Travel Guide Europe Portugal Coimbra



Clock Tower, Coimbra University

Clock Tower, Coimbra University

© davidx

Coimbra (pronounced Queembra) is located between Lisbon and Porto. Its university is very old but most of its original buildings were destroyed in the major earthquake of 1755. The town is situated on a steep hill, although there is a significant part on the far side of the river Mondego.



Sights and Activities

In Coimbra

If you are staying for any time, the university squares on the hilltop will probably call you more than once. In particular be sure to see:

  • Patio das Escolas - a huge pedestrianised square with an 18th century clock-tower and two remarkably ornate buildings.
  • Biblioteca Joanina
  • Capela de São Miguel

Also relating to the university at least two museums are well worth a visit:

  • Science Museum
  • Zoological Museum - just opposite the Science Museum and very undersung, this is a real gem.
  • Botanical Gardens

Other sights are:

  • Sé Velha (Old Cathedral) - a good example of a fortified cathedral - some fine Romanesque architecture.
  • Portugal dos Pequenitos - a theme park with miniatures of buildings from all Portugal's ex-colonies. Many of the 'pequenitos' (children) enjoying it are well into their 50's or 60's!

Around Coimbra

  • Conimbriga - best Roman remains in Portugal. Vast area but little above foundations and wall bottoms. Bus trip.
  • Forest of Buçaco - wonderful forest with a multitude of paths and a hotel like a palace (which you will not be allowed to enter unless you are staying.) Bus trip.
  • Lousã - very scenic and cheap train ride with time to walk to the castle and the edge of the mountains - from Coimbra Parque Station.



Getting There

By Plane

Coimbra has a small airport but international airlines use Lisbon Airport or Porto Airport.

By Train

Coimbra B has a station on the main line from Lisbon to Porto. From there trains run a sort of shuttle to Coimbra A, which is in the commercial centre of the city. Tickets will be to the B station but the extra hop to A is included in the price.



Getting Around

By Public Transport

There is a long lift from just above the market to near the University Science departments. Use of the lift is included in any bus ticket with validity for a set time. There is also a bus from behind Coimbra A station to the University. There is a third station, Coimbra Parque, from where trains run to fairly close places, including Lousa, on the edge of the Serra of the same name and with a pleasant walk to a castle. The bus station is up Av. Fernão de Magalhães.

By Foot

To walk from anywhere near the station to the summit of the hill where the University Library is situated invlves a large number of steps and steep roads. Howevr the two cathedrals, old and new, provide stopping points for a rest.




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Keep Connected


Wifi is common in many places in Portugal, including hotels, restaurants and coffee bars. Free wifi along the Algarve coast is available in many places. Internet cafés can still be found in most larger cities and tourist areas though.


See also: International Telephone Calls

Portugal's international telephone code is 351. The general emergency number is 112.

There are three mobile telephone operators in Portugal: TMN, NOS and Vodafone.

Each provider offers a variety of prepaid (Pré-Pagos) and contract (pós-pagos) SIM cards, both of which are available to foreigners. It generally means much lower rates for calls and especially internet. Be sure to switch off data roaming if you don't buy a local SIM card, as prices for internet are very high.


CTT is the national postal service of Portugal. It has relatively fast and reliable services and it takes several days to over a week for your post to arrive within other European countries, more so if you send post to North America or Australia. Post offices (correios) have varying opening hours, but in general post offices are open on weekdays from 08:30am-6:00pm and on Saturday mornings until 12:30. More information about offices, costs and other details can be found at the CTT website. It's a relatively efficient but also relatively slow postal service. If you want to send packages overseas, you'd better use international companies like FedEx, DHL, TNT or UPS, as they are competitively priced, fast and very reliable.


Quick Facts


  • Latitude: 40.211491
  • Longitude: -8.4292014

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