Coimbra is a historic city in Central Portugal, which serves as the regional capital and, with almost 150 000 inhabitants, is the largest municipality there and one of Portugal's four largest metropolises. An important urban and administrative centre since the birth of the Portuguese nation, the city has amassed vast cultural and architectural heritage and is the seat of one of world's oldest universities with a UNESCO-listed campus.
The most convenient airports for Coimbra are (in order of distance):
Coimbra has two main train stations:
- Coimbra-A. is a historic train station built near the riverbank close to the medieval city centre. It is a terminus station only served by local trains.
- Coimbra-B. is a through station on the Lisbon-Porto line, served by high-speed long-distance Alfa Pendular trains. It is quite remotely located, and the best you can do when arriving on an Alfa is to change to a local train to Coimbra-A, as all local trains serve both stations and your long-distance ticket will cover this stretch as well.
The best way to drive to Coimbra is using the A1 Highway. Take any exit to Coimbra and you will be about 10 min away from the city center.
The bus station is located at Av. Fernão de Magalhães and is easily reached by local bus or on foot (a 10 minute walk from the city center). It has destinations for the whole of Portugal (with changes for some far away destinations), and it's faster and fares are normally cheaper than the train.
Coimbra is a hard city to drive in as it was built around medieval structures. Also, finding a parking spot can be difficult. The best option for visiting Coimbra is to find a hotel with parking or to park near the city center and then walk around. The main attractions are in the city center and within walking distance of each other. Coimbra Baixa is the lower city (downtown). Alta is the highest part of the city, which is also difficult to drive around.
Most of the things to see and do in Coimbra, and most of the places to eat, drink and sleep are within reasonable walking distance of each other and of the rail station, in Baixa. There are several hotels, residencias, pensions, restaurants, cafes, pastry shops, and nightclubs.
Most monuments are in Baixa and Santa Clara (across the Mondego river).
Smaller shops, restaurants and hotels are mostly in Baixa and Santa Clara.
Major shopping malls are in Alta, by Solum and near the municipal stadium/pool.
By electric bus
The "Pantufinhas" or Blue Line provides transport in the historical city center, and a link between the lower and upper town.
There's an elevator ("Elevador do Mercado") that connects Rua Padre António Vieira with Rua Olímpio Nicolau Rui Fernandes (next to Mercado Municipal D Pedro V). A valid SMTUC ticket is necessary to gain access.
- 1 University of Coimbra. On the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2013 - the famous old library shuts at 7PM.
- Medieval Downtown (Sao Tiago, Sao Bartolomeu).
- 2 Quinta das Lagrimas. and its tragic story of love
- 3 Eurostadium Cidade de Coimbra. one of the Euro 2004 stages
- 4 Old Cathedral (Se Velha).
- 5 New Cathedral of Coimbra (Se Nova).
- 6 Igreja de Santa Cruz. church in Baixa
- 7 Sta. Clara-a-Velha Convent.
- 8 Sta. Clara-a-Nova Convent.
- Sister Lucia of Jesus Memorial.
Parks and gardens
- 9 Botanical Garden (Jardim Botânico da Universidade de Coimbra).
- 10 Parque Manuel Braga.
- 11 Parque Verde do Mondego. City park by the Mondego River
- Jardim da Sereia (Mermaid's Garden aka Jardim de Santa Cruz).
- 12 Penedo da Saudade. a beautiful garden
Have a walk up to the top of University Hill from the Mondego river (one of the three great rivers of Portugal), a gorgeous view.
There are two kinds of fado in Portugal: Fado from Lisbon and Fado from Coimbra, neither should be missed (fados are nostalgic songs accompanied by Portuguese guitar).
There is always a lot going on in the student community, go and find out what's up. There are two student festivals held every year:
- Festa das Latas
- Queima das Fitas
The center of Coimbra is a great place to get lost, Coimbra is a small city but it is full of interesting spots, such as museums (Machado de Castro), Torre d`Anto, etc.
The medieval center of Coimbra is unusual in retaining a number of independent bookshops, boutiques, toyshops, galleries, antique and foodshops.There are several bookstores,cafes,restaurants,esplanadas. In Alta/Olivais:
- Coimbra Shopping
- Dolce Vita
- 1 Forum Coimbra.
If you are even just a bit into pottery, the traditional pottery is a must.
Having a meal is not really a problem in Coimbra, since the city has a lots of restaurants, some featuring regional cuisine, in the old city (Baixa).
Three reasonably big shopping centers serve the standard fast food meals you can find everywhere. They are located in key places in the city, but not necessarily close to the tourist attractions of the city.
