30+ Best Things to Do in Coimbra: An Ultimate Guide for 2024


Coimbra is a city steeped in history and culture. From wandering the ancient corridors of the UNESCO-listed university to visiting its stunning library, Biblioteca Joanina — considered one of the most beautiful in the world— there are so many things to do in Coimbra. 

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In this article, I’ll cover everything Coimbra has to offer, from its historic churches and famous University to lovely green spaces. For such a small city, this one packs a punch.

I’ll also help you with practical tips like where to stay when to visit, and so much more. Get ready to learn about the top 30 must-see spots in Coimbra. Ready to explore the best things to do in Coimbra Portugal? Let’s go.

Top Tours in Coimbra

If you aren’t keen on exploring Coimbra yourself, then there are plenty of great tours that will take you there to explore everything that it has to offer. My favorite Coimbra tours include:

➤ Exclusive Coimbra Discovery: Private Walking Tour. Unveil the secrets of Coimbra, Portugal’s former capital, on a private walking tour. Dive into its rich history with visits to the University of Coimbra, New and Old Cathedrals, and the Monastery of Santa Cruz in the Moorish quarter. Wander through the old Jewish Quarter and the Santa Clara a Velha convent. Explore the city with a personal guide, and enjoy a customized tour. ➥ BOOK IT HERE.

➤ Coimbra University & City Private Tour. Explore the historic University of Coimbra and city landmarks on this private guided tour. Wander through Portugal’s oldest university, including the Royal Palace, chapel, assembly room, and the exquisite Joanina Library. Continue to key city sites like the Santa Cruz Monastery. Enjoy a personalized experience with your own private guide. ➥ BOOK IT HERE.

 Conimbriga and The Roman Private Experience. Dive into Portugal’s Roman heritage with a half-day private tour of Conimbriga, one of the country’s largest Roman settlements. Choose your preferred time and round-trip transportation from your Coimbra hotel. Explore the remarkable ruins and the grand aqueduct of Conimbriga, visit the Portugal Roman Museum in Sicó, and dive into history at the Museu Monografico de Conimbriga. ➥ BOOK IT HERE.

30 Top Things to Do in Coimbra

1. Stroll Through the Historic Coimbra University 

Uncover the academic legacy of Coimbra University, a UNESCO World Heritage site where history whispers through the ancient corridors. The university is a beautiful place to explore the old corridors and discover an incredible past.

From the enchanting Joanina Library — considered one of the most beautiful libraries in the world to the picturesque courtyards, every step allows you to dive deeper into the legacy of one of the longest-continuously operating universities in the world. 

And, while you’re there, look around for bits of Hogwarts inspiration in every corner. JK Rowling wrote from Coimbra for some time and took ideas from the university and its students.

🌟 When exploring the university grounds, stop at the Cabinet of Curiosities, a fascinating space filled with strange and beautiful objects that spark curiosity and wonder. Perfect for families, this ‘Theater of the World’ invites you to feel and explore rather than read labels. It’s a sensory adventure that encourages you to discover more.

Things to do in Coimbra

2. Visit the Stunning Biblioteca Joanina 

What is Coimbra famous for? Biblioteca Joanina.

Biblioteca Joanina, an 18th-century Baroque library inside Coimbra University, is a captivating spot full of impressive literary history. It is considered the richest library in Europe and an attraction in Coimbra that shouldn’t be missed. 

The library’s three ornate chambers are each adorned with impressive and beautiful woodwork. They house a collection of amazing, rare, and ancient books totaling 60,000. 

The resident bat colonies are one of the library’s most surreal features. The bats may seem to be the pests, but they are welcome as they keep book-eating insects at bay.

🌟 Travel tip: Although the library is open daily, it is highly recommended that you book your visit in advance. When we arrived in Coimbra in August, all the visits were reserved for the day. 

Things to do in Coimbra

3. See the Chapel of São Miguel

The Chapel of São Miguel is a unique space at Coimbra University, with intricate details and a fantastic example of Gothic architecture.

The chapel is believed to have been first built in the 12th century, but a series of restorations over the following centuries revealed new details. 

As you step inside, look at the stained-glass windows, the azulejo-tiled walls, and the altar at the front. The chapel’s organ is Baroque in style, but get up close, and you’ll notice the motifs are actually Chinese.

