Often referred to as the “Rome of Portugal”, this city was formerly known as Bracara Augusta and served as the capital of the Roman province of Gallaecia. Considered the country’s religious hub, Braga is home to several churches and religious monuments, including the Cathedral Se de Braga, one of the oldest cathedrals in the land. The city displays a mix of architectural styles, including Roman, Gothic, Baroque, and Neoclassical and hosts various cultural events and festivals throughout the year, such as the Holy Week processions, São João Festival. Braga is also a gateway to exploring the Minho region of northern Portugal.
Vila Gale Collection Braga
Stay in a 16th-century building which had former purposes as a hospital, a hermitage devoted to São Marcos, a hostel and a Templar convent. Wrought-iron balconettes, a huge pillared courtyard and statues keeping watch over the rooftop are contrasted by a palm-flanked pool terrace to the rear. There is also an indoor pool, a kids’ play area, a spa, a gym and two restaurants, along with over 100 bedrooms. Although reincarnated as a hotel in 2018, the property retains a classical, almost medieval Portuguese style, that infuses every corner with a sense of history.
Torre de Gomariz Wine & Spa Hotel
Venture a little further out of town, to Torre de Gomariz Wine & Spa Hotel, deep in the northern vineyards of Portuguese wine country. The nearby forestry and acres of greenery make this a peaceful escape, in five-star style. The boutique property is found in the parish of Cervães, Minho and dates to the 15th and 16th centuries, with a romantic medieval tower at its heart. Guests can sample the local produce at the Wine Bar, or dine in slightly more formal surroundings at the Gomariz Restaurant. Popular daytime activities include hiking, hopping on a bike, playing tennis, or chilling out in the Camellia Spa.
This polished and chic urban spa resort offers a very different visual experience, as a striking modern glass-fronted high rise. The Melia is all about innovation and technology, rather than history. The spa occupies 800m² with a hydrothermal circuit and massage cabins, and the outdoor pool area spans 350m², with a bar, sunbeds and Bali beds. Single bedrooms through to a Presidential Suite can be booked, catering to every traveller, be they a solo adventurer or a family group. All meals are served in the El Olivo Restaurant, with the Bracara Bar for drinks.