Coimbra is the fourth-largest urban development in Portugal. Compared to Porto and Lisbon, it is less traveled – which is a mistake if you ask me. It is mostly famous for its University which is one of the oldest universities in Europe. Coimbra is halfway between Porto and Lisbon, which makes it the best place for a weekend getaway. So, to help you plan this amazing weekend getaway from Lisbon to Coimbra we made the best itinerary for you.
In the middle of planning your Portugal trip? Here is our best Portugal 10-day itinerary for you.
Best time to visit Coimbra
Summers in Coimbra are quite warm with temperatures shooting up to 35 °C. Season-wise, spring, and autumn (May-October) are the most preferred time to visit Coimbra. The weather is warm enough to walk around the beautiful streets but not too bright to give you a tan. However, this is a peak time for tourists to visit, so consequently, the hotels are costly.
For a budget traveler, winters are a more ideal time to visit Coimbra. The crowd is lesser and the hotels are affordable. During the winter season, the student activities in the city are thriving with different cultural events going on everywhere. The city becomes alive with the students, festivals, and liveliness. Since Coimbra is a University city, most of its events revolve around the prevailing student life there.
How to get from Lisbon to Coimbra
Lisbon to Coimbra by train
The train is the best means to travel from Lisbon to Coimbra. It takes around 1:30 to 2 hours to travel from Lisbon to Coimbra via train. In fact, it is the fastest means to get from Lisbon to Coimbra even though it is not the cheapest option.
There are two types of trains from Lisbon to Coimbra – the Alfa Pendular and the intercity. The Alfa Pendular takes around 1:30 hours while the intercity takes around 1:50 hours to get to Coimbra from Lisbon. Tickets can be booked beforehand from the ticket counters in the stations or online. It costs around €22.80 per ticket (as of 31st January 2020, 22:10) for Alfa Pendular and €19.20 per ticket (as of 31st January 2020, 22:10) for intercity trains.
All trains from Lisbon to Coimbra depart from Oriente station in Lisbon, while some others depart from Santa Apolonia station. Coimbra has two stations namely Coimbra A and Coimbra B. Coimbra A is situated near the city center while Coimbra B is a few kilometers away. However, Coimbra B is the main station since most of the trains coming from Lisbon stop there unlike in Coimbra A where the intercity trains do not stop. So, it is better to take a cab from Coimbra B station to the city center.
The trains depart frequently from the stations. So you don’t really have to worry about getting a train. There’s usually a train in an interval of an hour.
Lisbon to Coimbra by bus
After having enjoyed som great things to do in Lisbon, it is probably time to travel to Coimbra.
Traveling by bus From Lisbon to Coimbra is the most affordable means. It, however, takes more time than by train (around 2:20 hours). Rede expresso is the best Lisbon intercity bus company with comfortable and inexpensive busses.
A one-way ride from Lisbon to Coimbra costs around €13.80 (as of 31st January 2020, 22:10). Buses leave for Coimbra every day with around 25 daily departures. Most of the intercity buses depart from Sete Rois bus station and stop at the Terminal Rodoviario Coimbra station in Coimbra.
How to get to Coimbra from Porto
Read our recommendation about the best Porto itinerary that you can do.
Porto to Coimbra by train
The best way to get to Coimbra from Porto is by train. It takes about 1:05 to 1:15 hours to reach Coimbra from Porto. Two train express – Intercidades and Alfa Pendular, connect Porto to Coimbra. It costs around €17.20 (as of 31st January 2020, 22:10) by Alfa Pendular and €13.60 (as of 31st January 2020, 22:10) by Intercidades. Compared to the Intercidades, Alfa Pendular is more comfortable and faster, which takes around 1:15 hours to reach Coimbra in contrast to Alfa Pendular’s 1:05 hours.
The trains depart from Porto Campanhã station and reach the Coimbra B station. None of the stations are in the city center which is a bit of a hindrance.
Porto to Coimbra by bus
The main intercity bus service, Rede Expressos, provides 18 direct services from Porto to Coimbra. Traveling by bus is the most affordable means to get to Coimbra from Porto. It takes more time than on the train (1:25 hours), but the tickets are cheaper with just €11.90 (as of 31st January 2020, 22:10) in one way. The Rede Expressos buses usually leave from Campo 24 de Agosto bus station in Porto and stop at the Terminal Rodoviario Coimbra station in Coimbra.
What to visit in Coimbra
When visiting Coimbra, you will notice right away that it is a University city and one of the great places to visit in Portugal. So most of its happenings are influenced by student life there. During the start of the student academic year, you can see rallies, old students singing and dancing. The place buzzes with excitement from the newcomers and the old students who are just glad to be back. So, stick with us through this itinerary and you’ll have an awesome weekend all along.
Have a walk in the Repúblicas neighborhood
Our first stop of the day will be the Republicas neighborhood. It is a student neighborhood housing student communities of the University of Coimbra. It is an interesting neighborhood to roam around. You can see different climate change posters or graffiti on the walls fighting for different issues like democracy, etc. The Republicas are like sorority houses. They are the original form of academic life in Coimbra.