Things to do in Coimbra

4. Listen to Coimbra Fado at Fado ao Centro

Looking for unique and unusual things to do in Coimbra? Why not listen to some Coimbra Fado?

Coimbra Fado is a unique fado genre, sometimes also called Student Fado. Unlike traditional Fao, which is sung by women, it is typically sung by male students from the university. 

You can indulge in an evening of soul-stirring melodies at Fado ao Centro, a cultural gem nestled in the heart of Coimbra. 

This intimate venue, steeped in Portuguese tradition, showcases the top fado talent in Coimbra. There are live shows every day in the evening, but you can also visit to watch rehearsals or chat with the performers of the best fado in Coimbra about their craft. 

Things to do in Coimbra

5. Take in the Views Machado de Castro National Museum 

If you are looking for Coimbra what to do suggestions, make sure to have lunch at this museum to take in the beautiful views.

Admire the artistic treasures housed in Machado de Castro National Museum and the breathtaking panoramic views of Coimbra. 

Housed in a former Episcopal Palace, the museum is set against the backdrop of the Mondego River. But the building itself is also full of impressive sights and history. 

You can wander through the galleries full of sculptures, paintings, textiles, and more — some dating back to the 12th century. Once you’ve taken in the artifacts and artworks, head up to the terrace for breathtaking vistas of Coimbra’s Old Town. The sweeping landscapes showcase the city’s architectural marvels and the countryside’s green beyond. 

Things to do in Coimbra

6. Step back in time at the Old Cathedral of Coimbra

Wander through the medieval charm of the Old Cathedral of Coimbra (Sé Velha), which dates back to the 12th century. The cathedral is a Romanesque masterpiece that is a testament to Portugal’s rich religious and architectural heritage. Some say this cathedral is one of the best examples of original Romanesque architecture. 

From the outside, the building seems like a fortress. However, once you enter and wander through, you’ll notice the carvings and historic artifacts adorning this religious space. Much of the design is in a style that mixes Islamic and Christian influences from the Renaissance. 

Things to do in Coimbra

7. Explore Santa Cruz Church

Discover the serene beauty of Santa Cruz Church, the final resting place of King Afonso Henriques and his son Sancho I, the first two kings of Portugal. 

The church, a Romanesque architectural gem dating back to the 12th century, boasts intricate Manueline details and a serene cloister. 

Wander through the sacred halls adorned with religious art and symbolic motifs. Be sure to check out the choir stalls, where you can see motifs of the Portuguese ships from the country’s Age of Discovery. Another highlight is the organs covered in Japanese ornamentation. 

Things to do in Coimbra

8. Have a coffee at the Historic Café Santa Cruz 

A list of things to do Coimbra edition is not complete without a mention of the famous Café Santa Cruz.

Enjoy a moment of relaxation and coffee in one of Coimbra’s oldest establishments, the historic Café Santa Cruz. While the current cafe was inaugurated in 1923, the building dates back to 1530 and first became a cafe in 1822.

The iconic cafe has beautiful decor and a charming, nostalgic atmosphere. Its stunning tiles and classic furnishings add to its appeal. The vaulted ceiling and stained glass windows from the building’s original use as a chapel have been retained.

Fun fact: While there, try a crúzio — a small almond treat created in the cafe and the best answer to what to eat in Coimbra.

The cafe has regular events — cultural book presentations, fado shows, and liquor tastings

Things to do in Coimbra

9. Learn about the history behind Jardins da Quinta das Lágrimas

The lush gardens of Jardins da Quinta das Lágrimas conceal a tale of love and tragedy. They witnessed the forbidden romance between Prince Pedro and Inês de Castro in the 14th century. 

Inês was the lady-in-waiting to the prince’s wife. I highly recommend looking more into their story as it is fascinating and even includes the coronation of a dead person. 

You can now visit the gardens, which are 14 hectares (about 35 acres) of lush greenery and shaded pathways.  

The Quinta das Lágrimas Gardens are a living testament to a love story etched into Portuguese lore. In its calm surroundings, you are invited to connect with the passion and sorrow of the story.

Things to do in Coimbra

10. Explore New Cathedral (Sé Nova) 

Coimbra to do ideas? How about stopping and admiring this gorgeous cathedral?

