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What to do in Lisbon Portugal, my personal recommendations

Why Lisbon’s my favourite city

I’ve lived in a number of cities, but Lisbon remains my favourite. The combination of approachable people, crumbling but magnificent buildings, musical and cultural activities, from traditional Portuguese Fado music to Angolan Kizomba dance lessons, sea and a sense of luminosity is hard to beat.What to do in Lisbon Portugal

It’s a medium-sized city, making it easy to get around, yet big enough that there are enough miradouros (lookout points), concerts, events and activities to keep you entertained any day of the year. There are immigrants from a variety of countries which helps keep it vibrant.

Since a lot of people have been asking me for recommendations on what to see, do, eat and shop for, here is my personal list on what to do in Lisbon if you have a limited number of days. Read More

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Nazaré Portugal – a fishing village that will surprise you

Nazare Portugal beach

The view over Nazaré.

Nazare beach

I wouldn’t mind being on this beach right now.

Nazaré is on one of the most beautiful coasts in Portugal.

It’s worth the visit whether for a dip at the beach, or simply to marvel at the view on top of the hill.

Nazaré’s neighbourhoods

The lovely town is divided into three neighbourhoods. Praia is the nearest to the beach (hence its name – “beach”). Then there’s Sitio which rests on top of the cliff, and Pederneira which is on a hilltop.

Monster waves

Nazaré's famous waves

Nazaré’s famous waves

Its giant waves make it a favourite location for professional surfers. In fact, Nazaré holds the record for having the highest wave ever surfed. For a regular beach-goer/swimmer like me, however, the waves were a bit too intimidating so I watched them from afar.

Sands and waters aren’t your thing? You don’t have to worry as there are still more things to do in Nazaré Portugal. It’s not just about the beaches and popular waves. You can use my guide below on the things to do, most especially if you have limited time.Looking over rocks in Nazare

Nazare Portugal

What to do 

Viewpoint of Suberco

If you don’t have your own car, you can go to the viewpoint by riding a funicular. Once you reach the top, you can savour the incredible sights of Nazaré.

The Church of Nossa Senhora da Nazaré

According to the Legend, a sheriff was chasing a deer using his horse one morning. This deer is believed to be a ‘devil in disguise’. When the deer jumped off the cliff, the horse was about to follow. In fear, the sheriff asked for the intervention of Madonna. Miraculously, the horse made a detour and the sheriff was saved from a sure death. As a symbol of this feat,  a chapel was made near the spot. And as they say, the rest is history.

To date, Nazaré ‘s church is a must visit as it boasts classic designs that tell so much about its history.

Nazare Portugal church

You can go up the church’s altar. That’s me checking out what’s below.

Nazare Church Tiles

These are the beautiful tiles of Nazare’s Church

Streets of Nazaré Portugal

Just walking along the streets of Nazaré and the coastline makes for a gorgeous day.

I roamed around town and was able to pick up some interesting facts about daily life. Tradition has it that women from Nazaré must wear seven layers of skirts. It isn’t for aesthetic purposes alone but as one woman told me, has deeper symbolic meaning. The seven skirts represent the seven days of the week, the seven colours of the rainbow and seven waves of the sea. Then again, I’ve also heard that it’s so they have extra layers in case the top ones get dirty!

Nazare main square

Nazaré’s main square

Nazare local

Apparently I too gesticulate in Portuguese

nazare square

Nazaré’s main square

Forte de São Miguel Arcanjo

The Fort of San Michael Archangel is located on a rocky cliff. It was originally built to protect from the attacks of Moroccans, Normans and Algerians. Today, you can see jaw-dropping views from here.

How to get to Nazaré Portugal

By Bus 

Take the Rede expressos- bus from the bus station at Av. Duque de Avila.

By Train 

You can take the train at Lisbon’s Oriente station. Be prepared for a lot of stops on the way. You will arrive at Valado dos Frades/Nazare/Alcobaca station which is around 5km from center of Nazaré.  From there, local buses are available.

Ever been to Nazaré? What’s your favourite fishing village in Portugal or elsewhere? 

