I’ll be honest, I thought medieval towns weren’t really my thing, but the moment I set foot in Obidos, everything changed! Turns out, exploring the impeccably preserved castle and its fortified walls is only one of the many incredible things to do in Obidos, Portugal.
After witnessing this historic town’s beauty firsthand, I totally get why Obidos is one of the best day trips from Lisbon and Porto! I highly recommend that you add this spot to your itinerary because a few hours spent wandering these narrow cobblestone streets with white-washed buildings draped in bougainvillea should be a steadfast staple on every Portugal bucket list!
Not only is Obidos home to one of Portugal’s greatest medieval castles, it also has a number of gorgeous churches, unique bookstores, and its very own lagoon! Plus, no visit to this charming town is complete without trying the local cherry liqueur served in delicious chocolate cups.
Get excited, because we’re about to explore all the best things to do in Obidos!
Is Obidos Worth Visiting?
Without a doubt, Obidos is a must-see place in Portugal! Even though it can be packed with tourists, this small town still felt like the most authentic taste of old-school Portugal. I didn’t visit Obidos until my second solo trip to Lisbon, and I can’t believe I didn’t do it sooner!
Exploring this enchanting medieval town is the perfect way to discover this European country’s medieval heritage. Plus, it’s stunning, topping the list of most Instagrammable places in Portugal.
Here are the top reasons to visit Obidos, Portugal:
Well-Preserved Castle & Walled City
Óbidos is most famous for being home to one of the best-preserved castles in Portugal. Its walls surround a maze of cobblestone lanes lined with stunning churches, and beautiful whitewashed houses adorned with vibrant flowers.
The name Obidos is derived from Latin Oppidum, which means walled city, and this spot is certainly the best walled city Portugal has to offer. These fortified walls Óbidos were built in the 14th century to protect the town from invaders like The Moors. Today, the impressively well-preserved walls stand as a monument not only to the town’s strategic importance during the Middle Ages but also as a symbol of Portugal’s enduring resilience. Plus, the views are absolutely incredible which is why it’s one of the top things to do in Obidos!
The Queen’s Town
The quaint town of Obidos was once a cherished possession of the Queen of Portugal, a tradition that began in 1210 when King Alfonso II presented the town as a wedding gift to his bride, Queen Urraca. This unique practice of bestowing Obidos upon the queen was not just a romantic gesture, but also a strategic one, as it helped secure the queen’s financial independence.
The royal ownership had a significant impact on the town and its presentation. There’s a distinctly romantic and lively spirit that can be felt even to this day among its beautiful streets, well-preserved monuments and charming festivals.
For literature enthusiasts, Óbidos is a treasure trove of heartwarming literary experiences. In 2015, UNESCO declared it a Creative City of Literature thanks to its dedication to providing access to books and nurturing creativity.
Not only does the town have a number of interesting bookstores, Obidos also hosts an annual International Literary Festival, attracting authors, poets, and bookworms from around the globe to network and appreciate the written word against the backdrop of the town’s historic charm. As an English major, this was a major draw for me!
The dedication goes as far as Obidos’ noteworthy Creative Houses project, which focuses on turning abandoned houses into a network of creative residencies for artists, and incubator spaces where young entrepreneurs can launch creative businesses.
Voracious readers will definitely want to stop by or stay the night at Literary Man Óbidos Hotel, a boutique hotel boasting over 5,000 books. Read more about it below!
Local Gastronomy: Ginjinha
If you love chocolate or trying local drinks, Obidos is the perfect day trip for you!
Ginjinha, or simply ginja, is a traditional Portuguese liqueur made from infusing ginja berries (sour cherries) in aguardente and adding ingredients like sugar and cinnamon. It has an alcohol content of around 18% to 23%. While I typically don’t love anything cherry flavored, I actually found ginjinha pretty tasty.
This sweet and powerful drink is typically served in a shot glass, often with a cherry in the bottom. Originating nearby in Lisbon, it’s become especially significant to Óbidos, because local taverns serve it in chocolate cups for a unique twist! Try it at Ginjinha da Porta 7 or any of the local taverns along the main street of Rua Direita that typically sell a small cup for just €1.
If chocolate is the main draw, make sure you check out Obidos Chocolate Festival which takes place each Spring. Read more about it below.
How Much Time Do You Need in Obidos?
Obidos is the perfect choice for a Lisbon day trip, but if you want to visit for any of the festivals or reasons above, stay at least 1-2 nights. The town center is less than half a mile long and only takes a few minutes to walk from one end to the other.
