Coimbra Portugal can be a wonderful place to spend some time while traveling around the Iberian Peninsula. Located approximately 70 miles south of Porto and 120 miles north of Lisbon, the city has a reputation for being an especially romantic place. It is also known for being the home of one of Europe’s oldest universities, the University of Coimbra. It was founded in 1290 in Lisbon, and Coimbra became its permanent base in 1537.
Coimbra has a very lively, youthful feel when the university is in session, and its romantic appeal is bolstered by the presence of the Mondego River and the city’s attractive architecture. Among the most beautiful structures in town are the Monastery of Santa Cruz and the University of Coimbra library, which is also known as the Joanina Library. The monastery was built between the years 1132 and 1223, and the university library was established in the early 1700s. While doing some sightseeing, Coimbra visitors are also encouraged to check out the Old Cathedral, as it is one of Portugal’s best-preserved Romanesque structures.
Good shopping opportunities also await travelers, with the suburbs and nearby villages being especially good places to search for something unusual to buy. The city is perhaps best known for its pottery when it comes to the general shopping scene. Complementing the shops that can be found in and around Coimbra Portugal are some good restaurants, and thanks in large part to the resident students, the city has a busy nightlife scene. Other ideas for things to see and do in Coimbra include taking a side trip to the nearby Roman town of Conimbriga or staying in Coimbra and taking a dip in one of three swimming pools at the Piscina Municipal (Municipal Pool). It might also prove tempting to play some tennis at the university. Public courts that can be rented for a fair fee.
Coimbra pottery is well known around the world. Many of the local ceramics operations base their pieces on museum pieces that date back as far as the fifteenth century. The style of Coimbra pottery overall is quite colorful and ornate. There are often images of peacocks, fish, and roosters, and there are notable Moorish and Asian influences. While it is possible to buy Coimbra pottery outside of Coimbra, purchasing a piece locally will likely help you appreciate it more. The Old Quarter of the city is a particularly good place to shop for Coimbra pottery. As for a good place to check out local pottery that was made a long time ago, the National Museum Machado de Castro boasts a wonderful collection of pieces from the fifteenth century, and it’s one of the very best art museums in Portugal.
Restaurants in Coimbra
Restaurants in Coimbra
At some point during your visit to Coimbra, it will come time to dine, and meals can be a true pleasure in this former Portugal capital. Many of the city’s restaurants are found along the river, and there is a certain coffeehouse that gets a lot of attention. This coffeehouse is known as the Café Santa Cruz and is housed in a former cathedral chapel. Other cafes can also be great places to break for a drink or something to eat, and you can get substantial meals at the local taverns. As you might imagine, both Portuguese cuisine and Spanish cuisine are featured at many of the Coimbra restaurants, and you shouldn’t have trouble getting a good glass of wine.
The Coimbra hotels provide excellent lodging options, and should you be willing to add to your area accommodation choices, you can always consider the Pousada de Condeixa-a-Nova, Santa Cristina. Found less than ten miles from the city, this inn is one of the best lodging establishments of its kind in all of Portugal and is quite popular among Coimbra visitors. As for hotels that are found closer to the heart of Coimbra, among the best are the luxurious Hotel Quinta das Lagrimas, the comfortable Tivoli Coimbra, and the well-priced Best Western Hotel D. Luis.