A few miles north from Lisbon, stands Obidos, a small picturesque town enclosed by medieval walls. Beyond these, hides a maze of cobblestone streets and houses trimmed with blue and yellow paint.
For a while, Óbidos was the home of Portuguese queens, hence why there are so many churches packed together. Today, it’s a popular tourist destination, famous for its medieval market and the ginjinha , a delicious sour cherry liqueur served in every bar in town.
You can easily explore Óbidos in a day, or stay the night and see other nearby attractions, like the Lagoa de Óbidos and the Buddha Garden.
To help you plan your trip, here’s a small guide to Óbidos featuring tips on what to do, where to eat, and where to stay.
From quirky bookshops to the best ginjinha bar, below is a list of things you can’t miss when you visit Óbidos.
Start your tour at Porta da Vila, the city’s main gate, and take some time to admire the tiled panels above you, before moving on to Rua Direita.
Lined with souvenir shops and restaurants, Rua Direita is the main street in Óbidos, and it’s always busy during the day. From here, take a detour and get lost in the town’s narrow streets, capturing the whitewashed houses and bougainvillea trees as you go along.
After exploring the streets of Óbidos, make your way to the castle. While the interior was converted into a hotel, outside, it still looks like a medieval castle, with its prominent towers and stone walls. Even if you don’t stay in the hotel, you can explore its gardens and take a stroll along the ramparts for free, which surround the whole town. The walk takes around 45 minutes, but you’ll probably stop a few times to capture the panoramic views. Standing up here, you’ll see the terracotta roofs, the churches, and the lush green hills spreading beyond the walls.
Óbidos is full of quirky bookshops. Near the castle, there’s the Livraria Santiago. From the outside, it looks like an ordinary church, but step inside, and you’ll see a room filled with a variety of books that spread across two floors.
In Rua Direita, you can visit Mercado Biológico, a mix between an organic market and a bookstore. Even before you reach the walls, there’s the Livraria da Adega which occupies a former wine cellar. Here wine boxes were turned into bookshelves, and there’s a small bar in the corner serving a selection of Portuguese wines.
Set in Praça de Santa Maria, this is the main church in Óbidos. Pass through its Mannerist door, and you’ll be amazed by the stunning painted ceilings and walls decorated with blue and white tiles from top to bottom. It’s also worth capturing the Renaissance tomb said to be designed by Nicolau Chanterene and the paintings made by the acclaimed Portuguese artist Josefa de Óbidos.
You can’t leave Óbidos without having at least one glass of ginjinha . While there are many bars in Lisbon that sell this sour cherry liqueur, most of it comes from Óbidos, so you might as well try it from the source. Rua Direita is full of ginjinha joints, but we liked the one from Ibn Errik Rex. You can have it on a normal glass, but it tastes even better when you drink it from a chocolate cup, which you can eat at the end. If you’re looking for a traditional souvenir from Óbidos, you can get a whole bottle of ginjinha from the local shops.
Dating back to the 18th-century, this sanctuary stands out with its unusual hexagonal shape. Set outside the walls, it takes 15 minutes to walk there from the town centre, but you can also capture it as you’re heading in or out of town.
It only takes a few hours to explore the town centre, but it’s worth travelling further out to visit other attractions near Óbidos. From a garden full of buddhas to a quiet lagoon with beaches, here are other things you can see if you’re driving around Óbidos or plan to stay a few days in the region.
Buddha Eden is an impressive oriental garden located 15 minutes away from Óbidos. It’s a homage to the Buddhas of Bamyan destroyed in 2001. As you walk through its 35-hectares, you’ll stumble upon Buddhas, pagodas and lakes with koi fish. Besides the numerous Buddha sculptures, it's also worth capturing the replicas of the terracotta warriors from Xi'an in China
Established in 2005, this river dam was built to help water the nearby agricultural fields, but it's now a popular spot for hikers and cycling. There’s a cycling trail known as Ciclovia das Águas that connects the dam to the town centre, passing through small villages and viewpoints.
A few miles west from Óbidos, you’ll find this large lagoon bounded by sandbars and the ocean. Its tranquil waters provide the perfect conditions to practise watersports like sailing and kitesurfing, and there are schools here that offer lessons throughout the year. The path along the borders is ideal for walking and cycling and allows you to admire the wildlife up close. As you get near the coast, two beaches emerge on each side of the lagoon, Foz do Arelho and Praia do Bom Sucesso, which we describe below.
There are several beaches near Óbidos, as the town is only a 30-minute drive from the coast. These beaches are part of the Silver Coast of Portugal, a beautiful coastline famous for its clear waters that stretches from Lisbon to Figueira da Foz.
While most beaches on the Silver Coast face the ocean, in Óbidos you also have a lagoon. On the north side is Praia Foz do Arelho, a beautiful beach with golden sands and a few seaside restaurants. To the south, is Praia do Bom Sucesso, a quiet stretch surrounded by a rocky headland that offers stunning views and hiking trails. Both beaches face the lagoon and the sea, so you can swim on both ends.
A bit further south, there’s the Praia de Rei Cortiço, a long sandy stretch lined with dunes and white cliffs. It’s a popular spot for surfing and bodyboard.