Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The beautiful city with more visitors than Lisbon dubbed ‘the Rome of Portugal’

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The city of Braga has been dubbed the Rome of Portugal thanks in large part to its being a key outpost of the Roman Empire.

Anyone in search of a place steeped in history should add Braga to their list of places to visit, with its ancient ruins, beautiful architecture and historic buildings among the attractions.

Braga was recently named Europe’s leading emerging tourism destination at the 2024 World Travel Awards.

While comparable figures are hard to come by, the city sees around seven million visitors a year, according to Benoit Properties.

This compares to almost 5.5 million visitors to Lisbon and 4.9 million to Rome in 2022, figures from Statista show.


According to Visit Portugal, Braga is a lively city and one of the oldest in the country. It was built more than 2,000 years ago and founded by the Roman Emperor Augustus.

It was on one of the main Roman roads in the Iberian Peninsula and an administrative seat of the Empire later given the status of capital of the Roman province of Gallaecia, present-day Galicia.

Braga’s Cathedral is the oldest in Portugal. It was built in the 12th century by the parents of Portugal’s first king. To this day, the city is one of the country’s main religious centres.

A must see site in Braga is the Bom Jesus Sanctuary, which features a monumental staircase and offers an excellent panoramic view of the city.

Restaurants serving traditional Portuguese dishes include Tabique, which specialises in slow-cooked meat. Outside of the city, Dona Júlia is renowned for its sleek interiors and farm-to-table cooking, according to CN Traveller.

There is a range of accommodation in Braga, including luxury guesthouse Bracara, Vila Gale Collection Braga, Hotel Mercure Braga Centro and Melia Braga Hotel & Spa.

Braga is served by Porto Airport. Ryanair, easyJet, TAP Air Portugal, Azores Airlines, BA Euroflyer, British Airways, Qatar Airways and Jet2 all fly direct to Porto.

It’s about 45 minutes by train from Porto to Braga or 40 minutes by car on the A3. By bus, the journey takes up to an hour.

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