This is an independent sightseeing holiday based in Coimbra, the main city of central Portugal, traveling through the heartland of the country.
Spreading around the margins of the tranquil Mondego River, Coimbra, home to one of the oldest Universities in the world, it’s a city full of history and heritage.
From here, you’ll start a journey to Serra do Bussaco, both a mountain and a botanical garden, to the Lousã Mountains, to the quaint “slate villages”, and to the beautiful beaches and coastline of Figueira da Foz.
Today, Coimbra is a thriving modern city cocooning an ancient centre with a vibrant and lively atmosphere thanks to the local people, the population of students from all over the country and abroad, and to visitors.
Visiting Coimbra is like taking a historical journey. This ancient city was at the forefront of the Roman Empire over 2000 years ago, being the first capital of the new Kingdom of Portugal in the 12th century.
Spend some time exploring the university quarter and the botanical gardens, amongst the oldest in the world.
Admire the architecture of the city’s great churches, visit its many galleries, or simply wander through the streets, soaking in the unique atmosphere of this magical living museum.
With Coimbra as a centre, this self-drive holiday includes a visit to the Serra do Bussaco, which is both a mountain and a botanical garden.
The site has the most diverse collection of plants and trees in the hole of Portugal, with its origins going back to the 10th century.
It is protected by the Vatican: a papal decree from the 16th century threatens to excommunicate anyone who damages the forest and another decree (since revoked), forbade the approach of women.
It is also the site of a decisive battle in the Peninsula wars in which the French were defeated by a joint force of Portuguese and English troops.
Nearby Coimbra, the maze of tracks of the Serra da Lousã leads to the traditional schist villages, the “Aldeias do Xisto”.
Traveling to the shore, discover the beautiful beaches and coastline of Figueira da Foz, in the Atlantic Silver Coast, where the river Mondego ends its journey.
Figueira da Foz, aka the Queen of Beaches, is a unique combination of a fishing port with a chic seaside resort with faded charm.
Here, you’ll find lovely Belle Époque architecture, the oldest casino in the Iberian Peninsula, and, from the surrounding green hills of the Serra da Boa Viagem, commanding views to the sea and the lovely beaches.
The region’s delicious cuisine and prized wines are truly some of the best parts when visiting Central Portugal. The flavours are fresh, vibrant, and often unexpected.
From fish dishes to succulent and hearty meat dishes, to conventual sweets, you won’t be disappointed!
From this region, come the finest cheeses and delicatessen meats, perfect to be paired with a glass of red wine, produced in the slopes of the Mondego.
The students sing a traditional fado song, accompanied by the exquisite Portuguese guitar, which says that “Coimbra has more charm in the hour of parting”. You’ll sure bring fond memories from this holiday, and miss Coimbra and Central Portugal!