A little over an hour north of Lisbon is Óbidos, one of the most romantic destinations in Portugal. It was given to Queen Elizabeth of Aragon as a wedding gift from her husband, King Denis. Stroll past the Medieval castle walls and flower-covered homes, browse the charming shops and delight your other half by suggesting these charming activities for two and lovely hotels – bookable on Culture Trip.
Enjoy a little liqueur and chocolate
There is something romantic about blending alcohol and chocolate, and Óbidos has the perfect combination. Here, you can order a shot of Ginja de Óbidos – a cherry-flavoured liqueur – inside a chocolate cup, which you eat after swallowing the drink. Ginja is a favourite spirit in Portugal, and few places make it better than Óbidos, which is why you can find this specific brand throughout the country.
Dinner for two
The gastronomy of Portugal is rich in seafood, meats, flavourful spices and local wine, and Óbidos is filled with fantastic restaurants. One local favourite is A Nova Casa de Ramiro for traditional Portuguese cuisine. Feeling flush? Treat your partner to an extra romantic meal, washed down with a bottle of local vino, at the Pousada Castelo de Óbidos.
Walk around the city’s Medieval castle walls
It’s not an activity for anyone afraid of heights since much of the walk lacks protective rails, but the castle walls offer some of the best views over the town and surrounding countryside. It’s a truly unique experience to share with someone special and becomes all the more romantic at dawn or as the sun begins to set.
Explore the narrow cobblestone streets
Simply walking through the Medieval village with your partner is romantic, as many of the buildings are decorated with vines of flowers climbing up the walls. Leave Rua Direita, one of the busiest streets lined with shops and tourists, and veer towards a quiet maze of pathways.
Visit the beautiful churches
The churches in Portugal are definitely worth checking out, and Óbidos has a few of them. The oldest is the Igreja de Santa Maria, with roots dating back to the Visigothic period; it was rebuilt in the 16th century. It’s decorated with traditional azulejo tiles in addition to beautiful oil paintings. There’s also the Capela de São Martinho and the Santuário do Senhor Jesus da Pedra, outside the city walls.
Plan your trip around one of the local festivals
Throughout the year, Óbidos organises an array of local festivals, such as a Medieval fair, the month-long Christmas Village and the International Chocolate Festival. Plan your visit around one of these events.
Stay in one of these romantic hotels
This Medieval fortress was part of the wedding present from King Denis to his queen when they married in the late 13th century. Soak up its historical surroundings by booking the stone-walled special suite, decked out with a four-poster bed, vaulted wooden ceiling and wall tapestries, softly illuminated by iron candelabras. Couples-oriented amenities include in-room massages and flower delivery services, along with an upscale restaurant, as recommended above.
Designed by 23 internationally acclaimed architects, this environmentally conscious resort offers stylish villas that ensure maximum privacy for you and your other half. Each one has countryside views, an open-plan living space with designer furniture and floor-to-ceiling windows opening onto a private terrace, along with access to a shared pool. After a couple’s treatment in the spa or a round of golf on the 18-hole course, retire to the Clubhouse for a sirloin steak. Óbidos is a 20-minute drive away.
For a five-star stay on the Atlantic coast, book the Evolutee, a series of apartments within the Royal Óbidos Spa and Golf Resort. Golf fans will appreciate the views over the Severiano Ballesteros-designed greens. However, the star of the show is the long, slender swimming pool that looks towards the coastline; there’s also an indoor pool if the weather turns inclement. Reserve a table for dinner at the ocean-facing restaurant, which serves Portuguese specialities such as octopus salad and stir-fried padrón peppers with sea salt.
Kick back in this four-star boutique hotel within Óbidos’s Medieval walls. Treat yourself and book the top-floor tower suite, complete with plush bedding and gilded mirrors. On-site Comendador Silva restaurant makes a breakfast of home-baked bread, cereals, fruit and egg dishes as well as mains centred on local produce, including shredded duck with Portuguese sausages and codfish with a cornbread crust and roasted peppers. Ask staff for details of excursions to the Atlantic coast or nearby towns and cities.
This literature-loving boutique hotel is also a bookstore, featuring a restaurant lined with thousands of titles and a bar serving cocktails inspired by major writers, such as the William Faulkner (a mint julep) and the Jack Kerouac (a margarita). Yet more volumes are scattered throughout the bedrooms, characterised by striking walls of reused wood and smooth concrete. There’s also the library-esque Book & Cook restaurant, serving rare wines, inventive vegetarian dishes, Portuguese classics and grilled cuts from an egg-shaped, Japanese-style kamado grill.
Housed in a traditional 18th-century residence, this B&B provides cosy, carpeted doubles with views of the town, an internal courtyard or the Medieval walls, and bathrooms with tiled mosaic floors. Start the day in the breakfast room, opening onto the patio, with a thick slice of bolo real (royal cake); it’s one of the most iconic Portuguese sweets. Activities include horse riding and guided cultural tours.
This ecofriendly retreat, just west of Óbidos, offers six airy doubles with kitchenettes and verandas overlooking a vegetable garden, vineyards and an outdoor pool – a perfect spot for watching the sun go down with a glass of locally produced wine. What was once the farm workers’ accommodation has been turned into a cavernous lounge with a vaulted wooden ceiling. Enjoy home-made bread, cakes and marmalades for breakfast, followed by a stroll among the century-old vines. Óbidos is a 15-minute drive away.
Mark Nayler contributes additional reporting.
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