Things to do in Coimbra

About Coimbra

In Coimbra, the must-see attractions include the historic University of Coimbra with its stunning Joanina Library, the majestic Old Cathedral of Coimbra, and the impressive Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha. For a touch of beauty, the Botanical Garden is a must-visit, and for a lesson in time, the ancient Roman Ruins of Conímbriga are not to be missed.
The best activities in Coimbra for families with children include exploring the interactive thematic park Portugal dos Pequenitos, engaging with hands-on exhibits at the Science Museum, and enjoying the spacious parks, such as the Parque Verde do Mondego, which often features playgrounds and live entertainment.
Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy walking or cycling along the Mondego River, exploring the quaint schist villages in the nearby Lousã mountains, or relaxing in the city's various gardens and green spaces, such as the Sereia Garden or the Botanical Garden.
For indoor pursuits, visit Coimbra's renowned museums, like the Machado de Castro National Museum, enjoy traditional Fado music at cultural venues, or discover the rich history of the city's famous university, one of the oldest in the world.
Popular tours in Coimbra include guided visits of the University of Coimbra, walking tours through the historic downtown, immersive audio tours of significant landmarks, and excursions to archaeological sites such as Conímbriga.
The Machado de Castro National Museum, the Science Museum of the University of Coimbra, and the Image Museum are among the most visited museums, offering a variety of exhibits from ancient art to modern science.
On rainy days, indoor tours such as the Machado de Castro National Museum, Santa Cruz Monastery, and the University's Joanina Library provide rich cultural experiences away from the elements.
Short excursions in Coimbra include quick guided audio tours of central landmarks, brief historical tours of the Old Cathedral or Santa Cruz, and condensed visits to local art galleries or historical sites.

Best Things to Do In Coimbra

Embark on a captivating journey through Coimbra's storied past and vibrant cultural scene.

Coimbra: Mondego River Walk

What is it?
A scenic riverside walkway offering picturesque views of Coimbra and its iconic landmarks.
Why you should go?
The Mondego River, the lifeblood of Coimbra, offers a tranquil path for a leisurely promenade or romantic stroll. It's a place where visitors can admire the city’s reflection over the water, while enjoying the serene ambiance and green landscapes. Joggers, cyclists, and families frequent this area, making it a lively spot for both relaxation and people-watching. The riverfront hosts cafes and restaurants where one can pause to relish local flavors against the backdrop of a stunning sunset.

Coimbra: Pedro and Inês Footbridge

What is it?
A modern pedestrian bridge over the Mondego River, symbolizing the famous love story between Pedro and Inês.
Why you should go?
The Pedro and Inês Footbridge not only connects two riverbanks but also merges the present with the city's romantic history. This architecturally striking bridge stands as a testament to Portugal’s most tragic love affair and offers a contemporary vantage point for panoramic views of Coimbra. The crossing makes for an enjoyable experience, especially during dusk, when the footbridge is lit and couples linger to enjoy the moment.

Coimbra: Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha

What is it?
The hauntingly beautiful ruins of a 13th-century monastery, partially preserved and open for exploration.
Why you should go?
Standing partly submerged by the waters of the Mondego River, the Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha holds a captivating beauty that echoes through its ruins. This monastery tells the story of floods and resilience, providing insights into a bygone era. The enigmatic and peaceful atmosphere of the site, combined with its reflection on the water, makes it a poetic and evocative place for contemplation and photography, adding a unique experience to the things to see in Coimbra.

Coimbra: Sereia Garden

What is it?
An idyllic public garden famed for its baroque features and mythology-inspired statues.
Why you should go?
The Sereia Garden, or Jardim da Sereia, offers a slice of baroque artistry within Coimbra's urban landscape. It is a peaceful retreat complete with statues, fountains, and flora that pay homage to classical mythology. This garden is perfect for a leisurely walk, sketching, or simply enjoying a quiet afternoon. Its central location and lush surroundings make it a favored spot among locals and visitors, contributing to the charming Coimbra excursions.

