What to see in Coimbra in 3 days

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Joel Fulleda

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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Coimbra, Portugal's third largest city after Lisbon and Porto, was once the capital.
Lying on the banks of the Mondego river, it is particularly famous for the oldest university in Portugal and for its very well preserved historic center of medieval origin.
In Coimbra it is possible to visit a large number of churches and monasteries, walk through its ancient and characteristic streets, but also indulge in shopping, being a very lively shopping center.

Perfect to be visited in 3 days, here, then, what to see in Coimbra in a weekend.


  1. 1 day
  2. 2 day
  3. 3 day
  4. How much does a weekend in Coimbra cost
  5. User questions and comments

1 day

1 - Morning: Breakfast, University of Coimbra

Breakfast at Nata Lisboa, in the center, with croissants, sandwiches with coffee or juice for around € 5,00.

After that let's start from the University of Coimbra which is located 450 meters along Largo Sé Velha. The historic center of Coimbra is truly impressive, walking around will be a pleasure!

The University, founded in 1290, is located in the upper part of the city and therefore overlooks the river. Accessed from the Porta Férrea, in the center of the complex there is a very large courtyard, almost completely white, on which stands the tower of the eighteenth century. Inside it is also possible to visit the historical Joanina Library in baroque style. You can freely access the courtyard from 09:00 to 19:30, but to visit some sites of the complex you need a ticket that will assign you a specific time to access the library, in order to preserve its value and the preserved volumes. The advice is to buy the ticket and while waiting to visit the other buildings of the University. Program 1 ticket gives access, in addition to the library, to the Royal Palace, the Chapel of São Miguel and the Collegio de Jesus at a cost of € 12,00. The climb to the tower is paid separately, available only in spring and summer at € 2,00.

A curiosity: inside the library, on the top shelves, bats sleep, which we will most likely not see, because they wake up when the sun goes down, when the visits are finally over.

2 - Afternoon: Lunch, Sé Velha, Igreja de Santa Cruz, historic center

Lunch at the Maria Portuguesa restaurant, 350 meters from the university and next to the cathedral. Tapas and excellent desserts around € 10,00 - € 15,00. Then we visit the Old Cathedral of Coimbra, Sé Velha, open from 10:00 to 18:00, ticket € 2,00. From the outside it looks more like a fort than a church, and actually it was designed to protect it from the Moorish threat of the time, it's a really interesting Portuguese Romanesque building. Inside there is a series of colorful Andalusian tiles to decorate the tombs of some bishops.

Then we continue the tour of the center and we set off on the Rua da Luz in the direction of the Igreja de Santa Cruz, another church absolutely worth visiting that is part of an ancient monastery. Very interesting is the Manueline style facade, decorated by the great sculptors of the Portuguese tradition (ticket € 3,00, open 09:00 - 12:00 and 14:00 - 17:00).
We complete the tour by making one stroll around the most characteristic streets of the historic center, we will pass in front of the Fonte Nova, the Torre de Anto, and other truly fascinating places.

3 - Evening: Dinner, river cruise

For dinner we choose a restaurant next to the river, the Calado and Calado restaurante, where you can taste traditional dishes, in particular cod, at around € 20,00 per person.
After dinner we can have one Mondego river cruise with the evening lights: it will be beautiful to see the whole ancient city from the river.

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 2,4 km / 39 min
  • Places visited: University of Coimbra, Royal Palace, Chapel of São Miguel, Collegio de Jesus, Joanina library (integrated ticket € 12,00), Torre (€ 2,00), Sé Velha (€ 2,00), Igreja de Santa Cruz ( € 3,00), Mondego River
  • private city tour University of Coimbra: two hour walking tour
  • Breakfast at Nata Lisboa (Get directions), Lunch at Maria Portuguesa (Get directions), Dinner at restaurante Calado and Calado (Get directions)

2 day

1 - Morning: Breakfast, Museo Nacional Machado de Castro, Jardim Botànico

We have breakfast at the Pinto café (good coffee and pastries € 4,00), in front of the Museo Nacional Machado de Castro, where we are headed. Inside the museum there is one of the most important art collections in Portugal, in particular sculpture (10:00 - 18:00, ticket € 6,00). Let's not forget to stop to admire the splendid panorama from the patio of the building!

After the visit, which will take us about 2 hours, let's go and relax in the greenery of the city's botanical garden, about 750 meters walk from the museum, open every day from 09:00 to 17:30 with free entry.

2 - Afternoon: Lunch, Sé Nova, Jardim Sà da Bandeira, Jardim de Sereja

Just outside the Jardim Botanico we can have lunch at the O Pancinhas3 restaurant, where you can enjoy a nice grilled fish at reasonable prices, around € 25,00 per person. From here, at 700 meters, we can then visit the new Cathedral, the Sé Nova de Coimbra, an imposing Renaissance-style religious building overlooking the old town square (14:00 - 18:30, ticket € 1,00).

Then we visit the two large gardens a short distance away, Jardim Sà da Bandeira and Jardim de Sereja, to reach which we must go down from the old city through Couraça dos Apóstolos, are 800 meters of walk. The entrance door to the Jardim de Sereja is truly a sight, and includes a wide staircase and two side azulejos, the blue-toned mosaics typical of Portugal. Inside there is a lot of greenery and some ponds, ideal for being outdoors and relaxing.