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Cabo Da Roca Portugal Has One Of The Best Views In Europe

The video shows a quick visit to the westernmost part of Europe, Cabo da Roca in Portugal. Even as a short stop, it is nothing short of amazing. It isn’t far from Lisbon – you could stop here on the way back from your visit to Sintra.

Cabo Da Roca Portugal Has One Of The Best Views In Europe

Cabo Da Roca Portugal Has One Of The Best Views In Europe

Breathtaking views and treacherous cliffs

 

Look at these rock formations.

 

The views here are incredibly photo worthy. But be careful. As was reported in the news some months ago, a couple died in front of their children while taking selfies at the edge of cliff. Even after the tragedy, many tourists still hop over the barriers to get the “perfect shot.”

I promise, we were so careful in taking these pictures.

Cabo da Roca selfie

My windy Cabo da Roca selfie

Cabo da Roca is the westernmost part of Europe

My friend Juliana admiring the views on our way to the westernpart of Europe

Breeze at Cabo da Roca

Pedro is nearly blown away by the strong winds near the cliff

Cabo da Roca’s fort had a significant role in Lisbon’s history. During the Peninsular War, it formed a defensive line along the coast. To date, tourists can still see few remains and the famous lighthouse.

Cabo Da Roca Portugal Has One Of The Best Views In Europe

 

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Mouraria Lisboa’s secret neighbourhood

 Mouraria
Mouraria, Lisbon was once considered a slum, but now it’s where those “in the know” go to explore and discover the heart and history of the city.

Mouraria Today

A video posted by Dalia (@dalia_gc2) on

From June to end of September, every Friday and Saturday, live outdoor Fado concerts sponsored by the municipality are performed for the local residents.

Mouraria integrationMouraria is Lisboa’s medieval quarter, next to Alfama and Castelo São Jorge. In the last few years, a renovation project has begun to refurbish old buildings and preserve the area’s history, culture and way of life. At the same time, it aims to integrate residents (including the young and old and recent immigrants) while also opening the area to tourists and even to locals who want to get to know their city better.
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Construction is ongoing to refurbish old buildings.

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Mouraria History

Mouraria is one of Lisbon’s most traditional and history-rich areas. Here are some historical facts:

(1147)  Mouraria was once a ghetto of Moors (it literally means Moorish quarter), freed after the conquest of Lisbon by D. Alfonso Henriques. During this period, Mouraria was still characterized by its multicultural environment composed of significant Chinese, Indian and African communities. 

(1755) An infamous earthquake shook Lisbon. However, only Mouraria/ Alfama survived this catastrophe. The area descends in tiers from the dominating Castelo de São Jorge facing the Rio Tejo (Tagus). Between Alfama and Baixa is the Mouraria.

Over time, these communities have blended their businesses and sounds with existing traditional commerce and Fado houses.

It is said that Fado music, which is on UNESCO’s world heritage list was born here.

What’s up?

Miradouro Mouraria Lisboa

Checking out a Miradouro

Mouraria events, including Fado shows, street activities and guided tours of the area, are posted at:

Must sees in Mouraria

Exploring Mouraria…

Rua da Guia
Mouraria is known to be the birthplace of  Portugal’s famous Fado music. On Rua da Guia, retrace the footsteps of some of the most renown Fado singers.  Artists who lived and spent most of their lives here include Severa and Mariza.

Mouraria local: Severa

Severa is a young Fado singer who fell in love with a count and brought Fado to the socialites at a time it was limited to the lower-class. Unfortunately, she died very young at the age of 26 due to tuberculosis. Some say that heartbreak worsened her condition. The home where she used to live on Rua da Guia has been restored and turned into a Fado house.

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A portrait of the famous Fado singer, Severa.

Mouraria local: Mariza

Mariza, on the other hand, was known to be gracing the streets of Mouraria before stepping onto the big stage and wowing audiences worldwide. As a child, she used to sing different a variety of musical styles. However, her father encouraged her to sing Fado thinking it would make the Portuguese would love her even more. He was right. But she didn’t just become popular in Portugal. She has sold 1,000,000 album copies around the world.