It is near most of the other places we are going to visit, so don’t miss out on this one. You can get a better understanding of student life as well as the student unions there. These neighborhoods have a very anarchistic feel to them.
Our next stop is Coimbra University. It takes just 7 minutes on foot to reach the University of Coimbra from the Republicas neighborhood (as shown in the Coimbra map). The university, which is a UNESCO world heritage site, is the heart and soul of the city. It is the oldest University in Portugal and one of the oldest universities in Europe.
No true trip to Coimbra can be complete without a visit to the University. The architecture of the University is remarkable. You need to get passes to see some of the buildings but, you can visit most of them without a pass. If you go there at the beginning of the academic year, you can witness the students gathering on university grounds singing and dancing. It is so refreshing and lively!
Coimbra Library is just a 3 minutes walk away from the University of Coimbra (as shown in the Coimbra map). It is one of the best examples of Baroque architecture in Portugal. Also known as the Joanine library, it has a display of more than 55,000 books. The interior is absolutely breath-taking and magnificent. You need to buy a pass to visit the Joanine library, but if you love books or architecture, this is worth all that money.
Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha
Our next stop, as shown on the Coimbra map is the Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha. It takes around fifteen minutes to walk to get there from Joanine Library. It is open from Tuesday through Sunday.
Situated near the banks of River Mondego, it is the perfect place to relax and take in the beauty of the city.
Enjoy a Fado live music session
Fado is a type of music that can be traced to the 1820s in Lisbon. Fado’s style of music is mostly related to pubs, cafes, and restaurants. There are two types of Fado music – from Lisbon and Coimbra. The Portuguese say Fado as a way of living. Although Fado is sung by both men and women, in Coimbra mostly men sing Fado. In Coimbra, Fado is dominated by the university students who play it in pubs, restaurants, and streets.
Fado Hilario is a famous spot having live fado music. It is a cute cafe with live Fado music played by the students or other musicians. It is named after Augusto Hilário da Costa Alves, the first Portuguese fado singer.
A Capella is another famous spot for live Fado music. It is a 14th-century chapel that was then renovated into a bar. The vibe is mesmerizing and serenading.
Where to stay in Coimbra
It is located just a few kilometers away from the Old Cathedral. It had beautiful rooms with hand-painted murals all around. The vibe is very cozy and nice. You can see the Old Cathedral from some rooms. There are lots of restaurants near the hostel so it’s the perfect location for a foodie to explore places.
The Ibis Coimbra hotel is located in the center of Coimbra. The rooms are beautifully decorated and well furnished. The location is also good due to which it is easier to go to the tourist sites.
B&B Hotel Cantanhede is another beautiful hotel with a beautiful interior and a great ambiance. The people are also very helpful and welcoming. It is located in a good location making it easier access to tourist spots.
What to eat in Coimbra
Bacalao means Cod. It is one of the most popular dishes in all of Portugal as well as Coimbra. It can be made in different ways, according to how one pleases. The most common amongst them is bacalao dorado (golden cod) and bacalao à brás (salt cod). You can get Bacalao in any restaurant in Coimbra. Solar de Bacalhau is a restaurant that serves different types of Cod dishes and is worth a try.
Prego (Steak sandwich)
Prego is a Portuguese meat sandwich. It is one of the staple foods in Coimbra. It is very much like a burger but the bread and cheese used are different. You can get it anywhere in Coimbra and chances are they are good in most places. It is a must-have if you’re in Coimbra.
Bolo de Bolacha (Biscuit cake)
This is a delicious dessert found in cafes and bakeries. The cake is made with biscuits, cream, and a little bit of coffee to add flavor to it. It is loved by everyone and is mouthwatering. You can get Bolo de Bolacha in Briosa Pastelaria which is one of the best dessert cafes in Coimbra.
How to plan properly your Portugal itinerary
Portugal is a beautiful place with its rich culture and heritage. There’s a lot of places to visit in this beautiful country. So our guide to planning the perfect Portugal itinerary can save you from all the FOMO and the pain of planning. From hotels to places to visit- it has all the things you could need to know.
Here are some tips to make the trip to Portugal worthwhile:
- Try new foods: Always try new foods whenever you visit new places. Portugal is rich in seafood. So don’t miss it out. Try and taste the local cuisine to get an exclusive sense of their heritage.
- Use public transportation: Portugal is very well connected through its trams, metro, etc buses. So instead of renting a cab, you can hop in the trams or take a metro to get anywhere.
- Learn a little Portuguese: It’s always better if you know a little foreign language when you are visiting a foreign country. Even though people speak English in Portugal, learning a few phrases in Portuguese would be helpful. It’s fun and it can come in handy at times, you never know!
Coimbra is among the best cities to visit in Portugal. So, here’s hoping you have a fun and happening Portugal trip. For any help regarding your Portugal itinerary, check out this post. Until next time!