Óbidos, a charming and historic town located in the Oeste region of Portugal, is often described as one of the most picturesque places in the country. Encircled by medieval walls, the town’s narrow cobbled streets, whitewashed buildings adorned with bright flowers, and the imposing castle create a fairytale-like ambiance. The town’s name, derived from the Latin word “oppidum,” meaning fortified city, points to its strategic position and significant role throughout history.
Visitors to Óbidos will be entranced by its well-preserved medieval architecture and the panoramic views of the surrounding countryside from the castle walls. Walking along the ramparts, one can explore the town’s rich past, marked by Roman, Visigothic, and Moorish influences. The castle itself, now a luxurious hotel, stands as a testament to the town’s importance during the medieval era and has been classified as a National Monument.
Óbidos is also known for its lively cultural scene, hosting several annual festivals such as the International Chocolate Festival, the Medieval Market, and the Christmas Village. These events draw crowds from around the country and beyond, infusing the town with a vibrant energy.
Useful Resources for Your Trip to Óbidos
Here’s our top tips and tricks for getting the best deals for your trip to Óbidos.
- Accommodation: Booking.com and Airbnb are the two most comprehensive websites for finding hotels, hostels, apartments, and other types of accommodation in Óbidos.
- Car Rental: Discover Cars and Rental Cars are the two most useful sites for booking local car rental, particularly in Óbidos and the surrounding Central Portugal region. There are normally cheaper deals at the airport, so it’s better to book your car rental there.
- Airport transfers: There are taxis and Ubers at Lisbon and Porto Airport, but you can also pre-book an airport transfer with Welcome Pickups.
- Tours & Things to Do: Both Get Your Guide and Viator list lots of local tours and activities in Óbidos and the surrounding Central Portugal region.
- Luggage Storage: Luggage Hero and Bounce are two great sites for finding places to store your luggage in Portugal, and are good places to look for storage options in Óbidos.
- Public Transport: Cp.pt is the main website for trains in Portugal. For longer distance buses, see Rede Expressos. Flixbus.pt often has cheap tickets between cities in Portugal.
- Flights: Skyscanner and Google Flights are the two most useful websites for finding flights to Portugal. The nearest airport to Óbidos is Lisbon Airport.
What to See & Do
There aren’t a huge number of attractions in Óbidos besides Óbidos Castle, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit. The castle and old town are both so pretty that it’s worth making the journey here for these alone.
The Castle of Óbidos, perched on a hilltop, is undoubtedly the town’s most iconic landmark. Dating back to the 8th century and later rebuilt by the Moors, the castle has witnessed numerous historical events and played a crucial role in Portugal’s defense. Its formidable stone walls, guarded entrances, and towering battlements reflect the military architecture of the time and offer an intriguing insight into medieval warfare techniques.
In the 13th century, the castle was gifted by King Dinis to Queen Isabel as a wedding present, a tradition that continued for centuries with successive queens, earning Óbidos the nickname “Vila das Rainhas” or “Town of the Queens.” Today, the castle is home to a luxurious Pousada, where guests can indulge in a unique experience of living in a medieval fortress without sacrificing modern comfort. Visitors can also explore the castle’s walls, enjoying breathtaking views over the town and surrounding countryside, or take guided tours to learn about its rich history and legends. The Castle of Óbidos stands as a living museum, blending history, romance, and splendour in a way that captivates all who visit.
Drink some Ginjinha
Ginjinha, or simply Ginja, is a famous Portuguese cherry liqueur, and there’s no better place to enjoy this sweet and slightly spicy treat than in the historic town of Óbidos. The town’s narrow, winding streets are filled with small bars and shops selling Ginja, often in delightful chocolate cups, providing an additional treat once the liqueur is savoured.
Visitors to Óbidos will find that enjoying a shot of Ginja has become a beloved local tradition, and the picturesque setting of the town’s medieval castle and charming walls enhances the experience. The liqueur is made by infusing sour cherries in alcohol and then adding sugar along with other ingredients. It can be enjoyed in various ways, either straight, with a fruit piece, or, as in Óbidos, in an edible chocolate cup. Sipping Ginja in Óbidos, with its rich history and stunning architecture, offers a unique and unforgettable taste of Portuguese culture.
Explore the Old Town
Óbidos is a picturesque town in Portugal, renowned for its well-preserved medieval walls that encircle the old town. Walking through the cobbled streets of the old town feels like stepping back in time. The whitewashed houses adorned with vibrant flowers, narrow winding lanes, and the impressive castle at the town’s highest point create a magical atmosphere.
Exploring the old town within the medieval walls is an essential experience when visiting Óbidos. You can stroll along the fortified walls for spectacular views of the town and the surrounding countryside. Discover charming boutiques, art galleries, and cafes that occupy the historic buildings. Don’t miss the opportunity to taste the local cherry liqueur, ginjinha, often served in a chocolate cup.
Santuário do Senhor da Pedra
The Santuário do Senhor da Pedra, or Sanctuary of the Lord of the Stone, is an extraordinary chapel located in Miramar, near Porto in Northern Portugal. Perched upon a rock on the Miramar Beach, this unique hexagonal structure dates back to the 17th century and has been a place of devotion and mystery ever since.
The origin of worship at the site is believed to date back to Pagan times, and the rock itself may have been considered sacred. The Santuário do Senhor da Pedra is the site of an annual pilgrimage in June, drawing many visitors. The chapel’s isolated position, exposed to the elements and surrounded by the sea at high tide, makes it a mesmerising place to visit.
Igreja de Santa Maria
The Igreja de Santa Maria in Óbidos is a beautiful church that dates back to the 12th century and is one of the main attractions in this charming medieval town. This church underwent significant renovations in the 16th century, adding to its unique blend of Romanesque and Gothic styles with Manueline and Baroque elements. Inside, visitors will find stunning azulejos (traditional Portuguese tiles), beautiful frescoes, and ornate altarpieces that are sure to captivate any art and history enthusiast.
- Flying: The nearest airport to Óbidos is Lisbon Airport, which is a little over an hour by car from Óbidos.
- Train: There is a train station in Óbidos, and you can get to Óbidos by train from most major cities like Lisbon or Porto. Depending on the particular train, the train journey between Lisbon and Óbidos takes anywhere from a 1 hour 50 minutes to over 3 hours.
- Bus: It can be hard to find a direct bus to Óbidos, and you may need to take the bus to nearby Caldas da Rainha and then take a local connecting bus or taxi to Óbidos. Óbidos is served by the bus company Rodoviária do Oeste.
- Car: A car is definitely the easiest way to get to Óbidos and renting one gives you the freedom to explore other nearby parts of Portugal without having to rely on public transport. The journey from Lisbon takes around an hour by car from Lisbon.