A Vida Portuguesa
If you plan to shop for great finds, especially authentic Portuguese souvenirs, then one of the best places to shop is at A Vida Portuguesa. They have maintained the old-school packaging of their items to remind you of the past. There are toys, soaps, teapots and a whole lot more. The space is so nicely designed its worth a visit just to window shop.
Mercado De Fusão
Take a quick stop at Mercado De Fusão for foods from different countries.
Viuva Lamego
This building has an intricate tiled facade.
Largo Da Achada

It’s one of Lisbon’s oldest homes that withstood the great earthquake of 1755.

Rua da Guia by night

Rua da Guia by night

Igreja De Sao Cristovão
While the church is always closed, it is worth a visit. The stairs near the structure are a great place to take photos.
Miradouro De Monte Agudo
This is one of the lesser-known miradouros (look out points). The perfect spot to appreciate the sunset.

Mouraria restaurants

And of course, all this sightseeing can make you hungry. Here are some restaurants to try in Mouraria.

Tentaçoês de Goa

Rua São Pedro Mártir, 23
It’s a small space hidden in a rundown neighbourhood but that hasn’t prevented it from becoming one of the city’s favourite Indian restaurants. It has even won a number of awards for its Indo-Portuguese cuisine which is presented in a colourful interior recalling Goa, the former Portuguese colony in India.
 
Restaurante Cantina Baldraca
Rua das Farinhas, 1
This laid back restaurant offers Italian food at very reasonable prices.  A lot of young people come here in groups. So if you are traveling with your friends, this could be a great choice. You might want to ask a local where to find it as the restaurant’s whereabouts are quite hidden. Don’t worry, the treasure – I mean restaurant – hunting will be worth it!
Cervejaria Ramiro
Avenida Almirante Reis, 1
If you’re looking for seafood, Cervejaria Ramiro is a good bet. It has a lot of great reviews not only for its food, but also its outstanding service. They say you won’t regret trying the crab here.
Topo

Restaurant/bar/lounge with an amazing view of the castle. It’s kind of  a secret spot because it’s located on top of a rundown shopping centre. Try it!

Café O das Joanas
Start your day by sipping coffee and having breakfast at Café O das Joanas. The ambiance is laid back and cool. It’s the perfect place to plan your day’s activities. Of course, you can visit in the afternoon as well for some tea. Or you can bring your book or newspaper for a reading session.
Mouraria Lisbon Portugal

Lovely Mouraria!

More and more people are visiting Mouraria because of its hidden treasures and fascinating history. If you’d like a beautiful place to stay in Mouraria you can book my apartment.

 

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Sintra, Portugal – A magical daytour from Lisbon

If you watch my videos, you’ve probably noticed I have a fascination for historical sites, particularly castles. It could be that they hold so many stories before my time, or the fact that I can pretend to be a knight or medieval royalty, even for a short while. Sintra afforded me that opportunity. But beyond its historical appeal and beauty, most visitors agree there is something magical about Sintra.

Sintra photograph

Colourful buildings in town.

View of the Moorish castle in Sintra Portugal

The Moorish castle seen from Palacio da Pena.

If you’re planning a trip to Lisbon, I strongly suggest that you make every effort possible to include an extra day in your itinerary for Sintra. Missing this place would be a huge shame and I don’t want you to have regrets!

What to see and do in Sintra?

Palacio Nacional da Pena

SINTRA, PORTUGAL – A MAGICAL DAYTOUR FROM LISBON

We climbed all the way to the top!

Here’s a closer look.

The colours make it more ‘whimsical’, don’t you think? 

This palace sits on top of a hill above the town of Sintra. It immediately takes you back to the 19th century era of Romanticism. It looks like a Disney castle in yellow and pink. Portuguese government officials often use the venue for state gatherings. You can actually take a bus if you want to reach the castle, or you can just walk (like I did), and enjoy the gardens.

What I also like about this palace is that it contains different architectural styles from the different stages in history it has witnessed. You can see it from the intricate designs on the walls and even the flooring. What a majestic combination of artistry century after century!