Coimbra: New Cathedral of Coimbra (Sé Nova de Coimbra)

What is it?
A 17th-century Jesuit church that now serves as Coimbra’s functioning cathedral, featuring a striking baroque facade.
Why you should go?
Known as Sé Nova, this baroque gem continues Coimbra's religious legacy and is an active place of worship. It stands out with its opulent decoration and meticulously carved altarpieces, offering visitors beauty both inside and out. As one of the key religious structures in the city, it provides a different architectural perspective compared to the Old Cathedral, and is an essential addition to the best Coimbra tours for those interested in sacred sites and Portuguese baroque style.

Coimbra: University of Coimbra

What is it?
A historic and prestigious university renowned for its remarkable architecture and academic heritage.
Why you should go?
The University of Coimbra stands as a monument to knowledge and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has played a pivotal role in the intellectual history of Portugal and boasts impressive buildings such as the Baroque library, Biblioteca Joanina. A stroll through its ancient halls reveals a melange of architectural styles, from Gothic to Renaissance, making it a must-see for any visitor. It's the centerpiece of Coimbra's attractions and captures the essence of the city's grandeur.

Coimbra: Santa Cruz Monastery

What is it?
An imposing monastery and a significant site for Portuguese culture and history.
Why you should go?
With its majestic façade and ornate interior, Santa Cruz Monastery is a testament to the architectural beauty and historical depth of Coimbra. It is the burial site of the first kings of Portugal, offering visitors a profound connection to the nation's past. The monastery's intricate Manueline details and elegant cloisters make it a serene yet awe-inspiring place to visit.

Coimbra: Old Cathedral of Coimbra

What is it?
A Romanesque cathedral that is one of the most significant monuments in Coimbra.
Why you should go?
The Sé Velha, as it is commonly known, is an architectural marvel. It stands as one of the best-preserved Romanesque structures in Portugal. The cathedral's austere exterior contrasts with its lavish, Gothic-style altarpiece and the magnificent cloister. Visitors will be transported back in time as they explore this enduring symbol of Coimbra's religious and cultural identity.

Coimbra: Conímbriga Ruins

What is it?
One of the largest Roman settlements in Portugal, revealing centuries-old history through its ruins.
Why you should go?
The ruins of Conímbriga offer an astonishing glimpse into Roman life, with well-preserved mosaics and foundations of family homes, baths, and public buildings. It's an educational and evocative site that provides a direct link to the country's ancient past. Archaeology enthusiasts and casual explorers alike can walk the same grounds as Romans did, making Conímbriga a bucket-list site for its historical significance.

Coimbra: Portugal dos Pequenitos

What is it?
A miniature park that depicts the cultural history of Portugal through small-scale replicas of buildings.
Why you should go?
Portugal dos Pequenitos is a fun and educational attraction ideal for families. Visitors can walk amongst the diminutive versions of Portugal's most famous landmarks, making it a kid-friendly introduction to the nation's architectural heritage. Interactive exhibits and traditional costumes add to the charm, while also providing a creative and accessible perspective on Portuguese culture.

TOP-5 tours in Coimbra for first time visitors

  • The University of Coimbra Audio Tour escorts you through one of the oldest universities, showcasing its grand history and rich academic tradition, a quintessential Coimbra experience.
  • Old Town Wanderlust Walk gives listeners a detailed narrative of the cobblestone streets and historic sites, weaving through the heart of Coimbra's charm and legacy.
  • The Santa Cruz Monastery Guide delves into the profound spiritual and architectural resonance of this hallowed site, offering insight into the early Portuguese monarchy.
  • Conímbriga Roman Ruins Audio Expedition uncovers the fascinating remnants of the Roman era, providing context to the impressive mosaics and ancient architecture of the site.
  • Botanical Garden's Whispering Flora Tour invites you to explore the rich biodiversity and serene pathways of this lush green space through a narrated guide.

