Travelling to Portugal and exploring the intricacies of its rich culture and traditions will make you want to share it with your loved ones! And what better season to do it than at Christmas time? Gift-giving is an act of love that your family will cherish when receiving their tradition-packed gifts. No matter how small or how big the souvenir is; they will feel like they have been a part of this special trip to Portugal with you!
As the holiday season approaches, we are here to guide you through the top ten unique presents that will make your Christmas a Portuguese fairy tale!
Creative and elegant designs make Portuguese ceramics a valued material heritage filled with tradition and history. The Alentejo and the Algarve regions are directly associated with the production of these handmade items with roots in the Roman period and the Middle Ages.
São Pedro do Corval is a charming village in the south of Portugal considered one of the epicentres of traditional ceramics due to a wealthy clay deposit in the Municipality of Reguengos de Monsaraz. As you walk along the streets of this picturesque destination, you will come across numerous shops where you can purchase your very own ceramics coloured in Alentejo’s golden hues!
Going further south, the Algarve ceramics are known for their pastel colours and more subtle designs inspired by Iberian motifs. As you buy a product from one of the region’s pottery shops, you will also have the opportunity to see how each of these items is traditionally made.
Prepare to be captivated by the charm of cork! This marvellously versatile resource is a rather ubiquitous material that you will see in Portugal in all shapes and forms. More than just an eco-friendly choice, cork is a breathing part of the everyday life of Portuguese citizens – especially those who drink wine!
Creative minds have ventured beyond the simple bottle stoppers into producing a realm of aesthetically pleasing accessories. Wallets, bags, Christmas tree ornaments and key chains are some of the variations of the items that you can purchase.
While its roots trace back to the sun-kissed lands of the Algarve, cork has weaved its way into the fabric of the country’s culture. Therefore, it will not be difficult to find cork-made items being sold in the streets of Lisbon and Porto and on the bustling Christmas markets!
Portugal’s warm climate has contributed to its growth as a worldwide renowned wine-producing country. Whether you’re in the picturesque north or exploring the bucolic planes of the Alentejo countryside, you will find a wealth of delicious wines that make the perfect gift!
The wondrous Douro Valley, a clear standout, is home to countless vineyards and a singular beauty. This reputable wine-producing region is known for the sweet and flavourful Port Wine. The latter is a fortified liqueur and a symbol of the north of Portugal, which transports one’s thoughts to the lush green hills and meandering river of this dreamy destination.
Wine-tasting experiences are the perfect site to taste these drinks before purchasing them! Estates facilitate a shop where you can buy the bottle of your choice and get recommendations. Alternatively, you can order your Douro or Alentejo drinks online and have them shipped to your home country – hassle-free! Shipping costs vary depending on the location.
Soft, spicy, buttery, salty – you name it! Portuguese cheese is a revered treasure of flavour and history popular across the globe. You will encounter these at the dinner table of most restaurants in the country and even in supermarkets. However, the traditional queijarias (cheese shops) are the place to go.
Queijo da Serra da Estrela is one of the crown jewels of the country’s delectable gastronomy. It comes from the Serra da Estrela region, located in central Portugal. Known for its mountain range (one of the highest in the country) and quaint cobblestone village, this location is responsible for the production of this sheep cheese with a creamy interior, ideal for spreading on bread or toast.
Thin gold strands draw patterns, conferring heart-shaped pendants a regal allure. Filigree earrings and necklaces are pieces of handmade jewellery that became popular in the 19th century. In the past, they were a symbol of wealth and status. Since then, they’ve grown to be pivotal to Portuguese culture.
To find traditional filigree jewellery, Viana do Castelo is the place to go. It was in this spellbinding city overlooking the sea that the first items were found in 2000 and 2500 BC. You can learn more about its history and evolution at the Museu Nacional do Traje.
Every piece has a different meaning. Queen D. Maria I is presumed to have been the first to order the ‘Heart of Viana’, which is dedicated to the worship of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Sailing across the ocean, Azores stands out as Europe’s secret tea capital. Amidst its volcanic landscapes and delicious food 900 miles from mainland Portugal, commercial tea plantations cover the hillsides of São Miguel island’s northern coast.
For centuries, Azoreans used these plants as decorative ornaments. However, with the help of experts, the island’s high-quality lands started to be repurposed into tea production, which became a prominent industry in the 1950s. Gorreana Tea Factory is a world-class brand, selling organic green, black and other tea infusions. You will find their facilities on a serene mountain ridge. They have both a physical and online shop where you can purchase their products.
From the bergamot sweet infusions to the traditional flavours, tea sure is the ideal gift to warm up the holiday season!
Coats or covers made in Burel
From the cold lands of northern Portugal, the burel rose up as a rough, warm textile used by the Serra da Estrela’s and Guarda’s shepherds. The extreme conditions in the highlands bordering Spain forced the idea to use a specific type of wool to create coats and covers that could protect from the cold weather.
As a result, burel weaved its way into Portuguese fashion and culture, being, today, a trendy item that you can purchase in cosmopolitan Lisbon. In case these shops are not on your itinerary, we recommend you visit Burel Chiado. As it preserves this tradition’s memory it also reinvents its origins and adapts it to the contemporary world. The result is trendy coats, bags and scarves in a varied range of pastel and vibrant colours that make the perfect winter accessory!
Part of the UNESCO World Heritage list, Fado is an exceptional starting point for getting to know Portuguese culture. Historical Coimbra, the home of one of the world’s oldest universities, and Lisbon are the capitals of this compelling musical style.
The sound of Portugal can be experienced in the traditional casas de fado, restaurants that dot the streets of Lisbon with the peculiar tunes of the Portuguese guitar. These traditional spaces welcome you into the country’s delicious gastronomy and the live voices of incredible Fado singers, who move your soul with their words.
One way to share this piece of Portugal’s culture with your family is to gift them a Fado music CD. These can be bought at the Fado houses or you can find them in music shops scattered around the city and country.
A fusion of cultural influences has made embroidery a living material heritage in this European destination. Carefully chosen colourful threads and meticulous stitches form the most diverse patterns, which have been created since the Middle Ages. Moorish, Renaissance and Baroque styles have marked the items created from this technique over the centuries.
In the dreamy Minho region, located in the North of Portugal, embroidery embraces the shape of delicate scarves called Lenços dos Namorados (sweetheart handkerchiefs) that feature love poems. Contrastingly, the Azore’s natural beauty culminates in floral patterns of complex cutwork and white-on-white designs known as “Richilieu” embroidery.
Local souvenirs and traditional shops are the places to find items from this long-lasting tradition!
Sardines in all shape and form are a staple in Portuguese cuisine and a popular symbol of the country’s inalienable connection with the sea. This adaptable protein can be found across the national coastline, starting in the south, all the way to the north.
In the past, canned sardines were a way found by locals to preserve the freshness and flavour of this fish. Such tradition has persevered through time, and is now celebrated in trendy shops where you can buy your own can.
Mundo Fantástico da Sardinha leads the way with its flamboyant interior design of bright red colours. You will find it right in the heart of Lisbon, in Rossio. It has a large display of canned sardines with striking illustrations of Lisbon and the year you were born!
Taking a bit of Portugal home with you
Portugal is already charming and welcoming. At Christmas time, it is even more so! Every corner is infused with time-honoured traditions and mouth-watering delicacies that will leave you yearning to share every bit of it with your nearest and dearest! From the colourful Portuguese porcelains to the canned sardines and Fado music CDs, there is something to please the most distinguished tastes. So, it is not about the size of the gift; it is all about the immense joy it will be sharing a piece of your memorable trip to Portugal.