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Best Area To Stay In Coimbra, Portugal 2024

Looking for a place to stay in Coimbra, Portugal? I got you!

I actually lived in Portugal for a while and whilst I was there I visited the central Portuguese gem that is Coimbra.

After hours of research & visiting the city myself, I’d love to share with you the best areas to stay in Coimbra including hotel recommendations.

Where To Stay In Coimbra

Coimbra is a pretty small city (it only has 140,000 residents) and it’s split up into 3 main areas: Baixa, Alta and Santa Clara.

I personally think that Baixa is the best place to stay as it’s super central and doesn’t require any uphill walking to get to. Hotel Mondego is a top choice.

Baixa (overall best choice)

  • ✅ Close to all the action.
  • ✅ Main old town area.
  • ✅ No uphill walking.
  • ✅ Tons of restaurants & hotels.
  • ❌ Busiest part of town.
  • ❌ Uphill walk required to reach the University.

🏨 Best hotel in Baixa: Hotel Mondego (4-star)

Alta

  • ✅ Super close to the University.
  • ✅ Traditional, authentic part of the city.
  • ✅ Lots of restaurants and hotels.
  • ❌ Located on top of a steep hill.
  • ❌ Busy part of town.

🏨 Best hotel in Alta: Sapientia Boutique Hotel (4-star)

Santa Clara 

  • ✅ Quiet & peaceful.
  • ✅ Offers incredible views of the city from across the river.
  • ❌ Further away from the main attractions.
  • ❌ Less choice for hotels & restaurants.
  • ❌ Less traditional area.

🏨 Best hotel in Santa Clara: Quinta das Lágrimas (Coimbra’s only 5-star hotel)

In the rest of this guide, I’ll go into much more detail on each area so you know exactly what to expect.

Best Areas To Stay In Coimbra

Let’s dive straight in…

Baixa

The word ‘baixa’ means ‘low’ in Portuguese. You’ll find this area at the base of the huge hill that sits in the center of the city. 

It’s essentially the main part of the city and features the historic old town which is filled with charming cafes, monuments, bustling squares and winding alleys.

Largo da Portagem (Coimbra's main square) in Baixa.
Largo da Portagem (Coimbra’s main square) in Baixa.

You can’t really get any more central in Coimbra than Baixa so it’s the perfect place to stay if you want to be right in the heart of the action.

I’d personally say that it’s the best place to stay in Coimbra for the majority of people.

My favorite part about it is that it feels super authentic and not too tourist-centric.  It’s also super safe which is great.

You’ll find a lot of things to do here including the old city gate, Igreja de Santa Cruz, the main square, Rua Ferreira Borges, Rua Sofia, several museums and more.

Photo of me outside Igreja de Santa Cruz in Baixa, Coimbra.
Photo of me outside Igreja de Santa Cruz in Baixa, Coimbra.
Exterior of a building in Baixa.
Exterior of a building in Baixa.

It’s also conveniently located really close to the train station which is handy if you’ll be arriving by train.

There are also a few riverside parks that I just adored. They’re perfect for a peaceful stroll and offer incredible views of the city.

Parque Verde do Mondego in Baixa, Coimbra.
Parque Verde do Mondego in Baixa, Coimbra.

Baixa is one of the best neighborhoods for food as it’s packed to the brim with restaurants and cafes.

It’s also located on flat ground so is great if you don’t want to walk up a steep hill to get to your hotel every day.

Coimbra's main pedestrian street - Rua Ferreira Borges.
Coimbra’s main pedestrian street – Rua Ferreira Borges.
Photo of me at a restaurant in Baixa, Coimbra.
Photo of me at a restaurant in Baixa, Coimbra.

Best Coimbra Accommodation In Baixa

Hotel Mondego is my top choice as it’s a 4-star hotel at a super reasonable price.

It’s located right in the heart of the city, close to all of the top attractions and the rooms themselves are super modern, comfortable and luxurious.

They even have an outdoor lounge that features sweeping views of the city’s famous hill and university.

Check prices for Hotel Mondego on Booking.com

Tivoli Coimbra Hotel is another top choice as it’s a modern 4-star hotel. I’ve stayed with Tivoli in the past and have always loved my stay there!

It’s ideally located in a central part of town and they have an on-site coffee shop.

Check prices for Tivoli Coimbra Hotel on Booking.com

The 4-star Vila Gale Coimbra is another great pick. The rooms in this hotel overlook the river and with free breakfast and a spa on-site, you’ll be sad to leave.

Check prices for Vila Gale Coimbra on Booking.com

Another option is the NH Coimbra Dona Ines which is a super modern hotel that is really reasonably priced. They also have an on-site restaurant that serves traditional Portuguese food.

Check prices for NH Coimbra Dona Ines on Booking.com

Alta

The word ‘alta’ actually means ‘high’ in Portuguese. This area is located right on the top of the hill close to the University of Coimbra.

It’s a really old and traditional part of the city so it’s great if you want to explore winding alleys, quaint cafes and old-style architecture.

The New Cathedral in Alta, Coimbra.
The New Cathedral in Alta, Coimbra.
View of Coimbra from the University of Coimbra in Alta.
View of Coimbra from the University of Coimbra in Alta.

