7 Unmissable Things to Do in Coimbra, Portugal + Helpful Info

Coimbra, the previous Portuguese capital (within the thirteenth century), is without doubt one of the most picturesque cities within the nation, positioned proper between Porto and Lisbon in central Portugal.

Even if vacationers often deal with these two when visiting Portugal, Coimbra has a lot to supply with its historical college which is without doubt one of the oldest in Europe, wealthy historical past, and exquisite buildings. And I used to be fortunate sufficient to see all this!

To provide the similar superb expertise I had within the metropolis, I made a decision to share all of Coimbra’s TOP sights and actions on this publish about the most effective issues to do in Coimbra. I additionally included some sensible info on lodging and instructions to assist be certain your journey is tremendous simple!

Trust me, Coimbra is unquestionably price visiting… Are you able to discover this charming metropolis with me?

Let’s go!

If you’re in a rush 

If you simply wish to e book some cool actions in Coimbra, Portugal, proper now, take a look at the principle excursions within the metropolis:  

Here are the principle issues to e book upfront:

And listed below are the most effective lodges: Quinta das Lagrimas (Luxury), Solar Antigo Luxury Coimbra (Mid-range), Njoy Coimbra (Budget)

1. Take a free strolling tour of Coimbra

1. free walking tour Rua Ferreira Borges Coimbra

The very first thing I counsel you do if you wish to get an actual (and normal) feeling of the town is to hitch a strolling tour by means of the town heart and its slim streets.

I personally joined this free walking tour of two.5h (it was supposed to start out at 4 pm, but it surely was so scorching throughout the day, they ended up shifting it to 9 pm) and found Coimbra by means of many attention-grabbing and enjoyable information.

Did you understand that the phrase marmalade comes from the Marmelo fruit, typical from right here (you may strive it on the market within the outdated city)? Or that J.Ok. Rowling bought impressed by the cape scholar uniform of Coimbra University for the Harry Potter uniforms? 

We additionally visited some necessary sights of the town, just like the Santa Cruz church (we’ll see it in additional element within the subsequent part), and spots just like the Miradouro do Penedo da Saudade, providing a terrific view (it’s a bit outdoors of the town heart, so you may take a taxi and stroll again downhill). 

P.S.: If you don’t discover availability for a free strolling tour/you wish to be certain the group will not be massive, you may be a part of this half-day exclusive walking tour, throughout which you’ll go to the University of Coimbra, the New and Old cathedrals, the Monastery of Santa Cruz, Santa Clara a Velha convent, and far more, for €25!

2. Visit Coimbra University

2.2 Combra botanical garden things to do with kids

If you go to Coimbra, you completely can’t miss Coimbra college, a UNESCO World Heritage website, one of many oldest universities in Europe, and the oldest college in Portugal… This is THE vacationer attraction within the metropolis!

Coimbra college is about on a hill in the course of the town (in Paço das Escolas courtyard) and was initially a medieval palace. Now it’s significantly widespread as a result of it hosts a surprising baroque library, the Biblioteca Joanina. 

While you need to purchase tickets to go to the college, you may both stroll round and discover by your self or should you favor to get an evidence of what you see from a reside information, you too can go to the Coimbra college and library on a guided tour, for €45.

2.1 Explore the well-known college library, Biblioteca Joanina

2 historic University of Coimbra Portugal

The library is a part of the college complicated however you can not go to the college with out paying for a timed ticket and you’ll be ushered round throughout your go to so I like to recommend you profit from it!

There are several types of tickets to entry the various buildings within the college complicated. The hottest ticket (and least expensive) permits you to go to the library, the Palace of Schools (together with the Baroque Library, St. Michael’s Chapel, and the Royal Palace), and the Chemistry Lab.

I’ll speak extra intimately concerning the different sights of the University within the subsequent part. 

PRO TIP 1: You have to purchase tickets on the entrance to the college, circuitously on the library (which is 5 minutes stroll from the doorway)! Many individuals don’t understand this and need to stroll all the way in which again to get them!

Alternatively, you too can purchase tickets online for particular time slots, the cost is barely with PayPal (not bank cards). They are additionally very strict with time, so be sure you aren’t late!

PRO TIP 2: Tickets are legitimate for two days so should you don’t have time to go to every thing throughout your go to, you may come again and see the remaining buildings the following day. 

