When one of the founders of Josefinas, Sofia Oliveira, offered to tour us through her hometown of Braga, Portugal, we were elated to have such a savvy and chic tour guide. At the helm of this fashionista fav footwear line, Sofia is cued in on aligning comfort with coolness – and her Insider’s Guide to Braga is no exception.
Tucked into northern Portugal, and rich in history, Braga is the perfect reminder of the kind of town that will charm you with its off-the-beaten-track sensibilities and local traditions. And while you may remember our love of Lisbon, it’s important to give the little sister some attention too!
Grab your passport, honey! We are off to Braga.
Braga. My hometown. A small Portuguese city with tons of history. Braga is in the North of Portugal, and was once one of the most important capitals of the Ancient Roman Imperium, known at the time as Bracara Augusta. Known in Europe for its Gothic churches, Braga is still a gem waiting to be discovered.
A Brasileira - The most special and authentic cup of coffee in the city. The coffee beans are grained (grounded) by hands that accumulate 100 years of history. When you go to A Brasileira, be sure to ask for the “café de saco.”
Taberna do Félix - This is the kind of place that makes you feel like you’re at home. Taberna do Félix, or Felix’s Tavern, is an extraordinary place to eat in Braga. The sense you get from savoring the food is like it has been cooked by your grandmother. Just thinking of the duck magret with mushroom rice makes my mouth water.
Ferrugem – A cozy fireplace invites you right into the dining room. Located in rural surroundings, Chef Renato presents his dishes in a very true to himself point of view. His dishes are a reinterpretation of some classic Portuguese recipes. The top three dishes? Sardine roe caviar surrounded by green sprouts, tomato and olive oil foam; Caldo Verde (a traditional Portuguese soup); and fava bean cream with pork. The best spot for true foodies.
Santa Maria do Bouro Convent - Here, one dreams slowly and appreciates life peacefully. The Santa Maria do Bouro Convent is surrounded by a heavenly green landscape, making it the perfect place for a well-deserved rest. A Cistercian monastery from the 12th century, the inn was restored by the 2011 Pritzker winner, Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto Moura. All you need to do here is relax, and enjoy your revitalizing stay.
Tea For Nine – Tea For Nine is the cutest and sweetest place to stay in Braga. Right in the heart of the city, Margarida will always greet you with a smile.
Janes - A living garden inside a building with a facade that will make you stop for its beauty. Three palm trees live under a glass skylight in the middle of the Janes store. The vibe is contemporary; it could easily be an art museum. In fact, it does feel like you’re shopping inside a museum, since Janes exhibits the world’s most beautiful designer creations like Prada, Miu Miu, Marc Jacobs and Chloé.
Mercado de São João – Mercado de São João is a very traditional Portuguese grocery store, one of the few left in Braga. A super charismatic place where you can find the perfect codfish (yes, we Portuguese people can’t get enough of codfish).
Centésima Página – Where you can find the perfect book, while visiting a beautiful 18th century building. Besides being a bookshop, Centésima Página has an exquisite selection of cultural activities as well.
Bom Jesus - 581 stairs, or a 116 meter climb, is what separates you from the iconic sanctuary Bom Jesus do Monte. If you don’t feel like climbing, that’s OK; you can go all the way up with the help of an elevator. But this isn’t an ordinary elevator. Built in 1882, it’s the world’s oldest funicular moved by water counterbalancing.
Museu dos Biscaínhos – An 18th century palace transformed into a museum that tells you the story of the noble family Biscaínhos. My favorite? The beautiful backyard garden, perfect for reading a book on a Spring afternoon.
Theatro Circo – Theatro Circo is one of the most beautiful and noble theaters in the country (personally, one of the most amazing I’ve ever seen!). A passionate red color mixed with gold and a huge crystal chandelier in the center of the room takes you on a glamorous journey.
Capela Árvore da Vida – In 2011, the Capela Árvore da Vida (or Tree Life Chapel) won the ArchDaily 2011 award for religious building with the best architecture. Designed by Cerejeira Fontes Architects, with the collaboration of the sculptor Asbjörn Andresen, the concept behind its construction is a forest. In fact, the whole Chapel is made of 20 ton of wood, none of which was nailed – it was all assembled together perfectly.
Images via: Júlia of Braga Cool