travel

Coimbra, Portugal

As the end of 2016 nears, so does my time as an Erasmus student. I have spent four of the best months in Coimbra, Portugal, a city that has quickly become my favourite place on earth. I’ve met people who have quickly become some of the greatest friends I’ve ever had, I’ve discovered places that are beautiful beyond words, and most of all I have been ridiculously happy while living in Coimbra. I am soon to be moving to Madrid, Spain, to be an English Language Assistant in an International School, but before embarking on my next adventure, heres 10 things you should know about my favourite city in the world, Coimbra:

  1. The soundtrack to Coimbra: you cannot walk 10 paces down the street without hearing a busker, whether thats the old man with a grey beard who plays Careless Whisper by George Michael on his saxophone by the entrance to the Praça do Comércio or the young boy with a moustache who plays sounds on his accordion that seem more suited to the streets of Paris. You’d think it would get annoying, but its all part of the charm of Coimbra.
  2. The Mondego: this seems like an obvious point, but how could I not mention the beautiful river that runs through the heart of the city? If you want to see the city and the river in all their glory, visit A Ponte de Santa Clara. It is the bridge that connects both sides of the city, but once you get half way across the bridge, turn back and look up: you’ll see the hill to the university and all of its gorgeous surroundings while stood by the river. After four months, I’m still amazed.
  3. The secret bookshop: if you enjoy reading, or collecting books like me, there is an amazing second hand/vintage book shop on Avenida Sá da Bandeira. It is almost hidden amongst the hustle and bustle of the Avenida, but a little way up from the Mercado Municipal there is a small second hand store that has one book shelf of books in there, but if you go next door, there is an entire room of books, stacked up to the ceiling, of all genres and languages. The family that run this store are also lovely, and spent time talking to me in Portuguese so that I could practice. I found a gorgeous Portuguese, third edition copy of Jane Eyre that had a love letter written in the front cover.
  4. The parks: in a busy city full of students you wouldn’t expect to find so many gorgeous places to walk, read or just pass through on your way to class or the supermarket. But there are so many parks and places full of nature to visit in Coimbra. I would recommend mainly the Jardim Botânico da Universidade de Coimbra, which is full of gorgeous greenery and places to sit. Especially if you’re a student at the university, visiting the gardens in between classes makes the day that little bit better. In addition to this, walking by the Rio Mondego or visiting the park in the Praça da República are good alternatives.
  5. The nightlife: this is aimed particularly at anyone doing an Erasmus placement, but is applicable to everyone visiting Coimbra, but there are so many places to go out. I personally think the Praça da República is a great place to meet people and have a chilled out drink, it is the first place I ever went out in Coimbra, there are many international students there, but some locals too. If its a local experience that you want, the bars in Sé Velha are where you should go. If clubs are more your thing, I really love TWIIT and NBClub.
  6. Mojitos: On the topic of bars and clubs, there is an amazing bar right by Sé Velha where me and my friends went to drink mojitos. The mojitos are only €2 and taste so good! Its a good place to go for one or two drinks before going to Praça da República.
  7. Graffiti and street art: I feel like, especially in England, graffiti can be construed as a negative thing, but in Coimbra, graffiti is gorgeous. You’ll find some of the more artistic graffiti close to Almedina, or by the train tracks near Coimbra A station, or if its thought provoking quotes you prefer, you’ll find those on the walk to the university when you pass Largo da Sé Velha.
  8. A Universidade de Coimbra: it’s an unavoidable element really, isn’t it? While it is definitely the most touristic area of Coimbra, it is arguably the most beautiful. There is not much I can say other than you cannot visit Coimbra without visiting the university. Founded in 1290 and still absolutely stunning.
  9. Connections: the city is well connected. While I can’t fathom why anybody would ever want to leave Coimbra, there are trains from Coimbra B Station to main cities like Lisbon and Porto, and trains from Coimbra A to smaller surrounding places such as Aveiro and Figueira da Foz.
  10. The best Portuguese city: arguably this is only my opinion, but I truly believe there is no place nicer in Portugal than Coimbra. I have visited surrounding areas, Lisbon, the Algarve, but there is no place more beautiful or with more character than Coimbra. For all wanderers: add it to your bucket list.

grace-2

8 thoughts on “Coimbra, Portugal

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