The wonderful Portuguese culture

"Passion, culture, food and history"


"The ancient university"

"A antiga universidade"

Coimbra and the ancient university

Coimbra is located in central Portugal beside the Mondego river. This city is known as the university city of Portugal, but also was the second capital of Portugal. Ready to discover Coimbra and the ancient university at the Silver Coast in central Portugal? Read further below to learn everything about this wonderful city.

Estimated read time: 6 minutes


#coimbra, #university, #mondegoriver, #silvercoast, #centralportugal, #capital




Nearest large city:

Distance to district capital:

Central Portugal



65 km

Location keywords:

University, Mondego, Silver Coast, Fado

Coimbra in Central Portugal

When you travel through Central Portugal, you can't pass without making a stop in Coimbra. Coimbra still is part of the Silver Coast. This city also was the second capital of Portugal, after Guimarães and before Lisbon became the capital in the 13th century. When you visit the ancient university, you still can visit the old Royal Palace.

A hilly city

The city of Coimbra is built on a bank of the Mondego river. Like many other Portuguese cities, Coimbra is also a very hilly city. So, be ready for a tough walk when you want to walk from the river side to the Royal palace.


Fado is a typical Portuguese music genre. Also Coimbra has its own fado culture and history. Further in this post, you can read more about the fado of Coimbra.

The ancient university

"One of the oldest universities of the world"
coimbra and the ancient university calcada tiles travel entrance street art

In Portugal, Coimbra is known as the city of the ancient university. The University of Coimbra was not always located in Coimbra. This university was founded in Lisbon in 1290, which was the first establishment of this ancient university. Afterwards, the university moved to Coimbra in 1537. It makes the University of Coimbra one of the oldest universities in the world with a continuous operation. The buildings of the university are UNESCO classified. You can visit them as a tourist. Now, I share some interesting parts of the university to visit.

coimbra the ancient university tower real palace central portugal

The main building

"Royal palace and tower"

Central on the site of the ancient university stands the main building. This is the former Royal Palace, now used for the official events of the university, like the opening of the academic year. In a corner at the left side of the Royal Palace, stands the tower overlooking the city of Coimbra. This tower was built after the university moved to Coimbra. It holds the clock and bells to regulate the academic life. Climb the many stairs of the tower to get an impressive view over Coimbra and its region.

The library

"Old library"

The library of the university of Coimbra is an absolutely must do when you visit Coimbra. It is considered as one of the most beautiful libraries in the world, with 3 wonderful rooms decorated with gold on green, red and black backgrounds. This library has a collection of over 300 000 books dating from before 1800. So, don't miss this library when you visit Coimbra.

coimbra ancient university library 300 000 books history

Academic Prison

Behind the library, you find the academic prison. In the past, students were imprisoned here, whose actions violated the laws of the university.

Science Museum

"Laboratorio Chímico"

The Laboratorio Chímico is now the Science Museum of the University of Coimbra. It is an interactive museum and experience centre to learn more about sciences. You also can visit the auditoriums where the students had lessons in the past. As well as impressive study materials.

coimbra sience museum ancient university central portugal
"Black capes"

University students in Portugal, must wear a uniform. They wear black capes. Yes, it are these black capes that were the inspiration for J.K. Rowling for Harry Potter.

Portugal dos Pequenitos

"Little Portugal"
coimbra ancient university portugal dos pequenitos entrance park
coimbra world map discoverers pequenitos portugal landmarks monuments
coimbra portugal dos pequenitos monuments landmarks miniatures

At the other side of the Mondego river, you can visit a nice park with all the famous monuments of Portugal as well as buildings out of the old colonies. This park is called Portugal dos Pequenitos. All the landmarks are created as miniatures. This park is an ideal place to get an impression of a lot of wonderful buildings of Portugal and the previous colonies, without the need to travel through whole Portugal and the other Portuguese speaking countries. Also great to do with children.

Coimbra and Fado

"Fado from the students of the ancient university"

While Lisboa is the home of the most famous and popular type of fado, also Coimbra has an own fado culture. The fado of Coimbra has its origin among the students of the ancient university. Male students sing about their love for a girl. This fado is more positive and optimistic compared to the fado of Lisboa. Because it are students who are singing this fado, they also wear their black cape.

Typical food of Coimbra

"Goat, pig and fish"
coimbra gastronomy chanfana goat stew
7 most famous dishes of portugal wonders gastronomy maravilhas leitao bairrada suckling pig food meat

As everywhere in Portugal, you can enjoy wonderful food in Portugal. Famous food out of this region are Chanfana and Leitão. Chanfana is a goat stew and leitão is the Portuguese word for suckling pig. The region between Coimbra and Aveiro is known as Bairrada, which is the home of the Leitão da Bairrada, one of the 7 wonders of gastronomy in Portugal. In Coimbra, you also can go for a bacalhau experience. Bacalhau, or cod fish, is one of the most popular fish on the table in Portugal. They have more than 365 different dishes with bacalhau. In the restaurant "Solar do Bacalhau", you can get a real bacalhau experience.

Visit the ancient university and city o Coimbra

The best way to experience the ancient university and the history of Coimbra is to travel to Coimbra by yourself. Visit this wonderful city beside the Mondego river in Central Portugal, which also is part of the Silver Coast. Coimbra is a nice city to stay and use it as a base to discover the region around it or when you make a road trip from Lisboa to Porto or visa-versa. You can reach Coimbra by train or bus from Porto or Lisboa, which both have international airports. Of course, driving by your own car or a rental car also is possible. Click on the buttons below to find a great flight to Portugal and a great stay in Coimbra. Because Coimbra is waiting for you.

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