Is A Day Trip To Óbidos From Lisbon Worth It?

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Óbidos is a small, walkable town about an hour northwest of Lisbon. It is completely enclosed by medieval walls and is considered one of Europe’s most well-preserved medieval towns. Óbidos provides a living example of a traditional Portuguese village; in the early 2000s, it was voted one of the seven wonders of Portugal.

Because of its small size and few landmarks, it only takes a few hours to explore, making it a great day trip option from Lisbon or another western city like Nazaré or Coimbra. It is only an hour from Lisbon so you could visit it in a half day (4 hours including transportation) if you wanted to.

I loved my visit to Óbidos and took my time walking the walls, snapping postcard-worthy photos, and enjoying the town center, but if you are looking to fill an entire day, I recommend combining Óbidos with another destination such as Sintra for its historic palaces and museums, Cabo da Roca for its hiking trails along the cliffs or Peniche if you love beaches.

I combined my trip to Óbidos with the Batalha Monastery but was coming from Coimbra during a three-week road trip through Portugal. The Monastery was beautiful and I definitely recommend visiting it as well. It’s in a less touristy area, which makes the experience even better. 

Things to See and Do in Óbidos

As I said before, Óbidos is not a big town, and it’s more about strolling its picturesque streets and seeing a few landmarks, which is why I enjoyed it so much! I love low-key towns that are small and quaint with fewer people.

Óbidos does get busy with day trippers arriving at 9 a.m., but I did notice the crowds die out in the afternoon. I visited from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., but I think most of the tour groups probably stopped at Óbidos first and only for 1-2 hours before heading to other towns nearby. 

To have the best experience, I would get to Óbidos before 9 a.m. (at least by 8:45 a.m.) to get free parking and give yourself time to enjoy the town without the large tour groups. Walking along the medieval walls with fewer people is much easier as areas are narrow and there are no guard rails.

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The Best things to do in Óbidos:

  • Porta da Vila or Town Gate– This is the main entrance to the town, and the walkway is adorned with blue tiles and an interior chapel and balcony making it very picturesque. 
  • Medieval Walls– The town’s walls are one of the main attractions. The town is enclosed by a 1.5 km long, 13m high stone wall that many tourists enjoy walking along.
  • Castle of Óbidos– The town’s castle dates back to the 1100s. It has been rebuilt and renovated into a luxury hotel.
  • Igreja da misericordia de Óbidos – A bookstore located in a former catholic church next to the castle. Óbidos is known as a literary center and has many bookstores. 
  • Rua Direita– This is the main shopping street in town and has a lot of boutiques and cafes. Make sure to visit Comur, the sardines cannery store. It is very pretty inside and worth a look. 
  • Ginja – A must try while in Óbidos. It is a traditional sour cherry liqueur typically served in a small chocolate cup to help balance the tartness. It is said to have originated from Óbidos. 
  • Side Streets– Walk the side streets that branch off from Rue Direita. You will uncover hidden alleys and brightly colored bougainvillea clinging to the white-washed walls (in summer).
  • Church of Saint Mary– This is the town’s main church. The interior has a painted wooden ceiling and is decorated with blue and yellow tiles from the 1600s. There is also a beautifully carved stone tomb, a 17th-century organ pipe, and a 1661 painting by Josefa de Óbidos.
  • São Pedro (St. Peter) Church– This small church was rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake and includes a Baroque altarpiece.
  • Aqueduto de Usseira– Historic stone archway outside of the city walls
  • Sanctuary of the Lord of the Stone– A baroque church built in 1747. Located outside of the walls, a 15-minute walk from the main gate. You can see it while walking along the walls.

Óbidos is also known for its seasonal festivals with the International Chocolate festival, and Medieval fair, being the most popular. Consider visiting Obidos during a festival for a unique experience.

Getting to Óbidos 

The easiest way to get to Óbidos is by car or bus. You can also take an organized tour from Lisbon that will include Óbidos in a day trip with other towns nearby.

Car

Driving to Óbidos is the most convenient and easiest option. It takes just under an hour to reach Óbidos from Lisbon along A8. Having your own car means you are able to move at your own pace and see other towns or landmarks along the way but driving yourself also means tolls. It will cost between 5-10€ in tolls to reach Óbidos from Lisbon.

The town offers a large FREE parking lot located right outside of the main gate. It is a quick 5 minute or less walk to town. There are also paid parking areas and alternate gates to enter the town, but Porta da Vila is by far your best option.

The town center remains inaccessible to tourist cars with no public parking (locals only), so it is best to park outside of town and walk to the center via the main gate.

Bus

If you only want to visit Óbidos, there is a bus from Lisbon with service to Óbidos that takes just about an hour. It is operated by Rodotejo Bus Company and leaves from the Campo Grande terminal in Lisbon. You will board the bus to the town of Caldas da Rainha. This route stops at Óbidos along the way.

The bus has frequent service during the week and limited weekend service. It will drop you off right outside of town and will pick you up for your return trip at the same spot. If you want to visit other destinations on the same day as Óbidos, it is tricky with public transportation. You can check for more information on the bus route here.

Train

Although there is a local train station about a 20 minute walk away from town, the trains are not convenient to Óbidos. They take more than double the time and are infrequent throughout the day, so taking the train to Óbidos is not recommended. 

Sample Day Itinerary for Óbidos

To enjoy your time in Óbidos, get an early (or late afternoon) start to avoid the tour bus crowds that visit the town starting at 9 a.m.

