Coimbra is a historic city with an impressive university campus and many surviving relics from its Roman occupation. An aqueduct runs through this former capital city of Portugal, whose skyline is adorned with medieval churches, museums and the red-tiled, whitewashed façades of the hilltop residential homes. Chat with residents and guides for a glimpse into the local culture and history.
Tour the charming model village of Portugal dos Pequenitos to see miniature versions of the city’s architectural highlights. Learn about the influence of Portuguese culture across the globe, with exhibits on Brazil and Mozambique, among other former colonial outposts.
For a sense of the Roman history of the city, look around the Museu Nacional Machado de Castro, which is housed in the former Bishop’s Palace. It has a focus on ecclesiastical artifacts and works of art and contains the eerie passageways of the Roman cryptoporticus, a private passageway. Learn about the religious history of the town in the preserved Velha Cathedral, from the Reconquista era forward in time. A little northeast is the impressive New Cathedral of Coimbra.
Among the city highlights is Coimbra University, one of the world’s oldest educational institutes, dating back to the 1200s. Embark on one of the guided tours of the spectacular campus for a comprehensive understanding of its extensive history and marvelous architecture.
Visit the university’s Biblioteca Joanina for its grandiose design and vast collection of tomes. Explore the S. Miguel Chapel and the Royal Palace. Stroll through the colonnade of the Via Latina and gaze up at the impressive University Tower.
Coimbra is a university town with a fascinating past. The city is located in the Centro region, slightly northwest of the center of Portugal. Fly to Francisco Sa Carneiro Airport in Porto and drive south for 80 miles (130 kilometers) to get here in about 80 minutes. Lisbon, with its Portela Airport, is a 2-hour drive south from Coimbra. Rail connections around the country are excellent.