18 Best Things to Do in Coimbra

Coimbra sea side wide shot of the city

Have you ever been spellbound or awestruck by the beauty of a city? This is what happens to everyone who visits the medieval city of Coimbra in central Portugal. Believe us when we tell you that you’re in for a superb time in this stunning riverfront city. Whether you’re looking for places to visit in Coimbra at the weekend or the best restaurants in Coimbra, we’ve got you covered. Read on for our quick tour guide to help you pick the best things to do while in Coimbra.

Related: Find Rooms For Rent In Coimbra

Historical sites to visit

1. University of Coimbra

Ever wondered where J.K. Rowling got the inspiration for her famous Harry Potter books? You guessed right. It’s the University of Coimbra with its robed students, open fields, and a vast library. Fan of the wizarding world? Visiting the university is surely one of the best things to do in Coimbra.

2. See it all at Nucleo da Cidade Muralhalda

At the walled city center, you’ll get to see the remaining parts of the original walls of Coimbra. You can also watch a short film about how the walls protected the city and learn how the royal palace became the university. Brave the glass floor over the street below or admire the views of the city from the Almedina Gate tower.

Opening times: Tuesday to Saturday 10 am – 1 pm and 2 pm – 6 pm

3. Behold the magnificence of Sala dos Capelos

There is only one thought that will fill your mind when you’re standing in this throne hall of past Portuguese kings. It is simply: “Wow!” We promise that you’ve never seen anything like this magnificent hall. So, if you love your history, this is definitely one of the best places to visit in Coimbra!

Call now: +351 239 242 744

Sports in Coimbra

1. Swim in Complexo Olimpico De Piscinas

Installation at Nucleo da Cidade Muralhalda via Rota da Bairrada

Getting to swim in an Olympic training facility – now, that’s exciting! This pool is one of the most well monitored and maintained facilities in Coimbra, and you can swim in it for just 2-3 euros. There’s also a fitness suite and massage room if you prefer.

2. Enjoy football in Estadio Cidade

The stadium has a seating capacity of 30,000 and is home to a football club with tradition -the Academica de Coimbra. This club won the first cup of Portugal in 1939, so visiting this place is one of the best things to do in Coimbra for sports fans.

Contact: +351-239798090

3. Go trail jogging with Aventura Forte(s)

Like to keep fit? Then a running tour with Aventura Forte(s) is definitely one of the best things to do in Coimbra! It’s also the safest and most fun way to tour Coimbra’s unique landscape. Take in the forest flora and get closer to nature while testing your endurance on their off-road trail tours.

Cost: $50.53 per adult

Fun Places to Visit

1. Portugal dos Pequenitos

In Santa Clara e Castelo Viegas, you’ll find a miniature representation of Portugal. This miniature park boasts all of the country’s major landmarks and is a great place to visit in Coimbra. If you can’t travel to each of the country’s attractions in person, Pequenitos is the next best thing.

2. Verde Mondego Park and riverside

The banks of the Mondego are a great place for a leisurely walk – just look at that view! There is an outdoor café area on one bank with its bars, restaurants, and exhibit areas. On the other side, there is the sandbox for sporting activities. Add to this the lush green pedestrian walkway and the furious waters of the Mondego, and you’ll see why this is a must-see place to visit in Coimbra!

3. Botanical Garden

The greenery of nature brings such calm. On a walk through this beautiful botanical garden, you’ll find hundreds of rare and exotic plants from around the world. Occupying a huge 13 hectares, you can explore everything from formal terraces to bamboo forests here.

Culture on display in Coimbra

1. Machado de Castro Museum

Love learning about culture? Then Portugal’s most important museum is definitely one of the best things to do in Coimbra. In fact, Machado de Castro is actually a UNESCO World Heritage site! The museum has an assortment of stone, wooden, and terracotta sculptures from the 14th century. It also houses a 2000-year-old Roman crypto portico – aka an underground tunnel!

Opening hours:
April to September 10 am – 6 pm
October to March 10 am -12:30 pm, 2 pm – 6 pm

2. Edificio Chiado

Formerly a department store, this building now houses paintings, ceramics, and furniture from China and Portugal on its ground and upper floors. The building is located in Arco Pintado, an area recognized for its striking river views and attractive gardens. Edificio Chiado is well known for its iron architecture and visiting it is one of the best things to do in Coimbra during your stay.

3. Casa Museu Bissaya Barreto

Located opposite the botanical garden, you can’t miss Casa Museu Bissaya Barreto. Once home to a famous surgeon, this mansion boasts striking high walls and ornate carvings. This house museum and garden is also full of Portuguese sculptures and painted tiles. It’s definitely one of the best places to visit in Coimbra if you like your history!

Places to eat in Coimbra

1. Cafe Santa Cruz

A visit to Coimbra would not be complete without a trip to Cafe Santa Cruz. Located right next to the Santa Cruz Monastery in the Old Town, it regularly hosts free nights of fado performances between 6 pm and 10 pm. It’s also one of the most popular coffee shops in Coimbra!

2. Casa Costa Lobo

Ready to step back in time and learn about history over a cup of tea? That’s exactly what happens at Casa Costa Lobo. This home has been owned by the same family for five generations and has family symbols weaved into its architecture. A visit here includes a trip around the house followed by a cup of tea and cake.

3. Pet & Tea Cat Cafe

Looking for unique places to eat in Coimbra? If you like cats, then £5 will get you a drink and access to the cat playroom. The money you pay goes to the care of the cats and other abandoned cats in the city. Open from Monday to Saturday, this cafe even offers freshly squeezed lemonade!

Other things to enjoy in Coimbra

1. Fado ao Centro

Unique to Coimbra and usually performed by men in the street, you are likely to hear the fado music in these parts. At the Fado ao Centro, daily live performances of this unique musical expression begin from 6 pm. It’s a relaxed setting and everyone is welcome.

2. Santa Clara-a-Velha Monastery

This old monastery was founded in 1330 and extensive renovations have given it a new lease of life. The Gothic ruins host concerts and exhibitions, and are one of the prime places to visit in Coimbra for art-enthusiasts.

Opening hours:

  • Summer schedule;
  • Tuesday to Sunday.
  • April 1 to October 14
  • 10:00-19:00 (last entrance at 18:15)
  • Winter schedule
  • October 15 – March 31
  • 09:00 – 17:00 (last entrance at 16:30)

3. Conimbriga

This is Portugal’s largest Roman site and one of the best-preserved mosaics in Europe. A nod to the city’s historical roots, it’s a joy to behold and a visit here is certainly one of the best things to do in Coimbra.

Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10 am -5 pm

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