Looking to add more Portugal sights to your Porto, Portugal solo travel itinerary? Whether it’s a day trip from Porto, or a stop-over to Lisbon, add 1 day in Coimbra with this Coimbra solo travel itinerary and Coimbra travel guide.
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What is Coimbra Famous For?
Coimbra is the former capital of Portugal. The country’s 4th largest city, Coimbra is the largest city of the Central Portugal region.
Located on the Mondego River, the preserved medieval Old Town offers beautiful, Romanesque and gothic-style cathedrals and convents, old fort arches, botanical gardens, and plazas and pedestrian streets full of colorful, Portuguese shops and restaurants and the sound of Fado music.
Coimbra Solo Travel Essentials
Overlooking the Coimbra city center is Coimbra’s most notable attraction, the University of Coimbra – Alta and Sofia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since June 2013.
Once in Lisbon, the university was moved to Coimbra in 1308 and built on the grounds of the former Royal Palace of Alcáçova, all giving nod to Coimbra’s Portuguese history, wealth, influence, and education.
Is Coimbra Worth Visiting?
In two hours or less from Porto or Lisbon, a Coimbra visit is convenient for at least a day’s worth of interesting attractions, ideal for Coimbra solo travel over 50.
Best Time to Visit Coimbra
Like other cities in Portugal, the best time to visit Coimbra relies on weather, costs, activities and events offered, including the Coimbra University schedule.
Coimbra Weather & Costs
Coimbra temperatures average from the 40°s F to 80°s F, with warmest weather June through September. These are also Coimbra’s driest months, and longest, which also provide for enjoying the best of Coimbra outdoors.
June through September can also see more tourists, which could drive up prices.
Coimbra can receive considerable rain from October through May. The rainiest and coldest days are November through February, but offer lower costs.
If you visit Coimbra October through May, bring an eco-friendly travel umbrella, just in case.
I was last in Coimbra in mid-October. There was no rain. The overcast days were still warm, and there weren’t many tourists.
For this Coimbra travel guide, I would recommend Coimbra travel in October if you wish to avoid the crowds and higher Coimbra accommodation costs.
The University of Coimbra influences Coimbra happenings, so I suggest also checking the Coimbra University academic calendar to know when students are on holiday or not in class, like for the Queima das Fitas (Burning of the Ribbons), which happens every May and is the largest Coimbra festival the town holds.
How to Get to Coimbra
Just 120 km south of Porto, 60 km south of Aveiro, and 200 km north of Lisbon, seeing Coimbra in a day is fairly easy.
Eco Travel Tips
ECO TRAVEL PICKS
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Coimbra from Porto
Porto to Coimbra Bus
There are multiple, daily Porto to Coimbra buses. The bus ride is about an hour and a half and arrives at the Rua do Padrao bus station.
From the Coimbra bus station, you have three options to start your one day in Coimbra: you can either walk 20 minutes south to the city center, catch a 5-minute taxi or Uber to the city center, or walk 5 minutes north to the Coimbra B train station to catch the local train to the Coimbra A train station at the base of the city center (tickets are cheap).
Porto to Coimbra Train
Train times from Porto’s Vila Nova de Gaia-Devesas station to the Coimbra B train station vary from about an hour to an hour and 20 minutes, depending on time of day. Multiple Porto trains to Coimbra leave daily.
When you arrive at Coimbra B, again, you can walk or switch trains to Coimbra A, which is faster. Your train ticket fare includes the train from Coimbra B to Coimbra A. You do not need to buy a different ticket. Just switch platforms.
One Day Trip from Porto to Coimbra
Although this solo day in Coimbra itinerary is meant for an overnight stay in Coimbra, a Coimbra day trip from Porto is completely doable.
Note, if you are only in Porto one day, then I do not advise going to Coimbra for any period of time. Make the most of your Porto solo travel. Don’t forget to use my ultimate Porto Solo Travel Guide to plan it.
Returning from Coimbra to Porto is just as easy. The last Coimbra to Porto bus departs Coimbra around 10:30pm, and the last Coimbra to Porto train departs around midnight. Both allow for seeing Coimbra in one day.
Of course, I recommend using my Coimbra one day itinerary for top Coimbra sightseeing, but you do have the option to take a group day trip to Coimbra if you want a break from being alone on your single over 50 travel.
