us at obidos

A Day in Óbidos

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History of Óbidos

Óbidos, located about an hour north of Lisbon off the Silver Coast, is one of the most well preserved and picturesque medieval villages in Portugal.  Its castle walls encompass a labyrinth of narrow roads which wend between whitewashed homes with red tiled roofs.

Over the years, Óbidos was famous among royals.  In the 13th century, King Dom Dinis gifted the village to his wife, Queen Isabel. The tradition continued for centuries.  Additionally, King Alfonso V and his cousin Princess Isabella of Coimbra married here at the ages of 9 and 10.  Consequently, Óbidos earned the nickname Village of Queens.

Getting to Óbidos

Upon arrival to Óbidos, paid parking with free public bathrooms is found just outside the fortified village.  The lot fills up quickly with tour buses, so it is best to visit Óbidos early to avoid the crowds. 

Porta de Vila and Rue Direita

From the car park, enter Óbidos through the Porta de Vila gateway whose inside walls are decorated with baroque tiles depicting religious scenes from 1740-45. 

From the entrance stroll the main road, Rua Direita, which stretches from the Porta da Vila to the historic Pousada Castelo Óbidos.  The street features flower adorned shops and pubs serving its famous cherry liquor called ginja. 

What to Drink in Óbidos

Even if it is 10am in the morning, be sure to try the ginja whose original recipe is a carefully guarded secret dating back to 17th century.

The ginja recipe of macerated morello cherries infused with aguardente alcohol is thought to have been first brewed by a friar for medicinal purposes as the cherry liquor is known for its digestive aid.

Not a big fruit liquor fan, I expected to like the dark chocolate cup more than the ginja itself when we ordered shot at Petrarum Domus Bar.  Much to my surprise, however, the ginja’s sweet cherry flavor prevailed.  Perhaps it is because with its microclimate, Óbidos produces some of the best cherries in Europe!

chocolate cups with ginja

Igreja de Santa Maria

After a swig of ginja, continue along Rue Direita which overlooks the Praca de Santa Maria and its 12th century church that houses the tomb of Dom João de Noronha, a 16th-century commander.

Igreja de Santa Maria

The route passes the square and gradually ascends to the medieval castle, a wedding present from King Dom Dinis to Queen Santa Isabel.  Castelo de Óbidos is now a luxury hotel, Pousada Castelo Óbidos.  Fit for a royal, the castle is a perfect place to stay for one of the many festivals.

Pousada Castelo Obidos

Festivals in Óbidos

A few festivals include, but are not limited to the Medieval Festival, the Christmas Village, and the Chocolate Festival

The Medieval Festival is held from mid-July to the first weekend in August. Most of the activity at the fair takes place in Old Arms Square adjacent to the castle.  While vendors sell medieval foods and crafts, jesters, fire-eaters, knights on horseback and more fill the streets.

Óbidos also transforms itself into a Christmas Village during the month of December.  Hundreds of stalls selling gifts and hot chocolate fill the streets. 

Speaking of hot chocolate, Óbidos plans a 12-day Chocolate Festival over select weekends in February, March and April which showcases many cocoa based goodies. 

Things to Do in Óbidos

Taste the Chocolate

If you can’t make it to Óbidos for the Chocolate Festival at least check out the Óbidos Chocolate House.  The columns at its entrance look like chocolate covered ice cream cones and inside you’ll find artisans crafting chocolate treats.

making chocolate at Obidos Chocolate house

Join in the Magic of Harry Potter

Across the way, any Harry Potter fan will like Madok Restaurante and Bar.  You can’t miss it with a Ministry of Magic, Wizard’s Welcome, and Broomstick Parking only signs plastered outside its entrance.  The fun décor coupled with tasty meals attracts many diners.

Stroll the Back Streets

While on the cobblestone back streets, certainly explore all the nooks and crannies.  We particularly liked the modern statue in the São Martinho Chapel, a gothic structure dating back to the 1330’s.  It is the only completely medieval building in Óbidos as all others were partially or entirely destroyed by earthquakes.

sao martinho chapel

Climb to the Top of the Castle Walls

Also look for the stairs that climb from the many back streets to the top of the castle walls.  I’m not fond of ledges but had no problem walking the wide walls which circle Óbidos, despite slightly uneven footing.  It takes about an hour to circumvent the whole village, as you won’t be able to stop snapping photos. The walls afford lovely views of the surrounding hills, the medieval town, and the aqueduct.  What a place to walk your dog every day!

Check Out the Aqueduct

The Óbidos Aqueduct, also known as the Aqueduct of Usseir is on the outskirts of town.  Built in 1573 to bring water from the Usseira spring to the Óbidos fountains, it is still remarkably intact.  You get a great bird’s-eye view of it from the battlements.

obidos aqueduct

Is Obidos Worth Visiting?

While we visited on a tour which only allowed for a short stop, I think Óbidos deserves at least a half-day visit, and likely longer if you are attending one of its many festivals. I really liked this medieval village. ETB

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Published by

Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

7 thoughts on “A Day in Óbidos

  1. What a charming village with all those narrow streets and medieval buildings. As someone who has a sweet tooth, naturally my interest piqued at mention of the chocolate festival and Chocolate House. The views from the castle walls are stunning.

  2. Thanks! +5 min on site, PINNED Commented and CT x 2
    We loved Obidos and were so glad we stayed for a few days. It was great to enjoy the small charming town when it quieted down at night. We definitely had our share of ginja! Would love to return for the chocolate festival!

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