Coimbra is Portugal’s third largest city after Lisbon and Porto, and the largest in the Centro region. With more than 100,000 residents in the city itself and about 150,000 in the municipality, it is best known for its university—the oldest in Portugal. The campus also attracts thousands of international students and has given Coimbra a national reputation as the ‘City of Knowledge’.
Situated on the banks of the Mondego river, Coimbra is in a strategic central position between Porto and Lisbon and has excellent access by motorway, rail, and sea through its port of Figueira da Foz, as well as good transport links to Spain.
As the capital of Portugal until the 13th century, Coimbra retains an important cultural and architectural heritage, which helped its university buildings gain the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013. Coimbra’s historic character, riverside parks, a large nature reserve west of the city and its gentle climate make the city particularly attractive for tourists.
The wealth of the city comes mainly from its university, with a total of some 35,000 students. After the loss of its traditional industries, Coimbra has more recently concentrated on developing specialised health services and a high-technology sector. This transition towards a new economy is the result of developing its R&D resources by strengthening the links between higher education and the business sector. This local synergy has helped the city to support a growing number of new companies in the science and technology industries.