Postcards from Portugal: Coimbra & Porto

Today’s post is the third of three in my Postcards from Portugal series. The first post on Lisbon, Cascais & Sintra is here. The second post on Évora, Fátima & Tomar is here. As usual, when you see an image gallery, click on an image to get a better view and use the arrows to move through the gallery.


On Day 6, from Tomar, I headed north to Coimbra, the third-largest city in Portugal. I visited the University of Coimbra, among the oldest universities in Europe, with more than 700 years of history, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Upon arrival, I met two University of Coimbra students in their uniforms. They were fundraising for their upcoming graduation. The university campus has amazing art and architectural details in all directions. The walkway to the main courtyard has unique star-shaped tile design. I took time to look up, down, left, right and around to appreciate this incredible site.

Students in robes at the University of Coimbra

In the photo below, note the distinct tiles on the roof, the beautiful columns, statues and carvings that frame the entrance. Then there is a small black iron gate at the entrance with some garments. The tradition is that once the students receive their final marks and pass, they throw their gowns as high up on the entrance as possible. Some of the gowns get stuck there.

The university’s Palace Gate
A mosaic of the university’s seal in front of the main gate
The University Tower in the main courtyard
The Minerva Stairs – A popular spot for graduation photography
Doors in Manueline style

The tour at the university is very interesting and shows beautiful art and architecture inside. Most rooms have gorgeous tiles (azulejos) on the walls, paintings on the ceilings and texture-rich furnishings.

The jewel at the University is the stunning Joanine Library with its rich baroque decor. However, no photography is allowed inside. I learned that there are small bats in the library. They eat insects and naturally preserve the books. Each night, all surfaces in the library are covered with fine leather to protect them from bat droppings.


From Coimbra I continued my journey to Porto (or Oporto), Portugal’s second largest city with a 2000-year history. The Historic Centre of Oporto, Luiz I Bridge and Monastery of Serra do Pilar is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

I visited the Church of St. Francis and and walked the upper part of Porto to get a fantastic view of the city, the Clerigos Tower and the Duoro River.

A palace well worth visiting is the Stock Exchange Palace, renowned for its exquisite neoclassical façade and ornate gilded Arabian Hall.

On the last afternoon in Porto I enjoyed a Douro River Cruise to view the city from a new perspective. The boat passed by the numerous port wine cellars and under the magnificent bridges crossing the Duoro river valley. I visited a Port Wine Cellar for a tasting. It was a wonderful way to end my trip.

Weekend Coffee Share

This post concludes my three-part ‘Postcards from Portugal‘ series. Thank you for following along. For more door photos, visit Dan’s #ThursdayDoors photo challenge.

I’d love for you to share what’s been happening, simple joys from your week and/ or favourite public art photos from around the world in the comments or Weekend Coffee Share linkup #119 InLinkz below.

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102 thoughts on “Postcards from Portugal: Coimbra & Porto

  1. Liesbet @ Roaming About May 19, 2023 / 8:26 am

    I didn’t know Portugal had this many UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Such amazing towns and places you visited. One day, I’ll explore Portugal as well and enjoy a couple of portos at the source. It’s my favorite drink, besides certain cocktails. 🙂


    • Natalie May 19, 2023 / 1:13 pm

      One of my reasons to revisit Portugal is to see several (7) UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The country is small and easy to navigate by rail. The riverfront in Porto is lined with port wine cellars and the Duoro river valley is lovely. I’m sure you’ll enjoy a couple of glasses of port wine there 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Toonsarah May 19, 2023 / 8:59 am

    SUch beautiful buildings, and the river cruise looks lovely too 🙂 I was fascinated to read about the bats in the library 😮


    • Natalie May 19, 2023 / 1:17 pm

      The library at U of Coimbra is quite beautiful and filled with ancient books from top to bottom. I was also fascinated about the bats in the library and the nightly task of covering of all the surfaces. The Duoro river cruise is a relaxing and wonderful way to see Porto from the river.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Dan Antion May 19, 2023 / 9:05 am

    These are lovely photos, Natalie. Those stairs, the main ones and the ones in the photo of the University Tower, are amazing. Thanks for the information about the graduations. I think that’s a wonderful time in a person’s life.


