As anyone who has moved abroad will tell you, one of the best ways to explore your new home is through your tastebuds. After all, you wouldn’t be getting the most out of your new life in Portugal without sampling some fresh sardinhas assadas while watching the sun set over the Atlantic. Indeed, you’ll soon realize just how important food is in Portuguese culture and society.
Besides dining at the country’s many restaurants and cafes, the aisles of your local supermarket or grocery store are a great place to explore the world of Portuguese cuisine.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Grocery shopping in Portugal
- Supermarkets in Portugal
- Things you need to know about Portuguese supermarkets
- Food delivery services in Portugal
- International grocery stores in Portugal
- Food shopping at Portuguese markets
- Specialty stores in Portugal
- Health food shopping in Portugal
- Convenience stores
- Liquor stores in Portugal
- Buying groceries from your home country
British Corner Shop
Missing your favorite foods from the UK in Portugal? Visit British Corner Shop today. Their online store stocks all your favorite brands, as well as many products from leading UK supermarkets like Waitrose and Marks & Spencer. From crumpets and custard to tea bags and treats, stock up on UK goodies today with British Corner Shop.
Grocery shopping in Portugal
Whether you’re setting up life in Lisbon, Lagos, or Loule, the local supermarket will probably be one of the first places you visit when you arrive in Portugal. But before you grab your shopping cart, you may notice that grocery shopping in the country is a little different from what you are used to. While this does make it a lot more exciting, it can also be a little confusing for a first-timer. But don’t worry – you’ll soon be going wild in the aisles!
If supermarkets aren’t for you, though, there are plenty of other options in Portugal. From local grocery stores to markets selling the very best in fresh local produce, you certainly have choices. But if all that sounds like too much work, you can always sign up for a meal-kit service and have fresh ingredients and recipes delivered straight to your door. And if all else fails, you can simply let someone else do the washing up while feasting on delicious Portuguese food at your local restaurant.
Supermarkets in Portugal
Portuguese supermarkets and grocery stores come in all shapes and sizes. At one end of the scale are the small grocery stores (mercearia), which you’ll most likely find in your neighborhood. These stock most everyday essentials and a few other lines. Then there are supermarkets (supermercado), which are much bigger and are typically operated by a larger chain. These offer a wider range, although this will depend on their size and location. Arrivals from North America may also be pleased to discover that large, US-style hypermarkets (hipermercado) have made their way to Portugal. Although they are relatively few and far between, these large stores stock the largest range of food, as well as non-food items such as clothes, toys, and electronics.
If you’re living in a big city like Lisbon or Porto, you’ll typically find smaller supermarkets in the central areas. These sell everything you need in terms of food and drink, but not a great deal more than that. However, as you move outside these central neighborhoods, supermarkets tend to get bigger. And if you’re looking for hypermarket-style stores that sell a wide range of non-food items, these are typically located at the edge of towns or near main highways. These are easily accessible by car and public transport, and often have other shops and businesses in the vicinity.
Generally speaking, Portuguese supermarkets are fairly affordable. However, the cost of your shopping will depend on your own circumstances and which store you choose. Like many of their European cousins, the Portuguese typically shop more often but buy fewer groceries. They may also shop at a few different supermarkets and grocery stores, taking advantage of the differences in stock and prices. That said, you’ll find that most stores are reasonably well-stocked, so you’ll have plenty of dinner ideas.
Portuguese supermarket chains
Despite being relatively small, Portugal has a number of supermarket chains you can explore. Most of these are nationwide, and you may recognize some other European supermarket brands throughout the country. Of course, there are also a number of independent grocery stores to discover, too. Some of the major Portuguese supermarket chains include:
- Continente: The largest Portuguese supermarket chain has over 500 stores nationwide. Products are reasonably priced but the range will depend on the size and location of the store. Also offers home delivery.
- Auchan: Formerly known as Jumbo, these stores are now under the brand of the multinational French supermarket chain, Auchan. This is popular for its cheaper prices and large out-of-town hypermarkets.
- Pingo Doce: A reasonably priced German-owned supermarket chain with over 400 stores of various sizes throughout the country. Pingo Doce also offers home delivery.
