There are several places to visit around Guimaraes from one of the best archaeological sites in Portugal, Citania de Briteiros, to the peace and quiet of the countryside around the town.
Fifteen kilometres north west of Guimaraes is the excellent Citania de Briteiros archaeological site. This is a 3.8 hectare Celtic hill settlement that dates back an incredible 2,500 years. The site is believed to have been inhabited from 300 BC to 300 AD and was the Celtiberians last stronghold against the invading Romans.
Dr Martins Saramento excavated the site in 1875 and several artefacts are on display at the Museu da Cultural Castreja nearby and the Museu Arqueologico Martins Sarmento in Guimaraes. But the best way to discover more about pre-Roman history is to look round the foundations and ruins of more than the 150 rectangular, circular and elliptical stone huts all linked by paved paths and a water distribution system. The settlement was protected by protective walls to shield it from the mountain weather. Some huts have been reconstructed to give you an idea of what they would have looked like.
Entrance fee includes a ticket for Museu da Cultural Castreja, S. Salvador de Briteiros, Guimaraes. Open: 9.30 am-12.00 pm and 2-5 pm. Tel: 351 255 478 952. Closed Mondays and holidays. A detailed map of the site is also available for a small cost that will help to interpret the site and is available in English.
If you want to explore the hillsides around Guimaraes a popular viewpoint and picnicking area is Penha seven kilometres southeast of the town.
There is a cable-car that takes 10 minutes to climb the 400 metres to the highest point around Guimaraes. It operates all year round, Monday to Thursday 10 am-7 pm and Sat-Sun and holidays 10 am-8 pm. Information and Reservations, Turipenha - Cooperativa de Turismo de Interesse Publico, CRL, Estacao Inferior das Hortas 4800-026 Guimaraes tel.: 351 253 51 50 85. Fax: 253 51 50 85. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The hillsides are covered in woodland and there is also a campsite, mini-golf course, keep-fit circuits, a horse-riding centre, picnic areas, walks, restaurants, bars and cafes. There is an annual pilgrimage to Penha on the second Sunday in September.
For more walks around Guimaraes check the links right or walking leaflets available from the tourist information offices.
North Portugal and in particular the Minho region of Portugal, is known for the relaxing and recuperative thermal spas. These are mostly sulphur springs where the water reaches temperatures of around thirty two degrees centigrade. The Romans first discovered the benefits of spas and they formed an important role in roman culture. These have often been places associated with Portuguese royal patronage which brought an influx of middle class holiday makers. The spas are thought to relieve skin diseases, rheumatism, arthritis, intestinal disorders, and stomach complaints.
Today some of these like Caldas das Taipas near Guimaraes have been transformed into modern spas with swimming pools, gyms, saunas and solariums. In Minho, the thermal spa resorts like Chaves are ideal for getting to regional towns and cities such as Braga, with all its religious tradition, or Guimaraes, the founding capital of Portugal and with a World Heritage historical centre.