Before I starting researching stops for our Portugal Road Trip, I had not heard of Obidos. Rick Steves sold me on it though. He said it was a picturesque medieval city with a castle and the city walls intact. Obidos Portugal did not disappoint and is worth the hour-long drive from Lisbon. Along with Sintra, it’s one of the best day trips from Lisbon. In this post, you will find a little bit about the town’s history and information about things to do in Obidos.
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Obidos is arguably one of Europe’s most romantic medieval villages. It is also known as the ‘Wedding Present Town’ because the town was a gift from King Dinis in 1282 to Queen Isabel on their wedding day. Every Portuguese queen after Isabel, up until the 1800s, was given Obidos as a wedding present.
Back in Roman times, it was part of the Roman Empire. After the Roman Empire fell, the Moors took over the area. In 1148, Afonso Henriques claimed Obidos for Portugal. Under Portuguese rule, the town flourished as a trading port due to its location close to the Atlantic.
Unfortunately, by the 16th century, the river became dammed up and the port could no longer be used. Still, the city remained a favorite among the Royal Family along with Sintra. After the 1755 earthquake and the Peninsular War in the early 19th century caused damage, the historic center of Obidos needed to be repaired. Even with all the setbacks, Obidos never lost its medieval charm.
What to Do in Obidos Portugal
Obidos is a small town but it’s a fun to place to explore. We only spent a few hours in Obidos and had a great time. I loved the whitewashed walls dotted with flowers and the cobblestone streets. I wanted to share a few recommendations of things to do in Obidos.
Taste Ginja & Shop on Rua Direita
Obidos is known for Ginjinha or Ginja, which is an alcoholic drink that tastes like cherry. You will find lots of people selling shots of it on the main street, Rua Direita. We decided to try it served in a chocolate cup. It was delicious so I bought a small bottle for later.
In addition to the Ginja, you can find a lot of cute souvenirs along the main street. We loved the colorful pottery and they also had some unique toys for kids. It’s also just a pretty street to admire on your walk through the town.
After walking a little way on the street you will come to a small plaza with a church. The Igreja de Santa Maria was the location of the wedding of King Afonso V to his cousin Isabel in 1444. You can take a peek inside, there is no admission charge.
City Wall Walk
I loved walking on the city walls in Obidos, it reminded me of my experience walking the city walls in York, England. Obidos is completely contained within the city walls. I didn’t like that there were some parts of the wall that were narrow and didn’t have any railing on one side, but the amazing views made it worth it.
The main gate into Obidos contains a beautiful tiled chapel that overlooks the main thoroughfare. The blue and white 18th century glazed tiles, called Azulejo, depict the passion of Christ while the ceiling represents the crown of thorns. After you pass through the gate, you will see the stairs going up the wall on the left.
Take the stairs up and you can start your adventure walking the walls. If you like, you can walk the entire perimeter of the town. From the wall, you will have beautiful views over the terracotta roofs and white painted houses of the town. Plus, you also have a nice view of the countryside around Obidos and the vineyards.
I read that the entire walk takes around an hour, but we took it slow. We stopped for a lot of pictures and only walked halfway around before going down and walking the street back to the car. Again, I should emphasize that depending on how you are with heights, it may be a little nerve-racking doing the city wall walk. I got a little nervous myself which is why we don’t have much footage of the wall walk on our video. The wall is narrow and sometimes uneven. Traffic on the wall goes both ways and there are no safety railings. Still, if you can convince yourself to do it when you visit Obidos, I know you will enjoy the views.
Obidos Medieval Festival
For a few weekends during the summer, in addition to the Obidos Portugal attractions mentioned, they have the Obidos Medieval Market. Most people come in costumes, but don’t worry if you didn’t bring one, you can rent a costume there. The main festival activities take place next to the castle where you’ll find knights, minstrels, jugglers, noblemen, beggars, dancers, and stalls selling just about everything. The highlight of the festival is the medieval suppers on Fridays and Saturdays.
Obidos at Christmas
During the holiday season, they have a special festival called Vila Natal. It’s great for families! There are carnival rides, ice skating. and entertainment for the kids. In 2018, the even runs from December 1 to January 6. You can find more information here.
Obidos Castle (Castelo de Obidos)
The Obidos Castle or Castelo de Obidos in Portuguese has now actually been turned into a luxurious hotel and restaurant called the Pousada of Obidos. The 14th-century building has been updated so that all rooms have air-conditioning and fully equipped private bathrooms. The hotel has 14 double rooms and 3 suites, 9 of which are located in the castle and 8 in a new wing. Some rooms still have stone walls, four-poster beds, and chandeliers. All rooms are named after Portugal’s Kings and Queens who have stayed in the town. The hotel is actually more affordable than you might expect – click here to check price and availability. You can also check reviews on Tripadvisor here.
How to Get from Lisbon to Obidos
Obidos is located about 50 miles north of Lisbon. You have a few transportation options to choose from to get to Obidos from Lisbon. If you have a car, it’s an easy hour drive from Lisbon to Obidos. Right outside the city walls, there is a pay and display parking lot. It’s best to park there and explore the city by foot.
If you don’t have a car, your best option is the “Rapida Verde” (Green Express) bus which is operated by the Rodotejo bus company. The ride takes a little more than an hour and you buy your ticket from the driver for about €8. Bus service is much more frequent during the week than on the weekends, check the Rodotejo website for the most up to date schedules.
You catch the bus from the Campo Grande bus station in Lisbon. The “Rapida Verde” bus stop can be difficult to find because Campo Grande bus station is just a series of bus stands that surround the metro station. To find the “Rapida Verde” bus stand go east of the metro station on the “Rua Actor Antonio Silva” street. Look for the Rapida Verde timetable. Since the final stop of the Rapida Verde route is Caldas da Rainha, the Lisboa Obidos bus may display a sign for Caldas da Rainha Bus.
Obidos is served by regional trains so it takes over two hours to go from Lisbon to Obidos by train. To make things worse, these trains are infrequent, so you will either want to drive or take the bus to Obidos. The same principles apply for traveling back from Obidos to Lisbon.
If you don’t have access to a car or are not comfortable driving or taking the bus, you might prefer to do an organized tour of Obidos. Most tours also include a visit to Fatima, another town that I loved in Portugal. Check out all the different options, prices, and availability here.
Is Obidos Worth Visiting?
Yes! We enjoyed our time there. If you are thinking about doing any Lisbon day trips, Obidos is a lovely option. It’s not crowded like Sintra. I would love to go back and spend a night at the Obidos Castle hotel.
Check out our video to get a better idea of what Obidos Portugal is like.
Have you visited Obidos or another medieval city that you loved?
Expert Tips for a Lisbon to Obidos Day Trip
- If you don’t have a car, the Lisbon to Obidos bus is the best option.
- Try some Ginja in a chocolate cup (dark chocolate is best).
- Do the city wall walk to get the best views of Obidos.
- If you are looking to have a nice meal check out the restaurant inside the Obidos Castle called Pousada of Obidos.
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