Portugal — Shopping and Leisure
For several centuries, Portugal’s thriving traditional markets have sold handmade goods with influences from around the world thanks to the country’s strong seafaring culture. Shops open from 9:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. every day except Sunday, when they're closed altogether, and shut down at 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays. They are also closed between 1and 3 p.m. on weekdays for afternoon siesta. The relatively small city of Barcelos hosts one of Portugal’s largest markets every Thursday, but Lisbon remains the country’s shopping haven.
Baixa is the main shopping district in the capital. Most of its major jewelry stores are located, appropriately enough, on Rua Áurea and Rua da Prata, whose names translate to "gold street" and "silver street." Rua Augusta is Baixa’s other major shopping area, while many of Rua Garrett’s upscale shops have successfully been restored after a devastating fire in 1988. Rua Dom Pedro V in Bairro Alto and the Graça district’s narrow Rua de São José are Lisbon’s main antiques streets, but bargains can also be found on Rua da Escola Politécnica, Rua da Misericórdia, Rua do Alecrim, and Rua de São Pedro de Alcântara. Lisbon’s Feira da Ladra marketplace specializes in handmade Portuguese baskets and fisherman’s sweaters which make good souviners.
Porto’s modern shopping centers are surrounded by charming open air markets and interior storefronts designed to resemble rural northern Portuguese villages. Potted plants are the most common items sold at Praça de Liberdade’s Mercado das Flores, but visitors can also purchase caged birds at Rua de Madeira’s Mercado dos Passaros. However, Porto’s best known outdoor market is the Mercado de Bolão, whose housewares, spices, food, and flowers come from craftspeople in the north. These traditional goods stand directly beside modern Rua de Santa Catarina, a modern shopping thoroughfare.
The most popular Portuguese souvenirs are pure wool carpets painstakingly sewn and woven in the small town of Arraiolos. The intricate designs of these beauties often cost less than half of what you would find in North America. Equally elaborate blue and white tiles called azulejos are also made and sold throughout the country. Gold must be at least 19.2 karats to be advertised as such in Portugal.