The Best Bars in Coimbra, Portugal

Relax with a drink at one of the top bars in Coimbra
Relax with a drink at one of the top bars in Coimbra | © Johann Trasch /
Sadie Whitelocks

Step back in time with a trip to Coimbra, which served as Portugal’s Medieval capital for more than one hundred years, and sip a drink or two at the best bars in town.

This picturesque town, which sits on a hill overlooking the snaking Mondego River, is home to one of the oldest libraries in Europe, which was built in the early 18th century at the bequest of King John V as part of the university. The town remains a hub for students, with a range of great bars as a result. Culture Trip has picked out some of the best to suit all budgets.

1. Gastrobar Arcadas

Bar, Cocktails

Quinta das Lágrimas hotel h
Courtesy of Quinta das Lágrimas hotel /

Exuding old-school class, this smart bar is housed within the dreamy Quinta das Lágrimas hotel, which is part of the prestigious Small Luxury Hotels of the World portfolio. Following on from the rest of the palatial 18th-century property, this bar has a romantic ambience, with racing-green walls and a dark, wood-panelled bar. The menu includes all the classic cocktails and a fine selection of wine. Don’t leave without trying the sangria at Quinta das Lágrimas.

2. Rugby Lounge Club

Bar, Beer

For a young, fun atmosphere, this bar fits the bill. There’s a great outdoor space, with faux flowers dripping down the walls, a canopied roof and naked light bulbs strung up like fairy lights. There are regular deals on beers, shots and cocktails, with the punchy caipirinhas highly recommended. Come nightfall, the inside bar turns into quite the party spot, with DJs spinning, dancing encouraged and neon lights casting a funky glow.

4. Passporte Lounge

Bar, Cocktails

Rack up some extra likes on your Instagram feed with sunset shots from this well-positioned rooftop bar. The Passaporte boasts fine views of Coimbra and the Mondego River beyond. It’s a great spot for a pre-dinner drink – the sangria comes highly recommended. The colonial-style building is another highlight, with the original features intact both inside and out.

5. Garden Bar

Bar, Cocktails

From the outside, this bar is unassuming, but it’s worth stepping inside and stopping for a drink, with a great atmosphere bubbling away until the early hours. This venue, which has been welcoming guests for more than 30 years, sits within a glasshouse-like structure, with tropical plants dotted here and there. It prides itself on making one of the best gin and tonics in town, and there’s a great selection of other tipples to pick from, from vodkas and whiskies to Portuguese wines. The service is friendly, too.

6. Fangas Mercearia Bar

Bar, Restaurant, Portuguese

Add a splash of colour to your stay in Coimbra, with a visit to this quaint little bar. The pint-sized venue features a striped colour scheme from floor to ceiling, with an arty display of crockery and a rainbow-hued feature wall. Settle in here with a glass of sangria, Portuguese wine, or beer, and soak up the quirky surroundings. The staff are friendly, and the service is quick, with the tasty food being a bonus.

7. Sapientia Boutique Hotel

Boutique Hotel

Sapientia Boutique Hotel
Courtesy of Sapientia Boutique Hotel /

Nip up to the roof at this slick boutique hotel to soak up the views and some delicious sangria or buckets of champagne. From this spot, you’ll be served a unique perspective of the Mondego River, the University Courtyard, the University Tower and the famous Joanine Library. This is the perfect spot for an afternoon pick-me-up or to see the sunset in its full glory. If you’re in the mood for romance, you could opt to stay on for a private dinner and book some musicians to serenade you.

8. What’s up Doc Bar

Bar, Beer

You’re guaranteed to make a friend or five at this lively, price-friendly bar on a picturesque, tree-lined square. This bar is a hotspot for students, who stay until the early hours. Things tend to liven up post-10pm, so it’s best to arrive fashionably late if you’re looking to have fun. Beer and shots come in at less than €1 (£0.80), so this friendly spot definitely caters to those on a student budget.

9. Murphy’s Irish Pub

Pub, Beer

If you’re a fan of Irish pubs, then you’re in luck, as Murphy’s offers everything you would expect from such an institution: from cold pints of Guinness to live music and a friendly welcome. The unusual feature of this Irish bar is that there is a leafy outdoor garden space, which transports you to the country wilds. The interiors are also intriguing, with a mezzanine ceiling and guns framed on the wall.

10. Tasca De Santana

Bar, Wine

Tasca De Santana 1
Courtesy of Tasca De Santana /

Oenophiles will feel right at home at this cosy wine bar, which is located close to the Botanical Garden of the University of Coimbra. There is an outdoor terrace and several tables inside, with an impressive selection of bottles lining the walls from floor to ceiling. This place has a particularly cosy atmosphere in the evening, with soft lighting and the chatter of fellow guests softly bubbling away. The cocktails here also get top marks.

After an evening of drinking at one of these bars, you’ll be in the right mind to stay in one of the best hotels in Coimbra, now bookable with Culture Trip. If you’re still unsure of where to go, try Porto, where you can relax in traditional bars and sleep like a baby after a day of exploring.

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