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Coimbra

Culture & history

Our most recommended Coimbra Culture & History

Coimbra: Live Fado Show with Port Wine Tasting

1. Coimbra: Live Fado Show with Port Wine Tasting

Casa Fado ao Centro is a cultural project created in Coimbra in 2010. All of the musicians and collaborators are or were university students in Coimbra. Decorated with the belongings of the musicians, the walls are lined with history. The concerts are cultural events. In an intimate setting, you will embark on a journey through the unique sound of Fado de Coimbra, and through the most important moments in the city's history. At the end, enjoy a Port wine tasting with the musicians to interact with them and learn about their craft.

Fátima and Coimbra Full-Day Tour from Porto

2. Fátima and Coimbra Full-Day Tour from Porto

Travel to Fátima and Coimbra on a full-day trip from Porto. See the Shrine of Fátima and one of the oldest university cities in Europe. Choose from a tour with lunch and hotel pickup, a tour with lunch and a meeting point, or a tour with a meeting point.   Relax on the drive in an airconditioned vehicle to Fátima where apparitions of the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared 3 children tending sheep in 1917.The miracle was recognized by the Vatican in 1930, and 3 different popes have been to Fátima since. Visit the stunning Neoclassical Basilica and Sanctuary, and can even have the option to attend mass in the Sanctuary. Spend some free time for lunch in the bustling city center which is full of modern-day pilgrims. Continue to Coimbra and discover the area that was Portugal’s only university city until the early 20th century. Founded in the 13th century, the hilltop college is one of the oldest in Europe. Today the university provides a backdrop to the city's charming streets.  Head to the Sé Nova Cathedral to see the only church in Portugal to survive the Reconquista almost intact. During the visit in Coimbra's historical center you can walk through the Quebra Costas, Arco da Almedina, Porta do Barbacã, and Rua Ferreira Borges. End at the University in the former buildings of the medieval Royal Palace. Among the highlights is the stunning Joanine Library with baroque details of red and green lacquer and trompe-l’oeil features. Return to Porto at the end of your tour.

From Lisbon: Day-trip to Porto, Nazaré & Coimbra

3. From Lisbon: Day-trip to Porto, Nazaré & Coimbra

Explore three Portuguese cities in a single day on this guided tour from Lisbon. Learn more about the culture and history of Porto, Nazaré, and Coimbra. Discover some of their key locations and points of interest such as Porto's Dom Luis Bridge and the University of Coimbra. Depart early and head to Nazaré. Start with a guided tour of what is possibly the most famous fishing town in Portugal. Nazaré has a unique historic atmosphere and is a place where traditions continue to thrive. Visit the Forte de Sao Miguel. This site has become famous because of the giant waves that hit the coast every winter and make it a destination for surfers from all over the world. Walk through O Sitio and admire religious buildings that attract pilgrims from around the globe. Hike toward the summit and check out the medieval fortifications, 17th-century churches, and modern shrines. Wander through the courtyards and plazas surrounded by ornate structures, basilicas, and statues. Continue to Porto and explore its UNESCO Heritage-listed old town on the picturesque Douro River. Walk through the Jardins do Palácio de Cristal, Igreja Carmen, Estação São Bento, Igreja São Francisco, and Ponte Don Luis on a guided tour. Enjoy some free time to have lunch before you visit a winery. The third stop is the famous city of Coimbra. Visit one of the oldest universities in the world (and the oldest in Portugal). Founded in 1290, the University of Coimbra is one of the key sites in the city. After the visit to Coimbra, return to the center of Lisbon. Your guide will be able to recommend things to do during the rest of your stay.

Coimbra: Scavenger Hunt and City Highlights Walking Tour

4. Coimbra: Scavenger Hunt and City Highlights Walking Tour

Get to know Coimbra at your own pace on this interactive scavenger hunt walking tour. You'll explore the city on foot and get points for solving different types of tasks: Find sights: You will use hints to find the best sights and hidden gems throughout the city. The map function in the app will help you get there. Solve questions: Once you’ve arrived at the place you’re looking for, you’ll be asked questions about the sight. Most of the time, the answers are hidden in signs, pictures, etc. A great and fun way to learn new things about the city. Have fun: During the adventure you can also expect exciting photo tasks that require a lot of creativity. If you master the snapshots, you will be rewarded with points. Along the way, you’ll reach amazing places like the “Mango Garden”, “Monastery of Santa Cruz”, “School Palace” and many more! After you book the game, you’ll get a game code via email with instructions on how to play. Head to the “Jardim da Manga" and use the code to unlock the game in the app. The tour ends at the “Jardim da Sereia". The experience is not limited in time. You can explore the city at your own pace and take breaks. Just download the Explorial-App, go to the starting point, and you’re ready to start with the game. The tour lasts on average about 1-2 hours.

