Coimbra is a historic city in Central Portugal, which serves as the regional capital. With over 140,000 inhabitants (2021), it 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, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Coimbra (koo-EEM-bruh, /ku.ˈĩ.bɾɐ/) was settled by the Romans as Aeminium in the 1st century CE.
The most convenient airports for Coimbra are (in order of distance):
Coimbra has two main train stations:
- 1 Coimbra railway station (Coimbra-A, Coimbra-Cidade, Estação Nova), Largo da Ameias / Rua António Granjo, ☏ . 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.
- 2 Coimbra-B railway station (Estação Velha), Rua do Padrão - Eiras, ☏ . 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. Travel time to Coimbra-B is about 1 hr from Porto and about 1 hr 45 min from Lisbon. Train times (from any location) can be found on the CP National Rail site.
The best way to drive to Coimbra is using the A1 motorway (Autoestrada do Norte). Take any exit to Coimbra and you will be about 10 min away from the city centre.
- 3 Terminal Rodoviário de Coimbra (Coimbra Bus Station), Avenida Fernão de Magalhães. The bus station is easily reached by local bus or on foot (a 10 min walk from the city centre). 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.
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, restaurants, cafés, 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.
The "Pantufinhas" or Linha Azul (Blue Line) provides transport in the historical city centre, 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.
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 centre and then walk around. The main attractions are in the city centre 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.
- 1 University of Coimbra. Founded in Lisbon in 1290, the second oldest university on the Iberian peninsula eventually found a permanent home in Coimbra in 1537. Among the beautiful buildings on the campus is the Biblioteca Joanina library. The university enrolls over 20,000 students, and famous alumni include national poet Luís de Camões and Portuguese dictator António de Oliveira Salazar. It's been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2013.
- 2 Medieval Downtown (Sao Tiago, Sao Bartolomeu).
- 3 Quinta das Lagrimas (Estate of Tears). It has a tragic story of love.
- 4 Estádio Cidade de Coimbra (Eurostadium Cidade de Coimbra). One of the Euro 2004 sites.
- 5 Old Cathedral of Coimbra (Sé Velha de Coimbra). A 12th-century Romanesque cathedral. In the 16th century, many Renaissance features were added.
- 6 New Cathedral of Coimbra de Coimbra (Sé Nova). A late-16th- and 17th-century Mannerist and Baroque cathedral.
- 7 Monastery of the Holy Cross (Mosteiro de Santa Cruz), Rua Martins de Carvalho 3 (Praça 8 de Maio), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M–Sa 11:30–16:30, Su 14:00–17:00. Founded in 1131, this church is a national monument where Portugal's first two kings, Afonso Henriques and Sancho I, are buried. Originally built in Romanesque style, it became Manueline over the centuries through renovations. €3.
- 8 Old Monastery of Saint Clare (Mosteiro de Santa Clara-a-Velha). 13th-century Gothic monastery/convent on the bank of the River Mondego. It's a national monument.
- 9 Memorial da Irmã Lúcia (Sister Lúcia's Memorial), Carmelo de Santa Teresa, Rua de Santa Teresa 16, ☏ , email@example.com. 15:00–18:00, M closed. Dedicated to Sister Lúcia, one of three shepherd children who the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to at Fátima in 1917. She later became a Carmelite sister. €1.50, children under 12 free.
Parks and gardens
- 10 Botanical Garden (Jardim Botânico da Universidade de Coimbra).
- 11 Parque Dr. Manuel Braga (Parque da Cidade, Dr. Manuel Braga Park). City park on the Mondego River. Formerly property of the Benedictine monks. The park includes the Water Museum and several monuments.
- 12 Parque Verde do Mondego. City park by the Mondego River.
- 13 Jardim da Sereia (Mermaid's Garden aka Jardim de Santa Cruz).
- 14 Penedo da Saudade. A beautiful garden.
- 15 Machado de Castro National Museum (Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro), Largo Dr José Rodrigues, Alta de Coimbra ( 28, 34, 103), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu–Su 10:00–18:00, closed M. Museum housing the sculpture of Joaquim Machado de Castro (1731–1822), among numerous other artworks. Collections include archaeology, sculpture, precious metals, jewellery, paintings, textiles, ceramics, furniture, and drawings. From the 12th century to 1910, the building served as the palace of the bishop of Coimbra. Adults €6, students & seniors 65+ €3, kids 0–12 free.