This area of the city also feels super authentic and charming.

I loved that it didn’t feel like a tourist town – I genuinely felt like I was really in a quaint Portuguese town (in contrast to Lisbon).

The main downside to Alta is that it does require a steep uphill climb that takes roughly 20-minutes. Feel free to take a taxi or tuk tuk if you need it.

Steep uphill alley which leads towards Alta in Coimbra.
Steep uphill alley which leads to Alta in Coimbra.

One benefit to the steep climb is that you get pretty great views of Coimbra and the surrounding area from the top.

View from the Alta area of Coimbra.
View from the Alta area of Coimbra.
View from the University of Coimbra in Alta.
View from the University of Coimbra in Alta.

Many of Coimbra’s best things to do are located in this area including Coimbra University, the old aqueduct, the New Cathedral, the Botanic Gardens, various museums and a ton of restaurants.

It’s an ideal place to stay if you want to be close to Coimbra University (you could easily spend an entire day exploring the university grounds and buildings).

Photo of me at the University of Coimbra in Alta.
Photo of me at the University of Coimbra in Alta.
Joanina Library at the University of Coimbra in Alta.
Joanina Library at the University of Coimbra in Alta.

💡 Insider Tip: Parking is near impossible in Alta so I’d avoid this area if you have a car.

Best Coimbra Hotels In Alta

Sapientia Boutique Hotel is, by far, the best hotel in Alta. 

This 4-star establishment has a bar and terrace and is just minutes away from the city’s top attractions.

It’s also super modern on the inside and provides a super luxurious and comfortable place to stay.

Check prices for Sapientia Boutique Hotel on Booking.com

Solar Antigo Luxury Coimbra is another top choice in the Alta area as it is located in a historic building and has exquisitely decorated rooms that will simply take your breath away.

This boutique hotel really is perfect if you’re looking for something luxurious but also really authentic and traditional.

It’s also just an 8-minute walk from the University of Coimbra.

Check prices for Solar Antigo Luxury Coimbra on Booking.com

Another option is the super traditional Casa de São Bento which is actually located inside an old 19th century house. The grounds of this hotel are just mesmerizing.

Although it’s in a really traditional-looking building, the rooms themselves are pretty modern and comfortable. A plus is that this hotel sits just 500m from the University so it’s super well located.

Check prices for Casa de São Bento on Booking.com

Santa Clara

Santa Clara is the area of the city that sits on the opposite side of the Mondego River so it’s a little further out from the city center.

Street in Santa Clara, Coimbra.
Street in Santa Clara, Coimbra.

It’s still within walking distance to all of the main attractions so you’re not too far away. 

It would take roughly 15 minutes to walk to the old town area and around 20 to 25 minutes to walk to the University.

My favorite thing about this area is that it offers sweeping views of the city and feels a lot more quiet and peaceful than Baixa and Alta.

View across the river towards Coimbra from Santa Clara.
View across the river towards Coimbra from Santa Clara.

Although it’s not in the main part of the city, there’s still plenty to do here including the old Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha, the miniature buildings of Portugal dos Pequenitos and more.

Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha in Santa Clara, Coimbra.
Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha in Santa Clara, Coimbra.

There’s also plenty of cafes and restaurants within Santa Clara to keep you fed but there’s definitely not quite as much choice compared to the other two areas.

This area of the city feels a lot more modern and less traditional compared with Baixa and Alta so it really depends on what you’re looking for.

It’s a great spot for families as it’s more peaceful and kids in particular will love the Portugal dos Pequenitos theme park.

Parque do Choupalinho in the Santa Clara area of Coimbra.
Parque do Choupalinho in the Santa Clara area of Coimbra.

Best Coimbra Hotels In Santa Clara

Quinta das Lágrimas is by far the top choice as it’s Coimbra’s only 5-star hotel.

This exquisite hotel is located within a former medieval palace which has since been converted into a hotel. 

On-site you’ll also find a series of botanical gardens and a world class spa with sweeping views of Coimbra.

It really is the best hotel in Coimbra without a doubt and surprisingly it’s actually super reasonably priced for a 5-star hotel.

Check prices for Quinta das Lágrimas on Booking.com

If you’re looking for something a bit cheaper then Guest House Santa Clara might be a better choice. It has a real homely feel to it.

This comfortable little guest house offers everything you need and even has panoramic views of the city from every room. It also has a real homely feel to it. What’s not to like?

Check prices for Guest House Santa Clara on Booking.com

Another option in Santa Clara is ArchiSuites which is a comfortable and modern guest house. It’s super close to both the Portugal dos Pequenitos theme park and the old monastery.

Check prices for ArchiSuites on Booking.com

There’s definitely less hotels to choose from in Santa Clara but the hotels they do have are really lovely.


And that’s it!

Thanks for reading my ultimate guide on where to stay in Coimbra.

Now matter how many days you’re staying, there’s a perfect area for you from the bustling Baixa to the traditional Alta and even peaceful Santa Clara.

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Megan Jones is a travel expert and founder of Traveller's Elixir who has been travelling the world full time since 2021. Megan's travel tips been featured in numerous media outlets including Metro, Timeout, Thrillist and more.