2.1 Joanina Library map

The library is unquestionably a MUST and is actually the principle attraction. It’s divided into 3 flooring: (for each flooring they offers you about 10 minutes to go to after which make you go onto the higher one):

  1. Ground flooring: This is an ex-prison with 2 cells (very tiny and unhappy), which were preserved from the 18th century.
  2. 2nd flooring: This was the place the guards of the jail lived and saved books, the books have been chained to the cabinets so nobody steals them!
  3. third flooring: The final flooring is the precise library, the Biblioteca Joanina, which is totally gorgeous! With unique wooden, elegant decorations, and bookcases internet hosting about 56,000 books and manuscripts which have been collected and preserved from the fifteenth – 18th century. The partitions of the library are over 2m thick to verify the books are preserved properly. NOTE: for no matter cause, you can not take pics on that flooring (the guard will verify on you the entire time!).

FUN FACT: There are bats dwelling contained in the library that defend the preservation of the books by consuming bugs. Don’t fear, you gained’t see them, they’re nocturnal animals!

Library entrance: €12.5 

2.2 See another unbelievable college buildings

2.1 Explore the famous Joanina Library Coimbra

If you could have time to go to extra buildings, these are the principle ones to see. To entry all these sights, there are totally different mixed tickets, verify them out on this website.

NOTE: The tickets are legitimate for two days (however just one entrance for every constructing is allowed), so you may, for instance, go to the library on the primary day and the following day the chamber.

2.2 Fun things to do in coimbra
  • St. Michael’s Chapel – This pretty and really small chapel hosts an organ with 2000 pipes, you may go to it with the conventional ticket day-after-day besides on Sundays. 
  • Sao Miguel Chapel – Dating again to the early sixteenth century, the Chapel of Sao Miguel has unbelievable interiors, with colourful Seventeenth-century azulejos on the partitions and ceiling and exquisite non secular work, undoubtedly price it to verify them out!
  • Royal Palace – Built within the tenth century, on this necessary constructing you’ll stare upon many various architectural types from Gothic to Renaissance, Mannerism, Baroque and extra.
  • Ceremonial corridor – This corridor is without doubt one of the college rooms the place college students used to do their exams or defend their Ph.D. thesis. In the previous, it was far more formal than now, college students needed to defend their Ph.D. in entrance of many professors who have been sitting proper above them, in a approach that their face was decrease than their toes! The particular factor about this room is that the partitions are painted with necessary rectors of the college.
  • Cabinet of Curiosity – In this just lately opened area, you’ll discover a huge assortment of objects of all types from varied existence over seven centuries. They have been collected from the University of Coimbra to current “the entire world” in a single place. 
  • Botanical backyard – The botanical gardens, managed by the scholars, are 10 minutes from the college and are a tremendous and well-curated place to loosen up and conceal from the solar (without cost)! It additionally offers a pleasant method to stroll again to the town heart from the college. 
2.2 Parque da Cidade Manuel Braga

Last factor: if after visiting the college complicated you simply wish to loosen up in a quiet area, I discovered the stunning Parque Manuel Braga is only a 10-minute stroll from right here, the place you may sit on a bench and simply benefit from the views of the Mondego River!

3. See all of the charming non secular buildings in Coimbra

3 Chapel Coimbra price

If you’re a fan of church buildings, monasteries, or non secular structure typically, Coimbra gained’t allow you to down, internet hosting many sacred buildings. Let’s take a look at the most effective ones!

PRO TIP: should you, like me, are going to go to Coimbra in the summertime, then the church buildings may also present a long-needed aid from the solar. When I used to be there, it was 38C (100F), so I principally moved from church to church. 😀 

3.1 Sé Velha Cathedral (Old Cathedral)

3 Se Velha coimbra top attractions

If you’re a fan of structure, you’ll love this majestic and historical cathedral, relationship again to the actual starting of Portugal as a rustic, when Afonso Henriques (the first Portuguese king) made Coimbra the capital metropolis!

The Sé Velha (Old Cathedral) boasts a combine of various architectural types: the facade is an instance of basic structure in its decrease half, whereas the higher half is made in Baroque model, and the interiors mix Baroque and Neoclassical types. This can be an ideal place to cover from the solar and relaxation, that includes a pleasant cloister!

PRICE: €2.5 

3.2 Sé Nova Cathedral (New cathedral)

Contrary to what its title suggests, the Sé Nova (New Cathedral) will not be new in any respect, although it’s 400 years youthful than Coimbra’s Old Cathedral from which it took some ornaments!

