Before being officially recognised by UNESCO, Óbidos had already established itself as a literary town, thanks to initiatives by Lisbon-based bookseller Ler Devagar. In your stroll within the old townwalls you will encounter seven bookshops in original places, such as Livraria Santiago, in the former Igreja do Santiago, whose walls – and altar – are covered with newand secondhand books, and the Mercado Biológico, an organic fruit and vegetable market that also sells used books, displayed in produce crates that are piled up to the ceiling.
It may be clichéd but it is essential in Óbidos: loose yourself within the old town walls. There is no betterway to get to know this town. Here dozens of shops sell crafts and there are ranks of houses painted white, edged with blue or yellow, as is traditional in this area. Finally, step into the castle itself, whose foundations are Roman but which has been rebuilt several times over the past millennium.
One good site to get your strength back after your walk is the Tasca Torta (Rua Direita 81 A). It is an old-fashioned restaurants, but with a decor featuring modern touches, where you can order a selection of cheese, hams and sausages or shellfish to start, before moving on to the espetada de secretos (flavoursome pork belly) on a bed of honeyed corn grits.
There is a famous drink from Óbidos (and also from Lisbon, but the tradition goes back longer), called ginjinha, made from the ginja sour cherry. In recent years the fashion has been to drink it from a chocolate cup – finishing by eating it, of course. It all started at the Loja do Vinho in Rua Direita and so that is perhaps the right place to try it.
If you are the kind of person that likes to try everything once, we suggest you hire a Twizy at Óbidos tourist office (€12/30mins). It is a tiny electric car that makes no noise or pollution and which you can drive to the Lagoa de Óbidos, the largest lagoon in the Iberian peninsula – and in our opinion the prettiest. It is flanked by several beaches, including Foz do Arelho, Estrela, Bom Sucesso, Rei do Cortiço and Baleal. You can also take sailing, windsurfing, canoeing or stand-up paddleboarding lessons on its relatively placid waters.
On the Way
This part of Portugal is called Oeste (meaning ‘West’) but you can find the Oriente here, too. Buddha Eden was dreamed up by magnate José 'Joe’ Berardo in response to the destruction by the Taliban of the giant figures at Bamyan in Afghanistan. It has dozens of statues of the buddha dotted around 35 hectares on the Quinta dos Loridos estate, in Bombarral as well as a lake with a Chinese-style pavilion and koi carp.