Lisbon to Coimbra
Lisbon to Coimbra Bus
Likewise, there are multiple Lisbon to Coimbra buses, but they may not leave daily. The bus ride from Lisbon is about two hours and twenty minutes from the Lisbon Oriente station to the Rua do Padrao Coimbra station.
Lisbon to Coimbra Train
Train times from the Lisbon Santa Apolonia station to the Coimbra B train station vary
from about an hour and forty minutes to two hours, depending on time of day. There are many daily Lisbon trains to Coimbra.
See the above notes on getting to the city center from the bus and train stations.
Coimbra Day Trip from Lisbon
Like Porto, if you only have one day in Lisbon, then I do not advise taking a day trip from Lisbon to Coimbra. Make the most of your Lisbon solo travel.
If you have time in your Portugal solo travel itinerary for Coimbra, returning from Coimbra to Lisbon is easy. The last Coimbra to Lisbon bus departs Coimbra around 6:30pm. The last Coimbra to Lisbon train departs around 9:48pm.
Although both the train and bus go daily from Lisbon to Coimbra, the trains to Coimbra are faster and more plentiful than the bus, allowing you more time to see Coimbra in one day on a day trip.
Porto to Lisbon with 1 Day in Coimbra
Just a side note: if you’re on your way from Porto to Lisbon (or vice versa) but can’t stay the night in Coimbra, I recommend making a stop for a day in Coimbra anyway. Just check your luggage.
Coimbra luggage storage is available. The Coimbra B train station has lockers on the main platform in addition to other luggage storage options.
Covid Travel Tip
If you are flying into Porto or Lisbon from outside of Portugal, be sure to check all Portugal travel restrictions through your airlines, or your country’s embassy website, and fill out any necessary applications, like Portugal’s Passenger Locator Form, prior to boarding your flight for Portugal.
More Portugal COVID Travel Tips
Getting Around Coimbra
Once in the Coimbra city center, it’s doubtful you’d need car transportation within Coimbra. The best way to get around Coimbra is by walking.
Is Coimbra is walkable?
Coimbra is walkable, but the Old Town terrain east of the Mondego River can be steep. At the base of the city center and west of the river it’s fairly flat.
It helps to be in shape to be walking around. I highly recommend wearing light-weight, eco-friendly walking shoes.
If you’re not used to walking on inclines, there are electric Tuk Tuks available and make getting around Coimbra easy. They even offer guided tours.
Is Coimbra Safe to Visit Alone?
Coimbra’s crime rate is considered very low and safe to walk alone during the day and night.
I did not feel unsafe when in Coimbra for a day. My hotel and itinerary were solely within the city center.
As a general precaution as a solo female traveler, I make a point to stay away from secluded or unlit streets and alleys.
As always, use a safe, travel day-bag keep your belongings with you at all times, and be watchful of pickpockets in crowded, touristy areas, on crowded public transportation and during crowded events.
If you normally feel uncomfortable being out solo at night, you may want to consider visiting Coimbra during the summer months when the daylight hours are longest so you have more time to explore Coimbra.
Where to Stay in Coimbra
This Coimbra solo travel itinerary is made for staying overnight in Coimbra. It makes for a more relaxed visit than a day trip from another Portugal city.
Since you’re only spending 1 day in Coimbra, the lower elevation of the city center marked on the Coimbra map below is the best location to stay in Coimbra for faster Coimbra sightseeing and dining for all travelers, not just single travelers.
Solo Travel Tips
Have WhatsApp on your mobile device(s). Many smaller establishments and activities offices use this as a method of communication making it easier to make inquiries or booking and learn, or notify, of any scheduling changes.
Get the T-Mobile International Plan or something similar in price and features. I no longer work on WiFi only on international travel. I’ll use it when it’s there, but having access to roaming when needed for GPS and Google Maps is a game changer.
Coimbra Hotels and More
Coimbra has multiple hotel and hostel options across all budget types. Going in the off season, outside of festivals, or booking well in advance, will get you the best Coimbra prices on any type of accommodation.
Consider booking at a property that either is eco-friendly or sustainably rated, or at least employs these methods into their business.
For location, price, amenities (including free-cancellation), eco-friendly and sustainable operations, and customer reviews and ratings, here are my Coimbra solo travel recommendations (i.e., where I would stay):
My Coimbra hotel was Hotel Oslo. This hotel checks all of the boxes.
