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The Best Places to Visit in Coimbra and the Central Region of Portugal: Your Practical Guide!

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Coimbra, the city of students, is known for its academic life, parties, and bohemian atmosphere. It was the first capital of Portugal, the birthplace of kings and Portuguese culture! There are so many places to visit in Coimbra that renting a car is the best way to make the most of this beautiful city!

Discover what to visit in Coimbra and Portugal's central region with this guide's help!

Coimbra: What to do?

Located in the center of the country, it is as close to Lisbon as it is to Porto. If you arrive in Portugal by plane, you can rent a car and hit the road on the A1 motorway north/south.

Now get ready to explore one of the most beautiful cities in the country!

Tip: To explore Coimbra, less accessible tourist spots, and the central region of Portugal, it is preferable to do so by car because transportation options are limited, and you will have more freedom to choose your itinerary.

Places to visit in Coimbra: Top 5 must-see locations!

In Coimbra, tourist attractions such as the historic University of Coimbra and the Botanical Garden, the Monasteries of Santa Clara-a-Nova and Santa Cruz, should be on your itinerary. However, there are 5 more outstanding places!

Joanina Library

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An impressive baroque masterpiece adorned with wooden carvings, paintings, and gilded decorations, where you can explore over 60,000 volumes (16th to 18th centuries). A literary paradise that houses centuries-old works, including a copy of the first edition of "Os Lusíadas".

Coimbra Old Cathedral

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A medieval monument from the 12th century, where the second king of Portugal, King Sancho I, was crowned. A symbol of the city! Its staircase is the setting for the famous serenades that mark the emblematic academic festival "Queima das Fitas" (Burning of the Ribbons).

Machado de Castro National Museum

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One of the country's most important museums of fine arts and architecture. We invite you to discover collections of paintings and sculptures with over 2,000 years of history.

Quinta das Lágrimas

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Visit the romantic woods where Pedro and Inês, the prince of Portugal and his beloved, used to meet in secret. According to legend, at the King's command, Inês was murdered near the Fountain of Love, where her tears still flow today, and red stains on the stones, said to be her blood, can be seen. Myth or truth, this place is enchanting!

Portugal dos Pequenitos

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The perfect place in Coimbra to take children! Monuments and typical Portuguese villages in miniature, where the little ones have fun playing and exploring the culture and history of the country.

Excursions and water activities for the whole family

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Rent a car at the mobility store in Coimbra and discover one of the best river beaches, Rebolim. The cool shade of the trees for relaxation and calm waters for the little ones to enjoy make this place ideal for families with children!

You can also take a stroll in Parque Verde by the Mondego River, and enjoy the terraces and the magnificent view!

And we challenge water sports enthusiasts to go kayaking on the Mondego River (suitable for all ages).

What to do at night in Coimbra?

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Enjoy the Coimbra fado and traditional serenades in iconic and historically rich places. Here are some suggestions:

  • Casa de Fados - Centro Cultural àCapella;
  • Casa Fado ao Centro;
  • Café Santa Cruz;
  • Diligência Bar.

And there will be plenty of entertainment in the streets of Coimbra during the main events:

  • May, Queima das Fitas - end of the academic year;
  • June, Medieval Fair;
  • July, Feast of the patron saint, Santa Isabel;
  • October-November, Latada - Opening of the academic year.

What to eat in Coimbra?

In the city's main restaurants, you can savor typical regional dishes such as chanfana (goat stew), leitão da Bairrada (suckling pig from Bairrada), or arroz de lampreia (lamprey rice, a fish found in the Mondego River).

If you prefer traditional taverns, delight yourself with various snacks, from gizzards to bones, from skate to beef tenderloin, always accompanied by the best house red wine.

As for desserts, Coimbra boasts a conventual heritage that will make you crave more!

The most popular ones are:

  • Pastéis de Santa Clara (Santa Clara pastries, with a regional certification seal);
  • Pudim das Clarissas (Clarissas' pudding);
  • Crúzios;
  • Bolo de Santo António (Saint Anthony's cake);
  • Biscoitos Académicos (Academic biscuits).
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Central Region of Portugal: What to visit near Coimbra?

Rent a car in Coimbra and set off to discover incredible places in the central region of Portugal (and so close to the city) such as:

  • Aveiro - the Portuguese Venice;
  • Figueira da Foz - a charming beach destination;
  • Óbidos - the medieval village that takes you back in time!
  • Serra da Estrela - nature in its purest state!
  • Batalha and Alcobaça - the impressive Monasteries classified as World Heritage Sites.

Are you all set for your trip?

Now that you know what to visit in Coimbra and its surroundings, plan your itinerary with the best places to enjoy everything this magnificent city offers!

Remember that the best way to explore Coimbra and its surroundings is by car! If you arrive in Portugal by plane, you can rent a vehicle at the airport (Lisbon or Porto) with Drivalia or at our car rental station in Coimbra. Count on a modern fleet of vehicles, the support of our experts, and excellent service, always by your side to ensure a safe and comfortable journey!

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