I am a shopper. There’s no denying the pull that local shops have on me when I’m on vacation. I have always loved quaint areas with small stores and enjoy having souvenirs of my vacations. It’s important, however, to make sure that I understand the types of things an area is known for. While I do love shopping, I prefer to purchase unique products that can’t necessarily be purchased at home.
During my recent trip to Portugal – our first European trip in several years – I was excited to explore my Portuguese heritage and purchase some unique souvenirs to remind me of our trip. I was thrilled to find some great shopping areas – including shops in Porto, Sintra, Lisbon, and Carvoeiro with unique things to buy.
Visiting Portugal and interested in bringing home some of the best souvenirs from Portugal? Here are some options. Keep in mind that while the Lisbon airport is filled with plenty of shops, you may be in a rush to go through passport control, so you may not have as much time as you think you’ll have. So it’s best to purchase these traditional Portuguese souvenirs before you get to the airport (with some exceptions – listed below).
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Best Souvenirs from Portugal
Pasteis de Nata
Although they aren’t really souvenirs, I couldn’t write this list without including these traditional custard tarts. The ubiquitous Pastel de Nata (the singular version of Pasteis de Nata) can be purchased all around the country. While the Pastéis de Belém (from one specific shop in Lisbon), is the original that can’t be duplicated (it’s a secret recipe), the other versions sold everywhere are just as good in my opinion.
If you’ve hadn’t had enough during your trip, they are also available to purchase at the airport. As a reminder of Portugal, stop into Trader Joe’s in the US in the spring season when they release their seasonal Portuguese Egg Tarts in the freezer section. They aren’t quite as good, of course, but they are a great substitute if you can’t get the real thing.
Portuguese ceramics – mostly housewares like bowls, spoon rests, and trinket boxes, are sold throughout the country. It’s best to purchase these at small shops with handcrafted items – some of the ones sold in souvenir shops are mass-produced.
Ceramic tiles (called “azulejos” tiles) are one of the most iconic products specific to Portugal. These handcrafted, blue and white tiles are offered for sale throughout the country. Like other ceramic products, you may find mass-produced Portuguese tiles in some souvenir stores.
I purchased ours at a small studio on the second floor of LX Factory in Lisbon, where the shopkeeper was actually painting while working. So keep your eyes open for small artists who create and sell their own work and buy them when you see them.
As the largest producer of cork in the world, Portugal offers many, many products made with cork. These products include shoes, eyeglass cases, handbags and totes, jewelry, yoga mats, and so much more. I’ve purchased cork shoes and bags on both of my trips to Portugal because they are so unique and really reflect the country.
When purchasing these items, think about how you’ll use them once you get home. For instance, cork dress shoes that are stylish in Portugal may look a little casual at home in the US. I purchased a gorgeous pair of cork sandals and they work as well with my US wardrobe as they did with my tourist clothing in Portugal.
Portugal, especially the Douro Valley outside of Porto, is known for their port wines. Like champagne in France, port wine can’t actually be officially called port if it isn’t produced in Portugal. We loved tasting the various types of port wine and considered bringing some home as a souvenir.
If you don’t like port wine, there are other Portuguese wines, including white, rose, and red wine. Every winery has a shop selling its wines.
Traveling with wine can be tricky. If you purchase it during your trip (not at duty-free), you’ll need to pack it in your checked bag, which always seems risky. Some wineries sell bubble-wrap bags that can be used to protect wine, or you can purchase them in advance of your trip on Amazon.
Another option is to have your wine shipped overseas, direct from the winery. We found that most did ship internationally. However, the cost was pretty high, so you’d need to purchase a good amount of bottles to make it worthwhile.
The easiest option is, in my opinion, to purchase from the duty-free shop if you are flying home from Lisbon. These shops can often be the best places to get last-minute items, especially alcohol. Just keep in mind that you’ll want to arrive at the airport early enough to give yourself time to shop.
We were surprised to find that the olive oil that we had in the restaurants in Portugal was better than the olive oils we’ve had in other European countries. It was so good that we definitely wanted to bring some home, and ended up picking up some high-quality olive oil at a local small grocery store.
Like wine, olive oil can be tricky to pack. We hadn’t planned in advance, so we purchased a metal can, so it wouldn’t break. Then, we wrapped it up securely and placed it in a large plastic resealable bag. You’ll want to be careful wrapping it because olive oil all over your clothes would be a huge mess.
You’ll find many canned fish shops throughout Portugal, including at the Lisbon airport. Despite what most people expect, this canned fish isn’t just sardines, it can include shrimp, cod, mackerel, and other popular Portuguese fish delicacies.
We purchased several cans at a shop at LX Factory and found the staff at the store to be incredibly helpful in giving advice on what we should purchase based on the fish we liked. They are also great gifts if you have any family or friends at home who love fish.
Because of the cans, these are pretty easy to pack in checked baggage. I’d just recommend wrapping them up so they don’t get dented or scratched.
Jewelry from Local Artisans
Although Portugal isn’t necessarily known for handcrafted jewelry, we found some great shops selling necklaces, rings, and bracelets. My daughter and I purchased some reasonably priced, casual jewelry at shops in Sintra and LX Factory in Lisbon.
The Barcelos Rooster (Portuguese Rooster or Galo de Barcelos) is a colorful symbol of Portgual. You’ll see it on t-shirts, housewares, fridge magnets, tea towels, tote bags, and more. If you want to bring home a little souvenir of Portugal that you can keep on your desk or on a shelf, a Barcelos Roosters is a reasonably priced option. You can find them in almost any souvenir shop in Portugal, in a variety of colors, including red, black, and blue.