Home to Portugal’s most prestigious university, Coimbra is one of the country’s most interesting towns. Steeped in medieval history while at the same time embracing modern culture in order to satisfy its large student population, visitors can soak up different attractions and activities both old and new. For over 100 years, Coimbra remained the capital city of Portugal and as a result, has an abundance of colourful buildings which almost date as far back as a millennium. A riverfront park complete with terraced bars brings you back into the now and there’s plenty of shopping opportunities for those wanting to indulge in a spot of retail therapy.
A fuel efficient economy car is perfect for Coimbra, where you may face the odd traffic jam. It is also compact enough to squeeze into the tight parking spots dotted around the city.
Driving in Coimbra
Road Driving Side
Urban Speed Limit
Rural Speed Limit
Motorway Speed Limit
Important things to note
Please note that traffic congestion and subsequent road rage can occur in Coimbra, so be patient and courteous to avoid any unwanted attention. Avoiding rush hour at all costs is also highly recommended.
Free parking is incredibly scarce in the city centre; your best bet would be the side streets of Praça da República.
You will see many blue ‘P’ signs in the Baixa district if you are willing to pay, make sure you park legally as enforcement is strict.
Highlights & Hotspots
You may not consider a library as a major attraction, but the Biblioteca Joanina at the University of Coimbra is something of an exception. Dating back to 1717, this unique, one off building boasts jaw dropping architecture, a basement filled with bookstands, a small prison and three salons.
Situated in Coimbra’s historical centre, Fado ao Centro is the jewel in the town’s cultural crown. Featuring a fascinating photo exhibition which is free for all to view, they also have daily ‘Fado shows’ with a recreation of a live serenade for a small fee.
Parque Verde do Mondego provides the perfect setting for those that want to take a breezy riverside stroll to unwind. Once you’ve taken in all the parks natural beauty, there are plenty of nearby shops, bars and restaurants at your disposal.
For a Portuguese take on tapas, Fangas Mercearia offer great food and wine in their cosy, blink and you’ll miss it bar. It’s just five minutes from the university and very popular, so do try and book in advance. Dona Especiaria offers gourmet taster menus, paired with wines at great prices, served by friendly and knowledgeable staff.
Coimbra doesn‚Äôt have its own airport, the nearest being Francisco Sa Carneiro Airport which is roughly an hour and 15 minutes away by car. International flights to a number of global destinations are readily available at this airport.
The airport can be reached via the IC24, which goes eastbound to a junction with the IP1. Take the IP1 southbound until you reach Coimbra.