Coimbra hosts one the best free motorhome stops in Portugal. It’s just fab. You drive off the motorway, around a roundabout and accross a bridge to nice and easy parking space that overlooks the charming city of Coimbra. OK I’ll rewind a little, when I say best, what is the criteria I hear you ask? Well for us motorhomers (glorified and certified now), we look out for:
- Ease-ability – i.e. can we get our massive home on wheels to the spot without toppling over and falling in a ditch? Or scraping the sides on overhanging balconies and/or trees? Did they allocate the parking spots properly with lines, enough length and width. Sounds stupid, but quite often the spaces have been tiny or too close to mounds/slopes. And lastly, can we get back up if we go down that mountain side? It must actually be accessible.
- Viewage – This is a Terry word, whats the viewage like he asks? It must have a decent enough view to admire or to explore. If we’re on a beach for instance, I’ll always go on the beach and Terry will always go for a mini hike or explore. Usually with Ethan, but sometimes on his own.
- Busy-ness – Have other campers or motorhomers found this spot too? Sometimes this is a good thing, I always feel a tad safer knowing there are others who live in a box, next door to you. On other occasions, this can be a turn off, as wild camping is all about finding hide-away spots. Balance needed.
Coimbra ticked yes to the above, and more, as it had free services too so we could make the moho all fresh again for its next adventure whilst we were there!
Coimbra is a riverfront city smack bang in the middle of Portugal. It is hugged by forests and little white and orange pocket villages high above the city. It’s home to one of the second oldest University’s in the world, and it’s city is filled with a youthful, family orientated feeling. You can tell this city is loved, and we loved it back.
In terms of historic significance, Coimbra is second only to Lisbon. Its ancient buildings cling to the side of the hill that rises above the curves of the river below. the ornate buildings of the famous University its crowning glory.
Here are our top places to visit in the beautiful city of Coimbra:
This University was established in 1290. Yes, get your head around that. 1290! And we are 2017 now. Wow, walking the streets around the University, it’s hard to picture attending the University during it’s opening year. It would be fascinating to see!
The University of Coimbra is one of the oldest in the world. The colossal faculty buildings that tower above the city, but only 100 meters above sea level. It’s nice to walk in and sit at one of the wooden benches and picture yourself as a student. In the old Joanina Library, built in 1728, with marble floors and walls with gold leaf, there are more than 30,000 books and medieval manuscripts. The library is open to visitors. From the square, you have a beautiful view over the city. It’s worth the trip.
A 16th century Roman aqueduct leads you into a magical wonderland of flowers, trees and all things pretty. The smell of the flowers hit you as you enter the gate to the Botanical Gardens. We were not expecting the vast amount of foliage and the beautiful water features of this city centred garden. This is Portugals largest and was created in 1772. There are some 1200 plants, including some rare and exotic species from all over the world.
The river front is vast and offers a fantastic green space to relax after your day in the city. There is a fantastic play park for little ones, and it’s all very well maintained and very safe. You can walk over to the other side of the river across a fantastic colourful footbridge. This footbridge connects the motorhome park to the city!
Cobbled and cultured, full of life and excitement, the streets of Coimbra are worth a stroll. They are lined with lively cafes, cake shops, restaurants, clothes stores and souvenir shops. Sometimes it’s nice to be a tourist and pick up some gifts for the family! Coimbra gives you the excuse you need to!
Machado de Castro National Museum
Within just a few steps of entering the museum, you are greeted by a spectacular view of the city and the old Cathedral. This museum houses the country’s most important set of 14th and 16th century sculptures and paintings. It also has a really cool maze of underground Roman passages that have little secret collections of Visigothic and Roman artefacts!
And lastly, Get Lost
Coimbra is a city you could just get lost in. Spend time walking the back streets, having a coffee in tiny local cafes with the locals, stroll upon a beautiful fountain or random statue, and do as the locals do and smile. It’s an easy city to navigate, and a happy place so just get lost! 🙂
There is so much more to the city and we’d love to hear of any other gems you came across. Please pop them in a comment below!