Coimbra and the Beiras

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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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Jardim do Antigo Paço Episcopal
Garden/Arboretum
Museu Municipal Santos Rocha
Museum/Gallery
Universidade Velha
Educational Institution Library/Archive
Ria de Aveiro
Beach–Sight Body Of Water/Waterfall
Museu da Ciència
Educational Institution Museum/Gallery
Museu Machado de Castro
Museum/Gallery Archaeological Site/Ruins Viewpoint/Scenic Overlook
Conímbriga
Museum/Gallery Archaeological Site/Ruins Building/Architectural Site
Parque Natural da Serra da Estrela
Park (National/State/Provincial)
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Language

Portuguese

Electrical Outlets

220-240V; electrical plugs have two round prongs

Currency

Euro

Language

Portuguese

Electrical Outlets

220-240V; electrical plugs have two round prongs

Currency

Euro

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...Read More

Discover the best neighborhoods in Coimbra and the Beiras with curated recommendations from our editors.

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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...Read More

Discover the best neighborhoods in Coimbra and the Beiras with curated recommendations from our editors.

Explore All

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...Read More

Discover the best neighborhoods in Coimbra and the Beiras with curated recommendations from our editors.

Explore All

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Fodor's Essential Portugal
Whether you want to explore trendy Lisbon, go on a wine-tasting trip in the Douro Valley,...

View Details

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