03 Jun A Guide for Portuguese Souvenirs
“I need to buy something for my wife!”
“What should I bring my kids?”
“Maybe my colleagues back in the office would like a little something…”
So, you find yourself in Portugal and have this sort of questions nagging you? Well, we have an excellent guide to help you navigate the options so you can focus on having a good time while you’re here. Forget the made in China fridge magnets! Here are some unique and typically Portuguese gifts:
Depending on the length of your flight back home, there are plenty of things you can bring your loved ones (colleagues, friends and people you want to subtly impress with your travels) so they can have a little taste of your stay in Portugal!
Maybe something even more fragrant: cheese! In Portugal, there’s a vast diversity of delicious cheeses made from cow’s, sheep’s or goat’s milk (sometimes, also from a combination of the three). Queijaria Nacional in Lisbon is the place to go if you want a selection of various cheeses from many parts of the country, although you can find good selections in most supermarkets all around the country.
This section should have a health notice included, because all of our gift-worthy beverages have some alcohol, so read moderately.
Of all the specialty wines, liqueurs and spirits available, here’s one suggestion to make it easier for you: Port Wine. This is a specific kind of wine from Douro valley near Oporto, it’s sweet and considered a dessert wine. A bottle of good Port wine can cost you between €10 and €20, while a bottle of vintage Port can be as expensive as €500. Maybe this is a good gift for someone very special!
Maybe you want some handmade art over your table, or even on your clothes. Traditional Portuguese embroidery in tablecloths, blouses, scarves and many more textiles have been a feature of Portuguese culture and history for many years. Each one is unique and, as they are handmade, in some places, you can even ask to have something embroidered specially for you.
These might be handmade or not, but cork accessories are traditional in Portugal, as the country produces half of the cork that exists in the world. In some small stores in Lisbon’s city center, you’ll find some handmade ones. From umbrellas to book covers, we can make anything out of cork, even jewelry!
The Rooster of Barcelos
Who wouldn’t want a rooster in their living room? The Rooster of Barcelos is a ceramic trinket that evokes an old Portuguese legend, but is also embroidered on towels, aprons, table mats… Its vivid colors are said to symbolize the Portuguese’s love for life and the spirit of justice. You can find them basically in any giftshop in Portugal.
First: canned sardines. Yes, this may sound smelly, but we promise you it’s an amazing start. A remnant of humbler times when people relied heavily on preserves like canned sardines or tuna and salted codfish, nowadays we have thousands of canned sardines’ flavors. You can find them in creatively packaged cans in many shops in Lisbon.
Pastéis de Nata
OK, let’s move on to something sweet: pastéis de nata! Although you can find them basically in any pastry shop in Portugal, the originals are from Pastéis de Belém and they are (debatably) the best! In English, they are usually translated as custard tarts, but you really need to try for yourself and share with your friends, family and colleagues! Benefit: they are easy to pack.
Let’s start with… wine of course! In Portugal, where there’s food, there’s wine and vice-versa. From North to South, this country produces a huge range of wines of all major varieties. Your best bet is to visit a wine cellar and try some. A bottle or two is always a good souvenir to take home!
Are you the sort of person that gravitates towards exclusive and unique things? Handmade objects are very common in Portugal and cover a large variety of things from ornaments, to tools, toys, household linens and much more. Also, it’s relatively inexpensive (depending on what you choose, of course).
Handmade jewelry is also a wonderful choice for a gift! You’ll have no lack of options in Portugal. From pendants to bracelets and rings, you have everything you need to make a loved one or a friend happy (we were about to leave colleagues out this time, but sure, why not? Treat your colleagues!) Benefit: takes up very little space in your bag!
Are you planning on making your home look a little bit more Portuguese?
Painted tiles, called azulejos in Portuguese, have been part of our culture since the 16th century. You can find them in all corners of the country: on churches, palaces, museums and even in modern buildings. You can buy a small one or even a full wall in different colors and formats to brighten up your home.
While we’re talking of ceramics, Pottery is also a great suggestion for a gift. For example, the Bordallo Pinheiro ceramics factory is as good as a national treasure and known throughout Portugal for their unique craftsmanship and being the makers of tableware shaped as cabbage leaves. Nowadays, their original designs range from classic dinner sets to the quirkier designs inspired by fruit, vegetables and animals. A great gift for pragmatists that like gifts that are both beautiful art and functional objects.