You may never have heard of Guimarães, Portugal, but this is one city which should definitely be on your must-see list. Charming, slow-paced, inspiring, and exciting are just a few adjectives that come to mind when I think of this lovely metropolis located in the northern part of Portugal. But don’t take my word for it, take a look at these 6 reasons why you should pay a visit to Guimarães and check this lovely city out for yourself!
Porto is the nearest major city to Guimarães and you’ll most likely be flying there if you decide to pay this part of Portugal a visit. Flights leave from London every day of the week and are just 2 hours long! From Porto you can take a bus to Guimarães, which is about a 35-45 minute ride away. Even better, flying to Porto is often cheaper than flying to Lisbon and you won’t have to deal with any pesky layovers. It’s super easy to head to Guimarães for a weekend and be back in time for work on Monday!
- Tasty cuisine
I’m a vegetarian so finding good food can be something of a chore when I travel. However, Guimarães offers some great cuisine for both meat-lovers and vegetarians like myself! Don’t miss out on the best pastel de natas in town at Nata Lisboa (they also serve a killer traditional Portuguese brunch here) or head to the best vegetarian restaurant in town, Cor de Tangerina, for some amazing vegetarian and vegan cuisine that will leave your body feeling happy and healthy without sacrificing on flavor and tastiness!
- Portugal’s birthplace
When you visit Guimarães you’ll be visiting the nation’s birthplace. In fact, Guimarães is often referred to as the heart of Portugal and is a thriving center for culture. Parts of the city have been named UNESCO World Heritage Sites and you should be sure to take time to visit the gorgeous Castle of Guimarães, or stroll around the historic town center. Portugal’s first king once lived in Guimarães, so it’s a city rich with history and there’s lots of fascinating things to learn.
- Great drinking spots
Lounging in the city center while drinking a cold beer is a great way to unwind after a long day of sightseeing, and Guimarães offers a unique take on your typical outdoor drinking spots. Some of the city’s best, and most scenic places to hang out are located in the shadow of Guimarães’ famous gothic church. This part of town is very lively, especially at night, and it can be quite a cool experience to spend time there. It’s kind of like having a couple drinks right outside Count Dracula’s door.
- The people are amazing
Any trip is always made better when the locals are welcoming, and Guimarães is one of those special towns whose people are particularly warm and easy-going. Perhaps it’s because Guimarães is so much smaller than Portugal’s capital that its people tend to be more welcoming and friendly towards strangers, but out of the places I’ve visited in Portugal, Guimarães definitely ranks the highest when it comes to the locals. Even if you don’t speak the language, you’ll find people that will befriend you and try to crack the occasional joke in English too. Most locals are willing to help if you’re lost, are patient when you’re trying out your fledgling Portuguese skills, and know how to have a good time! If you’re open to the experience of meeting new people, you’ll be sure to have a blast in Guimarães.
- Less crowded
One of the reasons I hate travelling during peak season is I don’t like fighting the crowds. Lisbon, Porto, and Algarve can get overwhelmed with tourists and at times there seems to be more visitors than locals hanging about! Guimarães, while it does get its fair share of tourism, is far quieter than these more famous locations and can be a great place to unwind for a couple days towards the end of your trip in Portugal. It’s truly refreshing to get away from the buzz of Portugal’s bigger metropolises and just hang in a quiet little town like Guimarães.
Have you visited Guimarães before? What are some of your favorite things about the city?