October 2020: Northern Portugal (Part 1): Arrival & Day Trip to Braga


Less than a week after getting back from Greece, it was nice to be off again, making hay while the sun was shining in this year of travel washout. Our two-centre trip to northern Portugal was originally meant to be based on easyJet flights out of Bristol, featuring ultra-low fares. Despite the attractive pricing, the flights ended up being cancelled by the airline. Sold on the idea of the destination, we rearranged the flights to use British Airways, temporarily working out of Heathrow using their normal, Gatwick-style BA2xxx flight numbers.

Our first (and principal) base was the city of Porto, Portugal’s second city and the home of port wine. Actually, strictly speaking, our first base was Vila Nova de Gaia, which faces off with Porto across the gorge of the Douro river, in a situation reminiscent of Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead. Our Airbnb apartment was just a short walk from the high level of the double-deck Dom Luís I Bridge, leading directly to Porto city centre.


Braga is an ancient cathedral city of around 200,000 people, situated 55km northeast of Porto and a similar distance from the Spanish border. In the days of the Roman empire, Bracara Augusta (as it was then known) was capital of the Roman province of Gallaecia. (Modern-day Galicia is, of course, the Spanish autonomous community lying directly north of Portugal.) I have to confess that I had never previously heard of Braga, but it made for an interesting and enjoyable day trip by train from Porto, on our first full day in northern Portugal – a Saturday.