- 16 Science Museum of the University of Coimbra (Museu da Ciência da Universidade de Coimbra), Largo Marquês de Pombal (next to Igreja da Sé Nova), ☏ , email@example.com. Mar–Oct: chemistry 10:00–19:00 daily, physics & natural history 10:30–13:00 & 14:00–19:30 daily, academic gallery M–F 10:00–15:00 by appt; Nov–Feb: chemistry 10:00–18:00 daily, physics & natural history 10:00–13:00 & 14:00–18:00 daily, academic gallery 10:00–15:00 daily by appt. Scientific collections from the fields of botany, zoology, anthropology, mineralogy, astronomy, geophysics, physic, chemistry, and natural history. Some items date back to 1772 when reforms by the Marquis of Pombal lent importance to the study of sciences. Adults €5, students 18–26 & seniors 65+ €3.50, kids 13–18 €2.50, kids 0-12 free.
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.
- 1 Portugal dos Pequenitos (Portugal for the Little Ones), Rossio de Santa Clara, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. 10:00–19:00 daily. A theme park containing child-sized recreations of Portuguese monuments and villages, including pieces from the islands and from Coimbra itself, as well as models of sights from former colonies. There's also a museum showing 300 scaled-down recreations of historical clothing. Adults 14-64 €10.50, kids 3–13 & seniors 65+ €6.50, kids 0–2 free.
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 centre 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 mediaeval centre of Coimbra is unusual in retaining a number of independent bookshops, boutiques, toy shops, galleries, antique and food shops. There are several bookstores, cafes, restaurants, esplanadas.
- 1 Alma Shopping, Rua General Humberto Delgado 207, ☏ , email@example.com. Su–Th 08:30–23:00, Fr Sa & holiday eves 08:30–00:00.
- 2 Coimbra Shopping, Avenida Mendes Silva, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M–F 08:00–20:00, Sa Su 08:00–17:00.
- 3 Forum Coimbra, Avenida José Bonifácio de Andrade e Silva 1, ☏ , email@example.com. Su–Th & holidays 10:00–23:00, Fr Sa & before holidays 10:00–00:00.
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). Rua de Azeiteiras, a street in Baixa, has lots of nice traditional restaurants.
Three reasonably big shopping centres 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.
- 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.
- 2 Fangas Mercearia Bar, Rua Fernandes Tomas 45–49, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M–W 19:00–23:00, Th F 19:00–23:30, Sa 12:30–15:30 & 19:00–23:30, Su 12:30–15:30 & 19:00–23:00. 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.
- 3 Itália, Parque Doutor Manuel Braga s/n, ☏ . Tu–Su 11:30–23:30, M closed. 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.
- 4 Zé Manel dos Ossos, Beco do Forno 12, ☏ . M–Sa 12:30–15:00 & 19:30–22:00, Su closed. 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.
- 5 Restaurante Vitória, Rua da Sota 9, ☏ . 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.
- 6 Salão Brasil, Largo do Poço 3, 1st floor (up one flight), ☏ , email@example.com. Tu–Sa 18:00–02:00, Su M closed. In the "baixinha" (downtown) centre. 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.
- 7 A Taberna, Rua dos Combatentes da Grande Guerra 86, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. 12:30–15:00 & 19:30–22:30, closed Su dinner & M lunch. 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.
- 8 Toscana, Avenida Urbano Duarte 6, ☏ , email@example.com. M 19:00–22:30, Tu–Sa 12:00–15:00 & 19:00–22:30, Su closed. 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.
- 9 O Telheiro, Rua do Padrão 262, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Sa 12:00–15:00 & 19:00–23:00, Su M closed. 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 centre of Coimbra (approx. 5 min from Coimbra B train station). €10–€25.
- 10 João dos Leitões, Rua da Gala 45, ☏ . M–F 09:00–19:00, Sa 09:00–15:00, Su closed. One of the most typical restaurants of the city. Its main dish is a roasted piglet served whole with potatoes and salad. €5–€18.
- There is a lot of quality wine production in the regions surrounding Coimbra, try some Bairrada wine.
- Don't miss the licor beirão, a national sweet liquor drink created and made in the region.
- Try the different varieties of aguardente (firewater). One is made only from grapes while the other is made from mixed fruit. Each have a unique and different after taste.
