The weather this August morning was unpredictable to say the least. We woke up to thick fog and chilly damp 17 degree air, a jacket for breakfast definitely wouldn't have hurt. However, jackets were not something that we had packed with us. I hadn't used a jacket since the heat wave hit us in May, so I had no idea that it could be cold in Portugal in August. The daughter and I simply had to bite the bullet. The man sighed and thought we were exaggerating a bit, he finally got some cool down after the persistent heat of the summer!
The first stop of the day was small Óbidos, 8 miles north of Lisbon. A city that has been voted several times as one of Portugal's most beautiful cities. I had been really looking forward to this visit ever since I started planning our Portugal holiday. Take a leisurely walk around this cute town and take some photos. And you know what? Óbidos did not disappoint us!
There really is something extra charming about cities that violate the Swedish "just right". Cities that dare to be different and stand out. Óbidos is a city that absolutely seethes with color. The chalky white walls, the bright blue or sun yellow house knots and cerise bougainvillea climbing around the windows. This is Portugal's answer to the picturesque and whitewashed Santorini, but with its very own ring wall and a castle that sets the village's silhouette.
We came to Óbidos by car and realized pretty quickly that all the parking lots were outside the ring wall. However, the distances in the village are very small, so regardless of which parking you park at the ring wall, it is not far to walk. The parking lot was far from full at around 10, but just as we parked, a caravan of tourist buses arrived from Lisbon. How lucky that our bad luck with parking spaces in Sintra did not follow us here! 🙂
Inside the thick ring wall, narrow little cobbled streets lead up to the castle. The castle of Óbidos dates back to the Middle Ages and over the years has seen many wars, earthquakes and kings, but since the 1950s the castle has been converted into a popular Pousada – a more luxurious historic hotel.
Flower pots are hung in thin little loops outside the windows, I'm pretty sure that my housing association here at home would never have approved such a construction. Flat rose bushes shaped from steel wire grow along the edges of the house walls. With such narrow alleys there is no room for a bush to freestyle, here the bushes are disciplined early.
Óbidos is famous for the sour cherry liqueur Ginjinha, which is sold in every other store. For 1 Euro you get a chocolate mug filled with the alcoholic red drops. No disposable cups need to be thrown on the street, here people are more than happy to eat the disposable cup. Environmentally friendly and tasty.
The main street between the city gate and the castle is filled with visitors from a large number of buses that have just arrived in the city. The bus tourists have a tight schedule and they go quickly back and forth to the castle on the main street. We quickly got tired of all the souvenir shops selling cork coasters and cherry liqueur and took a walk on some of the parallel streets instead. Here we were completely alone.
The ring wall of Óbidos was built by the Moors who ruled Portugal in the 11th century. Through all the years it has held up outrageously well. The condition of the wall is actually so good that it is open to anyone who wants and dares to walk on it. Here there are neither railings nor safety lines, you go here entirely at your own risk. But with a really nice view.
Óbidos is not big, only 3000 inhabitants live here inside the ring wall. Behind the whitewashed walls of the residential buildings, small gardens with lime trees, hydrangea and oranges are hidden. The street numbers and names of the houses are often walled in tiles hand-painted in the city's colors – white, blue and yellow.
We stop at Saint Mary's Church and look inside. The church that became a mosque, but which became a church again during the 12th century. Most of what is in the church today dates from the 17th century, after a major earthquake in 1535 forced a complete renovation. The blue and white tiles that cover the walls are nothing short of stunningly beautiful and so impressive that it's easy to miss the ornate 17th century ceiling with its paintings.
Before we leave the city, we take the opportunity to sit down and have a drink at one of the street restaurants. Table after table line up in the narrow streets and I wonder if they even have any premises inside. After all, this is where you should sit outside, among the yellow-white house walls and the flamboyant roses. Obidos is a city I would have liked to have stayed longer in and discovered more of.
Have you been here? What did you think of the destination?
Travel blogger, gastronaut, photographer and family adventurer with over 55 countries in his luggage. Eva loves trips that include beautiful nature, hiking boots and well-cooked food. On the travel blog Rucksack she takes you to all corners of the world with the help of her inspiring pictures and texts.