Forget Lisbon – Here’s Why You Should Be Heading To Braga

Plan a spring break to this northern Portuguese city, where neighbourhood cafés, blousy urban gardens and a thriving independent shopping scene await


Braga, Minho, Portugal.

Why now?

Don’t be surprised to meet a Roman roving the streets of Braga
in May. Next month, the northern Portugese city celebrates its
classical past, with exuberant military marches, streetside tented
dining and elaborate gladiator battles all organised to commemorate
the city’s glory years as the capital of Roman Galicia. It’s not
all classical kitsch, though. For travellers less inclined to mix
with patricians and plebeians, there’s more to explore. Despite its
far-reaching history, Braga is a fresh-faced university city and,
as the home of a still-strong fashion manufacturing industry, any
stylised togas and pteruges you spot on a stroll through its
walkable historic centre are as likely an offbeat fashion choice as
classical cosplay. Elsewhere, the city’s dining scene is revving
up, inspired by neighbouring Porto’s prowess, and the young creatives choosing to
stay put after finishing university degrees are driving a buzzy,
grass-roots cultural scene and a rush of slow fashion startups that
are putting the city’s garment-making skills to good use.

Jardim De Santa Barbara, Braga, Portugal
Braga, Portugal

Jardim de Santa Bábara, left, and the city centre | Photo
credit: Anton Ivanov

Don’t miss

The clothes. Braga is Portugal’s leading fashion manufacturing
centre and its sartorial finesse filters into shopping options.
Make like the tousled, linen-clad local crowd and source your own
Braga-made attire at slow fashion label Obi Clothing,
then hunt down a pair of vegan trainers from Zouri. The
footwear brand was founded by a Braga native, and uses plastic
waste gathered from Portuguese beaches to craft its kicks.

Where to stay?

Book into an eave-tucked premium suite at Hotel Moon &
Sun Braga
. Rooms at this boutique 25-key city centre stay are
tight on space, but the sun-baked, touriga franca-red terraces with
views over terracotta-tiled roofs make up for the small square

Where to go for dinner?

O Filho da Mãe, an airy Rua Dom Afonso
Henriques restaurant with a Latin American-influenced menu devised
by Brazilian chef Juliana Junqueira Fleury. Order the sea bass
ceviche scattered with mint, pistachio nuts and peppery nasturtium

Dish, O Filho da Mãe, Braga
Cocktail, O Filho da Mãe, Portugal

O Filho da Mãe

And for a drink?

If you don’t fancy elbow-barging your way to an espresso in the
morning, stroll past the crowds at the historic café A Brasileira and find a caffeine fix at
bookshop and coffee house Centésima Página instead. The magnolia-shaded garden
is the best sipping spot in the city – and the bookshop is a hub
for the local literary crowd, thanks to its regular events and

Who to take with you?

Someone who knows their Aurora from their Apollo. The town
fizzes with festivities when May’s Braga Romana marches into town
for a kitsch-filled three days. Expect short skirts, flaming
chariots, and tipsy toga-wearers. For more Roman relics, take a
peek at the Alto da Cividade Roman Thermae. Archaeology
students from the University of Minho are currently excavating the
city’s ancient baths.

Women dancing at Braga Romana in Braga, Portugal
Braga, Portugal

Braga Romana, left, and Braga architecture | Photo credit:
Trabantos / Shutterstock

Essentials to pack

A spring city break in Braga wouldn’t be complete without a
visit to the Jardim de Santa Bárbara to spot red tulips,
frilled cornflowers and sun-seeking cosmos in bloom. Bring back the
scents of the city with a stop at artisan perfumers Yntenzo, whose bathroom
essentials are beautifully packaged with azulejo tile-printed

How to get there

There are no direct flights to Braga from the UK. Instead, jump
on a plane to Porto from London Heathrow. Braga is about 40 minutes
by car from Porto Airport. There are also regular local bus

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