Coimbra with its Joanina library in Portugal
After 2 days in the Nature Park of Serra da Estrela, we went back to Coimbra to return the renting car. Our plan is to discover the city in 1 day before to go to Sintra by train, a little break after some hiking days but before, we drove to a village called Piódão for lunch.
Piódão is not easy to access, first driving very up to the mountain then very down into the valley; the last kilometres are narrow in which some sections, only 1 single car can go through but each time there was a car coming in front of us, we always managed to find a way to let one of us go first. The village is one of the Historic villages of Portugal classified by the government.
It is famous for the material used to build houses called schist and to use only the blue colour to paint the windows and doors (only some houses). The intruder is the church totally white and blue. The other good thing, there is an open air swimming pool with the water coming directly from the river, very nice.
Once finished our lunch, we drove to Coimbra by continuing our way using the same road (we didn't have to go back by the same way by which we came). I have to say that the road is better, with enough space for 2 cars but still dangerous, going very up before to go down. Anyway, if you plan to go there, be careful, it is not an easy road.
At Coimbra, our hotel is Ibis (edificio topazio, avenida emidio navarro 70 - 70 euros per night with breakfast), located in the downtown and just in front of the Manuel Braga park with the river. The downtown is built in a hill, to do a quick resume, most of sites are up and most of eating places are down. We passed our day walking in its narrow streets, discovering squares and viewpoints. We visited the university, particularly famous for its Joanina library built totally in wood including the floor and columns which are painted to look like the marble. The price includes going up to the tower for a 360 degrees panoramic view and the science museum. The full visit took us all the morning and since in the museum there is a cafeteria offering an all you can eat buffet for 10 euros (including unlimited water/wine and coffee), we lunched there (the food is normal).
The botanic garden is a nice place to visit in the afternoon, the place offers a cool atmosphere to escape from the heat and the entrance is free. The other thing free is the water game in the river; at night, it changes colors and if they have put music, it would be better. Unfortunately, I have no recommendation for restaurants since the places we went, the food was normal. If you like live music, there is a nice place called Café Santa Cruz at the 8 de maio square.
The next day, we had to leave the town to Sintra, UNESCO World Heritage Site; our train ticket showed us that we had to take it at the coimbra station then to do a change at the coimbra-b station so we decided to take a taxi driving us directly to the coimbra-b station (about 8 euros from the hotel).