A small, charming town situated by the Mondego River in Central Portugal, Coimbra is home to a treasure trove of historic sites, beautiful gardens, the country’s second style of fado music, and a lively culture that is centered around one of Europe’s oldest universities.
While most of Coimbra’s main attractions are all located within easy walking distance, tourists can also get around the city by public buses and taxis. One of the best things to do in Coimbra is to simply get lost and discover the many archaeological delights to be found on every corner from the old Roman wall remnants to the stunning Old Cathedral and the Gothic Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha, which contains the tomb of Queen Santa Isabel. No trip to Coimbra would be complete without a visit to the University of Coimbra to admire one of the world’s most beautiful libraries, the Joanina Library.
Cobblestone squares throughout the city offer quaint shops and cafes to drink coffee and people watch, while lovely city parks and botanical gardens are perfect for leisurely strolls and picnics.
The vibrant culture scene in Coimbra is most noted for its fado music performances and academic festivals, which feature a Tin Can Parade welcoming students at the beginning of the school year and an eight-day “Burning of the Ribbons” party following the end of the second semester.
Coimbra has a good variety of eating establishments ranging from bakeries to coffeehouses and fine restaurants. Bars, discos and nightclubs are plentiful, offering live fado, jazz and folk music.