After arriving in Portugal, the first region we drove to, on the our way to Coimbra, was Obidos. Obidos is a charming little town that is surrounded by walls.
Even the parking lot had architecture that awed me:
The first thing we had to do was stop at the pharmacy to get sunscreen; I would NOT recommend this. Obviously, this is a tourist pharmacy where they’ve jacked up the prices. Unfortunately, we were forced to, because our airline lost our luggage for the first part of the trip. (*sigh* In the future, I plan to travel sans checked luggage).
The city of Obidos has turned into somewhat of a tourist district, but we visited for this reason (and I recommend you do too): the whole village is surrounded by castle walls, which, first, is just very cool, and, second, offers some wonderful views.
Here’s what it looks like when you get up to the walls:
It also offers spectacular views over the village and the surrounding area:
Once you get into the city, you’ll find restaurants and gift shops, most of which sell Ginja; it’s sort of like a cherry flavoured liqueur . (Ian liked it, I didn’t.)
Apart from that, they have some charming little antics that they’ve thrown into the village to make for a more fun experience.
They even had an escape room in the castle, which blew my mind! I would have loved to do it, but we didn’t have time.
After saying goodbye to Obidos, we drove to Coimbra (and if you’re wondering, yes, the winding roads are absolutely insane.)
We stayed in the heart of the town, at a hostel right outside Se Velha, Coimbra’s 900 year old chapel. This was the view from our room:
Coimbra was a very charming place; while walking around looking for a place to eat, we were beckoned over by a man with a sample plate. He didn’t speak any english, so Ian and I got to practice our Duolingo learned Portuguese. The restaurant we went to served authentic Portuguese food; while the menu is largely dependent on meat and fish, I found a nice little tomato rice dish, which was delicious. I would recommend going to family owned restaurants such as this one, if you’re looking for authenticity!
In the morning, before heading to Porto, we visited some of the town’s landmarks, such as the University of Coimbra:
If you’re looking for cheap places to have breakfast and/or lunch, I would recommend the many snack bars scattered all over the country. They’re all fairly similar, and the prices are amazing. Generally, Ian and I might get two espressos, a few pastries, and a couple of cold drinks for less than five euros.
There are also many back roads in Coimbra, most of which are spotted with local graffiti..
After exploring the heart of Coimbra, we said goodbye to the local strays I’d obviously made friends with, and left for Porto!
Top Things to See and Do In Obidos and Coimbra:
- Walk along the city’s walls. This offers a spectacular view of everything.
- Try the fresh orange juice. Obidos has a few stands here and there offering ‘the best orange juice’. And it was.
- Try some Ginja. Obidos is proud of its local liqueur – so you don’t have to buy a whole bottle to try it! If you walk down the local alleys, almost all the shops that serve food and drink will offer a shot of it for 1 euro.
- Visit the University. Coimbra’s university is spread out over the city, so you can explore the beautiful architecture that makes it up.
- Try the local food. Out of almost all the cities we visited, Coimbra seemed to have the easiest-to-find mom-and-pop-esque restaurants – they’re the most authentic, and the cheapest!
- Walk around the alleys. Coimbra’s neighborhoods are set up in a zany way; what I mean by this is that all the alleys are very tight and winding, and they’re meant for cars and people. On top of that, all the apartments are built right into them! It’s really a lovely sight.
- Check out the graffiti. Adding on to exploring the alleys, you’ll catch some wonderful street art all over the city if you walk around a little.
How much will you spend?
Your daily spending in Coimbra really depends on what kind of attractions you want to see, and where you want to stay.
Accommodation: Ian and I stayed in the lovely Hostel Se Velha, which cost us about 30$ Canadian per night. (And just for clarification, this was a really nice hostel; and we had a private room and everything!)
Food:We ate at a local restaurant, and after splurging on appetizers and wine, we spent about 30 euros. For lunch and breakfast, I will always recommend snack bars, which you can find everywhere. Typically, for two of us, a couple of espressos and pastries would run us under five euros. Usually, these places are bustling around mid afternoon and close at 7 for the dinner rush!
Transportation: Coimbra is a small place, so I’d recommend saving your euros and walking everywhere!
Attractions: Seeing sights such as the University is free; however, if you want to explore museums and such, expect to spend some money!
Stay tuned for the next posts, in which I’ll be talking about our time in Aveiro and Porto!