Coimbra Mini Guide
Where is Coimbra?
Coimbra is a university city on the River Mondego in central Portugal. The university is one of the oldest in Europe, it was founded in 1290 by King Dinis I. The city is divided into two parts, the Baixa or old city and the Alta, the modern part of the city.
How can I get There?
Train services are available to Coimbra from both Porto
and Lisbon. The journey times are 1 hour from Porto and 1 hour 45 minutes from Lisbon
. You can also drive from both cities and their airports using the A1 motorway. In the city, you can use the SMTUC bus and trolleybus network.
What is There to see in Coimbra?
Se Velha is the old cathedral and one of the best preserved Romanesque buildings in Portugal and dates from the 12th century. From the same period, is the Monastery of Santa Cruz which is the final resting place of the first monarch of Portugal. The new cathedral or Se Nova was built in the 16th century and nearby you can also visit the Machado de Castro Museum, formerly the bishop's palace it now houses everything from ancient art to 20th century sculpture.
This summer in conjunction with the university, Coimbra is hosting an exhibition of the mechanical and engineering works of Leonardo da Vinci
The Botanical Gardens at the University of Coimbra are a very popular attraction and the fifth oldest in the world. There you will also find the Portugal dos Pequenitos, a collection of houses from all over the country recreated in miniature, a unique sight.
What’s the Shopping Like?
In the Baixa you will find small independent shops and cafes. In Alta, you can shop at one of the shopping malls, Coimbra Shopping and Forum Coimbra are just two.
Where can I eat?
Salao Brasil has unique dishes from Portugal like vitela maronesa and secretos de porco preto. A favourite haunt of the locals is the Ze Manel dos Ossos where hand written comments are stuck to the walls, it is small and often difficult to get a table, so go early!
There are plenty of nightclubs and bars there, due to the large student population. Of course these will be busiest during the week, but weekends and holidays are relatively quiet. A must do, is to listen to the Fado, the nostalgic songs accompanied by guitar, which you will hear in many clubs and bars there.
Out and About
Head out to Figueira da Foz, a holiday resort town with a 16th century fort. Santa Comba Dao is a small charming town that is worth a visit, it dates back to the 10th century.
I Want to Stay a few Days…
Stay at the 3 star Hotel Astoria, it is a baroque building in the heart of the old city. It has classic décor and there is free Wi-Fi in public areas. The hotel has it’s own bar and restaurant serving local cuisine.