3 - Evening: Dinner, Jazz club, riverside

In the evening let's go back to the heart of the nightlife of Coimbra and we have dinner at the restaurant Adega Paço do Conde, a typical Portuguese trattoria where you can order fresh meat or fish, fish soup recommended, about € 30,00 per person.
After dinner let's go and enjoy some good live jazz at Jazz Club Salão Brasil, 200 meters from the restaurant, here the drink will cost about € 10,00. If we still have energy, after the music we can take a walk along the riverside, which is always suggestive in the evening.

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 4,2 km / 54 min
  • Places visited: Museo Nacional Machado de Castro (€ 6,00), Jardim Botanico (free), Sé Nova (€ 1,00), Jardim Sà da Bandeira (free), Jardim Sereja (free), old town (free)
  • Breakfast at Pinto (Get directions), Lunch at Pancinhas3 (Get directions), Dinner at Adega Paço do Conde (Get directions)

3 day

1 - Morning: Breakfast, Santa Clara-a-Velha Monastery, Santa Clara-a-Nova Monastery

This morning we start our tour on the other side of the river and we have breakfast at the Galeria Bar Santa Clara, about € 7,00 with coffee and sweets, and then start the visit from the Santa Clara-a-Velha Monastery, just behind the café. It is one beautiful gothic convent of 1300, inside which there is also an archaeological museum with finds that have come to light over time during excavations. In addition, there are projections that tell the life of the nuns inside and the necessary restoration work following the flood of 1600 (10:00 - 19:00, ticket € 5,00).

Then we visit the Santa Clara-a-Nova Monastery, about 650 meters from the old one, with a bit of a climb (8:00 - 18:00, ticket for the beautiful internal cloister € 1,50). It was built after the flood, in a higher position than the ancient monastery, just to protect it. The new monastery is dedicated to the holy queen Isabel, of which it also preserves the tomb.

2 - Afternoon: Lunch, Portugal dos Pequenitos, riverside

Going back towards the river, we have lunch at Cordel, a young restaurant that offers reinterpretations of traditional dishes and a good wine list for around € 20,00 per person.

After lunch we go to visit a very fun theme park, whose entrance is located 200 meters from the restaurant, Portugal dos Pequenitos, a sort of Italy in miniature. In fact, inside there are reproduced all the regions of Portugal and its typical buildings, the most famous monuments, all in miniature. There is also a museum, called the Dress Museum, which exhibits a series of miniatures of traditional clothing in Portugal through the ages. Inside this park we can spend a few hours of leisure and, if we have children with us, they will have a lot of fun (09:00 - 19:00, ticket € 10,00 adults, € 6,00 children from 3 to 13 years) .

After visiting the park, we can return to the old city by taking one walk on the riverfront on the other side, and then crossing the stream on the Santa Clara bridge, it will be an exceptional sight.

3 - Evening: Dinner, walk through the old town, Aguiar Monument, Medieval House, Porta de Barbacã

It's the last night in Coimbra, let's give ourselves one dinner in a traditional restaurant: In Cozinha da Maria, in the heart of the city, where we can order the famous bacalhau a bras, made with egg. We will spend around € 25,00 per person.

After dinner we must say goodbye to the city with dignity, making a nice one evening walk: we pass in front of the Monument to Joaquim Antonio de Aguiar, a Portuguese statesman who lived between 1700 and 1800; we then proceed passing in front of the Medieval House, which has come down to the present day since 1400, we arrive at the Porta de Barbacã and have a drink at the local Fado ao Centro, which also offers live music, a drink costs about € 10,00.

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 3,2 km / 45 min
  • Places visited: Santa Clara-a-Velha Monastery (€ 5,00), Santa Clara-a-Nova Monastery (cloister € 1,50), Portugal dos Pequenitos (€ 10,00), Aguiar Monument (free), Medieval House (free ), Porta de Barbacã (free)
  • Breakfast at Galeria Bar Santa Clara (Get directions), Lunch at Cordel (Get directions), Dinner at A Cozinha da Maria (Get directions)

How much does a weekend in Coimbra cost

Coimbra, like all of Portugal, is not overly expensive. Being a small city, it is also easy to reach activities a little off the tourist track and therefore save money. The restaurants have fairly affordable average prices, considering that almost all serve fish, and the attractions do not have prohibitive tickets: the most expensive one, which concerns the University, still includes many structures, such as to fill almost a day! In short, Coimbra is truly a city to live in its ancient and monumental charm of a city on the river.

  • Costs to eat: about € 50,00 per day per person (including breakfast, lunch, dinner)
  • Costs for museums and attractions: about € 42,00 per person following the itinerary we suggest
  • Transportation: about € 25,00 per person (indicates costs for public transport, any taxis and transfers to and from the airport)
  • Hotels, accommodation and b & b: Hotel and b & b starting from € 55,00 per room -
  • Fun: from € 20,00 per person per day (including snacks, coffee, aperitifs, drinks, ...)
  • Total cost of a weekend in Coimbra: from € 400,00 per person (flights excluded)

Before leaving: useful tips

  • When to visit Coimbra: from April to September, avoiding August, the hottest month - find out more
  • has no airports, it is necessary to arrive from Lisbon (170 km away) connected by the train of the Alfa Pendular line (€ 22,80) or Intercity (€ 19,00) - Flights from € 20,00
    Alternatively from Porto (120 km away) connected by train from Campanha station (from € 13,00 to € 20,00) - Flights from € 57,00
  • historic center, Bairro Sousa Pinto or Guarda Inglesa - Hotel and b & b from € 55,00 per room
  • Getting around: on foot. The historic center is intimate and the city can be visited on foot - find out more

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