Travelling to Portugal? Here is a list of the best 5 unique souvenirs from Portugal to bring home.
Portugal is a country of artisans and has many delicious shopping experiences for the visitor. This is particularly difficult when it comes to leaving. To beat that pickle of what to pickup, here is a list of the best 5 unique souvenirs from Portugal, to focus that last minute buying.
1 / BEST UNIQUE SOUVENIR FROM PORTUGAL – GINJINHA
Looking for that best Unique Souvenir from Portugal? Search no further than this top liquid refreshment momento from Lisbon.
Curing all that ails you and a super souvenir to bring back home is a bottle of Ginjinha. You’ll see these little drinking shops around Lisbon, where local patrons stand outside and imbibe tiny cups of morello cherry (ginja) liqueur. Take the time to order a Ginjinha “with” (com) or “without” (sem) the cherry. A “curative”, the tradition to stop and have a ginjinha in Lisbon was the fashion. So loved by Lisbonites, many singers, poets and writers refer to it in their works. An iconic taste which is very smooth, fruity and a nice pick me up on a winter’s day. The infused ginja berries are added to sugar and Aguardente (alcohol of 29-60%). Often cloves or cinnamon were put in to pad out that sweet taste. Needless to say, it is of course very alcoholic. Beware of those cherries!
Best place to buy Ginjinha, Portugal’s unique souvenir in Lisbon
In order to purchase one (or more!) of these unique Portuguese souvenirs, visit one of the hole in the wall spots and take home an entire bottle. Tiny cup tasters cost €1 and prices for 500ml run at about €7. We recommend Ginjinha Sem Rival (operating since 1890) on Rua Das Portas de Santo. As a bonus, Ginjinha Sem Rival (without rival) also sells Eduardinho, in homage to a clown actor, who devised crazy mixed drinks.
Another spot is the tiny watering hole, A Ginjinha, the original Ginjinha bar opened in 1840 and still run by the same family. It is found near the corner of the Rossio square, Largo São Domingos 8.
Again, we warn you, Ginjinha is very sweet, very alcoholic but a very one of a kind drink to Portugal.
Wrap your bottle up well if planning to take it home in your suitcase!
It is easier to make the sun cool, than to find cherries with such virtue.
2 / BEST UNIQUE SOUVENIR FROM PORTUGAL – POTTERY
For an essential one of a kind Portuguese souvenir, think Ceramics.
A delicate but classy Portuguese keepsake, we believe that one of the best unique souvenir buys from Portugal is its pottery. From the northern part of Portugal in the Douro, to the Algarve in the South, regional styles differ greatly as do prices. However, all are worthy of tucking into a suitcase.
Find olive dishes, tiny vases, casserole dishes in the simple brown earthenware created since before the Romans and often with a splash of white glaze. They are for sale everywhere and make cheap useful gifts.
Another simple Portuguese gift is the cute little ceramic andorinha (swallow). Designed by Rafael Bordallo Pinheiro in 1891, it is now, popular everywhere in Portugal.
Pinheiro’s designs have seen a resurgence with Millennials and his quirky inspirations from nature are a big hit again 130 years later. Look out for cabbage leaf vases and creeping lizard mugs.
Best Unique Souvenirs from Portugal – Where is the best pottery in Portugal found?
Making beautiful mementos, ceramics in Portugal are very diverse and are one of the best unique souvenirs from Portugal. Historically, the centuries the Phoenicians and Moors spent here, influenced design and glazes. You can find in places like Coimbra, a similar elegant intricate geometric or nature inspired motif on their pots.
In the mid south, Alentejo pottery is vibrant and cheerful and one of the best place is Sao Pedro do Corval. This village, is famous for its unique rural themed ceramics (which we visit on our Amazing Alentejo bike tour). Redondo, another town in the area is also growing in popularity. Both towns are also tremendous wine regions too!
Whilst the Alentejo has a more painterly style, one of the most interesting modes is the northern provinces’ designs. The town of Viana de Castelo traditionally hand painted creations with a strong Asian18th century influence. Beautiful simple blue and white motifs of leaves or flowers. Each one an original souvenir from Portugal to love.
Enjoy traditional artisanship with the best unique ceramic souvenirs
A traditional and ancient craft, there are wide and varied options available in most shops in all cities and towns for both tourist and local purchase. The clay here is extremely malleable in order to create some very bold designs and 3D relief decorations. Small local potteries are called “Olarias” so keep your eyes peeled for these signs in order to pick up some unique exclusive Portuguese gifts.
3 / BEST UNIQUE SOUVENIR FROM PORTUGAL – EVERYTHING ROOSTER
Easy to Pack keepsake, the cockerel is the best unique souvenir from Portugal to bring home.
Iconic symbol of Portugal & colourful souvenir, the Cockerel (don’t mistakenly call it a chicken!) is one of the most recognizable Portuguese symbols.
The folk tale behind this flashy figure is about a pilgrim making his way home from the Camino to Santiago. Having to spend the night in a small village, locals decided the pilgrim was a spy and sentenced him to death (talk about a need for travel insurance!)
The man went to the local magistrate to plead innocence. Happening to find the judge tucking into a meal of a roast cockerel, the pilgrim exclaimed “if you hang me this cockerel will crow, proving my innocence”. Which occurred.
Upon hearing the cockerel’s crow, the judge ran to the hanging, finding the noose had failed and the pilgrim had lived.