The new cathedral is positioned simply close to the University of Coimbra and is simply lovely! Outside you’ll gaze on the pretty Baroque facade, the statues of 4 Jesuit saints on the highest, and two bell towers. Inside, the principle highlights are its excessive and imponent altar and a small museum…Make positive you don’t miss it!

PRICE: €1 (as a donation)

3.3 Santa Clara a Velha Monastery

3.3 Santa Clara a Velha Monastery

History buffs will love visiting the gothic ruins of the Santa Clara a Velha monastery, very properly preserved and positioned proper subsequent to the Mondego River.

The Santa Clara A Velha Monastery was destroyed over time by frequent floods that pressured the nuns to depart it, and now it’s partially submerged and sunken within the floor, with crumbling cloisters and a dilapidated bell tower.

In the Seventeenth century, the nuns relocated to the brand new Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Nova, constructed to switch the outdated one (which lies proper by the ruins!).

Nowadays, within the ruins they host music live shows, occasions, and even a brief movie telling you all concerning the historical past of the Gothic Monastery of Santa Clara.


3.4 Igreja de Santa Cruz church 

Here’s one other constructing relationship again to the period of King Afonso Henriques that really hosts its personal relics: the Santa Cruz church. Its towering facade is powerful and chic on the similar time, that includes high-quality sculptures and carvings that are completely lovely!

Here you may go to the various tombs (a very powerful and exquisite ones and the tombs of the primary 2 Portuguese kings, Afonso Henriques and Sancho I) stroll round, and gaze on the Renaissance central fountain in the course of them.

PRICE:  €3 to see the grave, in any other case without cost!

4. Eat in Coimbra’s scrumptious eating places

4 where to eat in coimbra

A go to to a spot will not be full should you don’t strive the native meals… Do you agree with me? Then take a look at a number of the greatest locations to eat in Coimbra (or at the very least those that I cherished essentially the most!):

  • Praca do Comercio: This central sq. in Coimbra is the most effective place to eat like a neighborhood, providing typical eating places, cafes, and bars, and also you’ll additionally discover many avenue distributors promoting crafts, footwear, garments, and textiles.
  • Café Santa Cruz – In this cafe, they provide Portuguese pastries and free Fado (see part #7 for extra particulars). Try the pastel de nata!
  • Passaporte – This is a flowery restaurant with a pleasant view (it bought its title as a result of that is the place they used to assign passports) serving gourmand meals and the most effective cocktails on the town, so higher e book upfront to make sure a pleasant desk!
  • Luna – If you wish to have a scrumptious Portuguese meal with out spending an excessive amount of, this low-cost restaurant is the place all of the native individuals and college students go. Here you’ll have the most effective bacalhau com nata… Make positive you strive it!
  • Murphy’s Irish pub – This 4-floors bar is without doubt one of the greatest locations to exit in Coimbra, providing glad hours, reside music each evening, and in addition nice meals, each Irish and Portuguese!

And if you wish to expertise the Portuguese (younger) nightlife, in Praça da República they throw events and occasions day-after-day for college kids!

5. Explore the Machado de Castro National Museum

5 Explore the Museum Machado de Castro price

In the start of the twentieth century, the federal government right here made a controversial choice to tear down part of the college (a cathedral) as a result of it was blocking a avenue that they needed to implement. Since the cathedral was so lovely, they moved part of the church to this museum (the opposite half remains to be standing on the brand new avenue, in Largo Feira dos Estudantes).

The Machado de Castro National Museum (named after the sculptor Joaquim Machado de Castro), is the largest Roman constructing preserved in Portugal and it has been constructed in several phases from medieval instances onwards!

Here you’ll have an entire cultural expertise, exploring Roman ruins, non secular artwork, sculptures, and work… But the best factor is the darkish tunnels of a 2000-year-old Roman cryptoporticus, mendacity proper beneath the fashionable museum!

The museum is big and even with some rooms being closed, it nonetheless took us about 2 hours to go to every thing. There is an audio information obtainable for €1.50, it wasn’t significantly superb however for such a small value it’s price getting if you’d like some data concerning the items you’re seeing. 

