An hour away from the hustle and bustle of Portugal’s capital city lies the medieval village of Obidos. With direct bus service from the Campo Grande bus station in Lisbon offered several times a day, getting to this delightful town is a cinch.
Getting from Lisbon to Obidos
The bus stop for the Rapida Verde bus in Lisbon is located just outside the Campo Grande metro station (serviced by the green and yellow metro lines). Tickets cannot be purchased in advance and are only available from the bus driver at the time of departure. (As of July 2016, ticket prices are €7.60/adult each way. Check the bus schedule for departure and arrival times.) Following a scenic ride on the A-8 expressway and a quick stop in the town of Bomarral, you’ll come upon the walled city before you know it! The bus stop in Obidos is less than a 3-minute walk to the town center.
Wander Along Cobblestone Streets
To say Obidos is picturesque is a drastic understatement. You won’t want to put your camera down, though you really should to truly appreciate its charming character! Each street you walk along, each alley you peer down, charm exudes from every corner. We’re so glad we stayed a few days here to really take it all in and enjoy the town without seeing everything through the camera lens. The historic center is not big and can easily be explored within a few hours, but it’ll be you and the hundreds of other day-trippers, so why not spend a few nights within the walls of a medieval village for a truly unique and memorable experience?
Castelo de Óbidos prominently sits at the highest point in Obidos. Besides its former military functions, it also served as a Royal Palace. It has been classified as a National Monument and in 1950 became the first Portuguese Pousada (Inn) in a historic building. As such, you can sleep and dine like royalty within the castle walls. Whether you stay in the castle or elsewhere, all visitors are welcome to explore the castle grounds.
It is said that the name Óbidos probably derives from the Latin term oppidum, meaning citadel or fortified city. It is a fine example of a medieval town completely surrounded with still-intact fortified walls. If you’re feeling extra brave, you can walk around the entire perimeter, which will take you about an hour. Though, keep in mind, this walk isn’t for the faint of heart. It gets steep and narrow in parts and there are a few tripping hazards. There are no handrails and nothing between you and a long way down, so proceed with caution! We walked a small section of the wall before our nerves got the best of us!
There are 4 churches within the city walls. St John the Baptist Church was founded by Holy Queen Isabel in 1309, expanded in the 16th century, and currently houses the Parrish Museum. St Martin’s Chapel, a Gothic tomb chapel, was built in 1331 and is one of the remaining original medieval buildings. All that remained of St Peter’s Church (Igreja de São Pedro) following the devastating earthquake of 1755 was the carved and gilded wooden high altar with its throne (1690-1705) and the bell-tower with its stone spiral staircase. Its later reconstruction was quite simple compared to its grand original structure. St Mary’s Church is built on the site of a pre-existent Visigothic Temple. It was later used as a Mosque and has since been rebuilt several times. Gorgeous blue tile from the 17th century now adorns its interior.
One more church sits at the end of Rua Direita, the main street in Obidos – St James’ Church. It is no longer a functioning church, but rather a fascinating bookstore housed within the original wooden structure of the church that was mostly destroyed in the 1755 earthquake. From the bookstore, stroll down Rua Direita and wander past countless artisan and souvenir shops. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to sample some of the town’s local cherry liqueur, ginjinha (or ginja), traditionally served in a small edible chocolate cup.
Like we said before, Obidos is a photographer’s delight! Our favorite subject? Its colorful doorways! Contrasting hues, chipped paint, and colorful flowers make for the most picturesque of scenes! You don’t have to wander far before coming upon another attractive tableau.
Portugal is known round-the-world for its delicious pastries. Pastelaria d’Avó de Adélia located just inside the town gate provides a decadent selection of pastries and gelato to help satisfy your sweet tooth. We’re certainly not ashamed to admit we visited Pastelaria d’Avó de Adélia multiple times during our visit! Too many wonderful choices… too little time!
Sure, you can walk from one end of the town to the other in a matter of minutes and see everything you want to see in a few hours. It’ll be you and hundreds of other day-trippers who took the same bus from Lisbon or who are on the same escorted tour. You’ll be competing to capture the same images, to eat at the same few restaurants, and to courageously navigate the perilous city walls. To truly appreciate the town, we strongly urge you to stay a few nights. In the late afternoon, the crowds begin to dissipate. You’ll practically have the town to yourself once the sun goes down and in the early morning hours when it’s just you and the chirping birds. Another perk to staying a few days is that there are several places nearby which are perfect for a day-trip, like the islands of Berlengas just off the coast of Peniche 20 minutes away. Once you have a look at our write-up on Berlengas Grande, you will definitely want to make it a part of your visit to Obidos!
For our 5-night stay in Obidos, we rented a residence within the city walls and truly immersed ourselves in the local culture. This 3-bedroom house was located in the heart of the village, yet one street over from Rua Direita, so it was rather peaceful! The owner, Maria, could not have been any more pleasant and made sure that everything was absolutely perfect during our stay. Maria’s parents stay in the house right behind the one she rents out, so you quickly begin to feel like you’re a part of the family.
If time is limited and you can only visit Obidos as a day trip from Lisbon, we still encourage you to do so. Sure, it can be done in a day, but once you’re there you’ll most likely wish you could stay longer!
As if you needed more convincing to visit the charming medieval town of Obidos, check out our video: