The best independent guide to Central Portugal
The best independent guide to Central Portugal
Obidos is the finest example of a Portuguese walled town and is one of the best tourist destinations of the Lisbon region.
Historically, Obidos was owned by the Queen of Portugal, a tradition that began in 1282 when the town was gifted to Queen Isabel on her wedding day. This royal patronage has left a positive enduring legacy on Obidos, and today it is the most charming and attractive town of central Portugal.
During your trip to Obidos, you will discover traditional houses, pretty cobbled streets and an impressive medieval castle. While the town may be small, taking only a couple of hours to explore, you will definitely enjoy all of your time spent here.
The region surrounding Obidos is equally as fascinating, from the fishing town of Peniche and the pristine beaches of Lagoa de Obidos, to Europe’s largest collection of Buddha statues at the Buddha Eden. Obidos is a fantastic base from which to explore this enthralling region, and the town has become an increasingly popular destination for a holiday.
This article will provide a guide to Obidos, helping you get the most from your visit to the town and region.
Related articles: Lisbon day trips - Lagoa de Obidos – Peniche guide
The Muralhas da cidade - The ancient town walls encircling the historic centre of Obidos remain surprisingly intact. The tops of these walls can be walked (with care), providing a scenic and peaceful way to see the town.
The Porta da Vila – The decorative double gateway into Obidos, with its pretty chapel and Azulejo tile paintings.
The Azulejo tiles paintings of the Porta da Vila depict the Passion of Christ.
Ginjinha d’Obidos – A delicious, sweet cherry flavoured liqueur that is served in a chocolate cup – the perfect energy replenisher during a long day of sightseeing!
The Rua Direita – The delightful main street of Obidos, which has barely been altered since the medieval era. This cobbled street leads up to the castle and is lined with baroque styled churches, family-run restaurants and unique shops.
Related articles: Sights and tourist attractions of Obidos
Obidos is regarded as one of the best day trips of the north Lisbon region, and a visit here is highly recommended if you are on holiday within the area.
As a small town, Obidos can be fully explored in just 2 to 3 hours of sightseeing. While it takes less time to visit than the other popular day trip destinations - such as Sintra, Cascais, Setubal or Evora - the real appeal is its charming appearance, rather than the number of tourist attractions it has to offer.
It’s easy to travel to Obidos from Lisbon using public transport, and there is a regular bus service - details are provided later in this article.
If travelling to Obidos by car, you’ll find a large car park to the southeast of the town. With a car, a day trip to Obidos could be combined with visits to Peniche, Foz do Arelho, Nazaré or Bacalhôa Buddha Eden.
Insight: Obidos makes for a great stop on the drive from Lisbon to Porto (or Coimbra), and is very close to the A8 expressway.
The interactive map below displays a suggested tour of Obidos. The green line shows the suggested tour, the yellow line marks the city walls, and the shaded green area is the busy tourist area along the Rua Direita. (Note: zoom in to see all of the points)
Sights of the tour 1) Porta da Vila Gateway 2) Rua Direita 3) Muralhas da cidade (town walls) 4) Trilho do Castelo (castle trail) 5) Igreja de São Tiago 6) Castelo de Óbidos 7) Estrada da Cerca Gateway 8) Igreja de Santa Maria 9) Igreja de São Pedro 10) Capela de São Martinho 11) Aqueduto de Óbidos (aqueduct)
Warning: It is possible to walk the perimeter of Obidos via the town walls, but care must be taken. The tops of the battlements are uneven, with many trip hazards, no handrails and narrow sections. The walls are not suitable for children.
While Obidos makes a fantastic day-trip destination, it can suffer through its own popularity. In the summer months, the town is crowded with coach tours and day-trippers, with visitors jostling along the Rua Direita up to the castle.
It is recommended to visit early in the day before the arrival of the coach tours (11am to 2pm) and when the sun is less intense. Most tourists leave Obidos by 3pm, with the town taking on a much calmer atmosphere.
Insight: Coach tours from Lisbon often visit Obidos as their first destination, as it is the closest tourist town of the Alcobaça/ Batalha/ Fatima/ Nazaré / Obidos region.
If the Rua Direita is too busy, then head to the western side of Obidos. The streets are much more peaceful here, and you’ll find a less busy stairway to the castle walls. Another quiet section of Obidos is to the southeast of the castle.
The quiet side streets of Obidos free from any tourists
During peak season, there is high demand for the restaurants in the town’s historic centre at lunchtime. To avoid the crowds, plan for an early or late lunch.
If you join a multi-destination tour, be aware that these tours do not spend long in Obidos (as they rush on to Fatima, Batalha or Nazaré). These tours only allow enough time to walk along the main street, see the castle, and have a glass of Ginjinha d’Obidos.
The main advantage of visiting Obidos independently (rather than joining a guided tour) is that you can plan to avoid the busiest hours and spend more time within the town.
The Porta da Vila is the main gateway into Obidos. It is comparatively small in size, as the gateway was designed to prevent a cavalry attack. The door on the right enters the chapel dedicated to Nossa Senhora da Piedade, the patron saint of Obidos.
