5 top things to do in Braga, Portugal

Braga is located in the North of Portugal and its history and charms won’t leave you unmoved. In this article our guest author and Braga expert, Julia Vilaça picks out five of the most iconic things to do in the city.

Bom Jesus, Braga Photo: Braga Cool

Bom Jesus, Braga

Visit Bom Jesus

Bom Jesus is one of the most versatile places in Braga. The view from the top is mesmerizing, the environment is calm, quiet, romantic and family-friendly and there are lots of things you can do besides visiting the impressive and beautiful church. There are gardens and grottos, a lake with rowing boats, a relaxed terrace and carriages to enable you to discover the area. For a unique experience, use the water powered elevator to reach the area where the church is located.

In Bom Jesus there are options for everyone. The Hotel do Parque is always a good choice to stay and if you like cocktails, you must go to Casa Velha, a bar that takes the art of creating these kinds of drinks very seriously, providing you with a unique experience in a rustic space.

Braga Cathedral Photo: Braga Cool

Braga Cathedral

Visit Braga’s Cathedral

This is the oldest church in the country and its first construction project began even before Portugal became a nation. It’s possible to observe the influences of various eras on its walls and predominately Baroque interior. This is a symbol of the city and it is a mark in the lives of the people who live in Braga, thanks to its beauty and historical importance. Next door, there are some small chapels and a museum where you can learn more about the Church, the Portuguese habits and history – one of the pieces you can see in the museum is the cross used during the first mass celebrated in Brazil when the Portuguese arrived there.

A Brasileira Coffee, Braga Photo: Braga Cool

A Brasileira Coffee, Braga

Take a cup of coffee in A Brasileira

A Brasileira is the most iconic place when it comes to coffee. After lunch, order the drip brewed coffee and experience the traditional flavor of coffee. This iconic coffee shop is located in the heart of the city, so afterwards you can take a walk around the city’s pedestrian area, discovering the streets of Braga, its most delicate gardens and historical buildings. Shop for souvenirs or for a special piece for your wardrobe – if you’re a fan of international luxury brands, stop by Antónia Lage and Boutique Janes where you’ll find the latest collections from Miu Miu, Prada, Chiara Ferragni, Moschino).

Biscaínhos Museum, Braga Photo: Braga Cool

Biscaínhos Museum, Braga

Visit the Biscaínhos Museum

The Biscaínhos Museum opened its doors in 1978 and currently takes us on a journey through the daily life of a noble family in their palace. Visit the gardens – the perfect setting to read a book or go for a romantic walk. Inside you’ll see the noble ballroom where the family used to hold their receptions and balls and a fantastic ceiling painted by Manuel Furtado. This is the perfect Museum to visit if you want to see how a noble family used to live.

Tibães Monastery, Braga Photo: Braga Cool

Tibães Monastery, Braga

Visit the Tibães Monastery

The Tibães Monastery is more than just a visit to an old monastery, it’s a visit to the past, a visit to the present, and a desire to return there in the future. It’s located a bit far from the center of Braga, but worth the visit. The gardens are an ode to Mother Nature, there’s even a lake lined with centenary trees and the Rococo style church will blow your mind, thanks to the 24K gold covering most of it. And you know what? This Monastery also includes a guest house, Hospedaria Convento de Tibaes, with nine bedrooms, a restaurant and a venue for special events. Perfect, right?

Julia headshotAuthor Bio: Thanks for this article to Julia Vilaça who writes at Braga Cool and is an avid collector of happy moments. Her dream is to help people discover the coolest places when they travel.

More articles about Portugal

5 cool neighbourhoods you can’t miss in Lisbon
3 great places to visit in Portugal
An autumn weekend in Lisbon

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5 cool neighbourhoods you can’t miss in Lisbon

August 24, 2016 by  
Filed under featured, Leisure, Lisbon, Portugal, Sightseeing

Lisbon is divided into districts and each one of them is special on its own way. Some of them are more traditional, others are more modern. Some of them are fancier, others are more adventurous. And together they transform Lisbon into what it is. In this guest article, Lisbon expert Julia Vilaça recommends five different neighbourhoods which will give you a complete overview of Lisbon and its special character.