- Menu Verde (inside the Galerias Topázio, Loja 3, go up to the 2nd floor), ☎ . Open Mon-Fri 9AM-5PM. Delicious ovo-lacto vegetarian food. €1.50 for soup and 5.50 a main dish (July 2012).
- 1 Molho de Brocolos, Avenida Sa da Bandeira 33/35 (Around to the right and at the back of the 2nd floor of Galerias Avenida). Organic vegan food. Location isn't great tucked away at the back of the 2nd floor of a slightly run-down shopping centre, but the food and the staff totally make up for it. €5-8 mains.
- Fangas Mercearia Bar, Rua Fernandes Tomas, 45-49, ☎ . Tue - Thu: 12:00-01:00, Fri - Sat: 12:00-02:00. Small but tasty dishes, rich in flavour mainly because they use local products, good vegetarian even vegan choice, nice selection of Portuguese wines, surprising(ly good) desserts.
- Italia, the Italian restaurant in the city park and over the river, very close to the Santa Clara bridge (very popular with tourists). You have a lot of outside tables, if the weather permits, and the food is prepared by Italian cooks. It's not very expensive either.
- Zé Manel dos Ossos Beco do Forno, 12. A unique atmosphere inside the restaurant is responsible for this fame, but the food is good too. The walls of the restaurant are filled with small pieces of paper, with writings from clients. Be aware that it is quite a small space, so there's a big probability that you won't find a table. Generous portions and a charcoal grill that makes a big difference compared with the electric ones. Try the bone marrow stew (from which the restaurant takes its name) or the grilled seabass or a great dish of stewed octopus and potatoes.
- Restaurante Vitória is in the city centre and has traditional dishes suchs as "cozido à portuguesa", "bacalhau assado na brasa", "chafana". Nice and quiet restaurant.
- Salão Brasil in the "baixinha" (downtown) center. A unique room, with huge windows and very spacious, invites for a relaxed meal. The food is great with some unique dishes from around the country - like "Vitela Maronesa" and "Secretos de Porco preto". Vegetarian meals.
- During the weekends there is jazz, folk and fado concerts - most of them for free. It's great to finish your meal - you have plenty of time, Portuguese are always late - and get a concert right there. Sometimes they get very crowded.
- Taberna. If you want to try 'chanfana', one of the most famous dishes of the region, you should definitely go to this restaurant, close to the football stadium. This restaurant is specialized in a limited amount of dishes, but the quality of the food is just amazing. Go there at night, and try the 'chanfana', even though you may not have a clue about what this is. This is the place for those who really appreciate good food. Don't go too late at night, because it can be a little crowded. The restaurant is very good, and it's located in the most densely populated area of the city.
- Toscana is another very popular Italian restaurant, close to the new bridge. The decoration is great, with a lot of pictures from Florence, Venice, Rome. The quality of the food is quite high. It's definitely not your standard pizza...
- O Telheiro, Rua do Padrao. On the downside, it is very hard to get a table (but you will get one if you wait) and it is out of the center of Coimbra (approx. 5 mins from Coimbra B train station).
- Wok - oriental cuisine of very good level on the opposite side of the river, between the new (Santa Isabel) and pedestrian (Pedro e Ines) briges.
- Farinha de Milho in Anca, a beautiful restaurant in a beautiful setting with beautiful traditional Portuguese food. This restaurant is in an old water mill in a small village just 10 minutes drive from Coimbra.
- Rua de Azeiteiras (a street in Baixa) has lots of nice traditional restaurants.
- Joao do Leitoes one of the most typical restaurants of the city. Its main dish is a roasted piglet served whole with potatoes and salad.
- Quinta das Lágrimas hotel's restaurant may be the best restaurant in the city. It's the most expensive place in the city though... Be sure to wear your best clothes if you go there. It's a very fancy place.
- Gengibre is modern and elegant restaurant near the Santo Antonio dos Olivais church
- There is a lot of quality wine production in the regions surrounding Coimbra, try some "Bairrada" wine.
- Don't miss the "licor beirao", a national sweet liquor drink born and made in the region.
- Try the different varieties of firewater "Agua-Ardente". One is made only from grapes while the other is made from mixed fruit. Each have a unique and different after taste.
- Cafe de Santa Cruz is a historical cafe next to the "Igreja de Santa Cruz" (Saint Cross Church).
- The bars in the new City Park are open all day long.
A warning, the students in this town seem to prefer Tuesday or Thursday night to go out. On weekends, this city is sleepy as many students go home to their families.