    • Natalie May 19, 2023 / 1:19 pm

      Dan, I agree that university graduation is a wonderful time in a person’s life. I’m glad you like my photos. Thank you for hosting Thursday Doors.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. leannelc May 19, 2023 / 9:07 am

    I loved the architecture and mosaics Natalie and inside the Stock Exchange Palace was absolutely beautiful. You’re so fortunate to have seen it all during your holiday – thanks for sharing the highlights.


    • Natalie May 19, 2023 / 1:20 pm

      I count my blessings, Leanne. I really enjoyed my visit to Coimbra and Porto. Thank you for following along virtually.


  5. Ally Bean May 19, 2023 / 9:12 am

    I’ve known a few people who have travelled to Porto. Your photos show an intriguing place. The architecture is compelling. Maybe, someday… I’ll get there.


    • Natalie May 19, 2023 / 1:22 pm

      Most people who visit Portugal visit Lisbon and Porto. Both cities have a lot to offer. I’d go back if given the opportunity.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Writing Sparkle May 19, 2023 / 10:11 am

    What are the two students holding in the first picture? Is it flowers or something else?

    Thanks for hosting another week of coffee shares, Natalie.


    • Natalie May 19, 2023 / 1:24 pm

      The students are holding bowls of pens/ pencils that have decorative ends. They sell them for 2 euros each or three for 5 euros. Thank you for your WCS contribution.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Melis May 19, 2023 / 11:25 am

    Oh goodness, the details in the architecture are so completely breathtaking. I really need to travel more. Thank you for always bringing us on your adventures and for hosting the Coffee Share! I’m participating from my new site this week and am excited to share something a little different 🙂 Hope you have a great weekend!


    • Natalie May 19, 2023 / 1:33 pm

      Thank you for reading about my adventures and commenting. I look forward to visiting your new blog. Have a wonderful weekend!


  8. Dan May 19, 2023 / 1:41 pm

    Beautiful tour of Portugal. I have to make sure I’ve seen all three posts. I was only there once, but I loved it. Portuguese tiles are the highlight.


    • Natalie May 19, 2023 / 6:11 pm

      Thank you Dan for your comment. Portuguese tiles are beautiful. I took many photos of the tile designs.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Joanne May 19, 2023 / 1:58 pm

    I love all that beautiful old world architecture!


  10. Retirement Reflections May 19, 2023 / 3:19 pm

    Hi, Natalie – I greatly enjoyed your Postcards from Portugal series. It helped inspire me to book our next Camino adventure – in Portugal – this autumn! I’m super excited!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie May 19, 2023 / 6:14 pm

      Thank you Donna for your comment. I’m excited for you. Doing the Portuguese Camino in autumn sounds wonderful.


  11. Thistles and Kiwis May 19, 2023 / 3:26 pm

    Wonderful pictures that really capture the sense of place. The story of the bats in the library is so special too.


    • Natalie May 19, 2023 / 6:16 pm

      Thank you Barbara for your comment. The tour guide at the Joanine Library told us he saw some of the small bats.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Marsha May 19, 2023 / 3:54 pm

    Your trip to Portugal gets more beautiful every week, Natalie. I was intrigued by the bat story. I’m amazed that they didn’t cause more harm to the books than good. That’s an ecologically sound way to solve the insect problem, though. The bats that drank from our pool in the evening in CA did not do their jobs well enough to keep us from getting lathered in mosquito bites at dusk. I think they probably preferred peaches over mosquitos. 🙂 Have a great week, Natalie. 🙂


    • Natalie May 19, 2023 / 6:18 pm

      Marsha, I really enjoyed Coimbra and Porto. I’m glad places like the Joanine Library is well maintained both by humans and the small bats so people can come and visit. Have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Marsha May 20, 2023 / 10:35 am

        That is so amazing. I am surprised more libraries don’t have bats. They would be good protection from night time break-ins, too. It would be pretty spooky.