The Machado de Castro National Museum is closed on Mondays and the final entrance is at 5:30 pm every day (closing at 6 pm). But when you’ve completed exploring, there’s a Cafe with a pleasant view as properly, providing a every day lunch particular which is ideal to relaxation after an intense go to!


6. Experience one among Coimbra’s loopy festivals

6 Top Attractions in Coimbra crazy festivals

If you’re on the town on the 2nd Sunday of May, you’ll attend a really particular occasion in Coimbra (you’ll actually haven’t any alternative because it takes over the town)! On this present day, the senior scholar physique celebrates the tip of educational life by sponsoring the entire metropolis to get drunk! 

Yes, you heard it proper! On this present day, college students stroll to Sé Velha to sing a melancholic fado serenade, then fill the streets with colourful parades from their college (yellow for medication, purple for regulation, and many others.) and begin providing/throwing alcohol from the automobile… Everyone finally ends up drunk!

For the commencement celebration, college students go to the church singing/listening to unhappy fado music which speaks of the truth that they most likely will go away the town to work some place else and gained’t see the opposite college students and professors anymore! Get able to cry! 

Another occasion you shouldn’t miss should you’re in Portugal initially of July is the The Holy Queen Elizabeth pageant. Queen Isabel is the patron saint and image of the town and her saint day has been celebrated in Coimbra for about 4 centuries!

During this festivity, each avenue and nook of Coimbra will get full and really vigorous with lights, colours, occasions, processions, and normal celebrations. The most emblematic one is the Penance Procession the place the picture of Elizabeth is carried from the Church of the Holy Queen to the Church of Santa Cruz!

7. Listen to Fado music Coimbra model

Listen to Fado music Coimbra style

As you may know, the Fado Music style began in Alfama, an outdated space in Lisbon (take a look at our post with the places to attend fado in Lisbon), however since numerous younger individuals have been shifting to Coimbra for college, they introduced the music with them after which tailored it to a singular model. 

The Coimbra Fado may be very explicit: it’s historically carried out solely by males wearing black since ladies weren’t accepted on the Coimbra college till the nineteenth century! Also, to understand the Coimbra fado you don’t need to clap (as in Lisbon), however as an alternative, present your appreciation by staying in silence and crying… You don’t consider me? Check out this video to see it your self!

If you want to take heed to some Coimbra Fado, the most effective place to see it’s at Café Santa Cruz. In this cafe, they provide Portuguese pastries (strive the pastel de nata!) and free Fado each night at 6 pm, lasting about 45 minutes.

Alternatively, if you wish to study much more about this attention-grabbing musical style, this tour not solely permits you to take pleasure in some lovely reside music however afterward you’ll be handled to a Port wine tasting with the musicians so you should have an opportunity to really speak to them about their private experiences with the music! 

BONUS: 2 Things to do in Coimbra with youngsters

8.1 best activities with kids in Coimbra

If you’re going on a vacation to Coimbra with the household, there are some kid-friendly sights that your youngsters will love, and possibly you too! 

Here are a few the most effective actions so as to add to your listing:

1. Portugal dos Pequenitos 

This theme park is entertaining and academic on the similar time, internet hosting all essentially the most well-known landmarks, monuments, conventional villages, and buildings of Portugal in miniature fashions… That’s why the title means “the little ones of Portugal.”

The Portugal dos Pequenitos park is split in eight zones, additionally that includes kid-sized landmarks in Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia (Portugal’s former colonies), and you’ll discover all of them on a small practice.

Also, on the park’s grounds, there are three museums specializing in furnishings, naval artifacts, and conventional costumes, so all of the family members will study and have enjoyable right here!

PRICE: €14

8.2 Things to do in Coimbra with kids

Between the 1st and Seventeenth of July, yearly in Coimbra they set up a conventional honest with an amusement park and plenty of leisure. This is the right method to spend a night with the household and have some enjoyable!

Here you’ll take pleasure in many various sights, from the Ferris wheel to carousels, bumper vehicles, circus and fireplace reveals, widespread marches and many others, in addition to stands with Coimbra handicrafts, a number of taverns promoting conventional meals, levels… It’s large!

The honest begins at 8 pm and closes at 12 am on weekdays, or at 2 am on weekends, and entry is free!

Where to remain in Coimbra, Portugal

Quinta das Lagrimas Where to stay in Coimbra

The greatest place to remain within the metropolis is unquestionably the Old Town, the place you’ll be inside strolling distance of the well-known landmarks. You’ll additionally be capable to see the stays of the traditional partitions that when surrounded Coimbra (Coimbra was a walled metropolis). 

