Coimbra Travel Guide


Coimbra Travel Guide

Welcome to Coimbra

Welcome to Coimbra, a picturesque city nestled in the heart of Portugal, where history, culture, and academic charm converge to create an enchanting travel experience. Renowned for its historic university, one of the oldest in Europe, Coimbra exudes an intellectual atmosphere that permeates its cobbled streets and medieval architecture. As you wander through the winding alleys, you’ll discover a city steeped in tradition, with impressive landmarks like the University of Coimbra, the Joanina Library, and the captivating Royal Palace of Alcáçova. Beyond its academic allure, Coimbra boasts a rich cultural scene, vibrant local markets, and a lively atmosphere along the Mondego River. Join us on a journey to uncover the timeless beauty and academic legacy of Coimbra, where every corner tells a story of Coimbra’s fascinating past.

How To Get There

By Air: The nearest major airport to Coimbra is Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport (OPO) in Porto. After arriving in Porto, you can take a train or bus to Coimbra. The journey from Porto to Coimbra is 1 to 1.5 hours by train.

By Train: Coimbra is well-connected by train, and Comboios de Portugal (CP) operates regular services. If you’re travelling from Lisbon, there are direct trains from Lisbon’s Santa Apolónia or Lisbon Oriente stations to Coimbra. The journey takes approximately 2 hours.

By Bus: If you prefer the bus, Rede Expressos is a major long-distance bus company in Portugal. You can find buses connecting Coimbra to various cities across the country. The central bus station in Coimbra is the Rede Expressos station.

By Car: If you’re driving, Coimbra is easily accessible by car. The city is well-connected by highways, and you can follow signs for Coimbra on the A1 or A14 motorways, depending on your starting point.

Local Transportation: Once in Coimbra, the city is relatively small and easy to walk and explore on foot. Public buses and taxis are also available for transportation in the town.

Places Of Interest

University of Coimbra (Universidade de Coimbra)

University of Coimbra (Universidade de Coimbra)

Founded in 1290, the University of Coimbra is one of the oldest universities in Europe. Explore the Joanina Library with its resident bats, the Royal Palace of Alcáçova, and the stunning University Tower for panoramic city views. 

Joanina Library (Biblioteca Joanina)

Joanina Library (Biblioteca Joanina)

This Baroque library, a part of the University of Coimbra, is renowned for its impressive collection of ancient books and unique preservation methods, including using bats to protect manuscripts from insects. Click here for tickets.

Botanical Garden of the University of Coimbra (Jardim Botânico da Universidade de Coimbra)

Botanical Garden of the University of Coimbra (Jardim Botânico da Universidade de Coimbra)

Established in the 18th century, this botanical garden is one of the oldest in Europe.

Royal Palace of Alcáçova (Paço Real de Alcáçova)

Royal Palace of Alcáçova (Paço Real de Alcáçova)

Nestled within the university complex, this palace showcases a mix of architectural styles and provides a glimpse into the royal history of Coimbra.

Conímbriga Roman Ruins

Conímbriga Roman Ruins

Located just outside Coimbra, Conímbriga is one of Portugal’s best-preserved Roman archaeological sites. Wander through well-preserved Roman houses, streets, and the intricate mosaics of this ancient city. Click here for tickets.

Santa Clara-a-Velha

Santa Clara-a-Velha

This medieval church and convent were partially submerged due to flooding but have been excavated and preserved. The site provides insight into medieval architecture and the life of Saint Clara. Click here for tickets.

Mondego River

Mondego River

Stroll along the riverbanks of the Mondego River, enjoy the scenery, and take a boat trip to see Coimbra from a different perspective.

Where To Stay

Luxury Hotels

Hotel Quinta das Lágrimas

This luxurious 5-star hotel is set in a historic palace surrounded by beautiful gardens. It offers upscale accommodations, a spa, a golf course, and a Michelin-starred restaurant. The hotel is known for its elegant ambience and top-notch service.


Mid-Range Hotels

Hotel Astória

Hotel Astória is a well-appointed mid-range option situated in the heart of Coimbra. The hotel features classic decor, comfortable rooms, and a Portuguese cuisine restaurant. Its central location makes it easy to access critical attractions.

Budget Hotels

Serenata Hostel Coimbra

For budget-conscious travellers, Serenata Hostel Coimbra offers affordable accommodation with a friendly atmosphere. It’s located near the University of Coimbra and provides private and dormitory-style rooms at budget-friendly rates.

Where To Eat

Coimbra offers a diverse culinary scene featuring traditional Portuguese dishes and a mix of international flavours. Here are some recommendations for where to eat in Coimbra:

Ze Manel dos Ossos: This iconic restaurant is renowned for its rustic and traditional atmosphere. Ze Manel dos Ossos is a local favourite known for its hearty portions and flavorful dishes. Don’t miss the “Chanfana,” a traditional Portuguese goat stew.

Tasca das Figueiras: Tasca das Figueiras is a cosy and welcoming eatery known for its tapas-style menu, offering a variety of small plates, allowing you to sample different flavours. It’s an excellent spot for sharing and trying local specialities.

Taberna Dom Joaquim: Taberna Dom Joaquim is an excellent choice for those seeking a genuine Portuguese tavern experience. This cosy spot serves a range of Portuguese tapas, dishes, and a selection of wines and craft beers.

Casa Costa: Casa Costa is popular for its fresh seafood dishes, including grilled fish and seafood rice.

Petiscos e Granitos: Petiscos e Granitos is a popular spot for snacks and drinks for a laid-back and friendly atmosphere. The menu includes a variety of “petiscos,” Portuguese small plates perfect for sharing with friends.

Tapas nas Costas: If you’re in the mood for tapas-style dining, Tapas nas Costas is a trendy option. The diverse menu includes a variety of small plates with influences from Portuguese and international cuisines, and the ambience is lively and modern.


These restaurants showcase the diverse culinary offerings in Coimbra, providing a range of dining experiences from traditional to contemporary.

Final Thoughts

With its captivating blend of history, culture, and academic prestige, Coimbra offers a truly unique and enriching travel experience. Steeped in centuries-old traditions and boasting an intellectual charm, this Portuguese city invites visitors to wander through its narrow cobblestone streets, explore medieval architecture, and immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of its past.

The University of Coimbra, one of the oldest in Europe, is a testament to the city’s academic legacy. At the same time, landmarks like the Joanina Library and the Royal Palace of Alcáçova transport you to a bygone era.

Whether you’re drawn to its academic prestige, architectural marvels, or the warmth of its people, Coimbra promises a journey that intertwines the past and present.

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