SINTRA, PORTUGAL – A MAGICAL DAYTOUR FROM LISBON

SINTRA, PORTUGAL – A MAGICAL DAYTOUR FROM LISBON

Don’t fall off taking a selfie!

Quinta da Regaleira

SINTRA, PORTUGAL – A MAGICAL DAYTOUR FROM LISBON

Good think I don’t have fear of heights.

SINTRA, PORTUGAL – A MAGICAL DAYTOUR FROM LISBON

It is difficult to explain exactly what Quinta da Regaleira is. Its an estate that’s unlike anything you’ve seen before. It’s romantic, mythical, mysterious and full of surprises. There are so many things to see here. There’s the chapel, parks and gardens and fountains. Don’t miss the secret door and make sure you go to the bottom of the well. If you can’t make it out just remember paradise is to the right! You’ll see what I mean when you go there…

SINTRA, PORTUGAL – A MAGICAL DAYTOUR FROM LISBON

Quinta da Regaleira

Don’t Slip!

Castelo dos Mouros

As this sits on top of Sintra Mountains, you can easily see the panoramic view of Sintra on a clear day. It can be a challenge to go to this place, but everyone would say that it is worth it. Perhaps next time I’d give it a shot!

Moorish Fountain

Aside from appreciating the fountain’s amazing structure, you can also drink from the fountain like the locals do. At least you will be able to experience something more. Immerse yourself.

Praia Grande

Aside from its historial attractions, Sintra is popular for its beaches. Praia Grande (that means Big Beach) is the Portuguese capital for water sports. So if you are in the mood for surfing or skimboarding, then this is a good spot.

Drink Local Liqueur

I tried a few shots of these local liqueur. I wouldn’t want to miss this experience. Plus, I wanted to know if the expensive prices per bottle are worth it. I had to stop because it was just morning and getting drunk was a big No – No! Not if you have plans for the whole day, that is!

Sintra port wine

Trying out some local liqueur.

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Whew! I had to stop. See the bottles behind me? VERY expensive.

SINTRA, PORTUGAL – A MAGICAL DAYTOUR FROM LISBON

Join Walk/ Bike Tours

Why don’t you enjoy Sintra by joining walk or bike tours? It would be more fun to see streets the old – fashion way, right? It’s a fun way to exercise, and of course, to learn about Sintra’s culture.

Sintra street

Lovely Sintra!

Museu do Ar

If you fancy some aircraft, then you can visit Museu do Ar. Surprisingly, there are a lot of great reviews about the museum. There are a number of surprises in store for you. Take your kids and it will be a whole lot of fun.

Don’t forget to taste these amazing local delicacies!

SINTRA, PORTUGAL – A MAGICAL DAYTOUR FROM LISBON

 

 

How to Get to Sintra?

My day tour was part of Go 2 Lisbon’s itinerary. But if you are planning to go on your own, that’s fine too. You can just take a train from Rossio or Entrecampos stations. From there, it will take less than an hour to reach Sintra. There are regular and frequent schedules so it shouldn’t be hard for you to plan. While you are at, you can appreciate Lisbon’s outskirts.

From Sintra’s train station, you can walk for around 20 minutes to go to the town. But if you want to save energy, you can just take bus 434 and it will take you there.

Easy, right? I’m pretty sure you will love every inch of what Sintra has to offer.

 

Sintra locals

Hospitable and friendly locals

 

I can say that Sintra is perfect if you want to have a quick getaway whether with your family and friends. There are so many things you can do and appreciate all over town. It shouldn’t be hard to get along most especially with the locals. See the picture above? They are friendly people with a sense of humour!

Please share if your experience if you’ve been to Sintra.

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Campo de Ourique Lisbon Food Tour – a bite of modern and old Lisbon

Campo de Ourique – A unique Lisbon food tour

Any local will tell you Lisbon is for tasting, not just for seeing. The Taste of Ourique Lisbon Food Tour combines traditional and modern food culture, all from the perspective of a local.