- a Capela bar, were you can find yourself surrounded by Portuguese guitar tunes and "Fado de Coimbra" get a grip of this so traditional local culture.
- Diligencia Bar - The oldest Fado House in Coimbra. Typical night bar were you'll find Fado de Coimbra and all kind of Portuguese traditional music.
- Salao Brazil - A restaurant but also a bar, most worthy during weekends, with - mostly - free jazz, folk and fado concerts.
- Bar AAC - Academic Association Bar, entrance sometimes limited to University students.
- The bars in the "Parque Verde do Mondego" are a good place to go for a drink during Spring and Summer.
- The bars around the "Praca da Republica" are full of the spirit of the students of the University, mainly during weekdays in Autumn, Winter and Spring.
- Bar Quebra Costas, R. Quebra Costas 45, 3000 Coimbra, Portugal. Nice location on the stairs leading to Se Velha. Open air concerts.
- NB - Disco near Praca da Republica.
- Theatrix - Disco in Av. Sa da Bandeira.
- Noites Longas - Disco near Praca da Republica, alternative sounding (metal, rock).
There are several cheap hostels around the city center.
- Pousada de Juventude. In June 2008 the going rate was €11 a night plus €2 if you are didn't have the card from youth hostel..
- Residencial Gouveia, Rua João de Ruão, nº 21 – 1º andar, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Residencial Gouveia is located in the heart of downtown Coimbra. It is an excellent compromise between comfortable and affordable / economical price. It offers rooms with free Wi-Fi and air conditioning (optional) and allows you to make reservations at the official site. It does not include meals. 18-28 euros.
- Residencial Domus, rua Adelino Veiga 62. They have cheaper rooms in another building just opposite - a double costs 20 euros (February 2006).
- Residencia Aeminium Coimbra, ☎ . Great location near transportations and all main attractions. Good alternative to hotels or hostels with a good quality-price ratio.
- Grande Hostel de Coimbra, Rua Antero Quental nº196 (Near Praça da República (centre)), ☎ . Check-in: 12AM, check-out: 11AM. Hostel with lockers, free Internet, no curfew. Dorms €18 and double rooms 20 per person per night. It's a big house with a big garden and a nice and friendly atmosphere! There is a spacious living room, a well-equipped kitchen and a terrace for the guests to use.
- Hotel Comfort Inn Almedina Coimbra, Av. Fernão de Magalhães, 199, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. O Hotel Comfort Inn Almedina Coimbra is located at Coimbra city center. Free access to Wi-Fi and Internet. Nearby train stations and bus stops. Transportation to all the city 50 meters from the hotel. Parking facilities.
- 1 Hotel Ibis Coimbra, Avenida Emidio Navarro n°70 Edificio Topazio, ☎ . It's a modern looking hotel with amazing features.
- Tryp Coimbra, Avenida Armando Gonsalves.
- Pousada de Condeixa-a-Nova - Santa Cristina, Charming Hotel, Rua Francisco Lemos 3150-142 Condeixa-a-Nova, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. A former palace owned by the Almadas Family, was built in the 16th century. For several years it received members of the European nobility. In the first half of 19th century, the palace was transformed in an hotel inn, later on it was an orphanage to poor children and finally an asylum homeless elderly people.
- The Oslo Hotel Coimbra, ☎ . Near the train station and all main attractions. It has recently been renewed, the staff are helpful and the view is nice.
- Residencial Pensão Vitória, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Located near the train station. Recently renewed. Excellent location, has good rooms with AC/good heating during the colder months. Very friendly staff. Superb kitchen.
- Quinta das Lágrimas, ☎ . The best and most expensive hotel in Coimbra. The hotel itself is a historical site.
- Meliá Palácio da Lousã, ☎ . The country's first boutique hotel. Located in Serra da Lousã.
- Conimbriga, the largest Roman ruins in Portugal, about 15 km away,to the south.
- Castle of Montemor-o-Velho, about 30 km away. Have a cup of tea and don't forget tasting the local sweets: "espigas de Montemor", "pastéis de Tentúgal", "queijadas de Tentúgal" - mostly eggs and sugar in delicious and extremely-caloric combinations!
- Figueira da Foz is about 40 km away. Beaches and casino.
- Eat "Leitão" in Mealhada
- Eat "Chanfana" in Miranda do Corvo
- Lousã, mountain town.
- Luso/Buçaco (spa)
- Curia village (garden/park and lagoon/)
- Penela (Castle)
- Pombal (Castle)
- Penacova, a town by the Mondego river.
Also within an hour: