Portugal is a southern European country that has the oldest borders in all of Europe. Its proud history can be felt all throughout the country, from its capital, down to each tiny, picture-perfect village that has its own distinct culture and traditions.
Are you planning on visiting Portugal and wondering what you should take back home or try when there? Or maybe you have Portuguese roots and you’re curious about the kind of products that are made in Portugal. In any case, what better way to learn about a country than through its products? For that reason, I’ve decided to put together this article about products I’ve come to love in my adopted home of Portugal and you’d love too if only you knew about them.
Below is a list of my favorite Portuguese products that you should check out!
Claus Porto Soaps
I first came across this fabulous natural soap when shopping in El Corte Ingles, a department store in Lisbon and the Claus Porto had a cute display so I decided to buy a bar.
I was amazed with how creamy the lather is, how fragrant and natural it smells and how soft it left my skin. I had no idea that the soap is actually famous and is well known amongst American celebrities. I only found out that fact after googling “Claus Porto soap” to see if I’ll be able to buy it when I return to the U.S. To my relief, I learned that indeed I’ll be able to but these amazing soaps in various luxury shops in New York. Shops in the US that sell Claus Porto include Saks Fifth Avenue but they’re a lot more expensive there.
Claus Porto soap has been made in the same traditional way in Porto since 1887. The wrapping is always a beautiful art deco design, making Claus Porto soaps a wonderful gift or souvenir.
Portuguese wine production dates all the way back to Roman times and there are over 500 indigenous grape varieties. Even wine experts are unfamiliar with all the different types!
There are 11 major wine producing regions in Portugal including: Alentejo, the Algarve, Beira, Dão, Douro, Minho, Montes, Ribatejo, Setúbal, Tejo, and Trás-os-Montes.
Wines in various regions really differ from one another because of the variations in climate throughout Portugal so you get very distinct wine. There are over 1 million acres (400,000 hectares) of vines and Portugal is the seventh largest exporter of wine in the world.
Next time you’re looking for wine, consider a Portuguese wine, maybe some green wine?
Portuguese Ceramic Tiles: Azulejos
Portuguese tiles, known as azulejos are part of Portuguese culture and have been produced in the country for five centuries.
Beautiful azulejos are everywhere you look in Portugal – on the inside and outside the walls of churches, on ordinary homes as you walk down the block, on benches, fountains and any place you can imagine putting a tile on.
In public places, azulejos often depict historic scenes. There’s even a museum (my personal favorite) dedicated solely to azulejos, their history and production.
There are also tile-inspired everyday items like gorgeous jewelry and coasters.
You can buy a beautiful tile or tile-inspired item in many souvenir shops throughout Portugal. It’s my favorite souvenir from the country.
Cherry Liquor: Ginjinha
Ginjinha is normally taken as a shot with the cherries on the bottom of the shot glass. In Obidos, a city in Portugal, the shot glass is traditionally made from chocolate so you just take the shot with the shot glass! Bottles of Ginjinha and chocolate shot glasses can oftentimes be found as a set at souvenir shops.
Also in Downtown Lisbon, there is a little shop that served nothing but Ginjinha. It’s popular amongst both locals and tourists who line up with friends and take shots on the street.
Portugal is the largest producer of cork in the world. So naturally, the country also produces some neat things made from cork. Things made from cork include postcards (my family back home loves those!), cork purses, wallets, and of course wine corks. You’ll be sure to come across lots of cork accessories in souvenir shops around Portugal.
Cork is a natural product and anything made from cork is considered eco-friendly. If you’re looking to make a fashion statement with eco-friendly products, Portuguese cork products are the way to go!
In Portugal, it’s called Presunto and I personally like it even more! Presunto Iberico, as it’s sometimes called is also made in Spain where it’s called Iberico jamon and it’s basically the kobe beef of pigs.
The pigs from which presunto is made roam the forest freely and eat natural things like herbs and acorns. The meat has a distinct nutty flavor that’s incomparable. The most famous presunto in Portugal is Chaves presunto and Alentejo presunto.
There’s a Portuguese saying that goes, “in the land of cattle, cheese is king”. Cheese, queijo in Portuguese, is certainly king in Portugal. You are bound to be impressed with the huge variety of cheeses made in Portugal. There’s cow cheese, sheep cheese, goat cheese and combinations of all three and they are really good quality.
Cheese is a big part of Portuguese culture and is eaten at every meal as an appetizer. The most famous cheese is probably Serra da Estrela cheese, which is semi-soft and is eaten by cutting off the top layer. Other popular cheeses include Azeitão, Serpa and Terrincho.
I was not familiar with Portuguese desserts until I moved to Portugal and boy, was I missing out! There are more than two hundred varieties of Portuguese sweets. Many are egg-based with names such as toucinho do céu, “fat from heaven”, papos de anjo, “angel’s double-chin” and barriga de freiras, or “belly of nuns” after the nuns who invented and prepared them in monasteries hundreds of years ago. There are also marzipan desserts, custard creme ones, and many others that you just have to try!
The most well known Portuguese dessert is undoubtedly Pasteis de Nata. It’s an egg custard tart in filo dough that is best served warm, fresh out of the oven and sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar. It’s really delicious and can be found in any Portuguese community.
Portuguese olive oil, known as azeite in Portuguese, is some of the best out there. Olive oil production in Portugal has a long-standing tradition, dating back to Roman times. There’s even evidence of olive trees in Portugal dating all the way back to the Bronze Age! Interestingly, during the mid 16th century, olive oil was even used as fuel for lighting and Portugal exported its olive oil to Northern Europe and India for that purpose.
To this day, olive oil is an important ingredient in many traditional recipes and the Portuguese take their olive oil very seriously. There are six regions in Portugal that produce olive oil that has protected status, called DOP (Denominação de Origem Protegida). The regions are:
- DOP Trás os Montes
- DOP Beira Interior
- DOP Ribatejo
- DOP Alentejo interior
- DOP Norte Alentejano
- DOP Moura
Next time you’re looking to get olive oil, consider Portuguese olive oil – you’ll be pleasantly surprised. It’s excellent quality and not as expensive as others.
There are lots of different varieties of chouriço and they all differ in color, shape and taste. Many traditionally Portuguese dishes use this kind of pork sausage as an ingredient. It’s also really delicious grilled, as some Portuguese restaurants serve it.