The city of Óbidos, surrounded by castles walls, is an one hour’s drive north of Lisbon. In Óbidos time appears to have stood still. This city is located near the sea and had an important strategic function in defending the Portuguese territory in the past.
The city is built on a 75 meters high hill and the walls are more than 13 meters high. The history of Óbidos and the preservation turns Óbidos into a large open-air museum. Only residents can drive into the city with their cars, parking for visitors is best done at the 15th-century viaduct, on the road to and from Torres de Vedras.
Open air museum
From the moment you enter the double gates Porta da Vila, and walk into the main street (Rua Direita) you’re brought back to the Middle Ages. Not that the residents wear old clothes or something similar. But the atmosphere, the stones on the ground and the houses surrounding the castle all breathe history. The star of this show is of course Castelo de Óbidos, at the end of Rua Direita.
Don’t forget to look up when entering the Porta da Vila: inside the gate is a chapel with white and blue azulejos that depicts the Passion of Christ with the throne of thorns on the ceiling.
Tourists often automatically walk the same route towards the castle, but actually the best way to discover Óbidos is to wander off the main street and walk through the backstreets. Here you will encounter most of the people of Óbidos, busy with their everyday activities.
The houses in Óbidos are almost all white with different bright colours around the window frames and doors, with many flowers hanging on the walls and doors. Everywhere you look you’ll want to take pictures here.
When you deviate from the route you’ll eventually get to Igreja de Santa Maria, the church with the pillory were thieves and witches were sure to receive their punishment. The walls of the church (like the entrance gate) have white and blue azulejos with religious imagery.
Castelo de Óbidos
Currently the castle is used as a Pousada, a luxurious hotel that is often located in a historic building. Be sure to try and find a staircase to the fortress wall and enjoy the views of the surroundings. From there you also have a nice view over the city.
The main street Rua Direita is also not to be missed. Not only for the coloured houses with the flowers, there are many shops where you can get souvenirs. By the way, the shops all look alike with their products.
There are also plenty of opportunities in Óbidos to get something to eat or drink.
Whatever you do, don’t miss the opportunity to have some of the famous regional liqueur, Ginja de Óbidos. The ginja comes from Óbidos and is made from the Mariquinhas, a specific sour cherry, relatively small and very acidic and therefore ideal for a drink like ginja In Lisbon you get a shot of ginja in a shot glass, but in Óbidos you take it from a chocolate cup!
Be aware that there are actually people living in Óbidos. It may look like an open air museum but it is business as usual in Óbidos. An big annoyance of the residents is tourists who are too noisy or do not respect the privacy of the residents.
Via ‘get your guide you can book all kinds of different day trips to Óbidos.
On a round trip in Portugal?
Is Óbidos a destination on your round trip through Portugal and / or do you want to spend a few days in this area? Then we recommend doing that with Geert and Iris. Just like us, they fell in love with Portugal years ago and decided to build holiday homes at a 25-minute drive from Óbido. Imagine yourself in an oasis of peace in one of their casas. Geert and Iris know the surroundings of Costa de Prata very well and can give you tips to discover this area.
How to get to Óbidos
By car: take the A8 towards the north. Exit 15 takes you to Óbidos. Approximately 1 hour drive.
By train: From Santa Apolónia take the ‘R’ train towards Caldas da Rainha. Almost 2 and a half hours later you are in Óbidos.