Welcome to Coimbra, a charming and historic city located in the heart of Portugal. Known for its prestigious university, rich cultural heritage, and stunning architecture, Coimbra is a must-visit destination for any traveler exploring Portugal. In this travel guide, we’ll take you on a journey through Coimbra’s top attractions and provide you with insider tips on what to see, where to eat, and where to stay during your three-day visit.
Day 1 – Exploring Coimbra’s Historic Center
Begin your day by strolling through the historic center of Coimbra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Start at Praça da República, the city’s main square, and admire the stunning baroque architecture of the buildings that surround it. From there, head to the Old Cathedral of Coimbra, one of the oldest and most important churches in Portugal. Don’t miss the chance to climb the tower for panoramic views of the city.
Next, make your way to the University of Coimbra, one of the oldest universities in Europe. Take a guided tour of the campus and visit the stunning Biblioteca Joanina, a Baroque library that houses over 200,000 books.
For lunch, head to A Cozinha da Maria, a traditional Portuguese restaurant that serves delicious regional cuisine. Try the bacalhau à bras, a local specialty made with salt cod, potatoes, and eggs.
In the afternoon, visit the Machado de Castro National Museum, located in a former bishop’s palace. Here, you can admire a collection of Portuguese and European art, as well as Roman ruins.
End your day by wandering through the narrow streets of the historic center and soaking up the city’s unique atmosphere.
Day 1 Highlights:
- Praça da República
- Old Cathedral of Coimbra
- University of Coimbra
- Biblioteca Joanina
- A Cozinha da Maria
- Machado de Castro National Museum
Day 2 – Discovering Coimbra’s Cultural Heritage
Start your day at the Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha, a Gothic-style monastery located on the banks of the Mondego River. Explore the ruins of the monastery and learn about its fascinating history.
Next, head to the Convent of Santa Clara-a-Nova, a Baroque-style convent that was built to replace the old monastery.
For lunch, head to Taberna do Largo, a cozy restaurant located in the heart of the city. Try their delicious tapas and wine selection, and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere.
In the afternoon, visit the National Museum Machado de Castro, where you can admire the stunning collections of art and artifacts from Portugal’s rich cultural heritage. Don’t miss the chance to explore the Roman Cryptoporticus, a unique underground gallery that was once part of the Roman forum.
End your day by watching a Fado performance at the Fado ao Centro cultural center. Fado is a traditional Portuguese music genre that originated in Coimbra, and this is a perfect way to experience it first-hand.
Day 2 Highlights:
- Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha
- Convent of Santa Clara-a-Nova
- Taberna do Largo
- National Museum Machado de Castro
- Roman Cryptoporticus
- Fado ao Centro
Day 3 – Exploring Coimbra’s Surroundings
For your final day in Coimbra, venture outside the city to discover its stunning natural surroundings. Start by taking a trip to the Mata Nacional do Choupal, a beautiful park located on the banks of the Mondego River. Here, you can enjoy a peaceful walk, have a picnic, or rent a bike and explore the park’s many trails.
Next, head to the Roman ruins of Conímbriga, located just a short drive from Coimbra. These ruins offer a fascinating glimpse into life in ancient Portugal and are a must-visit for history buffs.
For lunch, stop at the Quinta das Lágrimas, a beautiful hotel and restaurant located on the outskirts of Coimbra. Enjoy a delicious meal while taking in the stunning views of the city and surrounding countryside.
In the afternoon, take a trip to the nearby town of Lousã, known for its stunning castle and beautiful hiking trails. Spend the afternoon exploring the town and its many attractions before returning to Coimbra for your final evening.
Day 3 Highlights:
- Mata Nacional do Choupal
- Conímbriga Roman Ruins
- Quinta das Lágrimas
- Lousã Castle
- Lousã Hiking Trails
Travel Tips and Recommendations
Here are some additional tips and recommendations to make the most of your visit to Coimbra:
What to See in Coimbra:
Some of the most important places to visit in Coimbra include the University of Coimbra, Biblioteca Joanina, Old Cathedral of Coimbra, Machado de Castro National Museum, and Convent of Santa Clara-a-Nova.
Where to Stay in Coimbra:
There are many great options for accommodation in Coimbra, from
luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels. Some popular options include the Hotel Quinta das Lágrimas, Hotel Oslo Coimbra, and Serenata Hostel Coimbra.
Where to Eat in Coimbra:
Coimbra is known for its delicious regional cuisine, which includes dishes such as bacalhau à bras and roasted suckling pig. Some popular restaurants in Coimbra include A Cozinha da Maria, Taberna do Largo, and Solar do Bacalhau.
Free Tours in Coimbra:
If you’re looking to explore Coimbra on a budget, consider taking a free walking tour. There are several companies that offer these tours, including Sandeman’s New Europe and Free Tours Coimbra.
Routes in Coimbra:
There are many great routes to explore in Coimbra, depending on your interests. Some popular options include the historic center walking route, the Mondego River bike trail, and the Lousã Castle hiking trail.
What is the best time to visit Coimbra?
The best time to visit Coimbra is during the spring or fall, when the weather is mild and there are fewer crowds. Summer can be hot and crowded, while winter can be rainy and chilly.
How do I get to Coimbra?
Coimbra is easily accessible by train or bus from Lisbon or Porto. The journey takes approximately 2 hours from Lisbon and 1 hour from Porto.
What is Fado music?
Fado is a traditional Portuguese music genre that is characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics about love, loss, and longing. It originated in Lisbon in the early 19th century, but Coimbra has its own unique style of Fado that is often performed by university students.
Coimbra is a beautiful and historic city that offers something for every type of traveler. Whether you’re interested in exploring its rich cultural heritage, its stunning natural surroundings, or simply soaking up its unique atmosphere, Coimbra is sure to delight. We hope this travel guide has provided you with all the information you need to plan an unforgettable trip to this beautiful city. For more information, visit the official tourism website of Coimbra: https://www.centerofportugal.com/destination/coimbra.