I recently visited the breathtaking Portuguese gem that is Coimbra, famous for its 700 year old university.
Initially I was planning on spending a month there (I’m a digital nomad) but ended up choosing Porto instead & I’m so glad I did as that would have been way too much time in Coimbra.
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How Many Days In Coimbra
You’ll want to spend at least one day in Coimbra but no more than two days.
Coimbra is a fairly small city and is easy to walk around so you don’t need much time to explore it.
I personally spent one day in Coimbra and felt that it was more than enough time to see all that the city had to offer.
I got to explore the University of Coimbra, see both the old and new cathedrals, cross over the bridge and see the old monastery.
I even got lost in the backstreets and still had time left over before my bus back to Porto.
Useful Tip: I booked a bus from Porto to Coimbra for just €4 using Omio. It was super comfortable and modern so I’d say that was a win.
From my own experience, I’d say that one day is more than enough time to see all of Coimbra’s main tourist attractions.
To make the most of your time in the city, I’d recommend booking this private walking tour of Coimbra which lasts between 3 and 4 hours.
Your expert guide will show you the best parts of the city, including the University and its breathtaking library.
One Day In Coimbra
With just one day in Coimbra, I’d prioritize seeing the University of Coimbra. It’s located on the top of a hill in the center of the city – you can’t miss it.
As you walk up the hill, you should make sure to stop to see the Old Cathedral along the way.
I’d recommend booking onto this guided university tour as it’s just 1.5 hours long and allows you to see all the best bits of the university including the famous Joanina Library.
All of the tour guides on this tour are former students of the university so they know literally everything about it.
After visiting the university, you should head back down the hill to the Botanical Garden which is basically a tropical paradise.
Next head towards the river and cross the Ponte Pedro e Inês Bridge which offers a fantastic view back towards the city of Coimbra. It was one of my favorite spots in the city.
From the bridge, you’ll be able to see the university perched on top of the hill.
Next you should head over to the Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha which now lays in ruins.
If you’ve got time you can head inside for a full tour of the place or you can just view it from the outside like I did.
Afterwards you should head back into the main part of the city to peruse the main shopping street, Rua Ferreira Borges, which is a great place to grab some dinner and a souvenir.
Two Days In Coimbra
With an extra day in Coimbra, you can take your time more at each attraction and see them in much more detail.
For example, you could take a guided tour of the Old Cathedral or the Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha and learn more about their history.
Whilst at the university, you can stay a bit longer and explore the Science Museum.
You could also climb to the top of the clocktower which is the highest point in Coimbra for an amazing view.
I’d also suggest taking a trip over to the ancient Roman ruins of Conimbriga which are located just 20-minutes out of town.
This site is super interesting as it features one of the largest Roman settlements found in Portugal so I’d definitely make time for it if you can.
I’d recommend joining this Conimbriga tour from Coimbra as it includes round-trip transportation and a private tour of the ruins. You’ll learn so much!
Another option is taking a tour up to the Schist Villages which lie in the nearby Lousã Mountains.
These tiny villages, located high up in the mountains, are made entirely from stone and visiting one will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
I’d highly recommend this Schist Village tour as it includes round-trip transportation from Coimbra and you’ll get to experience both off-roading and hiking in the mountains.
You’ll also get the chance to explore the remote Schist Villages high up in the mountains which few people ever get to see.
As you’ll be staying overnight, you’ll need to book a place to stay. The best area to stay in Coimbra is in the Baixa neighbourhoods which is right in the heart of the city.
Hotel Mondego is a highly rated 4-star hotel that’s located close to all the action. Certain rooms even have a balcony with a view!
And that’s it!
Thanks for reading my guide on how many days you should spend in Coimbra.
I’ve spent a lot of time exploring Portugal and I just adore the country at this point.
Coimbra was a real highlight for me as there was so much interesting history to explore and I loved that it was so much quieter than Porto and Lisbon.
Coimbra is also one of the safest Portuguese cities for tourists which just adds to its appeal.