Guimarães Travel Guide: What to see, do, & Eat in the “Birthplace of Portugal”

By | Last updated: July 28, 2020

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Famous for being “the birthplace of Portugal,” the small city of Guimarães is quickly becoming a popular destination on people’s travel itineraries. Although small, and limited to just a few attractions, Guimarães is somewhere that I really enjoyed visiting.

It has a mix of beautiful architecture, some of which is made up of wooden-framed houses that look like something you’d find in Central Europe, and the city is extremely compact and walkable.

It’s easy to get to from Porto, and it’s possible to explore the city in a day, but at least one overnight would keep things more relaxed.

Where to STAY

Guimarães is a very small city, and only has a population of around 50k people. It’s smaller than Braga, which has a population close to 140k, and much smaller than Porto which has a population of over 200k (more if you include nearby Vila Nova de Gaia).

The city centre in Guimarães is small and extremely walkable. As long as you’re staying in the city centre, you should be able to easily walk to all of the attractions.

Get here

By plane

The nearest airport to Guimarães is Porto Airport, which is located around 46 km away. Aside from renting a car and driving, the easiest way to get from Porto Airport to Guimarães is to take the GetBus which goes directly to and from outside of Arrivals at Porto Airport.

Alternatively, you can get to Guimarães by bus or by train however this involves going to the bus station on 125, Campo 24 de Agosto or taking the train from either São Bento or Campanhã.

By train

Trains to Guimarães depart from both São Bento and Campanhã train stations. The ticket is normally an Urban train ticket (U) which is very cheap, but can’t be purchased online or in advance: you will need to buy it at the train station on the day.

For timetables, see cp.pt

By bus

Buses depart Porto for Guimarães on an almost hourly basis during the day, leaving from the Renex station at 125 Campo 24 de Agosto.

The Urban train ticket is normally cheaper than a bus ticket, but the bus is usually slightly faster (by around 10-15 minutes). It can also be booked in advance, and is typically a lot less crowded than the train.

For tickets and timetables, see rede-expressos.pt

What To SEE & DO

Dukes of Braganca palace

Made up of beautiful wooden ceilings, stone walls, amazing artworks, and an incredible collection of artwork and tapestries, the Palace of the Dukes of Braganza is a definite “must see” attraction in Guimarães.

Guimaraes Castle

Famous for being the “birthplace of Portugal,” this 10th Century castle is one of the most important historical attractions in both Guimarães and the whole of Portugal.

Penha Sanctuary

The Penha Sanctuary is exactly that: a peaceful place to escape and enjoy the beautiful views over Guimarães and the surrounding countryside.

What To EAT

Torta de Guimarães

While this was more expensive than most other Portuguese cakes and pastries, the Torta De Guimarães ended up being one of my favourites (see the others).

The recipe combines several common Portuguese ingredients to create something unique. These ingredients include sugar, egg yolks, ground almonds, and a type of squash called “chila” or “gila.” The pastry is covered in a syrup, which gives it its crunchy texture.

If you’re visiting Guimarães, it’s definitely worth trying one.

Other Portuguese dishes

As well as dishes that are specifically typical to Guimarães, like the Torta De Guimarães, you’ll also come across regional dishes from the surrounding Minho region and the rest of Northern Portugal.

Some typical dishes that you’ll see on restaurant menus in Guimarães include cabrito assado (roast kid goat), Arroz de pica no chão (rice cooked in rabbit or chicken blood), rojões (fried fatty cubes of pork with potatoes), bacalhau assado (roast bacalhau), sopa de nabos (turnip soup), and vitela assada (roast veal).

And, as well as Northern Portuguese and Minho dishes, you’ll also find lots of other dishes that are eaten all over Portugal and not just one specific region.

Read more about Portuguese food

Other food articles

What To DRINK

Vinho Verde

Trying the local wine is always recommended, and it’s especially recommended in Guimarães where one of those local wines is Vinho Verde.

Vinho Verde or “green wine” is a low alcohol (well normally 8.5 to 11%) white wine that has a slight spritz to it. Many people say that the wine doesn’t travel well, even to other parts of Portugal, so the best place to try it is here in the region itself.

Read more about Vinho Verde

Getting around

Guimarães is extremely walkable, and you shouldn’t need to worry about getting buses or other forms of transportation while you’re visiting.

The only exception is the Penha Sanctuary, which is situated up a steep hill. Don’t worry: there’s a cable car if you didn’t remember to bring your walking boots!

Nearby Towns & Day Trips

FAQs about Guimarães

Is Guimarães expensive?

Guimarães is not expensive, partly because it’s not as popular as Porto, Lisbon, or the Algarve.

You should be able to find both restaurants and accommodation to suit all budgets. Tickets to the attractions are also not expensive either.

How much time do I need for Guimarães?

You could comfortably cover Guimarães in a day – at least if you just plan to see Guimarães Castle, the Palace of the Dukes of Braganza, and the Penha Sanctuary.

If you have more time to spare, however, it’s always nicer to take things slower.

Is there luggage storage in Guimarães?

The Welcome Centre tourism office on Rua Paio Galvão (map) offers a left luggage service that’s available between 9.30 a.m and 17.30 p.m on weekdays. This service isn’t available on weekends and it was closed when I walked by (around lunchtime) as well.

The tourism office is roughly 10 minutes’ walk from the bus station, but around 15 minutes (1.3 km from the train station).

If you’re visiting Guimarães as part of a day trip, it may be easier to leave your bags in Porto or wherever you’re visiting from.

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