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Coimbra: City with Medieval Buildings, and Charming Streets

Updated: Feb 3


The History of Coimbra

Visiting Coimbra is like taking a journey through history. This ancient city was at the forefront of the Roman Empire more than 2000 years ago. It was declared the first capital of the new kingdom of Portugal in the 12th century.

The city is known for its university, one of the oldest in Europe, and its rich cultural heritage.

Nowadays, it is a thriving modern city. The city is home to museums, art galleries, and theaters. The city is also known for its music and literature.

The city has become a popular choice for visitors from all over.


What to do in Coimbra

Visit the University of Coimbra:

The University of Coimbra is one of the city's main tourist attractions. The university is a beautiful example of Baroque architecture.

For me, the highlight was The University Library - Biblioteca Joaquina. The library was built in the 18th century by order of King João V and is a simply stunning Baroque masterpiece. It received the European Heritage label in 2010 for its 60,000-book collection. It is among the world's most stunning libraries.

The library consists of two floors, the main one and the ground floor. The main floor is decorated with golden wooden shelves, painted ceilings, and tiles. The highlight of the library is the reading room. A circular room with a dome painted with scenes from Greco-Roman mythology.

Even if you're passing through, don't miss out. Definitely unmissable and the most impressive library I've ever seen.

Explore Coimbra's historic center:

Coimbra's historic center is a labyrinth of narrow, winding streets. The historic center is a great place to stroll and explore.

  • Visit the Old Cathedral of Coimbra: The Old Cathedral of Coimbra was built in the 12th century. It is a beautiful example of Gothic architecture and houses a variety of artistic treasures.

  • Visit the Machado de Castro National Museum: The Machado de Castro National Museum is an art museum located in the historic center of Coimbra. The museum houses a collection of Portuguese art, such as paintings, sculptures, and sacred art.

  • Watch a show at Teatro Académico Gil Vicente: The Teatro Académico Gil Vicente is a historic theater located in the historic center of Coimbra. The theater is an important cultural center and hosts a variety of shows, including operas and concerts.

How to get to Coimbra

Coimbra is in central Portugal, around 300 kilometers from Lisbon and around 200 kilometers from Porto. The city is accessible by car, bus or train.

By car

The car journey from Lisbon to Coimbra takes around 3 hours and 30 minutes. The car journey from Porto to Coimbra takes around 2 hours and 30 minutes.

The A1 road is the main road that connects Coimbra to Lisbon and Porto. The road is well-maintained and safe.

By bus

The bus journey from Lisbon to Coimbra takes around 4 hours. The bus journey from Porto to Coimbra takes around 3 hours.

Several bus companies operate connections between Coimbra, Lisbon and Porto. Tickets are relatively cheap.

By train

The train journey from Lisbon to Coimbra takes around 2 hours and 30 minutes. The train journey from Porto to Coimbra takes around 2 hours.

Typical Coimbra food

Coimbra's food is based on Portuguese cuisine, with emphasis on dishes such as:

  • Duck rice: a rice dish cooked with duck, ham, onion and spices.

  • Bacalhau à Brás: a dish of shredded cod, fried potatoes, egg, and onion.

  • Francesinha: a sandwich made with bread, steak, chorizo, ham, cheese and sauce.

  • Pastel de nata: a puff pastry pastry filled with egg cream.


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