While it could easily be a great base for exploring more of Central Portugal, staying in Lisbon is probably a better bet since accommodations in Obidos are limited and a little pricier. Take a look at some of the best hotels in Lisbon for solo travelers before you decide where you want to stay.
Things to Do in Obidos
This endlessly charming town is bursting with history and amazing things to do! I absolutely loved spending an enchanting day trip exploring the medieval castle, picturesque streets, and fascinating museums. Obidos’ traditional cafes, markets, and bookstores will make you feel like you’ve journeyed back in time.
There’s also plenty of nature and outdoor experiences to be had nearby! Honestly, I think I could’ve stayed here for days and not gotten sick fo this place.
Let’s take a look at the very best things to do in Obidos:
1. Óbidos Castle
The top thing to do in Obidos is to visit its stunning and well-preserved castle! The Castelo de Óbidos is a spectacular sight, with its 8th-century walls and towers that stand proudly over the village. Its breathtaking views and lush terraces are preserved in time. Inside the castle, you can explore winding staircases, ancient churches, and colorful gardens.
One of the best things to do at Obidos Castle is to walk the walls and get a true sense of what life was like centuries ago. You’ll pass by secret doorways, discover hidden courtyards and balconies, and enjoy stunning views of the surrounding villages.
After walking the walls, be sure to explore some of the castle’s most famous sights like the Church of Santa Maria, or the Igreja de Santa Maria, a 12th century church, and the Palacio do Governador. Inside you’ll find a museum, which houses artifacts that date back to Roman times.
As you explore Obidos Castle, don’t forget to take in its stunning architecture- with its intricate turrets and gates- and stop for a drink or snack at one of its many outdoor cafes and bars. There’s plenty to do and see, so be sure to make the most of your visit!
The best time to visit the Castle of Obidos is during high season, between May and September with longer opening hours and warmer temperatures. Just be aware that it can get pretty crowded so early mornings are best for a little solitude or picture-taking.
PS: If castles are your thing, you’ll definitely want to check out this list of the prettiest royal palaces in Spain. I also highly recommend a solo trip to Madrid as well as Seville solo travel where you can explore incredible royal castles and Moorish palaces!
2. Porta da Vila
This is the main gate leading into Obidos, featuring a stunning balcony covered in azulejos (traditional blue and white Portuguese tiles) depicting the Passion of Christ. A slow walk through this gate sets the tone for a day filled with historical exploration.
3. Rua Direita
Rua Direita, the beating heart of Obidos, is one of the narrow cobblestone streets that snakes through the town. As you saunter down this historical path, you’ll be greeted by a variety of traditional Portuguese shops selling local handicrafts, quaint cafes serving the famed ginjinha cherry liqueur, and centuries-old white houses, their walls festooned with vibrant bougainvillea, offering a glimpse into the town’s rich architectural legacy.
4. Church of Saint Mary
Situated in the heart of the village, this 12th-century church is a must-visit. The interior showcases intricate wood carvings and a painted ceiling, a testament to Portugal’s rich religious artistry.
5. Sanctuary of the Lord of the Stone Church
This 18th-century, hexagonal-shaped sanctuary is an architectural marvel, built on a rock purporting to bear the imprint of Christ’s foot. A visit here offers peace, tranquility, and a moment for reflection.
6. Church of Mercy of Obidos
A testament to Renaissance architecture, this church is renowned for its ornate interior, including a beautifully carved wooden altar. Visitors would appreciate the quiet, spiritual ambiance.
7. Senhor Jesus da Pedra
This baroque sanctuary, built in a hexagonal shape, is an important pilgrimage site. The lush green surroundings make it a perfect spot for a quiet, reflective walk.
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8. Obidos Lagoon
A visit to Lagoa de Obidos, a vast coastal lagoon located south of the town, is one of the most peaceful things to do in Obidos. Enjoy a refreshing swim in the clear waters of Foz do Arelho, engage in bird-watching (including flamingos!!!), or simply bask in the serene landscape that surrounds the lagoon, making it an ideal spot for nature lovers and peace seekers.
9. Municipal Museum of Óbidos
When it comes to what to do in Obidos, this museum tops the list! The Museu Municipal de Óbidos is a cultural gem housing an impressive range of exhibits dating back to the Roman period. The museum proudly displays a rare collection of archaeological artifacts, weapons from the Napoleonic era, and the evocative artwork of local icon, Josefa de Óbidos, one of Portugal’s most prolific Baroque artists.
10. Obidos Aqueduct
Aqueduct de Usseira, a symbol of Obidos’ rich past, is a 16th-century aqueduct with a wonderful walking path. The tranquility and natural beauty surrounding the aqueduct provide a perfect backdrop for photography.
