Coimbra fado is distinguished from the Lisbon variety by the fact that it uses a slightly different guitar and is sung exclusively by males, usually in the traditional dark cape of the university. Themes are often translations of famous poems, and in general it is slightly more upbeat than the Lisbon variation. It’s performed year-round in the city’s fado clubs, but you’ll find it far more atmospheric if you catch an open-air performance in the old town in summer. The student celebrations in May are a good bet for impromptu fado sessions, and this is also the best time for big-name gigs. Fado ao Centro is a good place to get a taster of the music.

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