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Guimarães – European Capital of Culture 2012!

It's no surprise that the very first capital of Portugal and birthplace of its first king was awarded high status as a cultural capital for Europe in 2012.

Located in the country’s northern district of Braga, the city is full of beautiful monuments and world heritage streets, despite being in quite an industrialised part of Portugal. Combined with its mouth-watering culinary offerings, it’s a joy to wander its byways at any time of the year!

The Flexicover Team have some tips if you are lucky enough to visit this amazing city.

The historic city centre

Take a guided city tour on arrival for orientation or stroll around at your leisure; either way you will feel like you are back in medieval times. Guimarães is one of the largest tourist centres in the region and its historical centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Enjoy the city’s complex mix of music, fine arts, theatre, dance, architecture and food and watch the many shows that take place daily in celebration of the 2012 Capital of Culture. Sip your espresso and relax by people-watching those thronging its narrow paved streets!

Portuguese eating

The old town boasts several quaint courtyards and squares brimming with cafés and restaurants, with a pronounced diversity of style and fare. If you want to try traditional northern Portuguese cuisine, you will not be disappointed with the selection of good hearty dishes on offer, from caldo verde soup to alheria sausages and plenty of salt cod! Most restaurants will serve you a ‘couvert’, similar to a small tapas appetiser, consisting of paté or olives for your delectation!

Guimarães Castle

Take time out to visit this unique landmark which is representative of the birth of Portugal, with the city often referred to as the ‘the cradle city’. The Countess of Portugal, Dona Mumadona Dias, built this fort in the tenth century to guard against the attack of the Normans and Arab invaders and it became the official royal residence in 1139 when Portugal became independent from the kings of León.

Palace of the dukes of Braganza

This brilliant, well-conserved, medieval palace (built in the fifteenth century by a son of the king at the time) is a must see when visiting Guimarães. Part of this palace is used as a museum featuring beautiful Persian and Flemish tapestries, paintings and other historical objects. It is also considered an official residency of the President of Portugal.

Weather in February

Guimarães is located in a valley with the surrounding hills bringing rainy, cold winters but the summers are lovely and comfortably hot! If you are travelling in February then you can expect temperatures of around 15°C rising to 25°C in the summer months. Don’t forget your sunglasses and that camera!

If you plan to visit one of this year's European Capitals of Culture, then don’t forget that you may need a helping hand from Flexicover Direct, the travel insurance specialist, committed to providing the highest level of service to ensure that you are safe and secure, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year when away.

If you are travelling soon, have a great trip!