A few miles north of Lisbon stands Óbidos, 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 overnight and see other nearby attractions, like the Lagoa de Óbidos and the Buddha Eden 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.
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.
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 like 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 Ecovia do Arnóia 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.
As a small medieval town, Óbidos offers the perfect setting for a
family holiday. Kids will enjoy walking along the castle’s walls and
taking in the views from the top. The castle grounds are also the site
for many events throughout the year, including a chocolate festival and a
It’s worth getting lost in the narrow streets
filled with colourful buildings and stopping to visit the numerous
bookshops dotted around town. Along the way, you’ll also spot a few
workshops selling traditional crafts such as ceramics and embroidery.
If you’re driving, you can explore a bit further. Admire the statues and sculptures at the Buddha Eden garden or relax in the nearby beaches and lagoon. There are also plenty of opportunities for hiking and cycling in the town’s surroundings.
Rua Direita is the main shopping street in Óbidos, but there are many more shops hidden among the side streets. Olaria São Pedro, for example, has a great selection of ceramics and Mercearia de Ideias sells a mix of home decor and food souvenirs. When you visit, you can't miss the quirky bookshops of Óbidos, like Livraria de Santiago and Mercado Biológico, where you'll find books amid wine bottles and organic produce.
Óbidos tends to get quite busy in the summer season or whenever there’s a festival on. If you want to avoid the crowds, try visiting around early spring or autumn. The temperatures during these seasons are mild, ranging from 15º to 20ºC. Many of the town’s buildings have balconies adorned with flowers, and spring is the best time to seem them in full bloom. Autumn, on the other hand, is the season of the grape harvest, and many of the surrounding wineries offer tours of their estates. Of course, if you want to hit the beach or practise watersports, summer is the season for you. The weather is much warmer around this time, with temperatures reaching 30ºC. Winter is a good time to visit if you want to embrace the Christmas spirit, as the whole town is decorated with lights.
Óbidos hosts several events throughout the year, but the most famous ones are the Chocolate Festival, the Medieval Market, the International Piano Week, and the Christmas celebrations.
The Chocolate festival takes place between April and May. There’s a different theme every year which inspires the decor of the festival, including the chocolate sculptures exhibit. Besides tasting chocolate, visitors can enjoy several activities, such as live-cooking sessions and workshops. There’s also an area for kids where they can learn how to make chocolate.
A few months later, between July and August, Óbidos transforms into a medieval village. Stalls take over the castle grounds selling medieval food and crafts, while jugglers and fire manipulators show off their skills in front of you. During the event, there are also tournaments, music performances and even historical reenactments, so you’ll feel like you’re back in the Middle Ages.
Finally, between November and January, the town organizes Vila Natal, a thematic Christmas event full of entertainment options for kids. The best part about visiting during this season is seeing the castle walls lighting up at night.
There are several places to eat in Óbidos. For breakfast or a light snack, we suggest heading to Capinha d'Óbidos, a small bakery which serves homemade chorizo bread and delicious cakes. For a full meal, A Nova Casa de Ramiro and O Caldeirão are both great options.
Set within the town walls, A Nova Casa de Ramiro is famous for its codfish and seafood dishes. A bit further, near the Santuário Jesus da Pedra, you’ll find O Caldeirão which offers a wide range of steaks and a good wine selection
While you can explore Óbidos in one day, it’s worth spending the night
and experience a different atmosphere, with fewer crowds and quiet
restaurants. If you decide to stay, we suggest booking a room at Pousada
do Castelo de Óbidos, The Literary Man or the Hotel Real d'Óbidos.
Occupying part of the town’s castle, thePousada Castelo de Óbidos is the perfect place for history lovers. The four-star hotel features 17 rooms. Some of the suites are located inside the old watchtowers, and many include tiles and fireplaces. There is also a restaurant on-site serving traditional Portuguese cuisine.
The Literary Man is a paradise for book lovers. There are books in every corner of the hotel, from the restaurant walls to the bedside cabinets. Set in a former convent, this 4-star hotel has kept its rustic interior but added a few wooden details that make the hotel feel warm and modern. There are 30 rooms available, one restaurant and a bar serving gins and literary-inspired cocktails.
Housed in a 14th-century building, the Hotel Real d’Óbidos offers 18 rooms, breakfast with homemade cakes, and a saltwater pool that overlooks the castle walls. Guests can warm up by the fireplace in the winter or enjoy the outdoor terrace in the summer.
A bit further from the centre is the Praia D'El Rey Marriott Golf & Beach Resort. It’s a 30-minute drive from Óbidos, but it’s a good option if you want to explore the nearby beaches. This 5-star resort features a golf course, a spa, two pools and several restaurants with a focus on Mediterranean cuisine and seafood.
There are three ways to get from Lisbon to Óbidos:
By bus - You can get a bus from Campo Grande (green metro line) in Lisbon straight to Óbidos. The journey takes around 1 hour and costs on average €9 per person. You can find the bus schedules here.
By train - There’s a train connection between Lisbon and Óbidos, but the journey takes a bit longer, around 2h30-3hours. Also, you’ll have to walk from the train station to the town, which is an extra 10 minutes. Tickets cost around €9-€10, and you can find the train schedules here.
By car - You can drive from Lisbon to Óbidos following A1 or A8. The journey takes around 1 hour. It’s a good option if you want to explore other towns nearby, like Peniche or Nazaré.