Chilling in Coimbra


Perching perilously, riverside Coimbra boasts an ancient and astonishingly beautiful univeristy, some wonderfully beautiful buildings and a relaxing channel of water that even has swimming spots. 

We had the luxury of two nights here; definitely not necessary but thoroughly enjoyable all the same. We had been recommended it as a smaller town destination, and it also tied in nicely with our journey back to Madrid.

Some of our highlights included:

Climbing the hill for amazing views and to explore the University. We actually didn’t pay to enter the buildings (although the library and cathedral in particular would have been incredible to see) as it didn’t quite fall within our budget to do so. We could still wander the wider grounds and could definitely appreciate that it would be an amazing experience to study there. 

Coffee and snacks at Santa Cruz, Coimbra’s oldest cafe. Formerly a church, the interior design of this building was nothing short of magnificent. It was large and cavernous too, so it didn’t feel like we were overstaying our welcome at any point.

Meandering around the river. A great place for walking, running or cycling it’s easy to cross a bridge and turn back at almost any time. We didn’t swim, although our touching of the water indicated that it was a few degrees (or more) warmer than the water had been in Lagos! 

Eating dinner out at a) Passeite and b) UATA Burger bar. The first made for a lovely intimate meal at reasonable prices, and the latter was a hearty feed in more of a fast food joint. Both meals were such good value and were both really delicious. 

I don’t often mention lowlights, but there are two worth mentioning:

The first is when I smashed my phone screen after stepping in a hole and tripping over. I was heartbroken when I saw that the screen under the protector was shattered in places, but fortunately functionality remains AOK!

The second is the Jardim Quinta das Lágrimas. We tend to scope out free activities, and after refusing to pay entry into the university buildings we felt a bit cheap by not forking over the €2.50 each to enter these gardens. Ironically it transpired that the 12 hectares of gardens were some of the most unkempt, underwhelming and uninspiring that either of us have ever seen. Of course we managed to have a good time and snap some good photos (so much so that the money probably should be considered well spent for the laughs we got) but we were amazed that people felt those gardens were something that could be charged for. 

All up, our two nights in Coimbra were relaxing and easy going. It certainly makes for a good day trip, although I’d have reservations about suggesting it to someone who wasn’t willing to pay to enter the university as that is it’s real selling point. 

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