The Rua da Talhada follows the western wall and is the prettiest section of Obidos
The Castelo de Óbidos is a delightful medieval castle perched upon a rocky outcrop at the highest point of Obidos. The castle has a close connection to the Portuguese Royal Family, as it was historically the dowry gift to the Queen - a tradition that began with Queen Santa Isabel in 1282.
Today the castle is an atmospheric hotel - www.pousadas.pt
The Igreja de Santa Maria is the main church of Obidos and was originally constructed on the site of a Moorish mosque. It was here that child King Afonso V married his cousin Isabel in 1444. Most of the medieval church was destroyed by an earthquake in 1535, with the present building dating from the late 16th century.
Organised tours to Obidos
Organised tours are a great option if you have limited time or would prefer to avoid the hassle of public transport.
Tours in Portugal are designed for modern and worldly travellers, offering knowledgeable guides and the chance to meet fellow tourists.
We have worked with GetYourGuide.com over the last six years, and some of their best tours that include Obidos are:
• A popular tour of Fatima, Obidos, Batalha and Nazaré (€65)
• Fátima, Nazaré, Óbidos & São Martinho do Porto full-day tour (€60)
• Óbidos, Fátima and the Atlantic Coast (€65)
Do note: Multi-destination tours will only spend 30 to 60 minutes in Obidos.
Obidos makes a fantastic holiday destination if you are seeking an authentically Portuguese experience, with an ambience far removed from that of the hectic beach towns. Once the day-trippers leave Obidos, the town offers a relaxed and peaceful atmosphere, with evenings enjoyed in the family-run restaurants eating traditional home-cooked food.
Highlights of the Obidos region include the surfing beaches of Baleal (near Peniche), the monastery of Batalha, the traditional resort town of Nazaré and the Berlenga islands. To get the most from a holiday to Obidos, a car is recommended.
Related articles: Nazaré Guide - Batalha Guide
Obidos has a very limited number of hotels, meaning accommodation is always in high demand. This is especially true during the peak season when the town and surrounding region will be fully sold out. Our advice is to book accommodation as early as possible, while the best locations are still available.
Insight: Foz do Arelho is a delightful beach town only 7km from Obidos.
The map below shows the location of hotels and rental rooms in Obidos. By altering the date to your holiday, the map will display the current prices (Note: Zoom in or out to see more options)
The best way to travel to Obidos from Lisbon is by the express bus. The bus service departs from Campo Grande bus station in Lisbon, which is located on the green and yellow metro line. The journey takes 1 hour, and a single ticket costs €8.00 (there are no return tickets, so two single tickets must be purchased).
The express bus to Obidos is operated by the Rodojejo bus company, and the route (which is called the ‘Rapida Verde’) connects Lisbon to the city of Caldas da Rainha. There are many departures Monday to Friday, with fewer services at the weekend.
Rodojejo website - www.rodotejo.pt
Rapida Verde timetable - www.rodotejo.pt
Obidos does have a train station, however the train from Lisbon is a slow, regional service. The train from Lisbon to Obidos takes over hours, so the bus is a more sensible option.
Related articles: Lisbon to Obidos
The Rodotejo bus to Obidos waiting at the Campo Grande bus station, which is next to Estádio José Alvalade (Sporting Lisbon’s stadium)
The Obidos region is famed for its cherry liqueur called Ginjinha d’Obidos, and no trip to Obidos is complete without savouring this sweet tasting drink in one of the town’s small bars.
Ginja is produced by infusing Morello cherries in Aguardiente (hence the strength of the drink!) and is served with a cherry in the glass. A modern twist is to serve the drink in a chocolate cup.
Hidden within the rolling farmland and vineyards of the Obidos countryside is Europe’s largest collection of Buddhas. This unique collection includes sculptures, terracotta statues and pagodas and is set amidst the grounds of a traditional Portuguese farm.
The Buddha Eden is 10km south of Obidos, and the entrance fee is €5. bacalhoa.pt/
Within the Obidos region are a number of world-class golf courses.
West Cliffs Golf was named the World’s Best New Golf Course in 2017, while the Bom Sucesso course is part of the exclusive European Tour Properties network.
• West Cliffs Golf - westcliffs.com
• Bom Sucesso - www.bomsucesso
Historically, a harbour was situated at the base of the hill on the western side of Obidos. However, this coastline was dramatically altered in the 15th century due to a tsunami following an earthquake.
The tsunami created a sandbar at Foz do Arelho (10km to the west of Obidos), restricting the flow of water and forming the Lagoa de Obidos. This pretty lagoon can be seen from the town walls of Obidos.
The pretty beach of Foz do Arelho overlooking the Lagoa de Obidos
Obidos can be easily seen within a couple of hours, so a trip here could be combined with visits to Caldas da Rainha, , Peniche, Nazare or the Buddha Eden.
For a day trip which takes in multiple towns, a car is recommended. However, there is a regular bus service between Obidos and Peniche (25km, 40 min €2.75 fare, see http://rodoviariadooeste.pt/), or express bus to Caldas da Rainha (10km 15min). Another option if you have a car is to visit Mafra Palace on the way back to Lisbon.
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