Read about 5 Cool neighbourhoods in Lisbon

1. Alfama

Alfama is one of the most famous neighborhoods in Lisbon because of its traditions and it’s considered the “Fado’s Birthplace”. It’s an area with narrow labyrinth streets, that transform the neighborhood into one of the most fascinating. For a genuine visit to Lisbon with a pretty cool lookout at the end, visit Alfama, listen to some fado and enjoy the viewpoints. “Portas do Sol” is one of the most fantastic viewpoints and if you want a place to stay, you can choose Hotel Memmo Alfama. In Alfama you can also visit the National Pantheon and Casa dos Bicos – the José Saramago foundation house.

Discoveries Monument Belém Lisbon Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Discoveries Monument Belém Lisbon

2. Alcântara/Belém

The Discoveries Monument, Belém Tower, Jerónimos Monastery, National Coach Museum, Electricity Museum and many other monuments are located in Alcântara/Belém – it’s great for walking around (especially when the sun comes out) and to discover Portuguese history, since most of the monuments related to the discoveries are located here. In Belém, you’ll find something for everyone. And you should definitely try the Portuguese pastries – Pastéis de Belém. Enjoy the sunset at Espelho D’Água and stay at Altis Belém Hotel.

Chiado Lisbon Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Chiado Lisbon

3. Chiado

If you like to shop, this is the perfect place. Chiado brings together lots of stores, restaurants, cafés and little shops – you should definitely try the chocolate cake from Landeau and have a cup of coffee with the famous Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa in A Brasileira. Are you looking for traditional souvenirs? Or maybe a cool trendy piece for your closet? You’re going to find it in Chiado because modern brands cohabit with centenary premises (here you can find, for example, A Vida Portuguesa and Luvaria Ulisses). Lisboa Carmo Hotel is a great option if you want to stay in the heart of the city. And if you want to go to the theatre or see some street artists, Chiado is also the place!

Bairro Alto Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Bairro Alto

4. Bairro Alto

Some people just call it “Bairro” and it’s one of Lisbon’s alternative areas. In Bairro Alto you’ll find art galleries, bars like PARK (for a great sunset), local stores… It’s a very traditional area during the day and, at night, it transforms itself into a trendy neighborhood –there’s music, drinks and fashion all over the place. It’s one of Lisbon’s most diverse districts and although it’s not super quiet at night, it’s also great if you want to go out and enjoy the hours after the sun goes down. During the day, travel up the 7th hill by hopping on one of Lisbon’s famous elevators: Bica or Glória.

Parque das Nações Lisbon Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Parque das Nações Lisbon

5. Parque das Nações

The most modern part of the city, with a business side. Thanks to Expo ’98, it was fully renovated (some people call it “the Expo area”) but in Parque das Nações you can enjoy a different perspective of the city. MEO Arena, the Pavilion of Knowledge and the Lisbon Oceanarium are located here, so it’s a great area to take the kids. For an even cooler experience, take a ride on the cable cars!

Julia headshotAuthor Bio: Thanks for this article to Julia Vilaça who writes at Lisboa Cool and is an avid collector of happy moments. Her dream is to help people discover the coolest places when they travel.

 

If you’re looking to book a Hotel in Lisbon, compare prices and book on my Hotel Booking page powered by HotelsCombined – I get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!

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Read about 5 cool neighbourhoods in Lisbon

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The world on a plate at Christmas with my Pasteis de Nata from Lisbon

When I travel it’s the food that often creates the lasting memories that I bring home. For Greece it’s the home-made stuffed tomatoes that I associate with sitting under a leafy pergola with a view of the sea, from Texas it’s the fish tacos that remind me of the food trailers of Austin and from Portugal it’s the Pasteis de Nata custard tarts that bring back mouthwatering memories of a weekend in Lisbon.

Pasteis de Belém from Lisbon Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Pasteis de Belém from Lisbon

With Christmas approaching it’s always good to have a few alternatives to the mince pies that can be whisked up at short notice so it was great timing that I was asked by Expedia to come up with my favourite world-on-a-plate recipe with a Portuguese theme. If you’ve not visited Lisbon, you may not know what you are missing in these creamy, vanilla perfumed custard tarts enclosed in a crisp, flaky pastry that are sold in every bakery and at every hotel breakfast buffet.