Porto to Lisbon Transfer with Tour Enroute

5. Porto to Lisbon Transfer with Tour Enroute

Begin by visiting Coimbra University, the oldest in Europe. The Joanine Library was built in the 18th century on the former prison. Its decoration was finished in the 18th century and the renovation included ceiling frescoes by Mestre António Ribeiro and Vicente Nunes. The portrait of Dom Joao V was done by the Italian Domenico Dupra. Visit other interesting places at the University including Saint Michel Chapel, Sala dos Capelos, and the cabra (bell) tower. Then, head downtown, between the Mondego river and the University, to a street where you can relax and get lost in the charming city. You will find countless cafes, pastry shops, and restaurants. Rich in culture and with unforgettable gastronomy, this area has been the commercial center of the city for hundreds, if not thousands of years, maintaining its genuine atmosphere and unique personality.  Choose to visit either Fatima or Obidos for your final stop before Lisbon. In Obidos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, travel back in time as you walk through the beautiful narrow streets full of traditional shops. Admire the old white houses and imagine how the medieval period would have looked and felt. Obidos was a wedding gift from D. Dinis to his wife D. Isabel and the village became part of the Casa das Rainhas until 1834, leaving the orders of D. Catarina to build an aqueduct and fountains. At the Sanctuary of Fatima, visit three places of interest. Choose to attend a mass at the Chapel of the Apparitions, the first Chapel built following the apparitions. It occupies a prominent place practically in the center of the Sanctuary. Visit the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, built in 1928 in Neo-Baroque style. It houses the tomb of Sister Lucia who passed away in 2005. See the Basilica of Santissima Trindade, built in 2007 with more than 8,000 seats and an area of 40,000 meters squared. It was designed by the Greek architect Alexandros Tombazis and is a modern imposing church.

From Porto: Sanctuary of Fatima & Coimbra Private Day Trip

6. From Porto: Sanctuary of Fatima & Coimbra Private Day Trip

In total privacy, comfort and tranquility, travel to visit the Sanctuary of Fátima and discover one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the world, with the option of attending a mass at the sanctuary. The 10-hour tour also has an opportune stop in the historic city of Coimbra, recognized for having one of the oldest universities in Europe. This trip begins in Porto, and then onto Coimbra, the city of students and the oldest university in the country, (12th century), and one of the oldest in the world. Take the time to visit the Joanina Library with its collection of over 300,000 books and some of the rarest manuscripts in the entire country. Visit the Old Romanesque style Cathedral (Sé Velha). We recommend crossing the river to visit the Santa Clara Convent and the Quinta das Lágrimas (Estate of Tears), where the love between Pedro and Inês blossomed. We recommend having lunch at one of the taverns downtown, where you can find the most delicious snacks. We then head towards Fátima, where Our Lady of Fátima appeared to the three shepherd children in 1917. Here, we will visit the Basilica, where Francisco, Jacinta Marto, and Lúcia are buried, the Igreja da Santíssima Trindade (Church of the Holy Trinity), and the largest Catholic sanctuary in Portugal. There will also be time to see the Capela das Aparições (Chapel of Apparitions), a small temple built at the request of Our Lady of Fátima when she appeared to the three shepherd children, and Azinheira Grande, the tree that Jacinta, Lúcia, and Francisco passed before seeing the Saint.

From Lisbon: Óbidos and Coimbra Private Guided Tour

7. From Lisbon: Óbidos and Coimbra Private Guided Tour

Enjoy the convenience of hotel pick up in Lisbon and head to the first stop, the medieval village of Óbidos. A favorite of the Portuguese Queens, this village boasts charming small streets and ancient castle walls and is known as one of the most romantic spots near Lisbon.  Journey 2 hours onward to the city of Coimbra, home to the University of Coimbra, the oldest Portuguese university and one of the oldest in Europe. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2013, many come to admire the University's elegant Joanina Library, a Baroque library from the XVII century. Admire the elaborate azulejo wall tiles of São Miguel Chapel and visit the tomb of the first Portuguese King before enjoying free time to explore the city center.  After a day full of touring, return to Lisbon in an air-conditioned car.

