Shopping in Portugal needn’t break your bank!
Portugal is a country where handicraft is very much alive and here you’ll be able to buy souvenirs that are practical, rather than ones that collect dust on your mantelpiece. Traditional craftwork such as lace, rugs, ceramics, copperware, wicker, pottery, hand-knitted clothing, ceramics and copper dishes and intricate embroideries can add an exotic touch to your home, or make special gifts for family and friends.
A wide array of Portuguese ceramics both traditional and modern are available. Most of these craftwork can be found all around the country. Whilst the sprawling shopping malls in Lisbon sell international designer goods, this is a country where shopping for craftwork would be more interesting due to the price, quality and range of handicraft.
Whilst shopping is not uppermost in my mind on any visit to Portugal, there is already something that I would really like to get and that is some of those lovely glazed blue tiles or azulejos.
Where to Shop and What to Buy?
Lisbon, being the largest city, is a good starting point for that shopping expedition. Here you’ll find most of the country’s leading shopping centres along the Avenue Lusiada, including the Centro Comercial Colombo. The Colombo Mall comprises three huge floors and is home to over 400 shops, 50 restaurants, a number of cinemas as well as an indoor amusement complex. The Amoreiras Shopping Centre on Avenue Eng Duarte Pacheco is only slightly smaller and is also particularly impressive. Shopping here ranges from hand-painted figurines and azulejos tiles, to linen and various embroidered goods. If you love antique hunting, there is a collection of Antique stores along the Rua Dom Pedro V, but don’t expect the prices to be cheap.
Portugal is famous for its Atlantis brand crystal, which it claims ranks in quality and design to Waterford and Baccarat. Fine bone china is also famous here. The china is available at several outlets of the Vista Alegre factory. Atlantis crystal can be found at Cristalissimo in the Meridien Hotel.
What do Porto and Madeira have to offer?
Porto is worth a visit for silver and especially its wines. Many areas of Portugal are noted for their fine wines and there are more than 40 wine regions. When in Porto you’ll have the opportunity to visit the wine lodges and buy a few bottles of their famous port. If travelling to the Douro Valley, you’ll be able to visit the famous gardens of the Palacio de Mateus.
Madeira is well known for its lace and embroidery whereas crocheted items are from the Azores. The prices for the embroideries depend on the intricacy of the stitch. The Madeira Government controls the authenticity of items made in Madeira which must have a small lead tag attached to it verify its origin. Beware of street vendors who try to sell you laces claiming to be from Madeira.
Algarve has Sun, Sea and Shopping!
Algarve has one of the largest ceramics shops, located just outside Vila do Bispo. It is on the right side of the highway going toward Lagos. There is also some wonderful artisan pottery available. These are traditional local patterns and are found in most parts of Portugal. They make attractive and resilient cookware. Colorful figurines intricately formed and hand painted are also available.
If you’d like to see a real gypsy market, then visit the bustling town of Quarteira with its attractive seafront promenade and busy fish market. The locals at the Quarteira Market say the best buys are cotton goods, footwear and pottery. If browsing around markets is your scene, another shopping tour that you can do whilst in the Algarve is to the Loule Market. At Loule, you’ll experience a typical Portuguese market, with the country folks selling fish, fruits and fresh vegetables. See craftsmen, coppersmiths, basket and harness makers demonstrate their skills, and browse the stalls for a bargain or two. Loule is the busiest inland town, where you can stroll around the narrow streets and visit the Medieval Castle and city wall as well.