Coimbra is a beautiful city and you can see the main sights in 2-3 days. However, if you can spare a little more time here, then you can use Coimbra as a base to explore the central region of Portugal. Here are some of my favourite day trips from Coimbra:
Visit Porto Cathedral, which displays exquisite Baroque architecture and is one of the city’s most well-known attractions. By motor coach, you’ll depart from the pier and travel to the cathedral, whose interior exhibits eclecticism through a variety of materials. Although it was originally a Gothic church, it has been changed over time and now incorporates a variety of architectural styles. The Stock Exchange Palace, a 19th-century masterpiece of Arab and European design with a magnificent Moorish Hall, is then visited. After that, cross the Douro River over the Gustav Eiffel-inspired D’Luis Bridge and visit a renowned port wine cellar to sample this iconic local product. You’ll return to the pier once your tour is finished.
Figueira da Foz
The ancient portion of town has some interesting architecture and surprising street art, and if you continue north to Buarcos, you may see vestiges of the mediaeval defences built to defend Portugal after the Moors reclaimed it. Stop in Montemor-o-Velho on your journey to or from Figueira da Foz to explore the walls of the destroyed fortress that formerly served as a crucial section of the Mondego defence line. Up at the Serra da Boa Viagem, you may take in the coastal vistas, go for a walk, or picnic in the pine forest, or take on the treetop adventure course if you’re feeling brave. Be warned: the dark portion is intended for the most dedicated thrill seekers. Alternatively, travel south to the salt pans and nature reserve, which have a small museum and walking paths.
Aveiro has a charming old centre with lovely calçada (patterned sidewalks), a network of canals with brilliantly painted moliceiro boats, and a stunning collection of azulejos (tiles). If you have access to a car, you can explore Costa Nova, a vibrant fishing community with gorgeous striped houses and a variety of seafood eateries. A sequence of buildings with façades inspired by the romantic Art Nouveau period along the major canal in downtown Aveiro, earning the city the reputation of being an open-air Art Nouveau Museum. These architectural jewels stand out thanks to their vibrant hues, flowing and curving lines, and wrought-iron decorations.
Viseu, a historic city built of grey stone but also green, energetic, and hospitable, was ranked as the finest city in Portugal in terms of quality of life. There’s no better way to get to know Viseu than to start in the conserved historic centre. From Rossio, several narrow alleyways with typical stores are spread out in a mediaeval arrangement. Rua Direita and Rua Escura, with their 16th century mansions with gargoyles and Gothic windows, and Quatro Esquinas (Four Corners), where one of the city gates formerly stood, are well worth a stroll around.
Fátima is one of the most important religious pilgrimage sites in the world, located in the central area of Portugal.
How many times can you say you’ve seen dinosaur footprints? After taking a short detour south from Fátima to the Serra de Aire Mountain range, you can do so in Portugal. The Natural Monument of Dinosaur Footprints houses the world’s oldest sauropod footprints, dating back to the Jurassic Period. Why not combine this unique experience with a hike in the natural park of Serra de Aire? After a wonderful but exhausting day of visiting Fátima and the surrounding area, relax with a delicious and traditional lunch at Tia Alice, a Michelin-starred restaurant (Aunt Alice). It has been open since 1988 and is widely regarded as one of the greatest restaurants in the neighbourhood. Although it is more expensive than normal Portuguese restaurants, you may savour home-cooked local foods from within rough, rocky walls that may remind you of dining in a well-decorated wine cellar.
The Schist villages are beautiful places where time appears to have stood still for a few centuries. These are undoubtedly Central Portugal’s most distinctive locations. They are surrounded by nature and largely cut off from the rest of the world. The name derives from the primary building material, schist stone. The communities have an old-timey, rustic air due to the rocks, which aremostly made of mudstone or clay. There are no cars allowed to drive through the small streets, and there is little evidence of technology. Prepare for a digital detox because you will most likely not have access to the internet. There are around 40 to 50 modest schist dwellings scattered throughout the area. Their brightly coloured windows and little terraces gaze out into a never-ending swath of vivid greenery. Only the chirping of birds and a soft breeze can be heard all around. It’s lovely to be able to just be there and enjoy the moment, with no interruptions or intrusions. It’s just nature and some delicious cuisine.
Parque Natural De Serra Da Estrela
The Serra da Estrela Natural Park in Portugal is the largest protected area in the country! The wolf, the wild boar, the otter, the fox, the genet, the greylag, the eagle, and the hawk all live in this beautiful mountain range, which is rich in fauna and flora. It is one of the most significant and beautiful sites in Serra da Estrela, and it is the ideal spot for a break, since you may dine, camp, or simply relax while taking in the breathtaking view.