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Is Coimbra Walkable? An Honest Answer From A Recent Traveler

I lived in Portugal for a few months and during that time I visited the beautiful city of Coimbra.

If you’ve read this travel blog before then you’ll know that I will try and walk pretty much everywhere. I hate taking transport as it wastes so much time.

Here are all my thoughts on how easy (or not) it was to walk around Coimbra, Portugal…

How Walkable Is Coimbra?

The first thing I’ll say is that Coimbra is very walkable. It’s a fairly small city so you can easily cover it on foot.

I actually spent just a day in Coimbra and managed to see the entire city including a visit to the University of Coimbra just by walking.

I didn’t use a taxi or public transport at all the entire day.

Coimbra is very hilly though (just like Lisbon and Porto) so if you have mobility issues then this may not be ideal for you.

There is essentially one large steep hill right in the center of the city. You’ll find many of Coimbra’s best things to do on and around this hill.

Steep hill in the center of Coimbra.
Steep hill in the center of Coimbra.

For example, the University of Coimbra (one of the city’s most famous sites) sits right on top of the hill. If you want to explore Coimbra properly then you’ll need to get to the top.

I actually walked up the hill when I visited and found that it was tiring but doable. There’s lots of places to stop along the way which makes it easier but it is very steep.

The walk mainly consisted of long stone staircases and steep cobblestone alleyways. You’ll want to be extra careful on a rainy day.

Alley leading up the hill in Coimbra.
Alley leading up the hill in Coimbra.

You definitely don’t need to be an athlete though – I’d say that the walk is fine for most people. You may want to take a taxi though if you have mobility issues.

Coimbra only really has one main hill right in the middle – the rest of the city is fairly flat. 

Rua Ferreira Borges is the main pedestrian shopping street and it’s very flat. I’d recommend stopping off here for some lunch and shopping.

Rua Ferreira Borges - Coimbra's main shopping street.
Rua Ferreira Borges – Coimbra’s main shopping street.

You’ll also find several squares, bridges and the old monastery too which are all located at the base of the hill so there’s no uphill walking required.

In my opinion, the best way to explore Coimbra is by joining a guided tour of the city

This one includes tickets to the University of Coimbra and an entire private tour of the city (no sharing with other groups). It’s actually super reasonably priced given what’s included.

I also generally found that walking around Coimbra was super safe. There are many fully pedestrianized streets as well as easy pedestrian-friendly crossings all over the city.

How To Get Around Coimbra

As I said, walking is by far the best way to get around Coimbra as it’s fairly small. You only really need one day in Coimbra to cover the entire city and all its best sites.

If you want to avoid walking up that steep hill then I’d suggest taking a taxi or tuk tuk to the top then walking back down.

You can either hail down a taxi/tuk tuk (there’s plenty hanging around everywhere) or you can use the Bolt app.

I used the Bolt app all the time whilst in Portugal as you don’t have to worry about being overcharged. It’s basically the same as Uber.

You’ll definitely want to walk back down the hill (if you’re able) as it’s filled with winding alleys, hidden cafes and beautiful architecture.

Random street on the hill in Coimbra.
Random street on the hill in Coimbra.

I’d have been so disappointed if I didn’t walk up and down the hill as I’d have missed so much of the city. 

You’ll also find the ancient Old Cathedral halfway up the hill – this is where the earliest Kings of Portugal were crowded and it dates back to the 13th century making it one of the city’s oldest landmarks.

Old Cathedral of Coimbra.
Old Cathedral of Coimbra.

Another option is booking onto a guided tour of the city to ensure you don’t miss anything. 

I’d really recommend this if you’re only visiting Coimbra for the day so you can make the most out of your time.

Public Transport

There’s no metro or tram in Coimbra as the city is too small but there is a bus that will take you up and down the hill.

The bus currently costs €1.70 each way or you can get a day pass for €3.70. The buses tend to arrive once every 10 to 15 minutes on weekdays but are a bit less frequent on weekends.

Taking the bus is a great option if you’re on a tight budget.

And that’s it!

Thanks for reading my guide on if Coimbra is walkable. All my tips are based on firsthand experience.

There are so many amazing reasons to visit Coimbra and the fact that the city is so walkable is definitely one of them.

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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.

Learn more about the Traveller's Elixir Team.

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