Set on the banks of the Rio Mondego, Coimbra is a medieval city anchored by Portugal's oldest and most prestigious university. Spend your time strolling around the atmospheric Old City, exploring the historic campus and soaking up the lively student scene.
Things to do in Coimbra
Founded in 1290, the University of Coimbra cradles over 700 years of history. The campus is set around Pateo das Escolas, a spacious courtyard flanked by beautiful historic buildings, including the magnificent Joanina Library. Guided tours offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the beautiful Baroque building.
Built over the ruins of an ancient Roman forum, the Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro features subterranean galleries showcasing 16th-century terracotta figures, Gothic sculptures and a restored chapel. After touring the museum, enjoy a meal at Loggia, an upscale restaurant commanding sweeping views of the Old City.
Se Velha, a stunning Romanesque cathedral that once moonlighted as a fort, traces its roots back to the 12th century. Back in the 1300s its slit windows and fortified facade served as a stronghold for defending the city against the Moors. Inside you can admire the soaring barrel-vaulted nave and colourful Andalusian tilework.
Housed in a converted chapel, Café Santa Cruz is one of Portugal's most atmospheric places to enjoy coffee. As you sip on espresso you can gaze up at soaring stone arches and stained-glass windows. Don't miss the cafe's award-winning "cruzios" pastries filled with egg cream and topped with flaked almonds.
Getting around Coimbra
Much of Coimbra, including the Old City and university campus, is best explored on foot. If you're heading up to the university, you can ride the Elevador do Mercado, an outdoor elevator. Coimbra is also serviced by public buses and taxis.