This 16th century cathedral, Sé Nova, became the city’s main cathedral in 1772, hence its name. The building is an architectural marvel that took over 100 years to complete.

Initially built for the Jesuit college, it merges Baroque and Mannerist styles of architecture. The cathedral’s interior is adorned in gold, with intricate detailing and beautiful frescoes. The four saints sitting in the niches on its exterior show the Jesuits’ original influence.

This is one of the great free things to do in Coimbra, as entry to the cathedral is free and open to the public.

Things to do in Coimbra

11. Look at the Gorgeous Azulejo panels 

Outside the Municipal Market, you’ll find a series of azulejo panels lining the wall. These stunning tiles depict different historical spots around Coimbra. 

You can see famous city monuments such as the Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha, the Aqueduct of São Sebastião, and more. 

This is a quick stop, but it’s a cool photo opportunity that can be combined with a visit to the market and a ride on the funicular.

Things to do in Coimbra

12. Shop at the Mercado Municpal

Explore the lively Municipal Market in Coimbra, overflowing with fresh produce and traditional crafts. Dating back to the 19th century, this is an authentic glimpse into Portuguese daily life, and it’s not just for tourists. You’ll see plenty of locals doing their everyday shopping here. 

Although not really on the Coimbra tourist map, if you are hungry, make sure to stop off at the local municipal market.

Wander through the colorful stalls spread across several floors and enjoy the aromas of spices and freshly baked goods. If you want to pick up just about any fresh local produce, you can find it here, plus check out the local cheeses and sample a few (Portugal does cheese surprisingly well).

Things to do in Coimbra

13. Take the Elevador do Mercado – Funicular

The Elevador do Mercado is a funicular that connects the lower part of Coimbra to the upper part – the area around the market and the area around the university. 

You’ll board a wooden cabin and take the 150-foot ride up, which combines an initial vertical, elevator-like ascent with a funicular ride to finish (all part of the same trip, only the angle changes). 

While the ride is a handy way to avoid a steep climb, it also provides gorgeous views of the Mondego River and the city’s historic landscape. 

Things to do in Coimbra14. Enjoy Art at Edificio Chiado
If you love museums, one Coimbra what to see idea is to visit this cultural space. It’s one of the many amazing Coimbra museums that you can visit during your visit.

Check out contemporary art at Edificio Chiado, a cultural space that showcases the city’s creative spirit. This modern art space within a historic building once a shopping mall showcases diverse artistic expressions, from avant-garde installations to thought-provoking exhibitions. 

The museum’s permanent exhibition has an amazing collection of Portuguese paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries. In addition to paintings, you can also see furniture, ceramics, and more. 

There are also two temporary exhibition galleries with changing exhibits. A recent temporary exhibition by the artist Josete Fernandes showcased women and fragrances.

Things to do in Coimbra

15. Explore the Coimbra Botanical Gardens

Wander through the green oasis of the Coimbra Botanical Garden, home to diverse flora covering 13 hectares — or around 32 acres. Established in the 18th century by the then-prime minister, the botanical gardens are a tranquil, serene space with winding paths and a vast array of exotic plants. 

Throughout the gardens are themed sections like the medicinal and aromatic plants. Plus, there are rare varieties from all corners of the world. The garden is a living encyclopedia of biodiversity. 

The gardens are open daily all year round, and guided tours are available.

Things to do in Coimbra

16. Gaze Upon the Yellow Domes of the Jardim da Manga

At Coimbra’s Jardim da Manga, iconic yellow cupolas proudly surround a fountain amidst serene ponds and manicured lawns. The garden is located within a former monastery — the only part that still functions is the Church of Santa Cruz. 

The small garden is classified as a National Monument, and its style has a strong Moorish influence. Legend says that Portugal’s King John III was inspired to have this structure built at this spot after he traced a sketch of it on his sleeve. Thus, the name of the garden manga means sleeve.

Things to do in Coimbra

17. Appreciate the view at Penedo da Saudade

Penedo da Saudade is a park with a viewpoint that locals — especially students — greatly love. You can read many poems written in and about this space on plaques throughout the park. 

The viewpoint overlooks the Mondego River, the city’s terracotta rooftops, all of its architectural highlights, and on a clear day — beyond the city to the hills in the distance. 

