Porto Day Trip to Coimbra and Aveiro

Early in the morning, we took the AP train at 7:45 to Coimbra which took around one hour. Coimbra….why I picked Coimbra? All because of the famous University of Coimbra library, one of the oldest and most beautiful library in the world. The long distance high-speed train actually terminated at Coimbra-B station which located a little more than a mile away from the city center’s train station – Coimbra. Although the train ticket included a free regional train to the center Coimbra station, the connecting schedule did not make sense – more than an hour wait. Whoever coordinate the schedule did a poor job! Instead of wasting time to wait, we walked out and took a taxi to the center which cost around 5 Euros. I had the taxi driver drop us off at Coimbra train station instead of the university – bad decision lol as the walk up to the university is an up-hill steep walk!

The only positive thing was the color houses along the way was a pleasure to photograph 🙂

With a view of the river:

We arrived the university but as like other university campuses, there are many buildings so we have no clue which is the library. I walked up to a university student dressed in Harry Potter like cape for direction and he was nice and pointed us to the right direction as well as where to purchase the entrance ticket. We walked into the building and purchased our combo ticket to visit the library, chapel, and the museum. Library visit is by scheduled tour only and fortunately, it wasn’t full so we were able get on the next tour around 10 am.

We walked into the courtyard where the library is located and saw this building wow!

The library entrance door! Unfortunately, no photos allowed inside so 🙁 Please google the image and you’ll see what I mean why it’s worth a visit! The library looked like it belong to a palace with collection of ancient books and I heard housed a colony of bats to keep bugs away from the books! The library is actually smaller than it looks in pictures but still impressive with the decors. The bottom floor of the library was a jail cell :O

Next, the chapel which we can tour on our own and they allowed photos just no flash 🙂 I really like the colorful ceiling!

Lastly, the museum…the least impressive of the three. Maybe we are just not museum type of people 🙂

Don’t forget to walk up to the little terrace for some panoramic views of the city!

Jason was like that church looked beautiful, let’s visit that one too! So we walked down and somehow navigated the way to the places that looked nice from above haha!

It wasn’t hard as those churches are among the tallest structure in the city so even without sense of direction just look 🙂 This is the Sé Nova de Coimbra, it cost 1 or 2 Euros to get in as “suggested donation”.

Next to it is a museum:

We kept walking to another beautiful cathedral, Sé Velha – Coimbra…..more medieval fortress look inside:

Continued on with walking down the hill and more of cute houses!

Hum..anyone know Portuguese to know what this house is?

Tile wall:

Now that’s an interesting house…….

And colorful nets and decors hanging! We just missed the umbrella street (only around July during a festival in Águeda) so this wasn’t too bad 🙂

Coimbra is even quieter than Porto but there we came across few tour groups (I am guessing local or European tourists) to tour the university. It’s a cute town worth a visit!

I had so much fun talking photos of colorful houses that my tummy reminded me that we haven’t have breakfast yet! Our brunch was at a dessert/bakery – Nicola…..so much choices!!!

Their pastel de nata is considered good since crispy and not sugary but of course not as good as the ones we had in Belem. The bun like one on the left side has a layer of coconut (did I mentioned that Portuguese dessert most of the time has coconut?) but the bottom fillings were very sweet! The roll/cake like on the right was less sugary so we enjoyed that one more!

After our quick brunch, we continued walking down the hill aiming to head to the bridge for the postcard view of Coimbra! Their main shopping street, aren’t those purplish/pinkish/pastel colored houses pretty?

More bakery along the way and woahhh what are those huge buns? They reminded me of the cake I had when I was little with a crispy sugar coat and coconut flavored!

A pink bank!!!

I really like the buildings in Coimbra, much like Porto’s, I wish they sell those in mini figurines so I can collect a whole street as souvenirs!

While we walked over the bridge, we saw someone paragliding with a fan-engine blowing on the back, how adventurous!

On the other side of the bridge offer the most beautiful view of Coimbra; all those colorful narrow houses stacking one by one up the hill. Too bad it wasn’t the ideal lighting and condition to truly show their colors….wish there were some clouds!

We walked back to Coimbra train station and waited for the next train to Coimbra-B to catch our 1:32 pm train to Aveiro – only half an hour away. Be careful when boarding the train, look at that huge gap OMG, didn’t they measure the track width? LOL!

We walked out of Aveiro’s train station and saw this beautiful Old Train Station of Aveiro! Aveiro is known for its Art Nouveau buildings (decorative architecture).

