Surrounded by a classic crenellated wall, Óbidos’ gorgeous historic centre is a labyrinth of cobblestoned streets and flower-bedecked, whitewashed houses livened up with dashes of vivid yellow and blue paint. It’s a delightful place to pass an afternoon, but there are plenty of reasons to stay overnight, including atmospheric medieval bars and a hilltop castle now converted into one of Portugal’s most luxurious pousadas (upmarket inns).
It’s especially enjoyable to visit during one of the town’s festivals – celebrating everything from opera to chocolate to Óbidos’ medieval heritage – when you’ll find yourself rubbing shoulders with Portuguese tourists as much as those from other countries.
Hill-town aficionados looking to savour Óbidos’ ‘lost in time’ qualities may find the nearby superhighway (in plain view just east of town) and the copious souvenir shops lining the main street a bit jarring. For a more bucolic approach, visitors can arrive at the sleepy Óbidos train station 2km west of town and walk up the zigzagging country lanes to the town gate, through a rural landscape more in keeping with the town’s medieval flavour.
The town’s main gate, Porta da Vila, leads directly into the main street, Rua Direita.