- Intermarché: Another French retailer with a presence in Portugal, with around 200 stores across the country.
- Mercadona: The largest Spanish supermarket chain also has a presence across the border. Currently, stores are only in northern Portugal, although this may grow in the coming years.
You’ll typically find these stores across most large towns and cities throughout Portugal. That said, on the island communities of Maderia and the Azores, they are relatively limited. But don’t worry – you’ll still find plenty of independent grocery stores to shop at.
Discount supermarket chains in Portugal
Similar to most European countries, you’ll find a number of discount supermarket chains throughout Portugal. These popular stores offer a no-frills shopping experience, with cheaper products and less choice. The largest discounter chains in Portugal include:
- Lidl: The German discounter is one of the largest supermarket chains in Portugal, with over 200 stores across the country. These offer a narrow product range, weekly specials, and non-food sale items.
- Minipreço: The largest discounter in Portugal stocks a good range of own-label and national brands. Owned by Spanish chain Dia, the stores typically offer more choice than their German rivals.
- Aldi: Another German discount supermarket in Portugal, Aldi has stores across the country, selling a decent range of goods at affordable prices.
Portuguese specialty and organic supermarkets
Recent years have seen supermarkets in Portugal introduce a growing number of products that cater to special dietary needs. This includes gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan options. The widest range of these products is typically found at larger stores, but even smaller supermarkets and grocery stores will stock some items. Some supermarkets also have their own luxury brands which include more upmarket goods, although the availability of these items will vary between locations.
If you’re looking for a wider range of these products or something a little different, then you might want to visit a more specialist supermarket. Many luxury or organic grocery stores are locally owned and operated. However, some brands you may see in Portugal include:
- El Corte Inglés: The upmarket Spanish department store also has locations in Porto and Lisbon. The supermarket stocks a wide range of products, including higher-end goods.
- Celeiro: This chain of organic supermarkets can be found throughout the country, particularly in and around Lisbon. However, prices can be a little higher than in other supermarkets.
- Go Natural: A chain of organic supermarkets with outlets in Lisbon and Porto. They also offer online delivery from both their grocery stores and restaurants.
Supermarket opening times in Portugal
If you’re visiting your local supermarket in Portugal, then you’ll need to know the store opening hours. Most stores open around 08:00 or 09:00 in the morning and close around 21:00 in the evening. Some may open later than this (until 23:00 or midnight), although these will typically be either small central stores or large hypermarkets. In smaller towns, stores may close at around 20:00. Local and rural grocery stores might shut at lunch, although this is not particularly common. Either way, you should check ahead to avoid turning up at a shuttered supermarket.
New arrivals to Portugal will be pleased to discover that supermarkets don’t typically close on Sundays. Indeed, you’ll be able to hit the hypermarket or grab some groceries as much as you want during the weekends. This is good news if you’re planning to host friends or family and you have any last-minute needs for making one of these great Portuguese dishes.
Things you need to know about Portuguese supermarkets
For those who are new in Portugal, here are a few things you should know about the local supermarkets before you hit the aisles:
- BYOB: As in many other European countries, the locals bring their own reusable, heavy-duty bags to do their shopping. If you forget, you should be able to pick some up in-store, but you’ll need to pay for them.
- Medication: Typically, larger supermarkets have a separate pharmacy (farmácia) inside them where you can stock up on medicine, such as painkillers.
- Order online… Some Portuguese supermarkets offer online shopping and home delivery services, including Continente, Pingo Doce, and Auchan. Click and collect services are also available in some stores.
- …but you might need a NIF: As part of the registration process for these online shopping services, you may need to provide your NIF (numero de identificação fiscal).
- Go cashierless: In 2021, supermarket chain Continente opened Portugal’s first autonomous, cashierless outlet in Lisbon. However, you’ll need to download the company’s Labs app before you can grab a basket.