You can admire the city while surrounded by lush greenery. Penedo da Saudade, adorned with sculptures and benches, is a serene and inviting space.

Things to do in Coimbra

18. Pass Through the Barbican Gate

The medieval Barbican Gate is an entrance to Coimbra’s old town and highlights the city’s fascinating past. Dating back to the 17th century, this gateway has welcomed many visitors. 

Interestingly, though the Barbican Gate is an entrance to the old town, it is not the entrance. The very definition of a barbican is that it is a defensive gate and can be sacrificed during a siege because a secondary gate stands beyond it.

Luckily, this one never needed to be sacrificed, and so still stands today. 

Things to do in Coimbra

19. Walk Over Pedro e Inês Bridge

Cross the Mondego River over the iconic Pedro e Inês Bridge, named after the tragic lovers Pedro and Inês — the same ill-fated couple from the Jardins da Quinta das Lágrimas.

The picturesque bridge offers a vital crossing and beautiful panoramic views of Coimbra’s skyline. But, before you cross the bridge, catch a glimpse of it from the shoreline. It has been nicknamed ‘the bridge that doesn’t meet’ for the optical illusion created by the way the two halves come together (spoiler alert: they do meet, and you can cross the entire river).

Things to do in Coimbra

20. Feel like a Giant at Portugal dos Pequenitos 

This adorable miniature park offers a unique perspective on Portugal’s landmarks. Established in 1940, the theme park recreates iconic Portuguese landmarks and international structures in miniature form. 

You can stroll through crafted replicas of palaces, castles, and villages and marvel at the intricate details of each one. Some famous spots here are the University of Coimbra and the Tower of Belem (Lisbon).

If you’re traveling to Coimbra with kids, this is a great family-friendly attraction. Full-price adult tickets are €14.95 ($16.24 USD & $21.83 CAD), with discounts for kids depending on age. The park is open daily.

Things to do in Coimbra

21. Delight in Art at Casa-Museu Bissaya Barreto 

Here, you will find Bissaya Barreto’s personal collection. Barreto is the man behind the creation of Portugal dos Pequenitos.

Housed in a charming museum, the eclectic collection of works of this renowned Portuguese physician and art enthusiast is a treasure trove of paintings, sculptures, and decorative pieces spanning various periods. The collection perfectly showcases what Barreto deemed most important: Beauty, Order, Perfection, and Aesthetics.

But before you even enter the house turned museum, explore the beautiful gardens full of azulejos.

Things to do in Coimbra

22. Find Peace in Parque Manuel Braga

Relax in Parque Manuel Braga’s peaceful surroundings, right in the heart of Coimbra. The park offers an unexpectedly beach-like retreat from the busy city life. 

The urban oasis features lovely shaded dirt walking paths along the river banks. There are benches, gazebos to rest in, and ample open green spaces to lay out and catch a few extra sun rays.

Things to do in Coimbra

23. Walking Among the Ruins of Mosteiro de Santa Clara-a-Velha 

Embark on a journey through time as you walk among the haunting ruins of Sé Velha Cathedral. This 13th-century Gothic Velha monastery was once incredibly grand — today, you can see the stone walls and arches that time has left behind. 

This monastery has a beautiful history partly because of the fight that finally allowed women to reside there. Unfortunately, sitting in the river’s floodplain, the structure did not withstand the test of time, and only gorgeous ruins and stories are left today.

Things to do in Coimbra

24. Discover the Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Nova 

After the repeated flooding of Mosteiro de Santa Clara-a-Velha, the Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Nova was constructed to house the Clarissa nuns. Its beautiful construction is a testament to Portugal’s religious and architectural heritage.

Founded in the 17th century, the majestic complex houses the tomb of Queen Saint Elizabeth, which was transferred here from the old monastery. 

Wander through serene courtyards and check out the gilded carvings and the 18th-century choir chairs. You can also find the military museum housed within the cloisters.

Just do you know, this monastery is a little bit out of the way (and up a hill). So it will be hard to get there on foot. However you will get a beautiful view once you do get there.

Things to do in Coimbra

25. Revel at the São Sebastião Aqueduct

Coimbra’s São Sebastião Aqueduct is a 16th-century historical monument that stands tall against the city’s skyline — it was built on top of a preceding Roman aqueduct’s layout. 

