In the summer of 2018, after our trip through Galicia, we made a quick getaway to the center of Portugal, establishing the beautiful city of Coimbra as a base.
During the outward journey from Spain we took a short detour and instead of going directly to Coimbra we decided to go to Fátima and visit one of the most important pilgrimage centers of Catholicism.
We also made a short trip to Porto, to visit a city that we loved on our previous trip to this city.
The preparation of the trip
We made the trip to Coimbra by car. This time, as in previous years when we went to Porto and London, we left our children with their grandparents and made a quick getaway. They love to travel, but being with their grandparents is also a happiness for them.
We stayed in the very center of Coimbra, at the Hotel Oslo, which is not the best hotel we have stayed in, nor is it the worst, but it has two great attractions. The first, being in the center of the city. The second, a terrace from which you have the best views of the city.
Day 1. Fatima, Batalha and Pombal
We left Plasencia quite early to make the most of the lightning trip. And also because the road that connects the border of Portugal with Castelo Branco is quite winding, so it takes a long time to travel about 80 kilometers.
In the first place, deviating a little from the logical route towards Coimbra, we went to Fátima, where the main attraction is the esplanade where the famous Sanctuary of Fátima is located. The previous year we had been to Lourdes and expected something similar but we were surprised that Fátima did not seem so commercial although there were also numerous shops.
After parking in a huge dirt car park, we went to the immense Basilica of the Holy Trinity, a recently built very modern temple that can hold up to 8,000 people. immense. That is its attraction, because beauty has little.
From there we walk along the esplanade that takes you to the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, which stands out for its high tower, the stairs that give access to the basilica and its façade. Of the enclosure it is also necessary to highlight the Chapel of the Apparitions, which was where the tree was next to the one that supposedly appeared and the Monument to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
After eating a fabulous cod in cream in a nearby restaurant, we set out on our journey to Batalha, located a few kilometers away. The great attraction of this city is the Batalha Monastery, simply spectacular and it was declared a World Heritage Site for a reason.
In Portugal there are no great cathedrals but this monastery, together with the nearby Alcobaça, represent the largest religious temples in the country. Nearby is also Pombal, where we made a quick stop to visit its castle before finally arriving in Coimbra.
This first day ended with a short walk through the Baixa de Coimbra, where the Plaza del Comercio and Rua Ferreira Borges are located.
Day 2. Coimbra and the Buçaco Palace
The time difference in Portugal is always a help when visiting the country, and thanks to it you can get up earlier without sleep and have more time to see everything.
After breakfast, we went to the historic center of Coimbra and began to climb its steep and cobbled streets, so typical in Portugal. This is where you are grateful not to come with small children, as we would say that it is almost impossible to lift a chair through those streets. It was hard even walking.
Finally we reach the upper part, where the New Cathedral is located, the former headquarters of the Jesuits. After replenishing our strength, we entered it and visited it before going to the main point of interest in Coimbra, its University.
At the University of Coimbra, also declared a World Heritage Site, we bought the full ticket that gave you access to the Tower, the old Royal Palace, the beautiful Chapel of San Miguel and, above all, the Joanina Library, its great jewel.
To enter the Joanina Library you are assigned a specific time because you have to enter in groups of 60 people. It is forbidden to take photos there, even without a flash, as a series of bats live inside it, guarding the centuries-old books and protecting them from insects.
From there we went to the University Science Museum, which was also included in the full ticket. Very interesting.
After leaving the New Cathedral behind, we begin to descend through the steep streets until we reach the Old Cathedral, where the seat of the bishopric used to be. It looks like a fortress, like other Portuguese cathedrals, and they charge admission but it is worth paying to see its spectacular cloister.
After lunch in a nearby restaurant, we continue descending, leaving behind the Torre de Anto and arriving again at the Baixa, where we visit the Plaza 8 de Mayo. In this square, with a beautiful fountain in its center, is the Church of Santa Cruz, one of the most beautiful in the city.
Thus ended our walk through Coimbra during this day before going to rest for a while at the hotel and regain strength to make an interesting excursion in the afternoon, the Buçaco Palace.
This palace, located in the town of Luso, can be reached in half an hour. You have to pay to enter by car, not if you walk or bike, but it’s worth it. The palace is truly spectacular and the setting much more so. It was a place that we loved. And after the visit we went to the Mirador de la Cruz Alta, from where you have fantastic views of the green Portugal.
Day 3. Porto
Of course, to visit Porto you need several days and we only went one. But we already know it and this time we wanted to make different plans to our previous visit.
From Coimbra to Porto there is approximately one hour by car arriving after overcoming the temptation to go to Aveiro, one of the most beautiful cities in Portugal, and which we also know. In Porto we park in the car park next to the Palacio de la Bolsa.
And our first visit was going to be that, inside the Palacio de la Bolsa. But everything was complete until 5:00 p.m. It can only be visited in a guided way and at the ticket offices they tell you the available hours and the language in which it is done. The first person who reserves for an hour chooses the language.
So we went to the Torre de los Clérigos and climb its great tower, a plan that we missed on the previous visit. It took us a long time to go up to the Torre de los Clérigos because there were a lot of people. It was Sunday and the weather was good and Porto was bursting with tourists. But it was worth it because the views from the top are spectacular.
From there we walked, leaving the Avenida de la Libertad and the San Bento Station to one side until the commercial Rua Santa Catarina. There we ate a francesinha in a restaurant, the most typical dish of Porto and possibly… the most overrated.
The next destination was the river area, so we went down its steep streets to the pier where the boat trips depart from and we did the cruise of the 6 bridges that takes you along the Duero River having different views of the city.
Our visit to Porto ended in Foz de Douro admiring a beautiful sunset before heading to Coimbra again.
And so our whirlwind trip to Portugal came to an end, since the next day we set out on our way back home wanting to see the children and also wanting to return to this country that captivates almost everyone.