Start your day by parking at the free lot right across from the main entrance. It is labeled in Google Maps as “Free Parking Óbidos” address: N114 9, 2510-089 Óbidos, Portugal

It is a generous parking lot but does fill up during high season. I visited in May and had no trouble parking at 8:45 a.m.

Head into town via the main gate, Porta da Vila. Stop to enjoy the gate’s decorative blue tiles and alter. Sometimes there is a musician playing in the corner, if he is not set up yet, you will be able to enjoy his music on the way out. 

Take the stairs immediately to the left of the gate to start a walk along the walls.

If you are afraid of heights or do not have good balance, you might not want to walk the walls. It’s an easy walk but there are areas of narrow stairs and jagged stones that someone who is not careful could trip over. There are no handrails, so you should feel confident walking along the walls to prevent a spill.

Turn to the left once you are at the top of the stairs to walk along the wall towards the castle. 

If you go to the right, there is a metal gate along the wall on the way to the castle that may be locked. If it’s not open, you would have to backtrack, so it’s best to go left at the top of the stairs when walking along the wall at this entry point. 

It only took me around 20 minutes to reach the castle, stopping as I went to enjoy the views and take photos. You will get some great views of the village and can see the Sanctuary of the Lord of the Stone from the walls.

Once you make it to the castle, the walkway ends, forcing you to walk down stone stairs to the entry of the castle’s courtyard area.

Take some time to walk around the castle. You are only allowed to view the courtyard if you are not staying at the property. 

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Right next door to the castle is a bookshop in a converted Catholic Church, Igreja de São Tiago. You can still see the decorated altar amongst the shelves of books. It’s a quick visit but neat to see. 

After walking through the bookstore, continue your walk under the stone archway (to the left of the bookstore if looking at the front doors). There are a few overlook areas along this walkway showcasing scenic views of the countryside and vineyards. 

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Stairway to wall

Just a short way past the wooden steps on your right, you will see another walkway up to the castle walls. Take this path and climb the stairs (turning left along the wall) to finish your walk around the walls. You will end up back to where you started at the main gate.

Now it’s time to walk through the village. I recommend starting on Rue Direita and then coming back towards the gate in a sorta loop through some of the side streets.

The main street is pretty short. It will take less than 10 minutes to walk the entire length. It leads back to the bookshop, Igreja de São Tiago.

Take your time, enjoy the shops, and make sure to try some Ginja along the way. There are many stands selling this drink for 1€ along Direita. You should also try another Portugese favorite, pastel bacalhau, a cod fritter sometimes served with melted cheese inside, at Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau. It’s a lively spot with a great atmosphere!

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São Pedro (St. Peter) Church

There is also a canned fish shop, Comur that is worth a look. Apparently, there are many locations throughout Portugal, but this was the first one I saw. It is really beautiful inside with decorative cans of sardines. 

Once you get to the end of this street, head down some side streets to enjoy the pretty alleys and make a stop at the Church of Saint Mary. This is the main church of the village and so pretty inside with its blue tiles and painted ceilings. 

São Pedro Church is only a 3-minute walk away and is another landmark worth a visit. Take the side street from the plaza, named Largo da Misericordia in Google Maps, passing another historic landmark, Torre da Igreja da Santa Casa da Misericordia (church tower) and scenic alleys along the way. 

Continue weaving through the side streets making your way back to the main gate to complete your loop.

Once back at the main gate you may like a snack or coffee. Head to the right at the fork down Rue Josefa de Óbidos (the side street just beneath Rue Direita) for a number of cafe options. Most of these were not opened yet when I was there so I kept walking to Nata cafe, located closer to the church bookstore. This cafe opens earlier and serves a variety of drinks, snacks, and lunch options. The prices were a little more than expected, but everything was good, and the service was great!

After I ate, I was ready to leave for the day. I spent about 3 hours in Óbidos, taking my time walking around, people-watching, and enjoying the views and photogenic streets. I wish the town was bigger so I could have spent more time there!

I did not bring my tripod with me, so I didn’t get any photos of myself in the photogenic streets, which I completely regret! I thought it would be too busy to get photos, but all you have to do is walk off of the main street, and there are plenty of great backdrops with hardly any people. I definitely regret not bringing my tripod!

If you want to see the historic archway, Aqueduto de Usseira, make a stop on your way back to the parking lot. It is outside of the main gate in an adjacent parking lot area.

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Where to Stay in Óbidos 

If you are road-tripping along Portugal’s west coast and need a town to stay in for the night, Óbidos is a great option for a unique experience. It is also close to several other villages, towns, and landmarks worth seeing, so staying the night in Óbidos puts you in a great location to do so. 

Many people choose to stay at Pousada Castelo de Óbidos (the Castle) for a unique experience. This is a luxury stay with a buffet breakfast and air conditioned rooms with a price to reflect it. June-September has the highest rates but a lot of people love their experience staying in the castle.

There are plenty of other budget-friendly options in town, including boutique hotels, guesthouses, and vacation rentals with full kitchens. 

  • Casa Senhoras Rainhas is a mid-luxury option within Óbidos’ walls with air-conditioned rooms and complimentary croissants and orange juice for breakfast.  
  • Casa Sonia vacation home is great for bigger groups with two bedrooms
  • Casa Picva is located right outside the city walls, surrounded by gardens

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Óbidos is a beautifully preserved medieval town surrounded by ancient walls and filled with cobbled streets, whitewashed houses, and vibrant bougainvillea. The town’s historic architecture and ambiance, provides a glimpse into Portugal’s past, making it the perfect destination for a day trip from Lisbon, or any other west coast city!

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