Even though Óbidos is a small town, it is frequently visited by tourists from all over the world. It lies 80 km from Lisbon, is easily accessible (car, bus, train) and it is a must-see in the Oeste region. The reason why I love the town, though, is definitely not because of the crowds going there or its popularity.
Óbidos is a fairy tale place painted in regional colours: blue, yellow and red combined with the universal white. You can explore the traditional architecture by just letting yourself lose in the narrow alleys which are creating a net stretching across the whole Óbidos. The curves will take you to lovely hidden spots and lead you through the charming downtown, both inside and outside of the historical walls.
Escaping the tourists is in this case quite easy: go out of the main street or try to visit the town during the night. The late evening hours are spicing up the visit with a totally different flavours.
Even though I recommend to discover the small side alleys, one shouldn’t skip the main street neither. It goes through the centre and you can find on it many restaurants and souvenir shops. My favorite activity on this street was trying ginja (a cherry liqueur, usually served in a chocolate cups) in different selling points. You unconditionally need to try it because it is delicious! Except of that, I highly recommend visiting a second hand book store which is at the same time a bio shop called Mercado Biológico de Óbidos. Such a combination was for me surprising but not as much as a church turned to a book shop which you can find a few hundreds meter further down the main road. This was the first time I saw something like that!
When talking about books, lately, they became a thing of interest for the town which ambition is to become a literature capital of Portugal. This year, for the very first time, Óbidos will host an International Literature Festival, and it is starting already in a week from now (we'll surely visit it to tell you more!). Big events, like this one, are very important for the city. They caused a boom in the late 90’s and started to bring hordes of tourists into the town. Except of the book festival, there are many other interesting happenings: Chocolate Festival, Medieval Fair, International Piano Masterclasses, Holy Week and Christmas Town. Something for everybody.
And now getting back to what you can actually see in the town. The other must-see are the walls. From the top of them you can see Óbidos from all sides and different perspectives. Hiking them was for me a bit of an adrenalin adventure and I was repeating very often that “it is too dangerous to be opened like this”. To be honest I was surprised to see so many seniors passing by seemingly fearlessly. The walls are very narrow, high and, most importantly, without any handrail. It you fall...ah, whatever.
What I found to be very interesting is the local “graffiti”. You can find it on some buildings and walls in the town. Don´t let me confuse you by the word. The whole thing is about people signing on the white walls (usually in blue matching the town colors). I really like the idea because it isn't too bold and, in my opinion, looks attractive without damaging the image. And I am the person who doesn't like classical graffiti. But there's obviously someone who thinks differently as I saw a poster call for money which will be used for repainting the houses to their original state.
So far, I have visited Óbidos three times and I just
love it. It is cosy, romantic and, even though quite small, there is always something new to discover. Especially that, like in so many other places in Portugal, there are the people. A great
example is the owner of Loja Do Americo who invited us to his little shop from the street and gave us a sample of his delicious, homemade ginja. While we were enjoying the cherry
liqueur he was telling stories about the place which is the oldest shop in Óbidos. To keep it short, in spite of the fact that the town is very, very touristic, Portuguese in the shops and
restaurants are incredibly pleasant, with smiles on their face. For a Czech person like me it is still very fascinating and highly appreciated.
P.S. As always we are very curious what do you think about Óbidos? Or maybe you have some questions? Feel free to drop us a line.