There’s a visitor information booth right outside the train station as well so we grabbed a map and walked….it was really easy straight down the main street: Av. Dr. Lourenço Peixinho – 15 minutes walk – to get to the river-front filled with more pretty houses along each side!

Also, Aveiro is nicknamed the Venice of Portugal and even its gondola counterpart called moliceiros. Those boats used to transport seaweed from the sea up to the river and their primary source of income. Now, they are a tourist attraction. Each boat was painted with different patterns and a meaningful picture on its tail. After browsing through each booth to check out prices, they are almost the same price 8-10 Euros (significantly less than Venice’s gondola haha).

After walking around both sides of the river and couldn’t stop to take photos, we hopped into the boat, time for a cruise. The boat is much bigger than the gondola, probably 2x the size of a gondola. And powered by an electric motor 🙂

The lower angle view from the boat was excellent for photos! The cruise was around 40 minutes and it was extremely hot and burning so don’t forget to put on sunscreen!

Look at that toy duckie, so cute!

The boat is quite wide and long and the “captain” maneuver under that bridge with ease! There was also a guide who speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French wow wow wow! He said that the main source of income was seafood and sea salt. But now only one sea salt company left 🙁

That’s a neat pedestrian bridge!

The only company that still produce sea salt there…see those big white bags of salt? Then, we turned back.

We headed the other direction of the river to a more modernize residential apartments and the IEFP building – a ceramic factory?

Hum..what does this picture resemble? LOL!

Along the river side is also the Forum Aveiro, a shopping center. I checked the shops out but there is no Pimkie – my favorite clothing line in Europe 🙁

Aveiro is very walkable so half a day was enough to explore this cute little city. On our walk back to the train station, we passed a few mini markets so we went in to check out its produce. The peaches smelled so good and big so Jason was trying to pick out a few and the owner-lady criticized Jason squeezing the peach urgg..what the! We bought 4 peaches and cost less than 1 Euro omg so cheap! Then we went into a bigger fruit market (looked like a chain) and they have huge selections of grapes and peaches oh my! We couldn’t help but ended buying more….all those fruits for less than 5 Euros wow! The peaches in Portugal were super juicy and sweet! Th grapes were very good too – very grape taste, sweet and not bitter!

We got back to Porto at 6:30 pm and caught a train immediately to Sao Bento station so we arrived before 7 pm. Time for dinner, Jason was craving for seafood especially the arroz de marisco, so I searched and found Taberna dos Mercadores. We were super lucky that we only waited few minutes for a table while people after us were turned away 🙂 The menu is only Portuguese and the waiter was professional enough to translate for us. We ordered the clams as starter…the taste is good but some of the clams weren’t cleaned thoroughly so some had sand in them!

And the seafood rice….although not as good as the ones we had in Lisbon and almost 2x the cost, it was still good!

The restaurant is hidden in side street and less than 10 tables, it was packed!

And cash only sooo my supply of cash 🙁 Totaled €42.50.

Both Coimbra and Aveiro are pretty small city worth a visit and half a day was enough for each so a perfect day trip from Porto!

12 thoughts on “Porto Day Trip to Coimbra and Aveiro

  1. “anyone know Portuguese to know what this house is?” Those house are the “Repúblicas de Coimbra”. In theory the Coimbra’s Republicas first appeared during the 14th century when King D. Dinis ordered a few houses to be built in the Almedina area to house university students in exchange for a payment. Throughout the centuries, the republicas became famous and created their own traditions. In 1957, the first praxe code gave them a legal status and regulated their functioning. They are still houses for students only.

  2. “a university student dressed in Harry Potter like cape” it’s the other way around. It was the fact that portuguese university students (specially in Coimbra and Porto) use those capes that inspired JK Rowling to “dress” Harry Potter with one.

  3. Your Portugal travel blog is very helpful, and your photos are beautiful! I am planning a trip there, so may I ask your opinion? My schedule allows for only one day for a day trip from Porto. In this case, would you recommend Coimbra/Aveiro or Guimarães/Braga, in terms of atmosphere, things to do, cute streets and squares, etc.? And if you could choose only one of those 4 towns to return to and spend a whole day in, which one would you pick? Thank you…!

    1. I would recommend Coimbra/Aveiro in terms of ease of access, frequent trains, cute streets and architectures, and more to photograph. If only choose one….that would be hard…I think Aveiro but don’t need to spend a full day in 🙂

  4. Very useful blog! Do you think I could squeeze in a quick visit to costs nova from aveiro too if I followed your itinerary?

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