Obidos is an ancient fortified town so beautiful that in 1210 King Afonso II gave it to his queen as a present. This tradition has been passed from royal couple to royal couple and Obidos got the fancy nickname ‘The Town of Queens’. Even now it still is one of the most picturesque places in Portugal, with whitewashed houses, stylish churches, colorful flowers and many books. Climbing the city walls, admiring the castle and shopping on the main street are just some of the top things to do on a day trip from Lisbon to Obidos, Portugal.
Is a day trip from Lisbon to Obidos worth it?
Located on top of a hill, encircled by a ring of medieval walls and with a majestic castle, Obidos is an artist’s dream. A series of narrow cobbled streets, an assortment of whitewashed houses with red rooftops and some impressive churches with hand-painted tiles make it even more charming. The generally peaceful atmosphere is disrupted by small lively squares, pretty cafés with colorful flowers and busy handicraft shops. Besides Sintra, Cascais and Evora, Obidos is also worthy of a day trip from Lisbon, as one of the most beautiful places in Portugal.
How much time do you need in Obidos?
Obidos is pretty, but compact and can be easily explored in a few hours. Add some shopping and lunch time and you’ve got yourself a relaxed day trip from Lisbon. There are no major sights to see and no pressure, just a maze of streets to get lost and a wonderful atmosphere to be enjoyed. At the same time, this is one of the most romantic places in Portugal and maybe in Europe. Nobody would blame you if you stay overnight or even a few days as a romantic “wedding present”.
How do I get from Lisbon to Obidos on a day trip?
By bus: you can take one of the express buses operated from Campo Grande. They leave regularly and the journey takes just over an hour. We didn’t need to buy tickets in advance and there were still some empty seats. But we did have some difficulty locating the bus. You might have to ask around. In Obidos, the bus stops less than 3 minutes from the entrance in the citadel. Check the schedule and prices here!
By train: the trains have limited schedule and stop many times on the way, prolonging the journey to over 2 hours. If you want to get to Obidos by public transport, it would be better to take a bus.
By car: Obidos is 80 km north of Libon, which means an hour drive on perfect roads. It’s easy to get there as a day trip from Lisbon or on your way to other great destinations as Nazare, Berlenga Islands or Porto. If you decide to rent a car, check prices here! Keep in mind that you’ll have to leave the car in the huge parking lot next to the aqueduct, as cars are not allowed inside the old town.
By guided tour: If you just want to see Obidos, I don’t think joining a tour is necessary, as it’s pretty easy to get from Lisbon to Obidos and back. But if you want to see more destinations and don’t have a car at your disposal, then this is the way to go. Buses between Obidos and other locations, even if close, are scarce.
This top-rated tour includes a couple of hours in Obidos as well as stops at other incredible places such as the catholic pilgrimage site Fatima, UNESCO monastery Batalha and Nazare, the fishing town with monstruous waves.
How do I get around Obidos on a day trip from Lisbon?
Obidos is small and the best way to explore it is on foot. But is does have some slopes and stairs, even if they are nothing compared to the ones in Lisbon. If you go on your day trip from Lisbon to Obidos by car, leave it outside the town gate, as the entire center is pedestrianized.
What is the best time to visit Obidos?
Summers are hot and the narrow streets of Obidos get easily overcrowded. A better option would be to visit in spring or autumn, when the weather is milder and there are less tourists. Another alternative is to stay overnight and enjoy the tourist-free streets in the evening and before the day-trippers from Lisbon get there. This works even in high-season.
Every July and August a fascinating event takes place in Obidos, Grande Mercado Medieval. Games, costume parades, jugglers, minstrels and knight fill the streets of the city and attract people from all over the world. If you want to go back in medieval times, go during this period.
Other festivals of interest are the Chocolate Festival in March, an Opera Festival in September or an international literature festival in October.
10 Things to do in Obidos on a day trip from Lisbon
1. Enter Obidos through Porta da Vila
Completed in 1380, Porta da Vila is the main gate in the thick walls of the town. It doubles as a chapel and on the second story you can see beautiful azulejos depicting the Passion of Christ. Stop for a minute and appreciate the artwork and any street concert there might be. As soon as you pass the gate, you’ll get into Rua Direita, the street that crosses the entire historic center, from the gate to the castle. One can also take the stairs on the left and go on a walk around the old town on its walls.
2. Walk along Rua Direita
As the old town’s main street, Rua Direita is buzzing with people. Artisans try to sell their handcrafts and works of art, while tourist want to find out the stories behind them and get the best prices. You’ll find anything from cheap souvenirs to high quality exclusive articles. Many restaurants, bars and cafés try to get people in with special offers and attractive dishes.
