Coimbra is a fascinating city that combines a tangible sense of history with all of the vibrancy and street life typically associated with a university town. The former is evident in the picturesque medieval quarters, where winding cobblestone streets are flanked by bars, boutiques, and eateries. As for the latter, students are easy to spot as they're traditionally garbed in black capes. Some carry guitars befitting their culture of fado, while others have briefcases adorned with colored ribbons denoting their college. After final exams in May, they burn their ribbons with great exuberance in a ceremony called Queima das Fitas.
The city also has a more cosmopolitan, contemporary side. The riverfront Parque Dr. Manuel Braga is lined with lively clubs and restaurants, while modern shopping malls contrast with idiosyncratic family-owned shops. Providing the soundtrack for it all is Coimbra’s romantic, lyrical brand of fado, which you can hear at traditional celebrations, dedicated fado houses, and other venues citywide.