During our week in the north of Portugal, we got a pretty good feel for Porto, and so once we saw most of what we were interested in there, I suggested we take a day trip to another city on our last full day before heading south. Located about an hour away by train, Braga is the third-largest metro area in Portugal, which I figured would make it a good place to explore. It is also inland, which is rumored to be different than coastal Portugal, so off we went.
The trains ran once every hour, and we missed the one we wanted by a few minutes, so we got our tickets for the next one and spent 30 minutes outside, reading in the sunshine. Then we headed back to the station and boarded the train. While we were waiting, another passenger came in to let us know we were on the wrong train, as apparently the train we were taking was on the same track, but located in front of the train we were in. Glad to not miss another train, we thanked her and got seated on the correct train.
The hour-long journey passed through the countryside, and it offered some amazing views of the Douro River, then passed through little towns and villages, before ending in Braga.
First impressions of the city were not the best, as the train station was sort of grimy, but we headed off in search of the city center, a 10-minute walk away.
We wandered around, stopping in the various churches and taking photos of all the tiles. After some crankiness on my part, we stopped off in the town square for the sandwiches we’d packed, then did some shopping (M. got a new jacket) and ate some ice cream. Once a few hours had passed and we figured we’d seen all the center had to offer, we decided to head back to Porto.
If I’m being honest, I didn’t find the city to be very interesting… at least, after experiencing Lisbon and Porto, I thought as a big city it would still have a lot to offer. However, the center was quiet most of the day, and aside from the churches and architecture, there wasn’t much else that stood out. Granted, I am sure there is a lot to do and see if we’d have spent more time there, but in the couple of hours we were in Braga, there wasn’t much below the surface that revealed itself to us. That said, I did enjoy seeing a less busy, less tourist-y part of Portugal, and the fact that the weather was so nice made it enjoyable to be wandering the streets without aim.