So let’s see some choices for any value vary:

Luxury (€150 and up)

  • Quinta das Lagrimas – This is a historic palace resort providing luxurious spa rooms with unbelievable views and entry to free parking. The Quinta das Lagrimas gardens have been truly the set of a tragic love story between king Pedro and his mistress Inês de Castro, who was murdered on Pedro’s father’s orders! 

PRO TIP: And even should you don’t keep right here, you too can go to the property for breakfast, served within the lovely Quinta das Lágrimas gardens for €20.

Mid Range (€70 – €140)

  • Solar Antigo Luxury Coimbra – This pretty resort is positioned within the outdated metropolis, just a few steps from the University of Coimbra, and gives spacious household rooms, free WiFi all through the property, and a scrumptious breakfast!

Budget (as much as €60)

  • Njoy Coimbra – This is without doubt one of the greatest price range lodges on the town, that includes flats with non-public loos, free wifi, and entry to a shared kitchen the place you may cook dinner your individual meals!

How to get to Coimbra from Lisbon

10 Things to do in Coimbra Portugal Santa Clara bridge

The closest metropolis to Coimbra is Lisbon, positioned round a 2hrs drive away. In Coimbra there’s no airport so to get there, you may both use a rental car, public transport (practice) or be a part of a guided tour. 

Let’s verify all of them out:

  • Train – The least expensive method to get to Coimbra is by quick practice which is able to price you from €15 – €25 and take you round 2.5h. I counsel you purchase your tickets on the official site and simply have them in your cellphone, there’s no must print them. Make positive you get off at Coimbra-B station (which is for quick trains, whereas Coimbra practice station is for regional trains) after which simply take a 7-minute taxi drive to the town heart.
  • Car – From Lisbon to Coimbra it would take you about 2 h by way of A1 freeway should you rent a car.
  • Tour from Lisbon: If you favor simply to go to on a day journey, you may simply take a private day tour from Lisbon to discover Coimbra and Óbidos, one other gem in Portuguese historical past and tradition. For €240 and as much as 3 individuals, I believe it’s a reasonably nice deal as they’ll even decide you up and drop you off at your resort with an air-conditioned automobile. 

FAQs about issues to do in Coimbra, Portugal

11 faq about Coimbra Placo de comercio

🤩 What are the most effective issues to do in Coimbra, Portugal?

The greatest issues to do in Coimbra are visiting Coimbra University, the Se Velha Old Cathedral, a exceptional instance of Romanesque structure, the gothic Monastery of Santa Clara positioned proper by the Mondego river, and internet hosting short-term exhibitions.

👧 What are the most effective issues to do in Coimbra, Portugal, with youngsters?

The greatest issues to do in Coimbra, Portugal, with youngsters, are visiting the Portugal dos Pequenitos Park, internet hosting many architectural highlights of Portugal in miniature, or spending a summer time night on the Amusement park in Praça da Canção.

✅ Is Coimbra price visiting?

Yes, the charming city of Coimbra is unquestionably price visiting, providing a number of vacationer sights. The hottest vacationer attraction is the Old college, positioned on a hill in the course of the town (in Paço das Escolas courtyard), internet hosting necessary buildings and a botanical backyard simply close by!

📅 How lengthy ought to I keep in Coimbra?

2 days In Coimbra are greater than sufficient to see every thing with no rush, however should you don’t have a lot time in Portugal you may all the time go to Coimbra on a day tour from Lisbon.


12 Things to do in Coimbra in 1 day

Well, right here we’re! We simply noticed all the most effective issues to do in Coimbra, probably the most lovely cities in Portugal, with all the most effective vacationer sights.

From the necessary Coimbra University to spiritual buildings, museums the place you study all about Portuguese historical past, day journeys, and kids-friendly sights just like the Portugal dos Pequenitos, you could have one thing for any style right here!

So sure, Coimbra is unquestionably a should when visiting Portugal and may even be explored as a day tour from Lisbon. While you’re at it, be certain to take a look at all the opposite nice day trips from the Portuguese capital!

I hope you loved my information and that it’ll assist you could have a terrific vacation, however please simply drop a remark under should you nonetheless have any questions or doubts, I’ll reply as quickly as attainable!

Have a beautiful journey!


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