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Coimbra and Its Bohemian Lifestyle

By Ingrid Coifman

Located in Central Portugal, Coimbra is known for its history, music and very bohemian lifestyle. Full of courtyards, steps and medieval arches, the city is also a place of charming pubs and “repúblicas” (student residences).

Photo by Paulo Magalhães

Different from Lisbon, traditional Coimbra “fado” is only sung by males.

Coimbra’s reputation as a student city has to do with “Universidade de Coimbra” (University of Coimbra), the oldest in both Portugal and in Europe. It gathers a complex of historic buildings in baroque architecture that occupy the place of a Palace and offer stunning city views. The Joanine Library has more than 300,000 works dating between the 16th and the 18th centuries.

“Sé Velha” neighbourhood stands before residents and tourists alike making their way up to the University area on the top of the hill. It’s where students dressed in black capes sing the Coimbra “fado” and create “serenades”.

The low cost of living combined to a high quality of life attract thousands of international students every year. In general, the cost of monthly average rent is €400 (C$600), while other expenses range from €300 (C$450) to €500 (C$750), depending on lifestyle.

Coimbra city skyline on river Mondego. Photo by Paulo Magalhães

Drive (or boat!) around

You can go back to Roman times to the well-preserved ruins of Conímbriga. Don’t miss a boat trip around the Mondego river and a coffee stop in the lovely village of Penacova, which is situated right on the bank of the river atop of a rocky hill.

On the way to Viseu, plan a hike to the natural forest “Mata Nacional do Buçaco”. If you feel adventurous, continue driving north and visit Serra da Estrela, one of the highest mountains in Portugal. The nature is stunning and the cheeses are to die for.

Don’t miss…

– The top floor of Forum Shopping Centre offers a great city view;

– “Quebra” is one of the most charismatic pubs located on the stairs of “Quebra Costas” (Sé Velha). They offer unforgettable jazz evenings during summer.

– “Quinta das Lágrimas Gardens” and “Jardim Botanico” make up for relaxing walks in nature.

– “Pasteis de Santa Clara” are available in most cafés downtown.


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