This impressive aqueduct, about 30 meters tall, spans nearly a kilometer and showcases intricate arches and remarkable stonework. Within each of the arches, you can find unique carvings such as rosettes, shells, crosses, or the royal coats-of-arms.

While the aqueduct was once vital for supplying water to Coimbra, it now stands as a testament to its architectural prowess.

Things to do in Coimbra

Day Trips From Coimbra

26. Conímbriga

Conímbriga is one of Portugal’s largest and most extensive Roman archaeological sites. The exceptionally preserved ancient city, dating back to the 1st century BCE, offers a vivid glimpse into the Romans’ urban life. 

On a day trip there, you can see the intricate mosaic floors, remarkably intact residential structures, and the well-preserved forum. Walking through the streets, amphitheater, and thermal baths, you’ll be transported back to the 9th century BC. 


The trip from Coimbra to Conímbriga is about 18 km (11 miles) and takes around 20 minutes by car. It’s easy if you have a rental car, or you could take a taxi, Uber, or Bolt.

However, if you prefer not to drive, you can get there by bus. Transdev has two daily routes between Coimbra and Conímbriga, and the trip takes about 45 minutes.

Another option is to take this Conimbriga and Roman Tour, a private tour that will take you to visit the ancient ruins with a museum excursion.

Things to do in Coimbra

27. Schist Villages at Lousa Mountain

This particular Schist village is Piadao.

Nestled in the rugged beauty of Lousã Mountain, the Schist Villages showcase traditional Portuguese architecture. These enchanting villages — 12 in total — were built with schist stones and blended seamlessly with the natural landscape surrounding them. 

As you wander through villages like Cerdeira and Talasnal, the winding cobblestone streets and charming stone cottages will immerse you in a bygone era. If you have time on your day trip, this area is fantastic for hiking through the lush green landscape. For more info on the Schist Villages, read here.

🌟 Fun fact: There are 27 Schist villages spread across the Lousã and Açor ranges, which are close to Serra da Estrela.


The easiest way to get from Coimbra to the Schist Villages is by car. There is no way to do the trip by public transport. The drive is about 95 km, around 60 miles, and takes approximately 90 minutes. Since it is a slightly longer journey, this is a good opportunity to consider an overnight stay in the villages.

If you don’t have a car, there are plenty of tours that depart Coimbra and that will take you to various Schist villages nearby, like this Tour between Cascades and Schist Villages, Piodão or this adventure through the Schist Villages of Lousã.

Things to do in Coimbra

28. Fatima 

Fatima is an incredibly spiritual town located in central Portugal. It has profound religious significance as it’s believed that this is the site where three shepherd children witnessed apparitions of the Virgin Mary in 1917. 

Now, Fatima is a popular pilgrimage destination. In Fatima, you can visit the iconic Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Rosary and the home of the shepherd children. Beyond its spiritual allure, Fatima is also a gorgeous small town worth wandering around. 


The drive from Coimbra to Fatima is about 89 km or just over 55 miles. It should take around one hour each way. Alternatively, Flixbus runs around 12 departures daily between the two cities. The bus trip takes around an hour as well. 

If you are looking for a tour from Coimbra, this half day tour to Fatima is the perfect choice.

Things to do in Coimbra

29. Tomar 

Tomar, a historic gem in central Portugal, has a rich tapestry of history and culture. Dominated by the imposing Convent of Christ, a UNESCO World Heritage site, Tomar is an ancient medieval city frozen in time. 

Founded by the Knights Templar in the 12th century, the convent features intricate Manueline architecture. Tomar’s historic center is full of cobbled streets and charming squares, making it perfect for strolls. You can also visit the banks of the Nabão River, which add to the city’s picture-perfect presence. 


You can drive from Coimbra to Tomar in about 50 – 60 minutes. The trip is around 78 km or 48 miles. Unfortunately, there is no great public transport connection. You can get a train, but you’ll have to backtrack south to Entroncamento before switching north to Tomar. If this is your only option, an overnight stay in Tomar is worth considering.

For a tour option this day tour from Coimbra, includes stops in Tmar, Batalha and Alcobaça, three World Heritage Sites in Portugal.