        • Natalie May 20, 2023 / 5:59 pm

          I don’t know if the bats choose the library or the library chooses them. It’s a natural solution for the ancient books.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Marsha May 21, 2023 / 11:13 am

            LOL I guess I hadn’t given the bats much credit in the process! 😝

            Liked by 1 person

  13. Jennifer Jones May 19, 2023 / 6:26 pm

    Your photos are beautiful Natalie. I couldn’t stop looking at the architecture. The library sounds amazing. I love that they use bats to protect the books. I would love to wander around inside


    • Natalie May 19, 2023 / 8:13 pm

      Thank you, Jennifer. Both the University of Coimbra and Porto are beautiful places to visit.


  14. Lydia C. Lee May 19, 2023 / 7:05 pm

    Thoise Universities are amazing – ours are quite modern, except Sydney which is the one near me. But as lovely as those buildings are, it’s what’s taught inside that matters!


    • Natalie May 19, 2023 / 8:14 pm

      The University of Coimbra seems to offer many challenging and interesting programs as per their website.


  15. QP and Eye (Linda) May 20, 2023 / 2:29 am

    I posted about the graduating students and their bowls is flowers elsewhere, not sure what happened there, but I see they are pens with colourful ends. Lovely photos. The old architecture is beautiful and they didn’t have our technology.


    • Natalie May 20, 2023 / 6:59 am

      Thank you Linda for your comments. I saw your other comment on another post (Outside the Box | People). I’m glad you liked my photos. I enjoyed my visit to the University of Coimbra and Porto very much.


  16. restlessjo May 20, 2023 / 2:45 am

    Lovely choices, Natalie! It sounds like an excellent trip.


    • Natalie May 20, 2023 / 7:00 am

      It was a wonderful trip, Jo. I wouldn’t mind returning to Portugal for an extended stay.


    • Natalie May 20, 2023 / 7:03 am

      Margaret, Thank you for following me virtually on my Portugal adventures and for your PPAC contribution that takes me to Spain.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie May 20, 2023 / 7:06 am

      Sofia, Thank you for your comment and for your PPAC contribution. There are pictures of the Joanine LIbrary interiors on the internet. U of Coimbra is a beautiful university. A walk on the main campus would yield many photo opportunities.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. trentpmcd May 20, 2023 / 7:59 am

    Great architecture! I don’t know what it’d be like to go to school like that! Almost a Portuguese Hogwarts 😉 At least it seems magical to me…
    Have a wonderful week.


    • Natalie May 20, 2023 / 5:54 pm

      It’s a beautiful campus. I saw the room where students present their thesis. It looks like a court room. Have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Michelle May 20, 2023 / 10:29 am

    The architecture continues to be magnificent wherever you traveled. I am so intrigued by the library bats. Fascinating strategy!


    • Natalie May 20, 2023 / 5:56 pm

      Thank you Michelle for your comment. The Joanine Library is amazing to see. There are pictures of the library on the internet.


  19. Tanja May 20, 2023 / 11:48 am

    lovely doors! we visited Coimbra too as a day trip from Lisbon almost 10 years ago


    • Natalie May 20, 2023 / 6:00 pm

      Thank you Tanja for your comment. I hope you enjoyed Coimbra.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie May 20, 2023 / 6:02 pm

      Thank you for stopping by Emily. I’m glad you liked my pictures.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Karen May 20, 2023 / 5:02 pm

    That was interesting about the bats in the library.


    • Natalie May 20, 2023 / 6:02 pm

      A natural solution to maintain the ancient books.


  21. ganga1996 May 20, 2023 / 8:23 pm

    Hi Natalie, just curious do the kids wear uniform when they are in Universities too? Thanks for taking us on a virtual trip to Portugal.


    • Natalie May 21, 2023 / 2:13 pm

      I saw the university students in uniform, black and white, without the robes. Thank you for following my Portugal adventures.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. csuhpat1 May 20, 2023 / 8:48 pm

    You really capture the beauty and heart of Portugal. So very nice. Thanks for sharing these great photos.


