The medieval city of Guimarães touts itself as the birthplace of Portugal, where early settlers marked their territory and where countless battles for land were won. Located just a few hours north of Porto and easily accessible by train or car, the charming village of Guimarães is an ideal daytrip from the city.
If visiting by train, the medieval city center is a 10-minute walk away, where visitors will find cozy cafés, cobblestone streets and wooden beams that hark to a period of centuries gone by.
For breakfast or lunch, dip into Coconuts café, located in one of the town’s central squares. Sandwiches and salads don the casual menu while a stunning display of azulejos (characteristic Portuguese white-and-blue tiles) coat one of the walls, paying homage to a decades-old tradition.
Head across the square to the imposing Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Oliveira (), where free entry takes you on the ground of a property that dates to the 10th century. Marvel in the Gothic architecture and the freshly preened courtyards, as well as the cloisters that jut right into the center of the square.
After a pit stop, walk north through Old Town to the hilltop Guimarães Castle. The views from the top make it worth the short climb, but a brief pause at the Palace of the Dukes of Braganza (entrance fee $5.66) serves as a formidable detour. Once at the castle, there’s a modest entry fee of $2.26.
With a restored appetite, head back down the hill to the Old Town once again for a filling dinner at Xisko Restaurant, complete with vegan and vegetarian options.
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