Things to Do on a Day Trip From Porto to Guimarães

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Advisor - Gail Collins
Curated By

Gail Collins

  • International Travel

  • Portugal

  • Porto

  • Arts & Culture

  • City Travel

  • Day-Trip

  • Historical

  • Sightseeing

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Curator’s statement

It is easy to find yourself in Porto, Portugal, especially if your river cruise is embarking from Gaia, located a short jaunt across the bridge. We booked our stay at the Intercontinental Porto-Palacio Das Cardosas, an IHG property. Our hotel concierge suggested a day trip from Porto to Guimarães, a well-preserved historical town.

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Day 1: Day Trip to Guimarães

large white building surrounded by trees during daytime

Less than a five-minute walk from the Intercontinental Porto to the beautifully tiled Sao Bento train station, we purchased our round-trip tickets for the 56-minute train ride to Guimarães. Cost per person? Only 7 € p/p round trip! One of the benefits of riding the train, besides people watching, is viewing the countryside with the bountiful lemon and orange trees.

Once in Guimarães, it is a short ten-minute walk to the center of the town where you come upon Largo da Republica do Brasil. Beginning at the steps of the 18th-century Church of São Gualter, we walked uphill admiring the perfectly manicured lawns and flowerbeds flourishing in the middle of the boulevard.

Continuing our walk to the Largo da Oliveira, a square where many locals and tourists gather, we made note of Sabores Gelados, which we promised ourselves would be our afternoon destination on this one-day trip from Porto. The Largo da Olivereira is named for the centuries-old olive tree which is still thriving. We snapped photos at the Padrao do Salado, a medieval monument consisting of four arches before sitting down at Buxa, one of the many sidewalk cafes surrounding the square. We ordered a glass of vinho verde wine (my favorite wine to drink in Portugal) and a Torta de Guimarães pastry, which is said to have been created in Guimarães. Deliciosa!

On our way to our last and final destination, the Ducal Palace and Castle, I discovered Chafarica, a family-owned home and gift shop. There are many perfect items to bring back to friends and family; I purchased hand-embroidered sachets. If you visit during the holiday season, you will see many items on the shelves.

We continued our uphill walk on a tree-lined street to the Ducal Palace. To purchase our tickets for the palace, it was wise to include the castle. No tickets are sold at the castle. Not to be missed are the colorful stained glass windows in the chapel. The courtyard affords perfect photo ops.

To complete your one-day trip from Porto, the Teleferico de Guimarães is a cable car affording unbelievable views of the city and countryside. For us, we made one last stop at Sabores Gelados returning to the train station with gelato in hand.

Advisor - Gail Collins

Travel Advisor

Gail Collins

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Portugal, and our continuing series on arts & culture travel.