When packing to visit Lisbon, save some room to bring home “typically Portuguese” souvenirs.
Whether it’s something to remember your trip by, or an item to offer your friends and family, there are plenty of shops in downtown Lisbon where you’ll find the perfect gift. And if you’re a non-EU resident, you can even save some money by asking a VAT refund.
Remember that some items such as wine and olive oil bottles cannot be packed in carry-on bags, due to travel restrictions. So make sure you only buy what you can take home with you.
According to ANAC, the Portuguese air authority, sealed cans not exceeding 150g total weight are allowed in carry-on bags. However, additional screening at the airport may be required. Note that this applies to Portuguese airports only.
While a bit more expensive, you can get most gifts, including sardine cans and wine and olive oil bottles, at Duty Free and specialized stores at the airport after customs control.
Food and Drink
Pastel de nata: While the custard tart is sold in virtually every café in Lisbon, Pastéis de Belém is widely recognised as the patisserie of the authentic pastel de nata (custard tart) in the Portuguese capital. Order a pastel to sample, and a box of six to take home.
Sardine can: Part of every Portuguese’s diet, fresh sardines can be found in Lisbon’s fish restaurants. But you should also try the canned version, which happens to be the perfect souvenir to take home.
While in Lisbon, don’t miss the chance to try canned seafood at Sol e Pesca on “Pink Street” in Cais do Sodré. This is the place from Anthony Bourdain’s Lisbon episode. With a tapas style menu, you can order small portions of different types of seafood, such as spicy sardines, smoked salmon or mussels in olive oil. Then, pick your favourite and buy a can to take home.
If you’re pressed for time, there’s a shop in Rossio, called Mundo Fantástico da Sardinha Portuguesa (Fantastic World of Portuguese Sardine), which sells highly decorated, colourful, attractive cans. Regular sardine cans are found in every supermarket in Portugal.
For reference, we list some of the oldest Portuguese gourmet brands of canned seafood which you may want to look for while in Lisbon:
- Conserveira do Sul, Olhão (Algarve), since 1994
- Dâmaso, Vila Real de Santo António (Algarve), since 2003
- La Gondola, Matosinhos, since 1940
- Minerva, Póvoa de Varzim, since 1938
- Nero, Setúbal, since 1992
- Pinhais, Matosinhos, since 1920
- Santa Catarina, Azores, since 1995
Portuguese olive oil is among some of the best in the world. D’Olival (Rua Poiais de São Bento 81, between São Bento and Bairro Alto) sells gourmet bottles, and offers olive oil tastings. O’live (Rua da Prata 237, Baixa) is another shop to discover a vast range of Portuguese olive oils. The supermarket of El Corte Inglés also offers gourmet options, and virtually every grocery store and supermarket in Portugal stocks a selection of olive oil.
Ginjinha is a cherry liquor to try in the Baixa, Lisbon’s downtown area. Two century-old bars, Ginjinha do Largo de São Domingos and Ginjinha Sem Rival, both on the northwest corner of Rossio square, will serve you the liquor in a shot glass “com” or “sem” (with or without) a cherry (your choice). A bottle of Ginjinha is another great gift that you can buy and take home with you.
For other Portuguese wines, stop in the nearby Garrafeira Nacional (Rua de Santa Justa 18). This family-run wine shop was founded in 1927.
Tram or sardine magnet: Every souvenir list needs one item that impersonates being a tourist, and in Lisbon that item is the ubiquitous tram or sardine fridge magnet.
Azulejos (hand-painted tiles), ceramics and porcelain are secular and traditional Portuguese handmade decorative arts. Don’t miss out on authentic pieces from Fábrica Sant’Anna (Rua do Alecrim 95, Chiado) and Solar Antiques (Rua Dom Pedro V 70, Príncipe Real). The shop at the Museu do Azulejo is another option to find pieces by contemporary artists.
For the best Portuguese porcelain and crystal pieces, visit Vista Alegre Atlantis (Largo do Carmo 20-23, Chiado). Established in 1824, Vista Alegre Porcelain Factory was the first industrial unit producing porcelain in Portugal. In 2001, a merger between Vista Alegre Group and Atlantis Group, specialised in crystal pieces, resulted in the largest tableware group in Portugal.
For the Naturalist
Cork items include purses, bags, shoes, eye glass holders, and even smartphone cases. These items made of nature are great gifts. Beware of made in China products though. Cork & Co (Rua das Salgadeiras 10, Chiado) offers a selection of high quality, uniquely designed cork products.
Products of Portugal in One Shop
A Vida Portuguesa is a group of stores offering a choice of Portuguese items and brands that survived the passage of time. Toiletries, stationery items, textiles, clothes, home decors, and gourmet food and drink, including sardine cans and olive oil bottles, can be bought from A Vida Portuguesa.
There are four stores in Lisbon, two of which are in Chiado only a few metres from each other (Rua Anchieta 11 and Rua Ivens 2). There is another one in Intendente and one in Mercado da Ribeira. In Porto, Portugal’s second city, you’ll also find A Vida Portuguesa in Clérigos (Rua de Cândido dos Reis 36).