COIMBRA - NEIGHBORHOODS
Universidade (University of Coimbra)
The area in and around the university is transient by its very nature, as students come to Coimbra to attend school, graduate, and then leave. As a result, many people in the area adjacent to the university live in apartments, as do many expats who want to stay close to all the action. The university area is also heavily commercialized, not just for students but also for tourists. You will find a lot of cafes, restaurants and bars in this area, and hotels on the periphery of the university`s main campus.
North and Northwest of Universidade (Santa Cruz)
The Santa Cruz area is considered the `new city center` -- new in the sense that it was built in the 12th century, four whole centuries after the walls of the Almedina were constructed. This area began to thrive during the Renaissance, with the economy revolving around businesses situated in and around meeting places such as the Praca 8 de Maio.
Today, only a few thousand people live in this area, but over 50,000 people from other parts of Coimbra come to this area every morning to work (primarily in commerce and service-related industries). Sights in this neighborhood include the Jardim da Manga, the Igreja do Carmo, the Igreja de Sao Domingo, and the Mosteiro de Santa Cruz.
South and East of Universidade (Almedina, Bairro Sousa Pinto)
The Almedina is so named for the old city walls built and fortified by the Moors, who conquered the city in 714 and ruled it off and on for the next four centuries. The locals also call this area `Alta` due to its high elevation compared to the riverside. This area is not particularly residential, with just 904 people living in the Almedina according to the 2011 census. Sights such as the Torre de Anto, Se Velha, the Jardim Botanico, and the Porta de Almedina are all located in the Almedina.
Bairro Sousa Pinto is a neighborhood where a number of full-time residents live (aka ones that are not tied to the university either as teachers or students), including a growing number of expatriates. They enjoy this area because all kinds of housing types can be rented or owned in this area, ranging from studio apartments to full mini-mansions. The further east you go in the neighborhood, the higher the chance you may get lost in a cul-de-sac or other type of housing subdivision! The southern part of the neighborhood is home to the large Alma shopping center and the Coimbra City Stadium, recently renovated for UEFA Euro 2004, where the Academica de Coimbra football team plays its games.
West of the River Mondego (Santa Clara)
The area west of the River Mondego is far less populated than its eastern banks. Out of the approximately 150,000 people who live in Coimbra, just 10,000 people live in the Santa Clara area west of the river.
You will most likely cross the Mondego into Santa Clara by its namesake bridge, the Ponte de Santa Clara. The area between Avenida Conimbriga and Avenida da Guarda Inglesa is very built up, but the further you travel, you will notice more green spaces and trees, as well as lots of semi-detached and detached homes for families. Sights to see in Santa Clara include the two namesake monasteries (Santa Clara-a-Velha and Santa-Clara-a-Nova), the Quinta das Lagrimas and the Fonte dos Amores, and the Portugal dos Pequenitos theme park.