The second I saw a picture of the medieval walled city of Obidos, Portugal I knew that I had to go. So after an amazing two days in Aveiro, it was time to set off to the next small Portuguese city that was calling my name.
Going between two smaller cities more often visited as day trips from Porto and Lisbon meant several connections and a multiple-hour train journey that would have only taken an hour and a half by car. But to me, it was worth it.
The train station in Obidos is one platform in the middle of nowhere that requires a walk down country roads with no sidewalks to actually get into town. It’s every bit as romantic as it sounds, and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face as I passed horses and avoided cars. If I wasn’t carrying a ridiculously large backpack, I could have walked for hours.
But because I was carrying a ridiculously large backpack, I instead made my way to the Stone Obidos Hostel about a twenty-minute walk from the train station, dropped my bags, and headed out to explore.
And gosh, is Obidos the perfect place for exploring. *heart eyes emoji*
Things To Do In Obidos — Day One
Exploring the City Streets and Alleyways
I approached Obidos from below (the Stone Obidos Hostel is about a ten minute walk from the main, walled part of the town) and happily trudged up the steep hill to the city gate with every intention of exploring each and every side street and alleyway that Obidos had to offer.
I was totally overwhelmed by the HUGE number of tourists on the main street the city gate runs into, but the second I turned to a side street the crowds thinned and I basically had the entire place to myself. I was totally baffled. It seriously gets me every time that you can just turn onto a side street and escape the crowds. It kind of totally disobeys the laws of physics.
But I digress. I had the streets to myself, and that was all that mattered. And so I spent the next few hours wandering, traversing each street at least once, photographing every door and corner, and accidentally finding my way through the wall to a lookout point that made my jaw literally drop.
And yeah, I was pretty convinced that Obidos isn’t real. Just look at it. Wandering is by far one of the best things to do in Obidos.
Wandering the streets of Obidos was essentially all I did that day, though I did stop and rest for a moment with a cappuccino on the main street and people watch. There was a dog that probably weighed 200 pounds at the table next to me and his owner managed to communicate that he was only six months old. I was shook.
Walking the Walls at Golden Hour
Obidos is easily most famous for the medieval walls that surround the town. And yes, you can walk on them. It’s one of the coolest things to do in Obidos. When I first arrived, though, they were pretty crowded, which is when I came up with a brilliant idea. I was staying the night in Obidos. Which meant that, if I wanted to, I could wait until everyone else was gone (most people visit Obidos on a day trip) and the light had that perfect golden-hour glow before I went up and walked to walls.
So wait I did, and it was totally worth it. As the streets grew quieter, I ascended the stairs to the top of the walls and steadily made my way around them. I took a gratuitous amount of pictures, rambled to my Instagram story about how there was no WAY that Obidos was real, and felt like there was some serious magic in the air.
Of all the moments in my traveling career, this was by far the most special.
If you’re looking for things to do in Obidos and are staying the night, then walking the walls at sunset is definitely a good idea.
Splurging on Dinner at Book and Cook Restaurant
Once I got my fill of the magic of Obidos at sunset, my stomach started growling. I made my way down from the walls to attempt to find some dinner.
Many places were already closed, but the Book and Cook Restaurant at the Literary Man Hotel Obidos was still open. Even though it was far more expensive than any other meal I ate in Portugal, I was drawn in by the concept of the place. A restaurant in a cozy library? You can count me in.
The restaurant wasn’t even open when I walked in, but the waiter gladly sat me down on one of the comfortable couches and brought me a glass of white wine. I pulled out my Kindle (my number one strategy for eating out alone) and read it probably the most atmospheric place a person can eat.
When the restaurant actually opened, I moved to a table and indulged in olives and bread, a stupidly delicious lamb dish, and chocolate mousse for dessert. My menu was delivered tucked inside a book.
The magic of Obidos was very much alive in the Book and Cook Restaurant that night. I walked back to my hostel vaguely buzzed from a combination of the one giant glass of wine and just how happy I was to be in such a remarkable place.
(P.S. All of that food and a glass of some of the best wine I’ve ever had came to €31. And this is one of the fanciest restaurants in Obidos. God, I love how cheap Portugal is.)
Things To Do In Obidos — Day Two
I spent the morning of my second day in Obidos catching up on some work (I was at the very beginning stages of opening my new branding and web design business then). Thankfully, I wasn’t too concerned about missing anything in Obidos. There really aren’t that many must-visit attractions, and for me, the place was more about the atmosphere anyway.
When I did leave the hostel, my first stop was for lunch at a small pizza place called Restaurant Muralhas just outside the city walls. Then it was off for some exploring.
My second day in Obidos, Portugal was spent much like the first: exploring the streets (though this time with a map provided by the tourist office in hand, so I knew what I was looking at from time to time), and heading up the walls for a bird’s-eye view one more time. I had no complaints.
I bought a block of cheese from a vendor on the main street on my way back to my hostel. That and bread was my dinner. It was simple and beautiful, just like Obidos.
What I Learned From My Two Days In Obidos
I have always been the kind of traveler who tries to fit as many things as possible into a small period of time. But being in Obidos, a place that really doesn’t have that many things to do, for a longer amount of time than most people spend really forced me to slow down and appreciate the little things.
I’ve been thinking a lot about slowing down when I travel the last few months, and Obidos really affirmed to me that not only is it something I can do, but it’s something I want to do.
From now on, I want to focus more on really feeling the energy of the places that I visit. I was to spend at least two more days there than people suggest. I want to explore every nook and cranny and have the time to sit, drink a coffee, and people watch. It’s one of the most enjoyable things about travel for me.
Where is the most magical place you’ve ever visited, and why do you think it was so magical?