If you like travelling round Portugal in search of living history, now Guimarães is just 3h40 from Lisbon for just €12.00, if you plan your journey a couple of weeks in advance.
It's a city you want to spend some time in, as it's full of esplanades and restaurants, handicraft shops and bars where you breathe history with every step you take and the locals are so friendly and welcoming. Your journey can start of the train and finish on the Alto da Penha cable car with a view over the entire city. Visitors also have to see the symbolic Guimarães castle, which was built in the 10th century and is probably where king Afonso Henriques was born.
CP Services: Alfa Pendular | Intercidades | Oporto urban trains
If you like heritage then the 15th century town centre is a must. As you come into the city on the train, you get the first impression of the place but nothing prepares you for the beauty you are going to find. Starting of from the station, the best way into the centre is down Av. Afonso Henriques towards Praça do Toural and Alameda de São Dâmaso. Half-way along the avenue you find the Centro Vila Flor on the right with its beautiful gardens, which play a key role in the city's cultural life. One suggestion is to go a bit further down the road on the right-hand side to Largo da Oliveira.
Here you can see the Convento de Nossa Senhora da Oliveira, which was founded by the Countess Mumadona in the 10th century, and where there is still the church (where the Gothic lines replaced the original Romanesque). Beside the church is the 'Padrão do Salado' which commemorates the Portuguese and Castillo victory over the Moorish kingdom of Granada (October 1339).
The houses with their wooden balconies that surround Praça de Santiago are noteworthy and nearly all of them are restored. In the nearby Rua de Santa Maria there are marvellous buildings such as the Casa dos Valadares or the Casa do Arco.
In a city with so much to see, with so much night-life and so many god restaurants we have one last suggestion: tyry some of the local pork dishes like 'bucho' or 'rojões' but leave a bit of space for the traditional sweets.
The Cradle of the Nation, as Guimarães is called, is the perfect place for a family holiday and to interest children in Portugal’s history: "Everything began with a Countess called Mumadona Dias. In the 10th century, this woman decided to found a monastry in Vimaranes. Vimaranes! That was what the town was called back then, and that was more than a thousand years ago! Vimaranes was part of the Portucalense County and the Portucalense County was part of the Kingdom on Leon…"
See here a travel guide to Guimarães to see what to do with the children.
More suggestions for journeys with children in cpkids.cp.pt