destination in Portugal. It is located approximately 45 minutes from Porto, which is the second-largest city in Portugal. Why the train is an economical way to travel:
Trains can be an economical way to travel for a number of reasons. First, they often have lower ticket prices compared to other modes of transportation, such as airplanes or buses. Train tickets can also be purchased in advance, which can sometimes result in even lower prices. Additionally, trains can be more cost-effective than driving or taking a bus because you do not have to pay for gas or other expenses such as parking or tolls. Finally, trains can often be more time-efficient than driving, as they do not get stuck in traffic and can travel long distances quickly. Overall, trains can be a convenient and cost-effective way to travel. The city of Braga was the highlight of our adventures in Portugal. Its inhabitants and urban design are welcoming. The streets are more like sidewalks, where pedestrians rule, lined with small shops, cafes, and local restaurants. There is only one McDonald's, which is located in the center of the city and is accessible only by pedestrians, as cars are not allowed on the streets. Unlike in other smaller cities I have visited in Europe, teenagers and young people outnumber the aging population in Braga. The city's schools and universities contribute to this. Unfortunately, many young people will leave after they finish their schooling to search for opportunities elsewhere. One exception to this rule is the chef-proprietor of a small, authentic Japanese omakase restaurant. This is by far the best "cheap" fun thing to do in Portugal. However, "cheap" is relative in this situation, as the tasting menu cost 70 euros, compared to 150 to 250 euros for comparable meals anywhere else in the world where quality and service are offered. The chef and his wife run the restaurant with a handful of others, many of whom are students of the chef. The meal was unlike any other experience I have ever enjoyed. It was romantic, insightful, and delicious, with each step of the 10-course tasting menu tastier than the previous. I won't ruin the experience by telling you what to expect, but you need to take the 1-hour train from Porto to Braga to discover the chef's magical, unpretentious house of beauty.
What are some historic landmarks?
There are several historic landmarks in Braga, including:
Braga Cathedral: This is a Roman Catholic cathedral located in the center of Braga. It was built in the 10th century and has undergone several renovations over the years. It is considered one of the oldest and most important cathedrals in Portugal.
Bom Jesus do Monte: This is a sanctuary located on a hill just outside of Braga. It is known for its elaborate Baroque stairway, which is lined with chapels and statues. The sanctuary is a popular destination for pilgrims and tourists alike.
Paço dos Duques de Bragança: This is a palace located in the center of Braga. It was built in the 15th century and has been beautifully preserved. It is now a museum that houses collections of art and artifacts from the region.
Sé de Braga: This is a Romanesque cathedral located in the center of Braga. It is considered one of the oldest and most important churches in Portugal.
Quinta de Prado: This is a beautiful estate located just outside of Braga. It features a large manor house, gardens, and a chapel. It is now a museum that is open to the public.