Guimaraes (Guimarães)

Guimarães is a pretty town, with compact historic center full of interesting houses highlighted by elaborate balconies. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Walking through town, you can discover a few fetching squares and many picturesque corners. There are also several sights worth checking out.

Ducal Palace ♥♥ is highly recommended, well furnished and well explained on the visitor cards in every room. It has a great medieval feel, even if most spaces have been refurbished recently. In the chapel, there is most brilliant stained glass. Upside-down wooden-boat ceilings in two large twin halls are among other design highlights.

The nearby castle ♥is only mildly curious, but offers a very detailed exposition on the history of town – and the relevant bits of the history of the country – in the keep. The highlight is the animated video biopic of Afonso Henriques, the founding king, on the top floor; it is hilarious. Access to the roof of the keep was prohibited at the time of our visit; there are no more than ok views from the ramparts.

Church of Nossa Senhora da Oliveira boasts an impressive rich altar, but it is too dark to be properly admired. During siesta later in the day other churches were closed, so we did not see them; the ones that we especially wanted to visit were São Francisco and Nossa Senhora da Consolação e Santos Passos.

City Hall, once a monastery, allows free access to its cloisters. If you walk by Convento do Carmo, stick your head into the doorway to admire the pretty entryway courtyard.

We also planned to try Teleférico – the cable car line to the park of Morro da Penha high above town – but the weather turned slightly sour and we cut it from our schedule.

Places to Eat

Lunch at Dona Maria ♥♥, around the corner from the main square but virtually miles away from tourist routes. Turned out to be a great random choice. Northern Portuguese specialty Francesinha is a sumptuous layered open sandwich with different meats, cheese and egg (tomato sauce was slightly overpowering). Stuffed mushrooms and garlic shrimps were also excellent. Bread was accompanied by tasty alho sauce (more familiar to most as Spanish alioli). Damage: €33 for two with a bottle of wine. Last visit: Spring 2019.

Other notes for Portugal