    • Natalie May 21, 2023 / 2:14 pm

      Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed my postcards from Portugal.


  23. Maria May 21, 2023 / 12:52 am

    The university and the stock exchange palace are stunning!! WOW! Thank you for sharing that architecture with us.


    • Natalie May 21, 2023 / 2:15 pm

      You’re welcome. Thank you for following my Portugal adventures.


  24. Diana May 21, 2023 / 1:52 pm

    Hi Natalie,
    Such a lovely post with wonderful photos of your beautiful trip to Portugal. I so enjoyed traveling with you through your blog posts. I have had a rough week which I shared in my weekend coffee share, my sweet girl Chloe is running free now. I am so grateful for having a space where I can share my love for my horses and my life. It is very cathartic. I appreciate you hosting as we have such a wonderful blogging family, such caring folks. I hope you have a wonderful week ahead! Love, Diana

    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie May 21, 2023 / 2:23 pm

      I’m sorry to hear about Chloe. I’m glad to see you at the weekly WCS linkup and that you enjoyed my postcards from Portugal.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie May 21, 2023 / 2:24 pm

      Thank you Pam. Glad you liked my photos.


  25. PR May 22, 2023 / 3:17 am

    Oh yes, I have lovely memories from both Coimbra and Porto! I didn’t see this palace and the Duoro valley (weather) though. May be I need to visit again 🙂. Did you also listen to the Fado music while in Coimbra? It was a lovely experience for me.


    • Natalie May 22, 2023 / 2:51 pm

      It was a wonderful trip. Thank you.


  26. Easin' Along May 23, 2023 / 6:00 pm

    You certainly made the most of your visit to Portugal. The architecture is fabulous, and you did an excellent job of capturing it. I love to visit any college campus–it’s a special time for young people, and I enjoy seeing them enjoy their time there. Question: Which is better–white or red port? I’ve never tasted white. Have a great week. Joe


    • Natalie May 23, 2023 / 6:20 pm

      Thank you Joe for your kind comment. I’m with you about visiting college/ university campus. The youthful energy there is wonderful and time at college as a student is such a memorable time in one’s life.
      According to the winery tour guide, they have three types in the port wine family: white, ruby and tawny. White is less sweet than ruby which is less sweet than tawny port. Tawny port is vintage, aged from 10 to 40 years old. I liked both white and ruby tasting while most people in the tasting room liked the white port.

      Liked by 1 person

  27. Julie May 24, 2023 / 12:24 am

    I actually had to research about the Portuguese university uniform. I am quite surprised. I wonder if it gets hot though because I assume Portugal is warmer…


    • Natalie May 24, 2023 / 7:58 am

      From fall to spring when the school year is in, it’s not hot in Portugal. When it gets hot in July and August, it’s summer break. Portuguese university uniform has a long history and students wear their cloaks with pride.


    • Natalie May 24, 2023 / 8:08 am

      I enjoyed all the places that I visited on this trip. I wouldn’t mind returning to Portugal for an extended stay and explore more. I’d skip Fatima next time now that I’ve seen it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Alison May 24, 2023 / 8:10 am

        It looked like such a great trip, just too far for us, maybe next year


        • Natalie May 24, 2023 / 8:14 am

          Yes, I get the travel distance. I keep putting off visiting Australia and New Zealand when I think of the long flights from/ to Canada. Even if I plan stopovers, it’s still a vast distance.

          Liked by 1 person

            • Natalie May 24, 2023 / 9:44 am

              Yes, I remember the jetlag I had when I returned to Canada from South East Asia.

              Liked by 1 person

  28. Ju-Lyn May 24, 2023 / 8:14 pm

    What a historic & splendid town Coimbra is – to attend university in a setting like this? Marvellous!


    • Natalie May 24, 2023 / 8:40 pm

      I agree with you. Coimbra and its university are splendid places to visit.


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