Obidos, Portugal is a lovely old castle town just an hour from Lisbon so perfect for a day trip. There are many things to do in Obidos and tour agencies in Lisbon organise day trips, but it’s actually a really easy trip to do independently. Details about how to get to Obidos can be found at the end of this post.
It’s not a huge town, so it’s easy to explore by yourself. Many of the guided tours only make a brief stop in Obidos before heading to another town, giving you just enough time to walk down the busy main street, the Rua Direita. But with more time, you can lose yourself in the charming backstreets, thus avoiding the throngs of tourists. Yes in the summer months and especially during festivals, it can get busy but step off the main street, and it’s a whole other world!
It’s lovely to explore the tiny back streets and cobbled lanes, and it’s also possible to walk the town walls. You need to be reasonably fit to walk the walls and watch where you put your feet at times. But from the walls, you get great views of the roofs, the painted houses of Obidos and the surrounding countryside of Portugal.
Things to do in Obidos, Portugal
So, apart from walking up the main street with all its trinket shops and exploring the back and side streets, what else is there to see?
Well, when you enter through the main gate into Obidos, look up, and you’ll see a gorgeous blue and white tiled chapel that overlooks the main thoroughfare. The entrance to the town, the Porta da Vila has two staggered archway entrances, built to prevent a direct charge from attackers. This type of entrance was very common with late gothic castles in Portugal.
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There are the castle and the castle grounds. The castle is now a luxury hotel, the Pousada do Castelo de Obidos, although we have never stayed there, it gets good reviews on Trip Advisor. Wouldn’t it be cool to sleep in a castle? Some of the features date back to the 9th century!
Visit the Church of Santa Maria
This is where King Alfonso V married his cousin Isabel in 1444. He was only 10 at the time, and his bride was 8! In front of the church, is a 15th-century pillory to which criminals and wrongdoers were tied to naked for punishment and public humiliation.
Admire the 16th-century aqueduct that’s just on the edge of town and visit the large Baroque Church, Santuario do Senhor Jesus da Pedra, that you can’t help noticing from the castle walls. According to legend, during the droughts of the 1730s, a farmer found a 15th-century cross at the site where the church now stands to which he was ‘demanded’ to worship and then the rains came!
Drink Ginja de Obidos
Obidos is famous for its Ginja de Obidos, a cherry liquor. It sounds vile but it’s actually quite nice, and you can’t say you’ve been there if you haven’t tried this drink. You won’t have to look very hard to find some as pretty much every other stall along the main street sells it. Just a euro for a shot which is typically served in a chocolate cup, so you get to the eat the cup too.
Visit the Book Exchange run by the Silver Coast Volunteers
Although we had heard about this place, we only actually discovered it a few weeks ago. Just by the main entrance to the Main Gate to Obidos is the book exchange. Here you will find loads of books in many languages but predominantly English. You can take, swap or donate books, it’s up to you. At the moment, it’s only open Mondays – Fridays between 2-4pm. Reading a proper book is so much nicer, than one that’s downloaded, don’t you think?
Visit the Festivals of Obidos
It seems that there is always some kind of festival or event happening in Obidos – here are some of our favourites! Most of the festivals take place with the grounds of Obidos Castle.
– The chocolate festival takes place every year in late February, early March and it’s a chocoholic’s dream. The best bit is the chocolate statues. When we visited the festival, the theme was music. Could you have guessed who these chocolate characters are?
Medieval Fair of Obidos –
The Medieval Fair takes place Thursday to Sunday from mid-July to mid-August. It’s a fun festival. The whole town joins in and returns to the Medieval ages. Here you will come across jousting events, parades, jesters and of course, plenty of good old medieval wine and food!
Obidos Buskers Festival
This takes place over a weekend in September. In 2018, the festival will be held on 8-9 September. Many weird and wonderful acts take place in different parts of the town, some so bad that they are good!
Obidos Christmas Village aka Obidos Vila Natal
More for kids this one but having lived in SE Asia for so long where Christmas Day never feels like Christmas, it was fun to see the lights and Santa Claus and feel a little Christmassy.
Other events that take place in Obidos include opera in the castle grounds. We really enjoyed that last year, hope that one happens again.
Not far from Obidos is the Obidos Lagoon aka Lagoa de Obidos
Not far from Obidos and easier to get to, if you have your own transport is Obidos Lagoon. Obidos Lagoon is the largest saltwater lagoon in Portugal. It’s an excellent place for walking, cycling, bird watching and kite surfing. The best beach is near Foz de Arelho on the northern bank which faces both the calm waters of the Lagoon and the not always so calm waters of the Atlantic Ocean. On the southern bank, there is the quieter beach of Bom Sucesso, and there are some great hikes from here. Around the lagoon, there are many quieter beaches. Our dog Angel loves going for walks around here.
How to get to Obidos
By car – Follow the A8, just an hour if you are coming from Lisbon.
By bus – There are regular express buses between Obidos and Lisbon Campo Grande Bus Station which takes just over an hour. The bus company is the Rapida Verde (Green Express). For up to date information on bus schedule and tickets, see here.
By train – It’s also possible to go by train, but this takes just over two hours. It’s not an express service!