Escape the crowds with a trip to one of Europe’s forgotten former capitals – faded charm guaranteed.
This central Portuguese gem exhibits the sort of melancholy beauty you would expect of a city with a history stretching back 2,000 years but whose golden age was several centuries ago. Hilltop Coimbra served as the capital of Portugal from 1131 until 1255, when the honour was handed to the equally venerable Lisbon, and while the latter is now inundated with tourists, few make it to the former.
It attractions, besides the lack of crowds, include one of the world’s oldest universities, founded in 1290 (just 81 years after Cambridge) and headquartered since the 16th century in the city’s Royal Palace. It lends the place a certain vitality – expect to see idealistic young scholars filling its cafés and fado bars.