Hotel Oslo is right around the corner from Coimbra A station. The staff is very friendly and helpful with tourism information. The breakfast was ample, and they have a bar onsite so you can enjoy a cocktail on their rooftop lounge with great city views.
I was able to check in early to my requested room with a city center view. They offer baggage storage for guests and non-guests alike. Last, this ‘Travel Sustainable’ hotel is also Green Key certified. I would definitely stay at Hotel Oslo again.
A hostel can be a budget accommodation in Coimbra for solo travel over 50. Using the same conditions above, and the ability to get a private room, my Coimbra hostel recommendation is Change The World Hostels – Coimbra – Almedina.
Although it doesn’t have a ‘Travel Sustainable’ label, its multiple eco-friendly business practices are better than most other accommodations. I would feel comfortable staying at this hostel.
Budget Travel Tip
There are Coimbra hostels that could start from around €20/night, depending on what amenities and location you want. Note, these are usually a bed in a dorm room. A private room in a Coimbra hostel could cost the same, if not more, than a budget hotel.
Top Things To Do in Coimbra
So, what are the top things to do in Coimbra? Here are Coimbra things to see and do. Most of these Coimbra tourist attractions can be done in one day, and some of them are free.
Churches & Cathedrals
- Sé Velha – Coimbra (Old Cathedral of Coimbra) – a Romanesque Roman Catholic cathedral, with 13th century Gothic-style cloister, where the first Count of Coimbra, the Mozarab Sisnando Davides, is buried.
- Sé Nova de Coimbra (New Cathedral of Coimbra) – the current bishopric seat of the city of Coimbra.
- Igreja de Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz Monastery) – founded in 1131, the first two kings of Portugal are buried here making it a National Pantheon.
- Capela de São Miguel (Saint Michael’s Chapel) – founded in 1290 in the late Gothic style with walls of beautiful azulejo tiles. Formerly part of the Royal Palace, the chapel is now part of the University of Coimbra.
Architectural Buildings & Historic Sites
- Câmara Municipal de Coimbra (Coimbra Town Hall) – on the Praça 8 de Maio next to Santa Cruz Monastery
- Universidade de Coimbra Alta & Sofia (University of Coimbra) – comprised of several buildings housing a number of colleges in two sections of the city: the lower part (Sofia Street) and the upper part (Alta).
- Paço das Escolas (Palace of Schools) – erected in the 10th century, this Alta section of the University of Coimbra was once the Royal Palace of Alcáçova. It still contains the Royal Palace, Saint Michael’s Chapel, the Biblioteca Joanina (Joanina Library), Tore de Universidade (University Tower), and a Statue of King Joao III within an expansive courtyard. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Quinta das Lagrimas – historic palace that is now a luxury hotel.
Points of Interest, Landmarks & Monuments
- Ponte de Santa Clara – bridge crossing the Mondego River to the Coimbra city center.
- Pedro e Ines Bridge – modern, multi-colored bridge crossing the Mondego River.
- Praça 8 de Maio – (May 8th Square) – this lively central plaza named after liberal troops took the city from the monarchist’s control on that date in 1834.
- Praça do Comercio (Commercial Square) – large central square with artisanal shops, cafés and restaurants.
- Porta de Barbacã (Barbican Gate) – a former part of the city wall, it is the entry way to the Alta area of Coimbra.
- Torre de Almedina (Porta e Torre de Almedina) – medieval stone tower and original part of the city’s wall and defenses.
- Tricana of Coimbra – bronze statue depicting mythical image of a woman from Portuguese fado songs.
- Arcos do Jardim do Aqueduto de São Sebastião (Arches of Aqueduct São Sebastião) – large remnant of Roman Aqueduct on the northern part of the university and botanical gardens.
- Portugal dos Pequenitos – a Coimbra district park holding miniature versions of Portuguese houses and monuments.
Parks & Gardens
- Parque Verde do Mondego (Mondego green park) – along the Mondego River with nice views.
- Jardins da Quinta das Lágrimas – gardens of the Quinta das Lagrimas.
- Jardim Botânico da Universidade de Coimbra (Coimbra University Botanic Gardens) – expansive gardens off the university offering tranquil get away from the rest of the Coimbra district.
