Coimbra and the Beiras Travel Guide
  • Plan Your Coimbra and the Beiras Vacation

Plan Your Coimbra and the Beiras Vacation

While frequently sidestepped by tourists, this region is arguably the most unspoiled and quintessentially Portuguese part of the country. Even the coastal resorts have, as a whole, retained their intrinsic local character and charm. The Beiras is a diverse area with an abundance of beaches, lagoons, and mountains. The natural beauty of the scenery also serves as a fitting gateway to the drama of the Douro and the Minho farther north.

To the east, Portugal's highest mountains—the Serra da Estrela—rise to nearly 6,600 feet, creating a colorful patchwork of alpine meadows, haunting forests, and wooded hills. High in this range's granite reaches, a clear icy stream begins its tortuous journey to the sea: this is the Rio Mondego, the lifeblood of the Beiras. Praised in song and poetry, it is the longest river within the country and provides vital irrigation to fruit orchards and farms as it flows through the region's heart.

Coimbra—the country's first capital and home to one of Europe's earliest universities—offers an urban counterpoint. A large student population ensures that the city stays lively; however, the past lingers on in the evocative old quarter, its medieval backstreets unchanged for centuries. The university rises magnificently above the river which continues, closer to the sea, under the imposing walls of Montemor Castle. The rio (river) then widens to nurture rice fields before merging with the Atlantic at the popular beach resort of Figueira da Foz. Archaeology buffs will also appreciate the region’s extraordinary Roman ruins—particularly at Conímbriga, Portugal’s largest excavated site.


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Top Reasons To Go

  1. Foot-tap to the fado Discover the delights of Coimbra’s distinctive style of fado at one of the city’s atmospheric fado houses.
  2. Get away from it all Head for the peaceful beauty of the Buçaco forest, the country’s most revered woods and a monastic retreat during the Middle Ages.
  3. Step back in time Explore ancient mosaics, baths, an aqueduct, and more at Conímbriga, Portugal’s finest Roman site.
  4. Enjoy sand between your toes Take a sunset walk along Figueira’s wide 2-km-long (1-mile-long) long sandy beach or grab your surfboard and tackle the waves.
  5. Lace up those hiking boots Stride out and discover the vast Parque Natural da Sierra da Estrela, with its extensive, well-marked trails and stunning scenery.

When To Go

When to Go

Although the Beiras's coastal beaches are popular in summer, the crowds are nothing like those in the Algarve. The water along this shore isn...

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