In the 10th century, a castle and a monastery was built on the site that we now know as the Portuguese city of Guimarães. It is called the birthplace of Portugal since many historic events took place here, including the birth of the first king of the country; Alfonso Henriques. A famous battle took place here, which later led to the independence of Portugal. Aqui nasceu Portugal is written on a wall in the historic center of the city, which means “Portugal was born here”.
Travel to Guimarães
The closest airport to Guimarães is Porto International Airport (OPO). A number of international flights goes here, and you can also take a short flight between Lisbon Airport and Porto. From OPO you can buy a bus ticket for 8 euro which will lead you to Guimarães city center bus station. It is a 10 minute walk away from the historic city centre and a number of hotels plus a big mall lies nearby. The bus ride takes 50 minutes. It is also possible to take a Taxi from Porto Airport which is about 40 minutes, but more expensive (60-70 euro). There is also a train available, but this takes longer time and requires transfers from the airport.
When planning your accommodation in Guimarães, remember to make sure that the hotel has a good air condition. The inland climate of Portugal is very warm and sometimes the standard of the accommodation can be a bit low.
Historic City Center
The first thing you want to visit in Guimarães is probably the historic city center, which is a UNESCO World Heritage. It consists of a number of old streets, churches, shrines and buildings, with the castle to the north. Among all the catholic remains you will find cozy restaurants, bars and cafés, serving a variety of local dishes. We can recommend the sea food, cod, tapas and some local bakery delights. The Portuguese people take great pride in their food, and they should; we did not have a bad experience in any of the restaurants we visited. The staff will often gladly describe the food and give recommendations from the menu. The historic center is especially romantic in the evening when all the buildings are lit up.
Cable Car to Penha
After you have strolled around in the city center, another must is to take the cable car up to Montanha da Penha. It is one of the main tourist attractions of Guimarães. You can reach the cable car by foot and a round way trip costs 5 euro. Up on the mountain of Penha you will experience a 60-hectare big green area varied with big boulders, a church and some monuments. There are some restaurants available here as well, which is good since it is possible to spend a number of hours enjoying the surroundings here. You can also expect more breeze than at the city center which is a delight during warm days. The view over the city is stunning.
In addition to the above travel tips for Guimarães, there is a number of churches and old buildings, statues etc that you will run into during your stay here. The city can easily be enjoyed over a weekend without any rush, but also invites to longer stays depending on your plans. Why not make it a part of your trip to Porto, or maybe a small break from the beaches of the coast?