6 Must Do Things in Coimbra, Portugal
Coimbra is a cosy little city north of Lisbon at a distance of 205kms. The city will forever be a young city as it has witnessed students learning and passing out of the prestigious college for seven centuries and it will continue to do so for centuries to come. The city has plenty to offer the tourists provided they have the time. Following are top 6 things to do in Coimbra if you are there for a day or max two days.
6 Must Do Things in Coimbra
University of Coimbra
University of Coimbra is included in the list of Unesco World heritage sites since 2013. The university is constructed in a scenic location on a hillside overlooking the city. The 16th century colleges are worth a leisurely stroll. They have lecture rooms open to tourists when the session isn’t on. A notable monument housed in the huge complex is the 12th century Cathedral of Santa Cruz. The best part is the students have passed down cultural traditions year after year. The classrooms have beautiful tile designs on walls giving them an old ambiance. You have to buy tickets for the visit and it can take an hour to stroll and have a good look at the place.
The Joanina Library
For me this was the major attraction in Coimbra. This library is Coimbra’s greatest treasure. The grand opulence inside and stacks of old books going up to ceiling is mind blowing. Entry here is timed and possible only with tickets. You are gently asked to move on for next batch of tourists.
Old Cathedral of Coimbra
This fortress like cathedral has a stunningly beautiful altar. The blue and gold work existing for last 5 centuries is mesmerizing. The colorful tile work too is worth a good look. They allow photography and there are tickets for entry to the cloisters. Nobody rushes you up throughout your visit and it should take just an hour for a not so hurried visit. Once outside spend some time going around the cathedral. The west façade has some grand Moorish style columns and are well decorated with designs.
New Cathedral of Coimbra
This cathedral was established in 1543. The simple façade has 4 niches which carry statues of four Jesuit saints. The magnificence of the façade will stun you. This is such a contrast compared to the old cathedral. The 17th-century choir stalls of the main chapel were brought from the Old Cathedral.
Jardim Botánico (Botanical Garden)
Experience nature in the botanical gardens of Coimbra! This garden was conceived and developed during the reform of university in 1773. They claim the gardens have an exuberant and exotic collection of flora. The figures quoted as 1,200 plants and trees from around the world. The garden is open through out the year and entry is free. You can get some peace and pictures in this environment. Several noteworthy features are: fountain, a glasshouse dating from 1856, tree named “Figueira Estranguladora” which is from Australia, several ponds and the tiny 19th-century Capela de São Bento.
Walk and Eat
I always recommend this to all who travel to cities, even if it is for a short while. No other better way to experience a city. Since the University is on hill top, walking through the up and down sloping alleyways is worth experiencing. The pavements are tiled in patterns. There are walking tours conducted by students. Probably you can fund a student pursuing studies there. Plenty of bars and cafes, the food is good. During peak hours you may find yourself sharing your table with a student!