This city’s claim to fame is its university, which is one of the oldest in the world. Although Coimbra was the nation’s capital during the high middle ages, its importance was superseded by that of Lisbon. There are still however, many important buildings and civil structures, such as the roman aqueduct, which can be found throughout the city.
Coimbra is very much a student’s city – young people from all over Lisbon, Europe and the world come to study at Coimbra university. The city perhaps isn’t as beautiful as Lisbon or of course Porto (my next post), but it has it own character and charm. It’s cafes and patisseries are full of local delicacies, such as the Pasteis de Santa Clara, shopping along Rue Ferreira Borges in Baixa (the city centre) is a must with all the big labels, as well as some charming boutiques, check out Mercado D. Pedro V for some fresh product, wander through the narrow streets until you reach the famous university and explore, stroll along the river and take in the beautiful views… You might even be lucky enough to stumble along some singing Fado of Coimbra (a tradition singing styles from both Coimbra and Lisbon).
I unfortunately was a little under the weather on the day which I visited Coimbra, due to too many crazy late nights in Lisbon. I only really had half a day exploring the city, so I felt I didn’t do it the justice it deserves.
There are regular trains going to and from Lisbon and Porto to Coimbra. From both Lisbon Oriente and Porto Sao Bento the travel time is approximately 2 hours and cost 17euros. The inter-city trains arrive at Coimbra B train station. From the train station, take a bus or taxi to the city centre. There are also buses which cover this route, but they take a little longer and the fares are quite similar.
I stayed at Grande Hostel de Coimbra, Rua Antero Quental nº196. The hostel has a very home-like feel to it and the staff are extremely friendly and helpful. It is located in a quite residential area, but is within easy walking distance to the university and town centre.
Coimbra is well-known for its handcrafted pottery. There are many stores in Baixa where you can buy it. Prices and quality do vary.