3. Try the Ginja Liquor
Some of the most common items sold on Rua Direita are small chocolate cups filled with sweet Ginjinha. The combination works miracles. You can find this Portuguese cherry liquor in Lisbon also, but Obidos is famous for this drink. It’s become a symbol of the small town. Locals pick the sour cherries from the trees surrounding the town and marinate them for over a year in alcohol and sugar. Obidos is the best place to taste Ginjinha and it only costs 1€/cup.
READ ALSO: BEST THINGS TO DO IN ALGARVE, PORTUGAL
4. Stroll around the historic side streets in Obidos
The best things to do in Obidos is to get lost in the maze of cobblestone streets and whitewashed houses with bold blue and yellow edges. You’ll find azulejos depicting saints, iron wrought balconies, beautiful doorways, stone arches, green vines and colorful flowers growing up the walls. What you won’t find is many tourists, as they’ll be all on Rua Direita. One more reason to explore the them.
5. Explore Castelo de Óbidos
The castle dates back to the 13th century, but it is very well maintained. The castle with Moorish influences, and its walls, are so impressive that it was chosen as one of ‘The Seven Wonders of Portugal‘. After being restored, the beautiful castle was turned into a hotel, Pousada Castelo de Obidos. So you can actually stay inside or have a drink at the bar in the historical building.
6. Walk along the castle walls for stunning views
For amazing views over the countryside, the old and “new” town, walk along the top of the battlements surrounding the historical center. The walls reach the height of 13 meters and have an incredible length of 1.6 km, practically encircling the old town of Obidos. If you can, take the walk in the morning, or even better, at sunset, for the best views over the terracotta roofs bathed in golden light. Try to avoid noon, as there’s no shade and don’t walk in sandals or flip-flops as. Be aware that the path is bumpy, a little more than one person wide and there are no handrails. Have a sunhat and water on you!
7. Experience an UNESCO City of Literature
In Obidos live a bit more than 3100 people, but there are more than half a million books inside the city walls. Everywhere you look, you’ll see books, even in the most curious settings. Souvenir shops and the biological market have their share of literature for sale. But far more interesting is that the old Church of Santiago has been converted into a bookshop. Another peculiarity is Adega livrary, housed in a wine cellar. Besides, you could stay in a hotel dedicated to books when in Obidos!
This is a proof of the town’s commitment to harness literature and creativity as useful cultural and social drivers. Obidos also hosts an International Literary Festival, FOLIO, in October. Even sardine cans take the form of books in Obidos.
8. Admire the beautiful churches of Obidos
Despite its small size, there are 4 churches within the walls of Obidos. St. Mary’s Church has a stunning interior adorned with gorgeous tiles similar to the ones at Porta da Vila and oil-paintings. St. Martin’s Chapel was built in 1331 in gothic styles and is one of the few remaining original buildings in town, after the 1755 earthquake. The event almost destroyed St. Peter’s Church that had to be rebuilt after, but it kept its iconic tower. St. Tiago Church is right next to the castle entrance and has no longer a religious function. Now it hosts a lovely bookstore instead. Outside the town walls, the baroque castle-like church of Senhor Jesus da Pedra has an unique hexagonal shape. It can be seen from the town walls.
9. Take pictures of the Aqueduct da Usseira
The huge 16th century aqueduct just outside the city walls is one of the most captivating features of Obidos. This Roman-style structure served as the main water supply of the town, carrying for centuries water from the mountains. It is very well preserved and was not affected by the 1755 earthquake.
10. Spend some time at Mercado Biologico de Óbidos
From this unique little shop on Rua Direita you can buy both your snack and a book for the way back to Lisbon. On sale are artisanal bread, local fruits, vegetables, local wines, olive oil and piles and piles of books.
Where to Stay in Obidos if you want more than a day trip from Lisbon?
If you choose to stay overnight and enjoy Obidos in the morning or in the evening, there is a range of accommodation options to choose from, guesthouses, hotels and even a castle. Here are some options for inspiration:
Lovin Book Guesthouse – a traditional Portuguese house just outside the town walls
Casa de S. Thiago de Obidos – offers traditionally decorated rooms with modern facilities and city views
The Literary Man Obidos Hotel– a cool and unusual hotel in a former convent where you are surrounded by stacks of books
Pousada Hotel – a luxurious hotel located in the castle
Final thoughts on the best thing to do on a day trip from Lisbon to Obidos
There are many possible things to do in a tiny town such as Obidos, but the most important thing is to enjoy the time you spend there. Ignore the map and walk around the streets. In just a few hours, the town will charm you and fill you with joy and energy to see more of Portugal.
Travel With A Spin contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for reading!