The end of the line – Campo de Ourique neighbourhood Lisbon

28 tram Lisbon

Take the historic 28 tram to Prazeres at the end of the line to discover Campo de Ourique

The 28-Prazeres tram is the most famous tram line in Lisbon. It leads to the city’s most historical sites,   starting from the downtown Praça Martim Moniz and ends in Campo de Ourique. More often than not, however, tourists will get off beforehand at the Castle of St. George, or to miradouro das Portas do sol, or maybe go to Feira de Ladra to do some shopping – and never make it to the Prazeres stop. While these are all must-sees, if you want to get off the beaten track, you may want to stay on until the end and tour around Campo de Ourique.

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Tastes of Lisbon

A city within a city

Campo de Ourique is referred to as a city within a city because its residents, mainly upper-middle class families, have everything they need there without having to step out into downtown Lisbon. It is a residential area with historic buildings boasting various types of architecture while at the same time being home to schools, churches, its own cemetery, boutiques, stores, markets and all the restaurants you may need.

Campo de Ourique’s history

Campo de Ourique is one of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods. Since the earthquake, tsunami and fire that hit Lisbon in a single day didn’t touch the area, it remained intact.

During the industrial revolution in the 19th century it was a very activist neighbourhood.

“In general, Portuguese people, we just complain and we do nothing,” our guide Filipa told us. “The guys here, they do. They get together, they collect signatures, they press the local authorities.”

Campo de Ourique is a must not only for those who are hungry for some local life, but most especially for those who are literally hungry for food. You can find a lot of restaurants and cafes in the area where authentic delicacies and new ones. But apart from the awesome food Campo de Ourique offers, you will also appreciate the simple and quiet life enjoyed by its residents.

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A colourful tree in a park in Campo de Ourique

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Even their canned goods are filled with fun colors

But let’s talk about the food on the food tour – shall we? I am warning you, if you are planning to take this unique adventure in Lisbon, make sure you are a more than a bit hungry because you are going to be stacking a lot of great food into that tummy of yours.

Tour facts from Taste of Lisboa’s website

Starting time: 11h00 on weekdays. 10h30 on saturday (please arrive 10 minutes in advance. We start on time)
Days: Tuesday to Saturday
Language: English (Portuguese by request)
Meeting Point: Prazeres (Dom João Bosco Square) – Final/initial stop of 28 Tram
Duration: 3 hours
Cost Adults: €56 | Children 4-9 years old: €40 | Children < 4 years old: free
Included: guided visit, over 10 tastings
Distance:  1,6 km / 1 mile
What to wear: appetite, good mood, a bottle of water, comfortable clothes and shoes, adapted to the weather.
Physical level: Easy – Flat route
Weather condition: Rain or shine
Capacity: 2 pax min. – 10 pax max.

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Filipa took us to the most unique food places – market included

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When we say fresh fish, we mean this

Campo do Ourique Locals

Happy locals and friends of Filipa’s

It’s not just the food that you’ll love on the tour. Alongside the scrumptious dishes are histories and tales which will surely make you crave more Lisbon experiences. Hence, they are suggesting that you take the Campo de Ourique food tour when you first arrive in Lisbon. That way, when they recommend other places to visit you’ll still have time to get there. It’s a very small group, with a maximum of 10 people, so it’s pretty  intimate and easy to ask questions and get personalised advice.

Moules & Beer Lisboa

Mussels and beer at the appropriately named Moules & Beer, a new restaurant chain that has opened in town. Don’t tell the Belgians, but these are the best mussels I have ever tasted…

 

Flagrante Delitro

“Soupy rice,” a Portuguese comfort food and cod fish cakes at Flagrante Delitro, the cafeteria in the Fernando Pessoa museum.



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The above delicacies will make you fall in love with Lisbon even more!

In my case, I am pretty familiar with Portuguese cuisine, but nevertheless learned a lot during the tour. Our guide Filipa grew up in Ourique and her passion for the neighbourhood and desire to share her memories with us really came through.

O melhor bolo de chocolate do mundo

“The best chocolate cake in the world’ is the actual name of this cake, given to it by its bold creator as a marketing strategy. Try it and see what you think.