Things to do in Coimbra

30. Aveiro

Aveiro is a small city often called the Venice of Portugal, thanks to its scenic waterways reminiscent of Venice’s canals. But, in place of gondolas, the waterways are full of the traditional moliceiro boats, which were brightly painted and used to collect algae from the river before they became transportation for tourists. 

The city is also full of unique Art Nouveau architecture and delicious cuisine. Aveiro’s historic center has lively markets, the iconic São Gonçalinho Chapel, and lots more things to do in Aveiro.


The drive from Coimbra to Aveiro is about 63 km, or around 39 miles, and takes just under an hour. However, the trip is much faster by train. There is a direct train that takes just under 30 minutes.

The best tour option is this half-day trip that will take you to Aveiro, as well as the famous Costa Nova beah and even includes a Moliceiro boat ride.

Things to do in Coimbra

31. Wine Tour from Coimbra

🍷 One of the best things to do near Coimbra is to have a glass or two of wine.

One of the closest wine regions to Coimbra is Bairrada. This region sits just north of the city and stretches from the coast inland to the mountains around Caramulo. You can visit many small vineyards throughout the region, which are much more intimate than the mass-produced wines of other Portuguese wine-producing regions. 

On this half-day Flavors of Bairrada tour, you’ll visit one of the region’s wineries. At the winery, you’ll learn more about the winemaking process and have a chance to sample the goods. Outside of the wineries you can fully customize the tour, adding in any extra stops you’d like to visit.

Things to do in Coimbra

Where is Coimbra 

Coimbra is located in central Portugal. It straddles the banks of the Mondego River and boasts a strategic location (for conquerors then and for tourists now) approximately halfway between Lisbon and Porto.

Porto is closer, at about 125 km (77 miles), versus Lisbon, which is around 200 km (127 miles). Coimbra sits about 42 km, or 26 miles inland from the coast. The nearest coastal city is Figueira da Foz. 


Things to do in Coimbra

How to Get To Coimbra 

Due to its central location in Portugal, getting to Coimbra is convenient. If arriving by air, the closest airport is Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport in Porto. Lisbon’s Portela Airport is also an option — though it’s slightly further, it’s still very convenient. From there, you can take a train bus, or rent a car to travel to Coimbra. 

Rede Expressos bus gets you from Lisbon Oriente to Coimbra, while the CP train connection takes about one hour and 45 minutes from Santa Apolónia in Lisbon. 

If you’re coming from Porto, you can take a CP train from Campanha — the journey takes about one hour and fifteen minutes. The bus connections, run by Flixbus and Alsa, take just under 90 minutes. They also leave from Campanha.

Coming from the Algarve by public transportation, you’ll have to pass through and switch in Lisbon.

Things to do in Coimbra

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Coimbra is during the shoulder seasons — spring (March to May) or the fall (September to November). Tourist numbers are down during these months, but the weather is also mild, making walking around the city and any outdoor activities very pleasant. 

☀️ Summer (June to August) is also a popular time to visit, but temperatures are higher, with August being the hottest month. Temperatures usually top off in the mid-80s F (around 29 C). These months also see increased tourist activity. 

❄️ Winter (December to February) is quieter, offering a unique charm with some holiday events. Of course, this is also the coldest period of the year, with temperatures going as low as the low 40s F (around 6 C) in January, the wettest month. 

Things to do in Coimbra

What to Pack

When packing for Coimbra, plan for lots of walking on uneven ground and pack for changes in weather — even in summer. Pack comfortable walking shoes for walking all day on the cobblestone streets and through historical sites. 

Even if the forecast looks warm, you should expect mild and changing temperatures, so bring layers, including light jackets or sweaters, for cooler evenings. Given the potential for rain, a waterproof jacket or umbrella may be handy. 

Of course, you should always pack your travel essentials, such as travel adapters, sunscreen, and any personal items you might need for a comfortable and enjoyable stay.

Things to do in Coimbra

Where to Stay in Coimbra

Choosing the right neighborhood and the best places to stay in Coimbra depends on your preferences and travel priorities. Each area offers a unique atmosphere and proximity to different attractions.

The best things to see in Coimbra Portugal are all located within walking distance of one another.

