Travel north on a day trip from Porto to two of northern Portugal's historic cities, which are currently basking in the European spotlight. First, discover the country's origins in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed town of Guimarães. Home to a 10th-century castle and the Dukes of Braganza Palace, the town today is filled with pride for being named the European Capital of Culture for 2012. Then visit the city of Braga, founded by the Romans more than 2,000 years ago. The oldest Christian city in Portugal, Braga is celebrated today as the 2012 European Capital of Youth.
Heading north from Porto with your guide, start your historic and cultural excursion into Portugal's past and present. The first stop of your day trip is the UNESCO World Heritage city of Guimarães, in the wine region of Minho. Portugal's history comes alive as you see the city's 10th-century castle and Dukes of Braganza Palace. Then drive through the historic city center to see Guimarães' squares and monuments backed by the forested slope of Mt Penha.Enjoy a two-course lunch of fish or meat in a local restaurant before continuing to Braga, founded by the Romans as Bracara Augusta and known today as the City of Archbishops for its many religious monuments. At Sameiro Sanctuary, see the domed church of Our Lady of Sameiro, followed by a visit to Bom Jesus do Monte sanctuary in Tenões. Here, walk up a crisscrossing Baroque stairway to reach the hilltop pilgrimage church, where you can admire panoramic views over Braga.Then take a drive through Braga's historic center, where Portugal’s oldest Christian city was born. See the city's Roman ruins, Baroque fountains, grand religious buildings and palaces, and numerous churches and towers before returning to Porto.