11. Livaria de Sao Tiago
This charming shop is an ideal stop for book lovers and food enthusiasts. It offers a unique blend of literary treasures on travel and gastronomy, alongside organic market produce. A visit here can be a delightful sensory experience. I wanted to buy just about everything I saw here so if you’re anything like me, make sure to bring along a big bag!
12. Mercado Biologico de Óbidos
The Mercado Biologico de Óbidos serves as a unique fusion between an organic market and a bookstore, specializing in the curation of rare and intriguing works on travel, gastronomy, and the fine art of winemaking. With its focus on sustainable and organic produce, it offers visitors a chance to sample and purchase a variety of locally-sourced, fresh products, making it a perfect stop for eco-conscious shoppers and avid readers alike.
13. Bacalhoa Buddha Eden
The Bacalhoa Buddha Eden, fondly known as the Garden of Peace, is a sprawling landscape adorned with over 600 hand-painted terracotta Buddha statues. This tranquil haven, set amidst verdant vineyards, offers a spiritual retreat filled with koi ponds, pagodas, and carved stones that create a harmonious blend of Oriental and Western art.
14. Parque Cinegetico de Obidos
Parque Cinegetico de Obidos is a wildlife park nestled in the lush greenery of the town. It offers visitors an opportunity to observe a variety of wildlife species in their natural habitat, including roe deer and wild boar, making it a thrilling destination for wildlife enthusiasts and families alike.
15. Peninsular War Nucleus
The Peninsular War Nucleus, a historical monument dedicated to the Peninsular War (1807-1814), provides a deep dive into Portugal’s military past. Featuring exhibits of wartime artifacts and offering guided tours that recount the heroic tales of the war, this landmark is a must-visit for those keen to uncover the layers of Portuguese history.
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Beaches near Obidos
If you’re wondering if Obidos has a beach, I’m happy to say that it does! Though the town is better known for its medieval castle, Obidos is close to the Atlantic coast and is home to a gorgeous lagoon, meaning its totally possible to combine your day trip with a little beach time.
Here are some of the best beaches near Obidos:
- Foz do Arelho: Renowned for its stunning landscapes where sea meets lagoon, Foz do Arelho is one of the best things to do in Obidos with great watersports, sunbathing, and spectacular sunset views.
- Bom Sucesso: Offering a tranquil retreat, Bom Sucesso Beach is famed for its peaceful ambiance, natural surroundings, and strikes a unique balance between the lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean.
- Praia d’El Rey: As part of a luxurious resort area, Praia d’El Rey boasts pristine sandy shores, crystal clear waters ideal for surfing, and a backdrop of a meticulously manicured golf course.
- Praia do Guincho: Though a bit farther than the other options, this incredible Cascais beach is one of the best places I visited during my Portugal solo travel trip. Its stunning rugged beauty is like nothing I’ve ever seen before!
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Can’t get enough of the beach? Algarve solo travel to Lagos, Faro, and Albufeira is the perfect way to take advantage of the coast’s nearly 300 days of sunshine per year. The beaches here are some of the most beautiful of all time.
During the spring and summer months, Obidos comes alive with festivals and events that are both fun and educational.
- Mercado Medieval (Óbidos Medieval Fair): Obidos’ most notable event is the Medieval Market, typically held in July. This festival transports visitors back to the Middle Ages with themed decorations, costumes, and activities. Expect to see locals and tourists donned in medieval outfits, and streets lined with stalls selling food, and hosting theatre and music shows. Entry to the town during this event requires a ticket.
- Festival do Chocolate Obidos: The Obidos Chocolate Festival occurs each spring, typically around April or May. This event attracts global chocolate enthusiasts who can sample international delicacies, participate in chocolate-based activities, watch professional cooking demonstrations, and engage in various workshops and contests.
- FOLIO – Óbidos’ International Book Festival: This event first kicked off in 2015, the same year Óbidos was recognized as a Literary City of Creativity by UNESCO. Its popularity has surged with each passing year. The festival serves as a convergence point for writers, artists, musicians, and bibliophiles to gather, share thoughts, and engage in an assortment of art and literature-centric activities.
- Santa Maria Festival: This vibrant annual celebration takes place in August, in honor of Óbidos’ patron saint, Santa Maria. The streets come alive with a kaleidoscope of parades, captivating street performances, and melodic concerts. The festival culminates in a spectacular display of fireworks, lighting up the night sky and adding a spark to the festivities. This event also includes traditional food fairs and craft markets, offering a glimpse into the cultural richness of Óbidos.