While there are plenty of Pastelarias or cake shops around Lisbon where you can buy the tarts, locals and tourists alike swear by the ones that are sold close to the Monastery of Jerónimos at the Antiga Confeitaria de Belém where the cakes are simply known as the Pastéis de Belém. To get there you take the tram from downtown Lisbon to Belém, getting off at the stop before the monastery and look for the queue of people snaking out the door waiting to buy them warm from the oven.

I made some of the tarts this weekend as a try out for Christmas week when we will have plenty of family staying with us, so that I can serve them either as a teatime treat or as a desert with ice cream. I had to practically fight off the family from eating them all before I photographed them, so you could see what the result was.

My home-made Pasteis de Nata Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

My home-made Pasteis de Nata

This is the recipe I used for the Pasteis de Nata which is a hybrid of various recipes I found online and makes up to 24 small tarts or 12+ bigger ones.

Ingredients

1 pack of ready made puff/ flaky pastry
500ml milk/ single cream – I used 300ml milk + 200ml cream
6 egg yolks
300g caster sugar
50g flour/ cornflour
A cinnamon stick or 1/4 tsp of powdered cinnamon
2 strips lemon peel
½ tsp vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod

First make the easy custard

1. Put the flour in a pan off the heat and slowly whisk in enough of the milk/cream mixture to make a thin paste with no lumps
2. Gradually whisk in the sugar, then the egg yolks and then the rest of the milk/cream mixture.
3. Add the vanilla essence or pod, the stick of cinnamon or powdered cinnamon and the stips of lemon peel
4. Heat slowly over a low heat whisking constantly as the custard heats through. If the heat is too high or the stirring not constant the mixture may turn into a horrible lumpy, scrampled mixture although it will probably still taste good.
5. Once the mixture turns into a thick custard, take off the heat and allow to cool.
6. Remove by hand the sticks of cinnamon, vanilla pod and lemon peel before using the custard

My home-made Pasteis de Nata

My home-made Pasteis de Nata

Bake the Pasteis de Nata

1. Roll out the flaky/ puff pastry as thinly as possible
2. Take a round pastry cutter or glass to cut rounds of pastry that will fit neatly into your individual tart tins which you have already greased
3. Bake at 180 degrees celcius for around 25 minutes but check after 20 minutes. The pastry should be golden and the custard nicely browned.

Serve while warm from the oven or as a desert with vanilla ice cream – they won’t last long!

When we were in Lisbon a few years ago we stopped at the bakery like the rest of the visitors on their way to visit the monastery and because it was raining we ventured past the queue at the front of the shop into the rabbit-warren of cafe rooms behind. They stretched quite a long way back, so by going from room to room we eventually found a table that was free and ordered our Pasteis de Belém with a coffee.

The story goes that in the early 19th century the monks of the nearby monastery sold the ancient recipe to the bakery and the tarts have been made there since 1837, with the recipe remaining a secret, only known by three of the chefs at the bakery. If you visit Lisbon around Christmas time, look out for the Bolo Rei or King cake, a ringed cake topped with colourful crystalised fruits. The cake is eaten up to the epiphany on 6 January and it sometimes has a little token buried in it for one lucky person to find, just as we might put a sixpence in a christmas pudding.

Bolo Rei of King cake in Lisbon Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Bolo Rei of King cake in Lisbon

It you’d like to visit Portugal and Lisbon to try out the Pasteis de Nata for yourself, check out the holidays to Portugal that you can find at Expedia and look out for other interesting foods in their world-on-a-plate series.

Antiga Confeitaria de Belém in Lisbon Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Antiga Confeitaria de Belém in Lisbon

This article was brought to you in partnership with Expedia as part of their world-on-a-plate series. Read the round-up of the other mouthwatering recipes from Portugal on the Expedia blog here.

More things to see in Lisbon

Having my Pastéis and eating it in Lisbon – Portugal
Podcast – an autumn weekend in Lisbon
Modern luxe at Hotel Heritage Av.Liberdade in Lisbon

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

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