- 1 Café Santa Cruz, Praça 8 de Maio, ☏ , email@example.com. M–W F 07:00–00:00, Th Sa Su 08:00–00:00. A historical cafe next to the "Igreja de Santa Cruz" (Holy Cross Church).
- The bars in the City Park are open all day long.
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 Praça da República are full of the spirit of the students of the University, mainly during weekdays in autumn, winter and spring.
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.
- 2 àCapella, Rua Corpo de Deus–Largo da Vitória, Capela Nossa Srª da Victória, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. 19:00–02:00. A bar where you can find yourself surrounded by Portuguese guitar tunes and Fado de Coimbra. Get a grip of this so traditional local culture.
- 3 Bar Diligência, Rua Nova 30. M–Sa 20:00–02:00, Su closed. The oldest Fado House in Coimbra. Typical night bar where you'll find Fado de Coimbra and all kinds of Portuguese traditional music.
- 4 Salão Brazil, Largo do Poço 3, 1st floor (1 flight up), ☏ . A restaurant but also a bar, most worthy during weekends, with - mostly - free jazz, folk and fado concerts.
- 5 Bar AAC (Bar Associação Académica de Coimbra), Rua Padre António Vieira 1, email@example.com. M–F 10:00–04:00, Sa Su 15:00–04:00. Coimbra University academic association bar. Entrance sometimes limited to University students.
- 6 Quebra (Bar Quebra Costas), Rua Quebra Costas 45, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Nice location on the stairs leading to Se Velha. Open air concerts.
- 7 NB Club Coimbra, Rua Venâncio Rodrigues 9, ☏ , email@example.com. Tu–Sa 00:00–06:00, Su M closed. Disco near Praça da República.
- 8 Noites Longas, Rua Almeida Garrett 11, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu Th–Sa 19:00–07:00, M W Su closed. Disco near Praça da República, alternative sounding (metal, rock).
There are several cheap hostels around the city centre.
- 1 HI-Coimbra Pousada de Juventude, Rua Dr. Henriques Seco 14, ☏ , email@example.com. Check-in: 18:00–00:00, check-out: 08:00–12:00. Youth hostel.
- 2 Residencial Gouveia, Rua João de Ruão 21, 1st floor (one flight up) (in the heart of downtown Coimbra), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 14:30–21:00, check-out: 08:00–11:00. It is an excellent compromise between comfortable and 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. €22–€32.
- 3 Hotel Domus, Rua Adelino Veiga 62, ☏ , email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. They have cheaper rooms in another building just opposite. €39–€50.
- 4 Residencia Aeminium Coimbra, Av. Fernão de Magalhães 17, ☏ . Great location near transportations and all main attractions. Good alternative to hotels or hostels with a good quality-price ratio.
- 5 Hotel Ibis Coimbra, Avenida Emidio Navarro n°70 Edificio Topazio, ☏ . It's a modern looking hotel with amazing features.
- 6 Tryp Coimbra, Alameda Armando Gonsalves 20, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. €53–€66.
- 7 Oslo Hotel Coimbra, Avenida Fernão de Magalhães 25, ☏ , email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Near the train station and all main attractions. The staff are helpful and the view is nice. €67–€123.
- 8 Quinta das Lágrimas, Quinta das Lágrimas, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. The best and most expensive hotel in Coimbra. The hotel itself is a historical site. The 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. €104–€245.
- Aveiro — city with canals, often compared with Venice
- Condeixa-a-Nova — ruins of the ancient Roman settlement of Conímbriga
- Fátima — major pilgrimage destination where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to three children in 1917
- Figueira da Foz — beaches and a casino about 40 km (25 mi) away
- Leiria — city settled since ancient times, with a Medieval castle
- Lousã — a mountain town
- Mealhada — famous for its Leitão, roast suckling pig
- Miranda do Corvo — known for its chanfana, a goat stew
- Montemor-o-Velho — an impressive castle and tempting local pastries, about 30 km (19 mi) away
- Penacova — a town by the Mondego river
- Penela — town with a well-known castle
- Pombal — city with a 12th-century Romanesque castle
- Tomar — city with several Knights Templar sights
- Viseu — important Beira Alta city, a good base from which to explore that region
|Routes through Coimbra|
|Porto ← Mealhada ←||N S||→ Leiria → Lisbon|