Portuguese petiscos

An array of Portuguese tapas, or ”petiscos” as they are known in Portugal at the Mercado Campo de Ourique

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Portuguese winesDSC02532 Discovering the wines of Portugal at Oficina Do Vinho, a new wine concept store in Ourique

Portugal Food Tour

Cooling off with iced tea at Hotel da Estrela

And the food tour just keeps getting better. The dessert and the wine were perfect!

The question now – you might ask:

Is Campo de Ourique food tour recommended?

I can’t see any reason why not. Check out Taste of Lisboa’s website for more information and have bite of Campo de Ourique.

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Things to do in Obidos Portugal – A perfect daytrip from Lisbon

Lisbon daytrip – Things to do in Obidos, Portugal

Óbidos is a beautiful medieval village in Portugal that makes the ideal daytrip from Lisbon or stop on your way through the Portuguese countryside. Explore its streets with me in this travel video.

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There are so many local stores where you can buy local delicacies and original souvenirs

An enchanting medieval town

Obidos is a very enchanting town in the Portugal’s western subregion. I loved its labyrinth-like streets paved with cobblestones and the white walls contrasted against vibrant flowers.


Obidos 3

The town is so lovely. Flowers on the walls, cobblestones and all those fairytale – like things we know of.

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I sure felt like I was in a maze!

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It was indeed a sunny day. Perfect to see everything Obidos has to offer.

Obidos 14

I’m starting to believe that everyone who lives here are artists.

 

It is a proper medieval town with a castle and all. Plus, it’s romantic. It is so beautiful, the entire town has become a national monument. It’s not hard to imagine that you are inside an actual fairytale.

Things to do in Obidos Portugal

In terms of things to do in Obidos, you can enjoy the views of the vineyards, windmills and farmlands. It takes you back in time and that’s really a treat for those who want to have a glimpse of what it’s like to live in the old days.

If you have a limited time to go around town, then you can visit the places listed below. Basically, if you have had a good walk around you’ve maximised your time in Obidos; it’s a tiny place.

City’s Main Door

This is the south entrance which is also a small chapel. It was built in the 17th century and an amazing balcony which was built the same period, still stands.

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Tourist can marvel this amazing structure before entering the city.

The Castle

The castle was actually damaged by a strong earthquake in the past. When it was reconstructed, it was turned into a hotel where you can enjoy feeling like a royal – even just for a day. The price isn’t cheap, but I bet it’s worth it. I am dying to stay here someday.

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Who doesn’t want to live in a castle? In Obidos, you have the chance to – if you have the money, that is.

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We are so lucky we live in this era. The punishment before is just too cruel, don’t you think?

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Ooops, I forgot to make a wish! But what more can I ask for? Being here a treat of its own.

 

Taste Local Ginjinha

It is liquor made from sour cherries and is served in a chocolate cup. Be careful though as it usually is pretty strong!

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Ginjinha – a local liquor made from sour cherries.

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Tourists love the taste. But if you are not a fan of strong liquor, just sip a little.

Obidos Portugal Events

Obidos Medieval Fair

When I was there in June they were just setting up for the Óbidos Mercado Medieval which takes place mid-July until the beginning of August. They hold all kinds of activities including tournaments, magic shows, art, music and street performances and themed evenings where everyone ( – including guests!) dresses up in Medieval wear for dinner (more info here).

Obidos Festival Internacional de Chocolate

Obidos is also famous for its International Festival of Chocolate in the spring. It has a chocolate-packed programme that includes workshops for kids and adults, chocolate sculptures, chocolate shows and chocolate music. Okay, maybe the music isn’t made of chocolate, but everything else is. So if you’re a chocolate lover, check out the details here.

Those are the most famous events in Obidos, but if you’re around at a different time, you can see if anything else is going on by checking the full events programme (in Portuguese but there’s always Google Translate!) here.

Obidos Portugal Lisbon Daytrip

Trying to figure out which way to go. Every street is so picturesque I want to walk down all of them!

My stop at Obidos this time was part of the Fatima Tour from Go2Lisbon. I loved it so much I honestly wished I could have stayed there longer. I hope to come back someday – and to stay overnight in the castle!