Souvenir shopping is part of every traveler’s routine but it doesn’t have to be that tedious task on the way to the boarding gate.
Why take home a snow globe or a fridge magnet when you can buy the most authentic and original Lisbon souvenirs? Quite honestly, anything can be a souvenir as long as it reminds you of the destination you visited. But we at Devour Lisbon narrowed down the list to the four souvenirs we believe represent the essence of the city.
1. Canned Fish
A product of the early 20th-century industrial era, canned fish still is today one of the most affordable foods. Canned tuna, for example, goes great with a salad in the summer and students use it for their budget-friendly signature dish massa de atum (tuna and pasta). Mackerel, tuna, and sardines are the most common fish preserved in a variety of sauces.
The colorful cans and the varieties of fish inside them are one of the most authentic Lisbon souvenirs you can buy. They’ve become so popular as a souvenir that stores are selling only canned fish in the city center.
Where to buy it:
- Supermarkets – any supermarket or grocery store has a canned fish section. It’s the most affordable option, but the range of sauces will be smaller.
- Conserveira de Lisboa – founded in 1930 it’s one of the historic shops of Lisbon, specialized since then in selling canned fish.
2. Lisbon Tea
With a café around every corner in Lisbon, it’s a fact coffee is the locals’ favorite hot drink. But the tea tradition in Portugal is much older than coffee. The Portuguese brought the Chinese culture of tea making and drinking in the 16th century. Queen Catarina de Braganza, the wife of King Charles II, later took that habit to London after her marriage.
There are now two custom-made blends of tea that summarize the city’s energy. The founder and owner of Companhia Portugueza do Chá, created Lisbon Breakfast and Lisbon Afternoon. At Devour Lisbon we think it’s a perfect and unexpected souvenir!
Where to buy it:
- Companhia Portugueza do Chá – at the tea’s original spot, you can buy as much tea as you want, packed and sealed on the spot.
- Dear Breakfast – although you can’t buy it here, you can taste Lisbon Breakfast brewed. They buy it straight from the source, right around the corner. It’s also a cool spot for brunch on a Sunday in Lisbon.
3. Art and Design Pieces
Buying a piece of Portuguese design as a souvenir from Lisbon is also a great option. It’s one way to support local artists and businesses, it’s a unique home décor piece, and it’s a fond memory of your travels.
At Devour Lisbon we suggest you avoid the typical souvenir shops in the city center. Most will wrongfully advertise authentic pieces made in Portugal. Look for design stores instead or browse the museum’s shops.
Where to buy it:
- Apaixonarte – this design store also doubles as an art gallery. They have a strict requirement for all the pieces sold here: they must be produced in Portugal, no exceptions.
- A Vida Portuguesa – one of the most well-known shops to buy local products. You’ll find three shops in Lisbon at Time Out Market, in Chiado, and in Intendente.
- Portugal Gifts – a project built by a Portuguese group of designers and artisans, they give a contemporary twist to traditional handicrafts.
- Loja dos Museus – a bit more central than browsing each museum shop separately, this store at Palácio Foz in Restauradores sells replicas from some of the pieces at Lisbon museums.
4. Portuguese Tiles
The one Lisbon souvenir everyone will tell you to get is Portuguese tile (azulejo). Some will even tell you to browse the flea market on Saturday morning to find great deals on old tiles. But there’s a catch. Either they’re not as historical as the vendor claims, or they are but were unlawfully ripped off a protected building.
Tiles are, literally, a piece of the Portuguese culture and you find it everywhere in Lisbon from building façades, to decorating Baroque churches or the subway stations. Fortunately, the tradition continues and you’ll able to find what you’re looking for sustainably and responsibly.
Where to buy it:
- Museu Nacional do Azulejo – The National Tile Museum is the perfect place to combine learning everything about the art form in Portugal and buy some tiles to bring home.
- Cortiço e Netos – This shop is a treasure trove of mismatched tiles and a wonderful place to discover industrial azulejo. They specialize in discontinued collections from the 1960s and beyond.
- Fábrica de Sant’Anna – Founded in 1741, it’s the last working factory of artisanal tiles in Europe. You can buy tiles and see them in the making.
Calling all curious travelers! Do you love connecting with the local community while in a new place? We’re right there with you. We’d love to keep connecting you to Lisbon through our newsletter. It comes out a couple of times a month, brimming with dispatches on culture, recipes, tips and even a discount or two!
Sandra Henriques Gajjar is a freelance web content writer and travel blogger born in the Azores and based in Lisbon for 20+ years. Since 2014 she’s been blogging about travel, culture, and the people she meets in between at Tripper, a blog on sustainable cultural tourism.