Sanctuary of Fátima and Coimbra City Tour

8. Sanctuary of Fátima and Coimbra City Tour

Visit one of the great religious centers of Portugal on a full-day tour to the Sanctuary of Fátima in Cova da Iria. Learn about the Marian apparitions that took place at the site in May 1917. Look inside the magnificent Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary and other religious monuments, before visiting the Chapel of the Apparitions at the very heart of the sanctuary. Attracting more than 5 million visitors per year, Fátima is one of the largest sanctuaries in the world and the most popular pilgrimages occur in October and on May 12 and 13 on the anniversary of the visions. See the house of the shepherd that the Virgin Mary appeared before, and then continue to the university city of Coimbra. Explore the historic center to see medieval houses among the majestic Renaissance monuments. Discover remnants of the Roman Empire, and go to the university area to admire the UNESCO World Heritage buildings of one of the oldest universities in the world.

Oporto, Braga, or Guimarães: Coimbra and Aveiro Private Tour

9. Oporto, Braga, or Guimarães: Coimbra and Aveiro Private Tour

This full-day premium tour onboard a comfortable minivan is escorted by a certified guide who will personalize your experience to the fullest. You will visit both Coimbra, the city of the students and ancient capital of Portugal, as well as Aveiro, the Venice of Portugal. You will start the day by visiting the oldest Portuguese University, the University of Coimbra. Here you will find the world-renowned Joanina Library and the Royal Palace. During this guided visit your knowledgeable and friendly tour guide will take you back in time to explain the important role of this city and Portuguese Independence. Learn about the history of the university and how students celebrate their 500-year-old traditions. Be enchanted by a Fado performance, played and sung by students Following your time at the university, you will go through the old Moorish town to discover the old cathedral’s facade, the narrow alleys, and stairways that will lead you to the commercial street of the city center. Enjoy the town at your own pace, absorb the local atmosphere, and listen as your guide informs you of all of your surroundings. After your walk have lunch in a local restaurant. In the afternoon, you will visit the unique city of Aveiro which is considered Portugal's Venice. Cruise along the canals in a traditional Moliceiro boat. Admire the Art Nouveau buildings and the interesting fishermen's architecture. Witness the place where the Ria and Ocean meet as your tour concludes.

Coimbra: Private Tour

10. Coimbra: Private Tour

During this private tour you can admire this atmospheric, beautiful historic town set in a lovely landscape on the east bank of the Rio Mondego. This city is a multicolored collage of buildings spanning nearly a millennium. You will have the opportunity to visit the city center, explore narrow streets that hide love stories of thousands of students, see gardens, convents, monasteries and listen to the haunting metallic notes of the guitarra (Portuguese guitar) and the full, deep voices of fado singers. Coimbra is also the site of a unique event in Portuguese history: the forbidden love story between Pedro (the King's son) and Ines de Castro (a commoner). This story is the frequent subject of art, music and drama. This private tour can be tailored according to your desires and time available.

Frequently asked questions about Coimbra Culture & History

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What people are saying about Coimbra

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 138 reviews

The visit to Fátima is quite complete, with free time so that everyone can visit the areas they prefer. Great lunch, buffet style and very complete. Very interesting and beautiful Coimbra and also with some free time to wander through its streets or cool off in a bar. The best of the tour, our guide Pedro and all the information and attention he had for us.

Hermes es un guia y conductor excelente, muy puntual. Conocimos la ciudad de Coimbra, la Universidad, la antigua Catedral, la Biblioteca, vistas impresionantes de la ciudad. Siendo un tour privado, cambiamos Obidos por el complejo de la Virgen de Fatima.

50 minutes of Portuguese fado With presentation in Portuguese and English Excellent musicians and male singers too A beautiful explanation of this fado that you only see in Coimbra

We loved this Fado Performance. They told a history before each song they performed. The music was lovely. Very well done. Highly recommend.

Loved the performance and the wine afterwards. Really great hour.