Visiting the Coimbra region: what to see

Discover Coimbra, a city rich in History, closely connected to the first King of Portugal and home to the country’s first university.

Coimbra is the main city in central Portugal, and well worth a visit. It is home to one of the oldest universities in the world, founded in the XIII Century. After getting to know Coimbra you’ll also have the opportunity to visit some of the other cities in the centre.

Visiting Coimbra district

From the cultural heritage to the natural landscapes, the district of Coimbra has several points of interest.

The city’s cultural heritage

Coimbra is known as the “student’s city” and is heavily marked by the academic tradition. After all, it is home to the oldest Portuguese university, and one of the oldest in the world.

Universidade de Coimbra

The current University of Coimbra was founded in Lisbon in 1290, and at the time was named General Study. In 1537 it was transferred to Coimbra on a permanent basis, giving rise to a vibrant student life which remains today. In 2013 it was classified as UNESCO World Heritage, as was the Sofia Street and the higher parts of the city.

On your way through the University of Coimbra don’t miss out on a visit to the Joanine Library, a unique site, built in the XVIII Century and which includes over 3.000 works, from between the XV and XIX Centuries. The library was built on the site of a medieval prison and during the visits it is still possible to visit the lower levels.

Coimbra was one of Portugal’s five capitals, and the first King, D. Afonso Henriques, is buried there in the Santa Cruz Monastery. Just across the Mondego river you can visit the Santa Clara-a-Velha Monastery.

You will also want to visit the Sé Velha, the old cathedral, where students sing a serenade during the yearly Queima das Fitas festival, in May. Swing by the Machado de Castro National Museum, the Botanical Garden and the Garden of the Quinta das Lágrimas. If you have children with you, then they will enjoy Portugal dos Pequenitos, where traditional Portuguese monuments and villages are built to scale. 

Roman ruins, nature and villages


Outside of the city, but still in the district, there are other points to visit. Namely the Roman Ruins of Conímbriga, in Condeixa-a-Nova.

The Açor and Lousã Hills have foot and bike trails available for those who want to get to know them. They are home to several Shale Villages, where the houses are made from the rocks the mountain provides. If you prefer, head to Figueira da Foz, on the coast, and walk along the beaches.

Continuing along the centre

Coimbra is beautiful, but the centre of Portugal has other cities and landscapes worth visiting. Guarda and Castelo Branco, for instance, possess the Serra da Estrela Mountain. The tower, at the top, is the highest point of Mainland Portugal (1993 meters).

Then there is also the beautiful city of Aveiro, with its channels that cut through the city, and which you can travel around on traditional boats called moliceiros. And that’s not all. If you have a sweet tooth then you will want to try the famous ovos moles.

Visit the Vista Alegre Porcelain Factory in Ílhavo, which includes the Factory’s Manual Painting Shop, the Chapel, the Shops, the Labourers Quarter and the Museum. The latter is the perfect spot to learn about the history of the factory, the evolution of porcelain production and its impact on Portuguese society between the XIX and XX Centuries.


Peniche and Nazaré (in Leiria), have good beaches for those who are into surfing, and there are several UNESCO World Heritage sites, such as the Convento de Cristo, in Tomar, and the Batalha Monastery.

Thinking of moving to Coimbra or the centre of Portugal?

If you are thinking of living in the centre of Portugal, and enjoy the opportunity to visit Coimbra and other cities more frequently, then here are some tips on local housing prices. Coimbra and Aveiro are the most expensive but, generally, the centre of Portugal is the second cheapest in Portugal.

House prices, per meter squared, in the centre of Portugal:

> Coimbra:  €1.220

> Aveiro:  €1.149

> Viseu:  €865

> Guarda:  €623

> Castelo Branco:  €618

> Leiria:  €874

(Average prices. Source: INE, second quarter 2019)

House prices, per meter squared, in the rest of the country:

> Centre:  €747

> Greater Lisbon Area:  €1.383

> Lisbon (city):  €3.154

> Algarve:  €1.606

(Average prices. Source: INE, second quarter 2019)

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