Óbidos, the fortified city, is a traditional Portuguese village. The city and the rolling hills beyond date back to centuries unfathomable from the passing of time. It’s been chosen over and over again by Kings to gift to their Queens. There are few reasons to describe her beauty when pictures will do. Óbidos is definitely worth a day trip out of Lisbon for those who enjoy picturesque villages, and those who need to slow down for a bit.
At 8am, from the Baixa/Chiado neighborhood in Lisbon, we took the metro north to the Campo Grande-metro bus station (off of the green line). There wasn’t very good signage (at least that we saw) directing us where to catch the Rapida Verde, an express bus towards Caldas da Rainha, which stops at Óbidos along the way (about an hour’s journey).
We spotted a bus parked nearby with a short line of people waiting. In the window of the bus, a sign read “C. Rainhas,” the direction we needed to go! We bought a one way ticket for each of us as we got on the bus, €7.70 each. As we drove, we watched as the city turned to villages, with hills and windmills and small forested areas with tall, skinny trees. We stopped twice in small towns and after an hours journey spotted in the distance a city on a hill, two stone towers standing like soldiers on the north and south poles of the city.
The bus dropped us off right outside the stone walls. We wandered in behind the other riders, through the old main gate into Óbidos (Porta da Vila). You can’t miss it, as it’s decorated with azulejo tiles depicting the Passion of Christ. We regret not getting a good photo!
We were excited at the sight of people readily climbing wide, stone steps upwards at the entrance of the village.
We needed food and found a place to dine on the cobblestone. After filling up on chicken served in a caldron, bread and french fries, we took to the stone steps up to the top of the city wall. With no railings, people held the wall on their way up and down, stopping and cautiously taking a picture of the views.
At its most narrow point, the path atop the wall was only 2 feet wide. There was safe room to pass at most points along the way. As people passed, we turned sideways on tiptoes to be as small as possible. Not an endeavor for someone afraid of mild heights.
From up above, we could see out across the surrounding towns and down onto the narrow streets, the white buildings with splashes of yellow, blue, and red paint, fuschia bougainvilleas blooming, and church spires.
In the distance we could see Santuário do Senhor da Pedra, a ragged baroque sanctuary, which we regret never making it to. After walking the length of the village on one side of the wall, we followed the steps down to the village streets and wandered, following any street that appeared promising of a photograph.
We grabbed a table on the patio of Óbidos Lounge recovering from the sun under the shade of the trees. We appeared to be in the middle of the village, near Santa Maria Square and of course, a place of worship (Igreja de Santa Maria).
We returned to the far end of the village and found steps to the other side of the wall. We walked along the ledge until reaching the entrance of the village once again.
We then played tourists, strolling slowly past intricate Portuguese tiles, rooster embroidered aprons and kitchen towels, and hand crafted shoes and items of cork.
We passed little shops selling skinny bottles of Ginjinha (or Ginja, for short), offering shots in little chocolate cups for €1. Ginja, the famous drink of Óbidos, is a Portuguese liqueur made of ginja berries. It is infamously and unfortunately the equivalent of cherry cough syrup for many westerners. Ali enjoyed at first, until Chris grimaced making the connection. (If you miss a shot at Ginja in Óbidos, rest assured you’ll find endless opportunities across Lisbon and Porto alike).
Once known famously for its chocolate and Ginja, Óbidos has become a place of literary significance. Historic spaces have gradually been transformed into contemporary bookstores and in 2015 UNESCO named Óbidos a “City of Literature.” So we couldn’t leave without stopping at an old vegetable market turned bookstore. Don’t worry, there were still tomatoes and raspberries for sale.
As we browsed the colorful spines lined up snugly on the old vegetable crates, a marching band passed through the streets!
We stopped for an ice cream cone (two for Chris) and Portugal’s famous custard tart (pastel de nata) before making the short walk back to the bus stop around 5pm.
When the time came, a bus arrived as expected (bus schedule included above). However, it was a different bus company. It was the same price and the driver confirmed he was headed to Lisbon, so we jumped on. We never did see another bus coming for Óbidos. We were glad we jumped on. This bus stopped at the same spots as the morning one and took the same amount of time – it was even more comfortable!
If you have any questions about our experience in Óbidos, email us!