Markets in Portugal: Five Top Tips

Exploring the various markets in Portugal is a great way to spend time – and save money in the process. Here are five top tips for enjoying Portugal’s varied markets. 

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The vast range of markets in Portugal is a pleasure to discover, and can play an enjoyable (and money saving) part of life if you’re an expat in the country. 
 
The selection of markets is wide and varied, but sometimes it requires a little homework to find them all. Here are some tips to make the best of Portuguese markets:
 

1. Discover your local markets

Even relatively small Portuguese towns and villages usually have a regular (often daily) market. For example, the small village of Cabanas, on the East Algarve, has a small daily market comprising a few fish and produce stalls, to cater for the permanent population of around 1200 people, and of course the thousands more tourists and regular visitors.
 
Even relatively small Portuguese towns and villages usually have a regular market.
 
Some of these markets are very small, with limited opening hours, but they shouldn’t be ignored. They’re invariably cheaper than the supermarkets, with a more varied and fresher range of goods. 
 
The chances are there will be a bigger fresh food market in the nearest large town too, which will usually be a hive of activity and a popular meeting place, especially on a Saturday morning. 
 

2. Find the monthly “main event”

In addition to the regular town and village markets, with their fish, meat and fresh produce, you’ll probably be able to find a large market selling a wide range of goods on a weekly or monthly basis. 
 
You may need to “keep your ear to the ground” to find these markets, as they’re sometimes poorly publicised.
 
These markets are in a whole different league, and often offer everything from livestock to fake designer handbags, vintage tools, and electrical goods of sometimes questionable quality! Two examples of markets like this in the Algarve are in Moncarapacho and Quarteira. 
 
You may need to “keep your ear to the ground” to find these markets, as they’re sometimes poorly publicised.
 

3. Befriend the stallholders

Prices at markets in Portugal can vary considerably, even just from stall to stall – and it is an unfortunate reality that sometimes the price can “creep” up if some stallholders think you may be a tourist!
 
As such, speak Portuguese as a starting point! The basic words for dealing with market transactions aren’t hard to learn. If you visit the markets regularly, you’ll soon be recognised by the stallholders you shop with regularly, and you’ll probably find they’ll begin to throw in the odd freebie once they know you’re a good customer.
 

4. Watch out for the “one offs”

In addition to Portugal’s regular markets, you’ll find “one off markets” in all the major towns, ranging from books fairs to craft markets.
 
Again, these are often poorly publicised, so look out for posters, roadside hoardings, and adverts in local papers.
 
Also, don’t miss out on the Medieval fairs that take place across Portugal throughout the summer, and always feature dozens of alluring stalls.
 

5. Enjoy the artisan markets in Portugal

Once the “festa” season begins, you’ll find artisan markets all over the place, sometimes even in the smallest of villages. At these, you’ll find stalls selling cakes and confectionary, locally made jewellery, cork products, and small-batch spirits and liqueurs. 
 
The main stalls at artisan markets are usually accompanied by a range of food vendors selling treats like pão com chouriço (hot, sausage stuffed bread), and leitão (suckling pig).
 
Admittedly, what you’ll find at these markets can become quite repetitive, especially within the same area, where you’ll often find the same stalls at multiple events, but they are still a pleasure to browse, especially as the main stalls are usually accompanied by a range of food vendors selling treats like pão com chouriço (hot, sausage stuffed bread), and leitão (suckling pig).
 
Markets in Portugal are a genuine treat – don’t miss out by spending too much time shopping in the supermarkets and shopping centres!

Further reading for Living In Portugal

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One of the first things you need to do once you arrive in Portugal is find out where your nearest hospital is.
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Education in Portugal

Are you emigrating to Portugal with school-age children?
 

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