Coimbra is a city full of history. Here you’ll find the oldest university in Portugal, established in the 13th century. But there is much more to discover, from a striking Baroque library to romantic riverside parks and a maze of medieval streets. It may look quiet on the surface, but when the student festivities begin, the city comes alive with crowds taking over its bars and squares.
If you’re planning to spend a day in Coimbra, our walking tour will guide you through the city’s main attractions.
Admire Coimbra's Igreja de Santa Cruz
If you’re arriving in Coimbra by train, you can walk straight up to the Igreja de Santa Cruz. Here you can admire a striking 16th-century doorway, while inside are the tombs of the first kings of Portugal.
Explore the old town in Coimbra
Take a stroll around the old town, and don't miss the Arco de Almedina. This Moorish-style gateway is one of the only remaining features of the city's old medieval walls. It connects to the Rua Ferreira Borges, a famous shopping street in Coimbra.
The old town in Coimbra, Portugal
Check out Coimbra’s old and new cathedral
You can see how Coimbra has evolved through the years by looking at its two cathedrals. The Sé Velha is the city’s oldest cathedral. Established around the 12th century, it stands out with its imposing stone walls and Romanesque details.
Meanwhile, closer to the university is the Sé Nova or New Cathedral. Established in 1598, it combines a mix of Baroque and Mannerist elements. Inside, you can marvel at the gilded panels and the organs above the altar.
Lunch break in Coimbra
Grab a traditional meal at Zé Manel dos Ossos, a lively restaurant specializing in meat dishes like pork ribs and wild boar stew. Head there early as the space is small. Alternatively, you can go to Fangas Maior and sample a mix of petiscos (tapas).
Visit the University of Coimbra
The most famous attraction in the city is the University. Founded in Lisbon in the 13th century, it got relocated to Coimbra in 1537. Within this UNESCO-heritage site is a large square lined with stunning buildings from the 16th to the 18th century. A separate ticket gives you access to the tower, which offers fantastic views of the city.
Step inside Coimbra's University library
When you buy tickets for the University tour, you have to include the Biblioteca Joanina. This 18th-century library has an impressive collection of around 40,000 books. Every room here is adorned with stunning frescoed ceilings and gilded shelves. But that’s not all. There’s also a hidden colony of bats placed here to eat the insects that could otherwise damage the books.
Cross Coimbra's Pedro e Inês bridge
Walk towards the Parque Verde do Mondego and then cross the Pedro e Inês bridge. Standing here, you can capture the university and a few other iconic sights of Coimbra.
Listen to Coimbra fado
If you have more time in the city, you should watch a fado performance. Unlike the mournful Lisbon fado, in Coimbra, this traditional music often follows a romantic theme and is usually sung by the students. We recommend going to Fado ao Centro, Diligência Bar or àCapella.