Gallivanting to Guimarães

Have you heard of Guimarães, Portugal? I certainly hadn’t until Lauren of Spanish Sabores blogged about the city, calling it one of Europe’s most romantic. My interest was piqued–Guimarães went on the travel wishlist. Luckily, the city is connected to Porto by commuter train*–with a trip to Porto in the cards, visiting Guimarães was suddenly a reality. Travel time was about an hour and 40 minutes, and the beautiful sights in store were worth the trip.

Guimarães proved it was not just a pretty face; it has been culturally fixed on the map since being named a European Capital of Culture for 2012. The city reminded me a lot of Tallinn, Estonia, which, oddly enough, held this cultural crown in 2011. Parallels between the two places were the colorful façades, cobblestone walkways, beautiful night lighting, and an old town straight from a storybook. Now I’m curious to see which cities will be the European Capitals of Culture in 2013**!

Guimarães’ castle, which we were able to explore

A duke once lived next door to the castle–this was his humble abode

As we were climbing the castle, the setting sun made for terrific photo ops

Next, we strolled back down the hill from the castle to the town

As night fell, the streets were noticeably empty of day-tourists

Quirky statues stood guard over the city’s historic heart

Chairs filled the terraces, but for the most part restaurants and bars were empty

Christmas lights added to the charm

The city center was gorgeous and–shall I use this word?–romantic

Oh Portugal…more colorful façades!

Conclusion: Guimarães is indeed a charming city, especially at night

*Logistics: From Porto you can reach Guimarães by the train at the São Bento train station (this is located by, but not connected to, a metro station called São Bento). Buy your ticket at the little machines on the platform. The trip took 90 minutes on the way there, but nearly 1 hour and 45 minutes on the return. The cost–in January 2013–was 6,50 Euros round-trip.

**Ok, I admit, I looked ’em up – anyone wanna travel to Marseille, France or Košice, Slovakia this year?

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11 Comments

  1. Another city to add to my Portugal wish list 😀

  2. Cassandra

    Ohh, where else would you like to go there?

    I’d like to this this is a pay-it-forward type ‘o deal: from Lauren to me to you!

  3. Gorgeous pics! Just how I remember it. I want to go back again…

    • Cassandra

      Thanks Lauren! Hopefully you’ll get the chance to explore more of Northern Portugal one day soon.

  4. Absolutely beautiful!

  5. Marseille, France is on my wish list. Since I’m teaching in Spain I would love to visit such beautiful European cities! If you ever need a buddy, just let me know!

  6. Cassandra

    @ Alyssa – Thank you!

    @Yesenia – Marseille was also on The New York Times’ list of places to go in 2013, check it out! http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/01/10/travel/2013-places-to-go.html?hp

  7. How beautiful! I really like the colorful buildings, and it’s always interesting to me how some cities manage to stay old and untouched, like out of a fairytale. 🙂

  8. Cassandra

    I agree! It certainly had that fairy-tale feel.

  9. GORGEOUS photos! The castle and city center are breathtaking. Another add-on to my list. Thank you! 😉

    • Cassandra

      Thanks so much, Michi! You really have to go and soak up the ambiente 🙂

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