Food & Restaurants: What to Eat in Obidos
One of the best things to do in Obidos is explore the local food scene for a fun and authentic culinary experience! Here, age-old traditions shape the way food is prepared and served, both ingredients sourced from local farms and based on inherited family recipes.
Here are the top local restaurant recommendations:
- Ja!mon Ja!mon: Perfect budget-friendly dining with meals typically range from €10-15. I highly recommend eating on its tucked-away terrace with a super cozy vibe.
- Poço dos Sabores: When the menu is only in Portuguese, you know you’re about to try some authentic local dishes! But not to worry, the staff here does speak English and are happy to walk you through the menu.
- Pontinha: If you’re on the hunt for a unique and upscale culinary experience, Pontinha comes highly recommended. This restaurant creatively reimagines traditional Portuguese cuisine in a contemporary style.
- Ibn Errik Rex: With wooden tables and walls festooned with vintage memorabilia, this rustic tavern was my favorite place to eat in Obidos! Try traditional Portuguese stews or the country’s famed bacalhau a bras and wash it down with some ginja.
- Avocado Coffee & Healthy Food: This cafe is an excellent option for any vegans or vegetarians.
- Rua Direita: If you’re in a hurry or really want to try the local liquor, this street is lined with cute Ginja bars and great restaurants. You really can’t go wrong!
When to Visit Obidos: Best Time
Thanks to Portugal’s mild winters, Obidos can easily be visited all year long. While the summer months offer longer opening hours and exciting festivals, it can get crowded. Spring and fall are also lovely times to visit with fewer crowds, but you’ll have to be sure to time things just right if you’re doing a day trip.
To visit the local market, visit on a Friday. You can find everything from handmade crafts to delicious food stalls!
If you’re visiting Portugal in winter, Obidos is the perfect place to add to your holiday itinerary. The historic town is home to Vila Natal, said to be one of the best holiday markets in the world! In December, the entire town converts into one big, charming Christmas village, all centered around the castle, of course.
Getting to Obidos
Obidos is a popular day trip from Lisbon, but can also be done as a Porto day trip as it’s 2 hour drive, or a stop in between the two cities. The quickest and most convenient way to get to Obidos is by booking a day tour so you can avoid parking hassles.
Lisbon to Obidos
Obidos is an accessible day trip from Lisbon. The distance between Lisbon and Obidos is approximately 85 kilometers, which can be covered in several ways.
How to get to Obidos from Lisbon:
- By Train: Traveling from Lisbon to Obidos by train is quite straightforward. Trains depart from Lisbon’s Santa Apolonia station and take about two hours to reach Obidos. Once you arrive in Obidos, the train station is about a 15-minute walk from the city center.
- By Taxi or Rideshare: If you prefer a faster, more direct route, consider hiring a taxi. A taxi ride from Lisbon to Obidos costs between €45 and €60 and takes about 50 minutes. This option offers the convenience of door-to-door service and expediency, especially beneficial if you are short on time.
- By Bus: For the express bus to Obidos, take the Verde Line from the Campo Grande terminal.
- By Car: If you’ve rented a car, you can reach Obidos in just over an hour via A8/A1, but I don’t recommend this unless you’re taking a road trip from Lisbon to Porto.
- Book a Day Tour: If you’re looking for a hassle-free day, consider booking an organized tour. You can find various tours departing from Lisbon that include stops in Obidos and other nearby towns. This is ideal if you want to visit multiple destinations while learning more about the history and culture of the region. Keep reading for a list of the best day tours!
How to Get Around Obidos
In Obidos, walking is the best and only way to get around!
Despite its modest size of 55 square miles, navigating Obidos can often pose questions for tourists. The town, known for its historic and picturesque charm, is entirely walkable, making it easy to explore on foot. It’s worth noting that you won’t need a car to get around Obidos – in fact, driving is prohibited within the city walls to preserve the integrity of the historic site.
While you’ll find that Obidos is mostly flat, it does have some hilly areas. This only adds to the charm of this beautiful town, and the slight inclines are unlikely to cause any significant inconvenience.
Parking in Obidos
If you’ve rented a car or are on a road trip, not to worry. There are several parking lots available around the city and castle walls. Be sure to have some spare change with you for parking fees and make sure to secure any valuable belongings you might have in the car. Check out this map of parking in Obidos to plan your visit.
Where to Stay in Obidos
If you plan to stay overnight in Obidos, book as far in advance as possible or consider staying outside the town since there’s a limited number of hotels.
These are some of the best places to stay in Obidos:
- Casa d’Obidos: Just outside the town center, this budget-friendly hotel is an ideal base for exploring the old city. The rooms are spacious and have modern furnishings. Book now!
