Day Trips from Lisbon: Coimbra

Put Coimbra on your list of day trips from Lisbon and discover the city that was once capital of Portugal.

Coimbra is famous for its University and its Fado. Until the late 1200’s this city by the Mondego river was the capital city of Portugal. Easily reached by car (taking the A1 highway, it’s a 2-hour-drive if your starting point is Lisbon or a 1-hour-drive if your starting Point is Porto) or by train, we visited Coimbra briefly for one day and these were some of the places we had the time to explore. Quite the tour and definitely a destination to put on your day trips from Lisbon list.

Church of Santa Cruz

National Pantheon (Church of Santa Cruz) | Put Coimbra on your list of day trips from Lisbon and discover the city that was once capital of Portugal.

National Pantheon in Coimbra (Church of Santa Cruz)

The construction of this church began in 1131 and you can see all the additions that were made in the decor: it beautifully mixes elements of Romanesque, and of “Manueline”, and of the renaissance, and of baroque. It’s where the first king of Portugal, Afonso Henriques, and his son the second king of Portugal, Sancho the first, are buried.

Inside the National Pantheon | Put Coimbra on your list of day trips from Lisbon and discover the city that was once capital of Portugal.

Inside the National Pantheon

Address
Praça 8 de Maio
3001-801 Coimbra

Phone 
+351 239 822 941

Email
igrejasantacruz@gmail.com

Website (Portuguese only)
www.igrejascruz.webnode.pt

Sé Velha

Old Cathedral (Sé Velha) | Put Coimbra on your list of day trips from Lisbon and discover the city that was once capital of Portugal.

Old Cathedral (Sé Velha)

Coimbra’s old cathedral was built in the second half of the 12th century and, although its main bones are clearly Romanesque, it is a mix of several art periods too when it comes to the decor. On its steps concerts are often held where the former students of the University of Coimbra, dressed in their black suits and black long cloaks (which is the typical uniform for the students), gather to sing Fado and serenade the city.

Address
Largo Sé Velha
3000-383 Coimbra

Phone 
+351 239 825 273

Email
igrejasevelha@gmail.com

Website (Portuguese only)
www. sevelha-coimbra.org

Universidade de Coimbra

The University is a big part of the city life and history: it’s one of the oldest in Europe and it was founded by king Dinis in 1290 (first in Lisbon and then permanently transferred to Coimbra in 1537). It is also where you will likely spend most of your time, not only for the History but for the breathtaking views of the city.

Climbing the legendary 125 steps of the Monumental Stairs leads you to a campus that oozes the energy of the fighting spirit of the students, mostly famous for the 1969 “academic crisis” when they manifested against conservative dictatorship and in favor of more rights, democracy, and better education.

We visited the historical buildings around campus for 12.50€. At every location, they had a laminated sheet of paper that summed up what we were visiting. It included visiting the Biblioteca Joanina (beautiful gilded chinoiserie decoration), the Academic Prison (a prison for the convicted students and scholars), the St. Michael’s Chapel (with a beautiful 1733 Baroque organ), and the University Tower.

University of Coimbra | Put Coimbra on your list of day trips from Lisbon and discover the city that was once capital of Portugal.

University of Coimbra

We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside these sites, but the views of the city and the river from the campus really made up for it. We asked the employees to access the small terrace just at the end of the long corridor opposite Sala das Armas (Weapons Room) for a better and clearer view of Coimbra, Mondego, and the surrounding mountains. Slightly windy (me and my fear of heights…) but very worth it.

Address
Largo da Porta Férrea
3004-530 Coimbra

Phone
+351 239 242 745
+351 239 242 744
(Weekdays only)

Email
loja.uc@ci.uc.pt

Website
www.uc.pt/en

Have you been to Coimbra on a day trip from Lisbon? What were your favorite sites? Share it with us on Facebook or Twitter. If you’re not much of a talker, follow us on Instagram and Pinterest for your daily dose of travel inspiration.

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