Coimbra Mid Portugal…..just waiting to be explored by Campervan.

Blog post by Stephen Fleay…former BBC / CBS journalist correspondent

My early “on the road” travel experiences were quite similar to today’s Camper Van adventures, except I pulled a Caravan around the outback of Australia…and that was over half a century  ago.

I now live in retirement in mid Portugal. It is quite similar to Australia as there are lots of Eucalyptus Trees…the Koalas are here too, but in Zoos in Porto and Lisbon.

So why Mid Portugal for Campervans?

First of all the roads…they are excellent. And you can find great delights” just getting to destination.”  Even the back roads are well former and of course all are sealed. There are tolls on the Motorways (Known as the Autostrada in Portugal. You’ll find international roads signs and European distances in Kilometers.

But it is always extra nice to travel to your destination (wherever that may be) on a so called back road. “Do what the locals do” especially to avoid the road tolls on the modern motorways. You’ll have the extra bonus of beautiful views with ample places to pull over for a cuppa and a browse of the scenery. And that nice clean , clear air!

Mimosa / Wattle Trees near Coimbra Portugal…hand phone photo Stephen Fleay.

I must mention that all my photos posted here are taken on a Samsung Galaxy Note hand phone camera. Mid Portugal is very photogenic.

If you find yourself parked with the campervan somewhere in the great outdoors for a night stop-over, then the skies of mid Portugal will offer an extra bonus. There will be great views to be had of the stars at night. And there are soothing sounds of the night insects and a few other bush critters….but nothing dangerous lurking in the woodlands. A friendly fox may even come and cadge some snacks as you sit outside and have your dinner under the stars.

Coimbra central Portugal is the third largest city in the country. It is very old. Goes back hundreds of years .  There are ample parking places for your campervan on the far side of the Mondego River, and then you can walk around the main part of the city and take in some history. A good place to watch the passing parade is in them idst of what is known here as The Baixa. (pronounced Byshah). It is actually the main  square of Coimbra. Up there at the top of the hill is the Coimbra University. Said to be one of the oldest  Universities anywhere. It goes back to the 1200’s and before that the top of the hill site was occupied by the Romans. If you feel like an uphill walk you can go and have a look around at this long time place of higher learning. The Library is well worth visiting. They use bats to take care of any intruding rats and mice!     Fear not, you will not be subject to any type of Dracular attack.

Then sit and take in the views at the main square of Coimbra with a nice cup of local coffee and Portuguese sweet treats. Most buildings here go back hundreds of years. There are hotels, banks, souvenir shops, and at the other end another Square with a very old Church.

Your campervan over the other side of the Mondego river will be quite safe while you enjoy this historic city.

My very favourite building in the Coimbra Baixa area is the Grand Hotel Astoria.

The main lobby of the Astoria was remodeled into Art Deco some years ago while the outside appears Art Noveau from over a 100 years ago.

The main accommodation Tower has the extra bonus of good views of the city of Coimbra


Grocery Shopping…..i strongly suggest the Continente which is close to the centre of Coimbra. A large parking area. You will find familiar products here.

The tap water in Coimbra is very good.

To be continued….other places to see in and around Coimbra.


Stephen Fleay
former: BBC / CBS correspondent.
Official promotional video produced by the city of Coimbra.