- Casa de São Domingos: A beautiful converted convent with tranquil gardens and stunning views across the valley. The well-appointed guestrooms feature rustic décor and its restaurant serves traditional Portuguese cuisine. Book now!
- Pousada Castelo de Obidos: This extraordinary luxury hotel is housed in a historic castle. It offers stunning views of the old town and the surrounding countryside, as well as comfortable rooms with modern amenities. The castle also has its own restaurant serving regional cuisine. Book now!
- Literary Man Hotel: Situated in the heart of Obidos, this boutique hotel reflects Portuguese literary culture and history. It offers modernly furnished rooms with views over the old city and its own restaurant serving traditional cuisine. Book now!
Day Trips from Obidos
If you’re looking to explore some of the Silver Coast while based out of Obidos, there are tons of cool day trips from Obidos you can plan.
- Ericeira: Another charming town full of white-washed buildings and stunning beaches, there are so many epic things to do in Ericeira, including a visit to Europe’s only World Surf Reserve!
- Mira de Aire Caves: These caverns, spanning nearly 7 miles in length, have earned their place among Portugal’s Seven Natural Wonders. Some of the stalactites and stalagmites in these caves have been around for a staggering 150 million years! Insane.
- Peniche: One of the best beach towns in Portugal, this city is known for its incredible surfing. You can find plenty of surf schools here offering lessons as well as renting equipment.
- Batalha Monastery: A renowned UNESCO World Heritage site and an iconic monument in Portugal, this monastery has a fascinating blend of Gothic and Manueline architectural styles. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the Royal Cloister and the Unfinished Chapel.
- Nazaré: Known for having some of the biggest waves in Portugal, and possibly the entire world, Nazare is a great spot to visit during any of its impressive surfing competitions.
While a walking tour is certainly one of the best things to do in Obidos, there are also some great tour options if you want to book a day trip from Lisbon.
- Walking Tour: The best of the best. Try ginja and explore this medieval village on a walking tour led by a professional local guide. Book now!
- Fátima, Nazaré, and Óbidos Day Trip from Lisbon: From towering coastal cliffs to impressive castle walls, get ready for a day of stunning views and plenty of history. Book now!
- Obidos & Mafra Palace: Visit two of Portugal’s most iconic castles in one day with this day trip to Obidos and Mafra. Book now!
Obidos has always had a passion for beautiful craftsmanship, and the local markets are full of souvenir shops where you can find unique handmade items. From jewelry and pottery to traditional clothing and furniture, there are tons of charming shops and markets where you can find the perfect souvenir from Obidos!
- Ginjinha de Óbidos: This traditional Portuguese cherry liqueur is a must-buy souvenir when you’re in Óbidos. Often served in a small chocolate cup, it’s an ideal way to remember the sweet and strong spirit of this charming town.
- Books: A great way to remember your time in Óbidos is with a book from one of its unique book shops.
- Pottery: Whether it’s a plate, mug, vase or any other kind of pottery, Obidos is home to master craftspeople who make beautiful pieces that you can bring home as a memento. Be sure to check out the colorful Ceramicas de Óbidos, located near the walls of the castle.
- Handmade Jewelry: Local artisans in Óbidos specialize in creating unique, handmade jewelry. These pieces often feature traditional motifs and are a great way to carry a piece of Óbidos style with you.
- Portuguese Tiles: Known as azulejos, these beautifully painted ceramic tiles are synonymous with Portuguese culture. Representing different historical scenes or beautiful patterns, they’re both a piece of art and a slice of history.
- Wine from Buçaco: The town of Buçaco is located near Óbidos, and its vineyards produce some of the finest wines in Portugal. Buy a few bottles to bring back home for your friends or family – they’ll definitely appreciate it!
- Carvings of Saints: Óbidos is known for its many churches and monasteries, where exquisite carvings of saints adorn the walls. Take home a small statue or figurine to pay homage to these beautiful works of art.
- Ceramic Rooster: The iconic Portuguese Rooster, brightly colored and symbolic of good luck, is another must-have souvenir. Hand-painted in various sizes, it’s a cheery reminder of your Portuguese adventure.
Where to Go After Obidos
Looking for more epic day trips? Hopefully Porto solo travel is on your itinerary so you can experience the best Douro Valley wineries along with some great port tasting at riverside the wineries in Porto, Portugal. While you’re in Northern Portugal, you should also ask is Aveiro worth visiting? Spoiler alert: It is!
No matter where you go next, you’ll take incredible memories (and hopefully some great souvenirs) of Obidos with you forever. Bon voyage!
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