- Museu Nacional Machado de Castro (National Museum Machado de Castro) – art museum named after the Portuguese sculptor, Joaquim Machado de Castro, in the Alta area of the University of Coimbra campus.
- Museu do Mosteiro de Santa Clara a Velha (Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha) – ruins of the 14th century monastery destroyed by floods and excavated in the 20th century.
- Núcleo da Guitarra e do Fado de Coimbra (Coimbra Guitar and Fado Museum) – located at the Torre de Anto (Anto Tower)
Coimbra Food & Entertainment
Popular are the artisanal Coimbra ceramics for your window shopping, and delighting in the 12 string guitar of Fado music at a local café or Fado venue.
Coimbra restaurants and bars are also plentiful within the city center which makes exploring Coimbra at night easy by foot.
Popular locations for shops, dining and entertainment are on and around the Praça 8 de Maio, Praça do Comercio, and along the Rua da Sofia and Rua Visc. da Luz pedestrian street.
You can’t go wrong making a stop at the popular Café da Santa Cruz, for light dining, drinks and Fado. Stop to refresh yourself with a dry (white) port spritzer after a long day of walking. Yummy!
This popular Coimbra café also offers 2 daily shows of Fado performances at 6pm and 10pm. Get there early for a seat.
Coimbra Travel Tip
Bring cash to Coimbra. Of all of the towns I’ve visited in Europe, I’ve never experienced a town where so many establishments would not take credit cards. Coimbra wiped me out of my cash.
Ask prior to any purchase, from gift buying to eating in Coimbra, if they take credit cards. Even then, still be prepared to pay with cash.
1 Day in Coimbra Solo Travel Itinerary
Now that you’re prepared for Coimbra solo travel, let’s get you out to do some top sightseeing on your 1 day in Coimbra.
Whether you choose a day trip to Coimbra or stay overnight, I recommend arriving Coimbra by 10:30am so you can be out in the city center in time to enjoy this one day Coimbra itinerary.
Put your walking shoes on. Here is what you can see and do in Coimbra alone in one day.
- 10:30am – Arrive Coimbra Station B train station / bus station
- 10:45am – Arrive Coimbra Station A / city center
- 11am – Check into, or check bags, at my suggested hotel (Hotel Oslo)
- 11:15am – Hotel Oslo to Avenida Fernão de Magalhães and Rua da Louca
- 11:20am – Arrive May 8th Square
- 11:30am – Igreja de Santa Cruz
- 12pm – Wander and lunch on Rua Visc. da Luz pedestrian street
- 1 pm – Walk up Rua do Arco Almedina and see:
- Porta de Barbacã
- Torre de Almedina
- Tricana of Coimbra sculpture
- 1:30pm – Sé Velha – Coimbra (don’t forget the cloister)
- 2:15pm – Walk up the Rua do Norte
- 2:30pm – Pics overlooking Coimbra from the Museu Nacional Machado de Castro
- 2:45pm – Colegio de Jesus ticket office
- Buy tickets for the Royal Palace, St. Michael’s Chapel, and the Joanina Library.
- Get a 4:20pm entry for the Joanina Library (entries every 20 minutes and closes at 5pm).
- 3pm – Sé Nova de Coimbra
- 3:30pm – The Royal Palace
- 4pm – St. Michael’s Chapel
- 4:20pm – Joanina Library
- 5pm – Walk along the Arcos do Jardim do Aqueduto de São Sebastião
- 5:30pm – Explore the University Botanical Gardens
- 6:30pm – Hotel (freshen up and enjoy the hotel rooftop bar)
- 7:30pm – Dinner in Coimbra city center
- 9:30pm – Café da Santa Cruz for 10pm Coimbra Fado music)
After breakfast on your check out day, wait to check out or leave your bags at the hotel and try to do one or two of these across the Ponte de Santa Clara before departing Coimbra:
- Walk the Ecovia do Mondego for views of Coimbra
- Museu do Mosteiro de Santa Clara a Velha
- Mosteiro de Santa Clara-a-Nova
- Portugal dos Pequenitos
Let Me Hear From You
I would love to hear if this 1 day in Coimbra solo travel itinerary and Coimbra travel guide was helpful to you. Post me your thoughts or questions in the Comments section below. Thank you!