If you’re visiting Lisbon, Portugal, then there’s one place you absolutely cannot afford to miss out on exploring, the gorgeous medieval village of Óbidos.
This charming, centuries-old walled village, perched up top a hilltop, with its whitewashed houses and cobbled streets has an equally colourful and fascinating history. It rose to prominence when King Dinis of Portugal offered the town as a wedding gift to his wife Queen Isabel. Since then the town has experienced a boom and influx of riches thanks to this royal nod of approval.
Today, Óbidos is a popular spot for many visitors flocking to Portugal and is definitely one of my all-time favourite places to discover if you’re planning a trip to this incredible country!
A guide to one of Portugal’s prettiest villages, Óbidos
Where is Óbidos & How to get there
Thankfully, to travel from Lisbon to Óbidos is fairly hassle-free. At only an hour’s bus ride from Lisbon, it is a perfect day trip option for anyone visiting the city.
By far the easiest way is to travel by bus, on the Rápida Verde bus service, that offers frequent and daily departures to and from Óbidos.
The bus departs Lisbon from the Campo Grande metro & bus station and the journey takes only an hour at a cost of €7.95 one-way.
Note: Tickets can only be purchased on a one-way fare basis and you do so onboard directly with the bus driver.
Of course, if you do prefer to travel at your own pace and prefer not to rely on public transport, then travelling by car is the option for you. If travelling by car rental, you’ll be happy to know that there is ample parking available in the parking spot which is located very close to the main city gate.
Top Things to see & do in Óbidos
Even though Óbidos is quite a small town which can easily be explored in half a day, it still packs a mighty punch and there is certainly no shortage of things to see and do.
Walk along the city walls
Not for the faint-hearted or those afraid of heights, a walk along the city walls is one of the first things to do when you arrive. As you enter through the main city gate (which you can miss as it’s adorned with gorgeous traditional Portuguese tiles as you enter), you will immediately turn left and head up the steps to access the wall.
The views are truly spectacular. Not only will you get a view out over the town itself, but you’ll also get to enjoy gorgeous sweeping views out over the surrounding countryside too.
Explore the medieval village
Oozing charm and personality, I’ve loved every visit to Óbidos (and I’ve been about four times already!). The town itself is a pure delight to explore and is in a way an attraction all by itself.
As you enter the main city gates, you’ll walk straight into the main street leading through the entire village all the way to the Óbidos Castle located on the other end.
Lining the cobbled streets are numerous local souvenir and boutique shops as well as quaint restaurants and coffee shops too.
On a sunny day, you can also head to the Praça de Santa Maria (Santa Maria square) and grab a drink in the sun!
We love just wandering through the streets and alleyways, discovering unique surprises around every corner including some of the most charming traditional architecture.
Visit the churches of Óbidos
Óbidos is home to numerous churches and chapels, both big and small. Each unique different with beautiful interiors and traditional tile works decorating the walls.
Most prominent of these include the Santa Maria church, the Misericordia Church, Capela de São Martinho as well as the São Pedro Church.
These churches are all located within the city walls, meaning you can explore them all by foot and at your own leisure.
If you are visiting Óbidos by car, then don’t miss the stunning Santuário do Senhor Jesus da Pedra church, located outside the city walls (you will see this church when walking up top along the city walls).
Try out the Ginjinha de Óbidos
If I can recommend one traditional Portuguese drink you should try out when visiting Portugal, the Ginjinha de Óbidos would be it.
This popular and much-loved sour cherry liqueur is usually served as a shot in a small chocolate cup. You’ll encounter many vendors selling these for around a €1 when walking along the main street.
It’s definitely worth a try!
Visit the Livraria de Santiago, a church converted into a bookstore
Yet another interesting Óbidos attraction is the Livraria de Santiago, which is in fact, a church, the Church of São Tiago dating back to the 12th century, that has been lovingly converted into a modern-day bookstore.
An emblematic monument in Óbidos and set right next to the Óbidos Castle entrance, the bookstore today hosts a range of different events, exhibitions and even film projects and is a key cultural site in the town.
Overnight in Óbidos Castle
Interestingly, Óbidos dates as far back as Moorish times (between the 8th to 11th centuries) and was later expanded by the first king of Portugal, King Afonso Henriques during the 12th century.
During the 13th century the present-day castle, a well-preserved medieval castle, was built by the then king, King Dinis. Sadly, parts of the fortress and several buildings were destroyed during the 1755 earthquake that struck Lisbon and its surrounds. But thankfully, large parts of the castle still remain.
Today though, you can actually overnight in the castle itself, which is considered one of the 7 wonders of Portugal, as parts of the building were renovated to form the 4-star Pousada Castelo Óbidos.
Events & Festivals in Óbidos
Óbidos is a great year-round destination, but there are particular times of the year that you may especially want to consider visiting this Portuguese gem.
This is because Óbidos plays host to a range of different festivals and events throughout the year.
These include amongst others:
– Óbidos Chocolate Festival – hosted every spring, end-April to beginning May
– Óbidos Easter Celebrations – take place annually over Easter
– Óbidos Medieval Festival – usually from mid-July to beginning August
– Óbidos Christmas Village – every year usually throughout December
Where to stay in Óbidos
Should you stay overnight? Well, you most certainly can and we’ve done it before. Even though you can easily explore most of the town in half a day, it is a lovely experience to overnight, which will also allow you to explore the surrounding areas including the nearby city of Caldas da Rainha.
When we stayed, we opted for a self-catering option and settled on the Lugares Com História, mainly because it had a pool too. But it was a wonderful choice of accommodation and perfect for us.
Alternatively, some of the top-rated accommodation options in Óbidos includes the 4-star Pousada Castelo de Óbidos, the 4-star Hotel Casa Das Senhoras Rainhas as well as the 4-star The Literary Man Óbidos Hotel too.
Insider Tip: Located just outside one of the city gates, very close to the Hotel Casa Das Senhoras Rainhas, you’ll stumble upon an excellent restaurant that’s worth trying out, Jamon Jamon, where we had the best meal in Óbidos!
Born and raised in South Africa, Marco Santos from Travel-Boo, together with his partner moved to sunny Lisbon over 2 years ago. With an absolute love for Europe, he is on a mission to rediscover his own Portuguese heritage along the way. Marco has set out to blog and share his passion for travelling through and exploring both Portugal, Spain and throughout Europe, through his blog Travel-Boo. You can follow him on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.