One of many versions, it signifies faith, justice and of course, a lot of good luck!
A most recognizable but unique icon from Portugal, don’t leave the country without purchasing at least one lucky charm Cockerel. Found on everything from fun tea towels to quirky tote-bags, you will find many unusual usages for the image . Nice spots to find something special in Lisbon before flying out, is near the Baixa district and called, Silva & Feijóo (Rua dos Bacalheiros 117–119). It specializes in traditional Portuguese products and gifts. Look for your Portuguese Cockerel memento in their 3 shops in downtown Lisbon.
A delightful boutique in Lisbon, is A Vida Portuguesa. Here you will find Cockerel inspired items, locally sourced from small dealers, showing pleasing designs as well as beautiful vintage household items. Their retro designed soaps are particularly nice. Enjoy their store in Chiado (Rua Anchieta (Lisbon)) as well as in Porto and Ribeira.
4/ BEST UNIQUE SOUVENIR FROM PORTUGAL – LEATHER SHOES | GOODS
Look for the genuine “Made in Portugal” tag on your snappy Portuguese leather goods and you won’t go home unhappy with this classy reminder of a great trip.
A top international exporter of shoes, one of the best unique souvenirs from Portugal is a well shod foot. Putting your best foot forward is a must in this country and luckily they provide great options for foot ware to do it in. Whether it is a man’s dress shoe (see Carlos Santos for premium high end) or woman’s strappy cork soled heel, you will have happy toes on your return trip from Portugal. Portuguese artisans are excellent creators of solid quality leather products and you will enjoy browsing for a one-off purse, wallet, travel case or pair of shoes. Avoid the many imports from Asia and go for those locally made. Superbly exclusive and one of the best unique souvenirs from your trip to Portugal.
Where to buy Leather goods in Portugal?
In Lisbon, check out the many shops between the Baixa and Chiado districts downtown. A nice small shoe shop is Sapataria do Carmo which has superior (but pricey) foot ware.
In the north of Portugal is where the leather industry is based so you will be lost for choice in Porto. Near Porto is the headquarters of the very well regarded Portuguese label, Paradigma which has a beautiful selection of calf skin leather uppers to buy as expensive souvenirs from Portugal.
In Porto itself is the Feeting Room, (there are 3 shops in Porto) which supplies many good Portuguese brands of shoes and clothes as well as a café for those whose feet need a rest.
Make your tootsies happy with this Portuguese token!
5/ BEST UNIQUE SOUVENIR FROM PORTUGAL – PIRI PIRI HOT SAUCE
Easy to find, cheap to buy, do not pass up this unique souvenir of Portugal
Thanks to Nando’s popular chicken restaurant from South Africa (set up by a duo which included Portuguese Fernando, “Nando” Duarte), Piri piri (also referred to as peri-peri or pili-pili) a Portuguese favourite, has branched out around the world. Savour this tiny taste of Portugal, which packs a punch, home as a memory of your trip.
Where did Piri Piri come from originally?
Harking from Portugal’s colonial past when the Portuguese travelled the world bringing favourite new foods. Chilis travelled with Portuguese sailors from South America into African countries, Angola and Mozambique where they perfected the technique of open fire cooking with this spicy marinade. It is reported that Pili pili actually means pepper in Swahili.
In fact, hot spicy chilis were recorded in dishes in Goa, India (a Portuguese enclave) by 1516 thanks to Portuguese traders bringing them there so it has existed for centuries. The main influences of bringing this dish to Portugal were the 1960s/70s brutal Independence wars in Angola and Mozambique, and the end of the dictatorship in 1974 where expats returned home bringing their favourite marinade. A somewhat convoluted origin story, it won’t trouble you much when you enjoy today’s modern dish which you will find everywhere.
This hot sauce has a distinctive and delicious taste and you can enjoy on your visit to Portugal eating in the Churrasquerias (grill dining establishments) | Frangasqueira (specifically chicken Grills), the wonderful dish, frango assado com piri piri (grilled bbq chicken with piri piri) done over a hot coal fire.
Where is the best place to try piri piri? You will be spoilt for choice. One Churrasquerias that is good is found on Rua da Paz 78 80, Churrasqueria da Paz in Barrio Alto, Lisbon.
How is Piri Piri sauce made?
The sauce is made from bay leaves, oil, garlic, lemon juice or citrus peel, vinegar and the pepper, Malagueta chili. For chili nerds, this has a Scoville Heat Units SHU Richter scale of 60,000-100,000 SHU and is a variety of the Capsicum frutescens family. The taste is pretty wide ranging from tangy shock to a healthy fire mouth. While travelling Portugal, find them in any supermarket and pick up a bottle for a couple Euros. Take home a taste token of Portugal’s history.
Where can I buy Piri Piri in Portugal?
Our favourite brands are found in any supermarket shop (big or little). Try pairing it with not only chicken but tofu or shrimp. The brand, Paladin, does an easy one to take home in plastic bottles.
We also like Flor das Hortas which do a piri piri “Forte” (strong) and Lemon oil too and Jeronimos Molho Piri Piri is a cheap but good option too.
Pick up all these one of a kind souvenirs of your memorable trip to Portugal on one of our cycle trips
- Amazing Alentejo Bike Tour
- Blue Coast – West Atlantic & Algarve
- Porto to Lisbon – Atlantic coast
- Douro Wine Region
Have your own best unique souvenir from Portugal? Let us know!
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