Fun things to do in Coimbra with kids

Coimbra's charm is not reserved for adults alone; it offers a treasure trove of delights that can brighten any child's day. A wonderland for the young and the young at heart is Portugal dos Pequenitos. This enchanting miniature park sparks imagination with small-scale rendition of Portugal's famous buildings, providing an educational experience that is also sheer fun. For a blend of entertainment and learning, families can venture to the Exploratório - Centro Ciência Viva de Coimbra. Here, interactive exhibits about space, the human body, and more, make science fascinating and approachable. Lastly, Coimbra's Parque Verde do Mondego is a great outdoor space where kids can run freely, play to their heart's content and even embark on a mini-adventure aboard the park’s charming miniature train. These attractions stand as the perfect medley of fun things to do in Coimbra with kids, ensuring a family trip filled with laughter and discovery.

Things to do in Coimbra with family

Coimbra is an inviting city for families, brimming with activities that cater to all ages. A definite highlight is the interactive Portugal dos Pequenitos, a thematic park providing children a delightful tour through Portugal's iconic landmarks in miniature form, igniting wonder and offering fun learning opportunities. Another family favorite is the explorative journey offered by the Science Museum of the University of Coimbra, where engaging exhibits bring sciences like biology and physics to life. For a breath of fresh air and a chance to unwind, the city's Botanical Garden is not to be missed. This serene oasis allows for leisurely walks among exotic plants and is a tranquil space for family picnics. Together, these attractions encapsulate the enriching and varied options available, solidifying Coimbra’s reputation as a destination of choice for meaningful family excursions.

Free things to do in Coimbra

Thrifty travelers rejoice, as Coimbra is a city that offers a wealth of free activities ideal for the budget-conscious explorer. The city’s heart and soul can be felt wandering through the narrow lanes and charismatic squares of the Old Town, an experience that provides a sense of the city's rich history without a price. Visitors can also revel in the splendor of the exterior of the renowned University of Coimbra, including its majestic patio, arches, and the impressive views over the city. Another must-visit is the lush greenery of the city’s parks, including the Parque Verde do Mondego. It’s a prime spot for picnicking, watching the river flow by, and enjoying lively street performances that often take place there. These free attractions in Coimbra offer deep immersion into the city's cultural fabric and scenic nature.

Cheap things to do in Coimbra

Coimbra offers numerous budget-friendly options for cultural enrichment and memorable experiences. The Municipal Market D. Pedro V is a vibrant hub where visitors can browse local produce and artisanal goods, gaining a real taste of Coimbra's local life, without the hefty price tags. For those interested in spirituality or architecture, a visit to the Old Cathedral of Coimbra proves to be an affordable choice, with a minimal entrance fee that grants access to centuries of history and captivating Romanesque style. Additionally, nature-loving visitors can explore the Serra da Lousã mountain range located nearby. With minimal costs for transportation, these natural surroundings offer hiking trails and the chance to spot native wildlife, rounding out the trio of inexpensive things to do in Coimbra, ideal for the thrifty traveler.

Things to do in Coimbra for couples

Coimbra exudes romance, with an array of experiences perfectly suited for couples. Begin with the allure of Quinta das Lágrimas, a historical estate linked to the tragic love story of Pedro and Inês. Its emotive gardens are ideal for romantic strolls. For an intimate evening, the Fado ao Centro venue offers couples the chance to enjoy soul-stirring Fado music, a truly Portuguese art form that is both haunting and beautiful. Along the banks of the Mondego River, couples can take moonlit walks, where the reflections of Coimbra's lights create a picturesque setting for love to blossom. These activities not only captivate the hearts but also provide intimate moments for couples to cherish, making Coimbra an exceptional destination for lovebirds.

Things to do in Coimbra at night

As dusk falls in Coimbra, the city's evening charm presents a variety of nocturnal activities. A stroll through the historic streets of the Old Town becomes magical at night, as local bars and restaurants come alive under the ambient light, offering a taste of nightlife and Portuguese gastronomy. Romance is never far away with the melancholic tunes of Fado music in the air. Visiting a Fado house, like Fado ao Centro, offers an authentic and intimate experience of this traditional music, creating memories to last a lifetime. Lastly, for those seeking tranquility, a walk along the Mondego River at night provides peace and reflection. The city lights reflecting off the gentle waters create a picture-perfect backdrop for a serene end to the evening.