The city's large student population guarantees an active, sometimes raucous nightlife. You'll find the bars around the Sé Velha and its square, Largo da Sé Velha, packed with students, professors, and locals, who drink, gossip, and discuss academic priorities. Our favorite experience is hopping randomly from bar to bar. For late-night fado, head for À Capella, Rua Corpo de Deus (tel. 23/983-39-85) which was turned into a cafe from a chapel constructed back in 1364. Open daily 1pm to 3am, it offers nightly performances at 9:30, 10:30, and 11:30pm, with a 5€ cover charge.

The town's dance clubs rock at least 5 nights a week (sometimes 7, depending on how many students are in town). The glamour and desirability of the dance clubs we recommend below increase or decrease every season based on the whims of the danceaholic public. Depending on your mood and who's there at the time of your visit, the most worthwhile is Passarelle, Praça Machado Assis 22 (tel. 23/982-70-67), which gets lively after 10:30pm and often stays open until around 3am or, on Friday and Saturday, until dawn.

Student celebrations in Coimbra include the Queima das Fitas (Burning of the Ribbons), a graduation ritual during the first or second week of May. Then loosely organized serenatas (troupes of students who re-create the music and aura of medieval troubadours) sing and wander through Coimbra's streets at unannounced intervals. It's impossible to predict when and where you're likely to find these spontaneous reminders of yesteryear.


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