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Europe » Portugal » Coimbra

Outside the dense old city, you can enjoy pleasantly leafy walks along Coimbra’s riverfront, shady boulevards, and numerous parks and gardens. The city also makes a fine base for day trips, including mountain excursions or an afternoon wander among the remarkable Roman ruins at Conimbriga. If you’re here in May, throw yourself into Coimbra’s boozy student bash, Queima das Fitas.

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Coimbra is a city in the municipality of Coimbra in Portugal. Although it served as the nation's capital during the High Middle Ages, it is better known for its university, the University of Coimbra, which is one of the oldest in Europe and the oldest academic institution in the Portuguese-speaking world.

 

According to the 2001 Census, provided by the Portuguese Instituto Nacional de Estatística (English: National Institute of Statistics), the city proper had a population of 101,069. The city of Coimbra is one of the most important urban centres in Portugal (after the much larger cities of Lisbon and Porto), playing a central role in the northern-central littoral and interior of the country. It is the principal centre in the Centro region, the District of Coimbra and the Baixo Mondego subregion.

 

 

Geography

The historic city of Coimbra is located in central Portugal, 120 km south of Porto, 195 km north of Lisbon. One of Portugal's biggest crossroads, Coimbra is served by the A1, the main highway of Portugal. It is set by the Mondego River, about 40 km east of Figueira da Foz, a neighbour coastal city with several beaches, summer and seaport facilities on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. Just outside the municipality, there are also several picturesque mountain towns such as Lousã and Penacova and spa towns and villages such as Luso, Buçaco and Curia.

 

The city of Coimbra (the built-up urban area) consists of six civil parishes:

·         Almedina

·         Santa Clara

·         Santa Cruz

·         Santo António dos Olivais

·         São Bartolomeu

·         Sé Nova

 

 

Introducing Coimbra

Like a great fortress of learning, Coimbra’s ancient university occupies strategic heights above a lazy stretch of the Rio Mondego. Clambering up to the crown of monumental halls and libraries is an absurdly picturesque maze of medieval streets. Yet the whole scene avoids preciousness thanks to an uncommonly raucous student life. Winding alleyways still channel last-minute dashes to lectures, and cafés buzz with utopian yearnings and, after a certain hour, beery good times.

 

 

Nightlife and Entertainment

The city's large student population guarantees an active, sometimes raucous nightlife. You'll find the bars around the Sé Velha and its square, Largo da Sé Velha, packed with students, professors, and locals, who drink, gossip, and discuss academic priorities. Our favorite experience is hopping randomly from bar to bar. For late-night fado, head for À Capella, Rua Corpo de Deus (tel. 23/983-39-85) which was turned into a cafe from a chapel constructed back in 1364. Open daily 1pm to 3am, it offers nightly performances at 9:30, 10:30, and 11:30pm, with a 5€ cover charge.

 

The town's dance clubs rock at least 5 nights a week (sometimes 7, depending on how many students are in town). The glamour and desirability of the dance clubs we recommend below increase or decrease every season based on the whims of the danceaholic public. Depending on your mood and who's there at the time of your visit, the most worthwhile is Passarelle, Praça Machado Assis 22 (tel. 23/982-70-67), which gets lively after 10:30pm and often stays open until around 3am or, on Friday and Saturday, until dawn.

 

 

List of outstanding bars, pubs and restaurants

Á Capella: A tiny, 14th-century chapel transformed into a candlelit cocktail lounge, À Capella regularly hosts the city's most renowned fado musicians.

 

Café Santa Cruz: Few cafes in Portugal offer such an atmospheric backdrop. The interior, set in a dramatically beautiful high-vaulted former chapel, features stained-glass windows and graceful stone arches.

 

Feitoconceito: Entered through the Tabacaria Pavão downstairs, this hip little hideaway near Praça da República woos a student-heavy crowd with regular DJ sets, plus ridiculously low prices on caipirinhas, mojitos, gin and tonics, vodka and beer.

 

Bar Quebra Costas: In the perfect position to sip a cold beer as you watch people puff and pant up the Quebra Costas, this Coimbra classic has a sunny cobblestoned terrace, an artsy interior, friendly service and chilled-out tunes playing on the sound system.

 

Café Teatro: With huge windows, minimalist decor and a long zinc bar overlooking leafy Praça da República, the cafe in the upstairs lobby of the university theatre is the place where alternative types congregate for their caffeine fix or first drink of the evening. Ticket-holders only during performances.

 

Mondego Irish Pub: It may be a tad overpriced, but you can’t argue with this pub’s prime riverfront location, Guinness and Kilkenny on draught and live music from midnight to 3am three nights a week.

 

English Bar: This British-style pub serves light meals downstairs and offers a bar in which to knock back draught Murphy’s upstairs. There’s a very popular Latin night on Wednesdays.

 

Cartola Esplanada Bar: Equally popular for morning coffee and late-night beers, this perennially packed cafe with a great plaza-side location is the ideal place for a spot of student-watching.

 

Galeria Bar Santa Clara:Arty tearoom by day and chilled-out bar at night, this terrific place across the Mondego has good art on the walls, a series of sunny rooms and a fine riverfront terrace.

 

Via Latina: Students swear by the DJs at this simple, sweaty dance club. Fridays are particularly good, when there's occasional live music.

 

Café Tropical: A bare-bones student place with pleasant outdoor seating, bohemian wall decor, cheap beers and lively crowds.

 

Restaurante O Trovador: Large and touristy but attractive, with fado on Friday and Saturday nights from October to April, nightly May to September.

 

AAC Pub: Join the black-cape-clad students at their student-union bar, where beers are under €1 and everyone is welcome.

 

For meeting girls in other places in Portugal, pay a visit to the Algarve, this is a wonderful place where you can meet a lot of Portuguese women that are on vacation to this spot. You should also pay a visit to Albufeira, this is the perfect place for nightlife.

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