​​Alta de Coimbra / Upper Coimbra

Alta de Coimbra has a medieval charm around the university, with narrow streets, historic buildings, and easy access to the University. Alta means high, so this is the city’s upper part. It is a downhill walk to many other attractions. Here, you’ll be surrounded by cultural and architectural landmarks.


Baixa, or downtown, is a bustling district with vibrant streets, diverse dining options, and lively markets. Staying here gives you easy access to shops, restaurants, bars, and the lively city atmosphere.

Santa Clara 

This neighborhood provides a tranquil atmosphere by the Mondego River. Santa Clara offers a sort of escape from the city with scenic river views and easy access to the waterfront. While quieter, you’re still close enough to the city center to easily access attractions, shopping, and eating. 

Santo António dos Olivais

This neighborhood is more residential than others, which are more touristy. This is a good pick if you want something that has a bit more tranquility but still has convenient access to key attractions. Santo António dos Olivais offers a mix of green spaces, historic sites, and a taste for what local life in Coimbra looks like.

Things to do in Coimbra

Is Coimbra Safe?

Coimbra is generally considered quite a safe destination for tourists. The city has a reputation for being welcoming and friendly, with a relatively low crime rate compared to larger urban areas.

One of the top 10 things to do in Coimbra Portugal is to visit the University complex where you can views like this.

The historic center, where many main attractions are located, is well-patrolled by local police forces (without being too over the top) and tends to be safe for tourists.

However, as with anywhere, exercising standard safety precautions is important. Always be mindful of pickpockets, especially in crowded or very touristy spots. 

Is Coimbra safe during the night?

Generally, the central areas remain safe even after dark. There are well-lit streets and a generally fun, lively atmosphere year round.

Coimbra is known for its lively student population, which means the city has quite a vibrant nightlife with plenty of things to do in Coimbra at night. Popular nighttime areas are the student quarter and the main squares, often frequented by locals and tourists alike throughout the evening. 

Unfortunately, with these parties often comes excessive drinking — so always be on the lookout for antisocial behavior.  It’s also wise to avoid poorly lit areas at night. Always use known public transportation or ride shares from reputable companies like Bolt or Uber. 

Things to do in Coimbra: FAQs

Is it worth visiting Coimbra? 

Yes — it is absolutely worth visiting Coimbra. The medieval university is the centerpiece of its rich historical and cultural tapestry.

What to see in Coimbra? There are so many things to see in Coimbra.

Beyond that, there is amazing architecture from throughout the city’s many centuries of history, a scenic riverfront, and plenty more to explore.

What is Coimbra best known for?

Coimbra is best known for its historic university, one of the oldest in Europe and the world. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was the only Portuguese-speaking university in the world for many centuries.  

What is the most Instagrammable place in Coimbra?

The University of Coimbra’s Joanina Library is the most Instagrammable place in Coimbra. Specifically, the stunning Baroque architecture and the resident bats (yes, real ones) are Instagram-worthy gems. 

How much time do you need in Coimbra?

Usually, 2 days in Coimbra or up to three days in Coimbra is ample time to explore the key attractions. That covers the university and the historic landmarks throughout the city and leaves time to wander through the charming neighborhoods and quaint cobblestoned streets. 

Is Coimbra a day trip from Lisbon or Porto?

While it is possible to do a day trip to Coimbra from either Porto or Lisbon, it’s a long journey that will make your day busy trying to see all of the city. 

What to do in Coimbra Portugal? Stop by a tile shop, and you might even spot someone hand-painting tiles.

It’s a good idea to consider staying overnight, allowing time for a more leisurely exploration of the city.

Is one day enough for Coimbra? 

While a day in Coimbra is enough to catch a glimpse of the city’s beauty, extending your stay allows you to immerse yourself in the city’s history, culture, and vibrant atmosphere provided by the ancient university and its current student population.

Final Thoughts: Top Things to Do in Coimbra Portugal

If you’re wondering what to do in Coimbra for a day or two, hopefully, these 30 Coimbra attractions will help you and will also answer the question: is Coimbra worth visiting?

Still, Don’t Know Where To Start Exploring?

Explore everything that Coimbra has to offer on this Guided tour of the University and city of Coimbra with a perfect ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ rating 😊❤️

From the famous ancient university to new architecture and open green spaces, there are many things to see in Coimbra. Get ready to be enchanted and enthralled and to enjoy your Coimbra visit.

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