Óbidos is one of those places in Portugal that is the curious combination of unique and quintessential. Everyone who visits it is immediately captivated by its charms. I’ve never met anybody who has been to Óbidos who hasn’t subsequently raved about its unforgettable “quaintness”. What’s so special about little Óbidos, you ask? It will absolutely steal your heart. Here are 5 reasons why you should to put Óbidos on your travel list, if you haven’t already.
1. The old walls. Old town Óbidos is surrounded by a medieval castle wall, which not only adds to its beauty, but also limits the size of the town. Not only is the town itself extremely walkable, so is the castle wall! You can actually circle the perimeter from the top of the wall. A warning: there are sections that aren’t very suitable for those afraid of heights. On a clear day, you can see the coast line if you look to the outside. You’ll also be able to admire the 16th aqueduct that runs to the city. If you’re looking inside, you’re blessed with a view of the red rooftops of the town. If you love the castle walls, you can even stay at the lovely pousada in the castle and live the castle life – views included.
2. The architecture. Though there are many types of “traditional” Portuguese architecture depending on the region, the one that dominates the imagination is what you see all over Óbidos: white walls with stone window-frames and with a streak of either blue or yellow paint around the house. The red tiled roof goes without saying and geramium-filled terracotta flower-pots are almost mandatory. Óbidos’ streets are lined with these. Another thing that really strikes you is the number of churches in such a small area. They’re lovely to look at from the inside and the outside.
3. Ginja. Óbidos is known for this cherry liqueur (ginja de Óbidos, or a ginjinha) and there’s no shortage of it in town. You can drink ginja from a small liqueur glass or you can be extra sinful and drink it from a chocolate cup, which makes an extra sweet chaser to the drink – plus, no dishes to wash. Don’t be surprised to find small stands selling this liqueur on and off the streets. If you stop to drink at each one, you’ll be well and truly tipsy and your fond memories of Óbidos will be tainted by a terrible hangover.
4. Souvenirs. There are lots of shops where you can get buy some lovely souvenirs to remind you of your trip to Óbidos. Pick up some delicious treats for the road or traditional crafts to take back to your home country. On my last visit, I got an inexpensive dish towel that was made in Portugal (pro tip: I used it to cushion a wine bottle in my suitcase) and now every time I use it, it brings back memories of this enchanting town.
5. Events of all sizes. There always seems to something happening in Óbidos. Big events like the international chocolate festival, which just finished last month, attract visitors to town (because, who doesn’t want to eat delicious chocolate as they watch someone sculpts John Lennon into chocolate?). Even when I went last month on International Women’s Day, Macaron d’Óbidos was giving all the women a free macaroon! If you’re planning on visiting, find out if there’s a great music or art (or chocolate!) event happening at the same time.
Óbidos is about an hour’s drive from Lisbon, so there’s no reason to miss this beautiful little town. The photos you show your family and friends will only be outdone by the memories you have of the place. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t love going to Óbidos; only people who didn’t love leaving it.