Once again, we’re back with another Cats blog post just for you, our dearest globetrotters. Our aim in all these things we love to do for you is to ensure that you can live the real Porto city experience, the authentic way, none of the superficial touristy stuff!!
Our passion for the past 15 years has been to transform tourists into TRUE TRAVELERS. However, we do understand that while the true Porto experience is the way to go, we can still get carried away with buying little touristy trinkets that everyone loves to take home! That’s why we’ve put together a little post about the top products to take home with ya! Aren’t we thoughtful?
What we actually strive for is that you guys become one with our city. Some people just pass through places, take the typical touristy selfie, and off they go, without taking in every possible thing the new city and culture has to offer. Not you guys!! There’s sooo much more to traveling than that. You guys are gonna revel in the essence of everything that is Porto.
Here you have a selection of tricks and tips for hunting down a little piece of Porto to take home (in your heart as well as in your check-in luggage). Something for you, something for your pals, and don’t forget your poor mum, who has to put up with all your flitting off to all these countries and living la vida loca, just like us Tripeiros* do!!
*Say what? Porto locals are known as ‘Tripeiros’, which translates into “tripe eaters”. Wanna know why? Quick history lesson: in the 15th century, when Porto’s ships departed to conquer Ceuta, the high-quality meat of the city left with them. The only meat left for the rest of the city’s population was… yep, tripe!
So now you’re a bit more of a Porto expert, let’s crack on. Ready to jot these down??
WHAT TO BUY ‘N’ WHERE
We could go on and on and on about all the wonderful and unmissable things Oporto has on offer (we won’t, promise, we’ll keep it short and sweet). We’ve carefully selected the best of the best products you simply can’t leave without.
Porto is, of course, one of Europe’s wine capitals. The best wine in the country runs through our very veins, and we simply cannot live without it. Lunch, dinner, and evening chats in the city all include WINE (and dessert, we have a sweet tooth as well ok?) We’d be more than honored for you to take a taste of our favorite drink back home with you.
The banks of the River Duero, especially the Vila Nova de Gaia area, are full of traditional wineries that the French and English installed in the XIX century to distribute their wines. The spirit and culture of these great wine temples are still intact, now of course with a totally Portuguese essence.
We highly recommend a winery tour of the top spots. Learn the aging process of the grapes and bottles and, most importantly, put your palette to test with all the wonderful samples. This way you can choose your fave flavors to take home while getting tipsy and merry! If you did need a recommendation: go for a sweet Tawny wine or the classic vinho verde.
This one HAD to be on the list. They’re the very symbol of Porto itself. Tiles have shaped the visual identity of our city over the last years.
Portugal, and Porto in particular, is a historical hub in terms of tile manufacturing. The iconic tiles are a central piece of Porto’s very unique architectural expressiveness. The typical image of the city’s tile-covered facades has represented Porto since the fifteen century. The visual, and even personal, identity of Porto is unimaginable without these little tiles, which denote curiosity, quirkiness, and personality mixed with practicality. The material they are made from actually serves to protect from the surrounding humidity, as well as to portray Porto’s beautiful history.
Hand-painted Porto tiles are a classic reminder of your trip to Portugal, and not many people go home without a couple of them in their backpack! Our tip is to head to the Mercado de Bolhao, where you can bask in the presence of literally hundreds of Porto souvenirs and pick out your favorite tiles from all the cute stalls.
Rooster of Barcelos
Another Portuguese symbol. Just like our tiles, the Rooster of Barcelos has become part of our culture and a very emblem of the whole country, also referencing a legend that we all love to tell.
The story goes that a pilgrim leaving Barcelos (in Braga) was convicted of stealing from a local land-owner. As his last wish, he asked to be brought before a judge, who was eating a roasted chicken at that very moment. The pilgrim told him that, as proof of his innocence, the rooster would come back to life. Dismissing this ludicrous idea, they took him to the gallows and at that precise moment the chicken revived, and the pilgrim escaped. At the sight of the miracle, the pilgrim returned and engraved his story on a stone cross to be remembered forever.
Trinkets of this famous rooster are stacked into shop windows in all shapes and sizes, colors and materials throughout the city, waiting to be snatched up by eager travelers on the hunt for the perfect gift. They are supposed to bring luck to their owner. If you want to get your hands on the perfect rooster ornament, head to the Paseo de la Ribeira.
Porto’s finest artisans rub their talented hands in glee when they see travelers stare in awe at their embroidered creations. The possibilities of buying embroidered fabrics in Porto is quite literally endless, each design more intricate than the next.
The most typical items to buy are hand-detailed sheets, which are sold at a cheaper price than in the rest of Europe and are of better quality (even if we do say so ourselves). Rags and tablecloths are also popular choices.
Another super cute product to think about taking home would be an Arraiolos carpet, a kind of wool rug with vintage designs influenced by fifteenth-century Portuguese art. We recommend that if you are looking for quality, for the good stuff, do not hesitate to go to Casa dos Tapetes de Arraiolos.
Here’s one for the foodies and those with a sweet tooth! Natas are a type (practically identical to be honest) of Lisbon’s Belem pastries.
What can we say bout natas? Um… that they’re DELICIOUS, perhaps? The treat itself is a small round cake full of cream atop a pastry base. The traditional natas recipe originates back to 200 years ago, and legend has it that only three people on the face of this planet knew the recipe when it was created.
Legends and myths aside, this little cake is basically everywhere to be found in this city. Unless you are all about cute packaging instead of the product itself (hey, each to their own), we recommend the well-known Doce Padeirinha (bakery), Confeitaria do Bolhao or the Fábrica de Nata. Your tastebuds can thank us later.
While most of us associate this material with wine stoppers (and not much else), Tripeiros are fascinated by cork material, and craftsmen in the city can conjure up some amazing products and items that you would never have thought of!
Having a wander through the stalls and stands of Paseo de la Ribeira will prove educational in the craft of cork goodies. Keyrings, handbags, watches, belts, aprons, pens, notebooks… you name it! They’ll have it. We think this is pretty cool, and hope you do too!