Food delivery services in Portugal
If you’re unable to visit your local supermarket or simply prefer the convenience of having your groceries delivered to your home, then you’re in luck. A number of Portuguese supermarkets offer home delivery, where you can shop online and choose a delivery slot. Some stores also offer a collection service, where you shop online and pick up your order from a designated collection point at your local store. There are also a growing number of online-only grocery stores operating in Portugal, including:
And that’s not all. Search online and you may also be able to find delivery options from local producers in your area, such as fresh produce, meat, dairy, and more. Online marketplaces such as TaskRabbit even let you find helpers to do your grocery shopping and deliver it to you. There are also meal-kit recipe boxes if you enjoy cooking but don’t like grocery shopping. These meal-kit companies send fresh ingredients and recipes straight to your door. And, of course, there are a number of food delivery apps in Portugal if you feel like ordering take-out.
International grocery stores in Portugal
Despite its compact size, Portugal is a fairly multicultural country. This diversity can be seen in its grocery stores and the plethora of ethnic supermarkets that are available throughout the country. In larger cities, for instance, you’ll be able to find stores that stock food from China, Thailand, and Brazil, among others. These stores are also great places to stock up on international products that are cheaper than what you will find in the ‘world foods’ section of your local supermarket. You can simply search online to find your nearest store.
If you’re looking to buy specific products from the UK, then you’ll find more options in supermarkets across Portugal, particularly in the Algarve region where many British immigrants choose to settle. Here, you’ll find outlets of Overseas Supermarkets, a chain of grocery stores that sell British products. You can also shop online at British Corner Shop which delivers worldwide.
Food shopping at Portuguese markets
If you don’t fancy the bright lights and crowds of your local supermarket, then why not explore your nearest Portuguese market instead? Local food markets (mercado municipal) remain hugely popular throughout the country, and with a quick online search, you’ll soon find your nearest one. In these markets, you’ll be able to find fresh produce, meats, fish, and much more. In larger towns and cities, these markets can take place every day, whereas, in rural areas, they may appear only once or twice a week.
Recent years have seen Portuguese markets become tourist attractions in their own right, visited by foodies from Europe and beyond. As well as selling excellent fresh produce, many of these markets also offer top-quality light bites and more. If you’re keen to explore Portugal’s markets, check out Lisbon’s Mercado de Campo de Ourique or Mercado da Figueira and Porto’s Mercado do Bolhão. For more local options, simply search online and discover some great hidden gems near you.
Specialty stores in Portugal
When it comes to food shopping in Portugal, one of the best things is visiting one of the country’s many specialty shops. These sell all kinds of delicious foods, from freshly-baked bread to freshly-caught squid. Luckily, you’ll find plenty of local places where you’ll be able to pick up the very best produce. However, you may need to brush up on your Portuguese language skills before hitting the shelves. To help you out, here are some basic Portuguese terms to look out for:
- Bakery – padaría
- Butcher – açougue
- Fishmonger – peixaria
Health food shopping in Portugal
With a Mediterranean-style cuisine consisting of fresh fish and vegetables, the Portuguese diet has traditionally been healthy and nourishing. However, these days, more people are turning to the benefits of health food to improve their diets and lifestyles. As a result, many supermarkets in Portugal now stock a range of healthier options, such as vegan products and gluten-free options. However, if you’re looking for something more specific than what you can find in your nearest grocery store, then you may need to check out your local health food outlet.
As you might expect, you’ll find a greater selection of health food stores in the larger cities in Portugal, such as Lisbon and Porto. Most of these are independently operated, however, there are a few chains such as Celeiro. Within these stores, you’ll find a range of health products including food, supplements, alternative remedies, and much more. They can also be a great place to ask for advice from the sales assistants. However, be aware that you’ll probably need to brush up on your Portuguese beforehand.
Need to grab some food in a hurry? Or maybe you’ve forgotten an all-important ingredient for dinner. Thankfully, there are plenty of convenience stores in Portugal for these occasions. Most of them are independently owned, but you may notice a few brands that you recognize, such as Spar, the Dutch retailer, which has stores throughout the country.
Liquor stores in Portugal
The legal age to buy alcohol in Portugal is 18, whether you are buying beer, wine, cider, or hard liquor. Buying alcohol in Portugal is fairly straightforward, with supermarkets selling a wide range of alcoholic drinks alongside their other products.
Many people in Portugal buy their alcohol from their local supermarket or grocery store. However, there are other options, and you’ll typically find a better choice and more knowledgeable staff at your nearest dedicated wine or liquor store. You can simply search online to find your nearest store.
Buying groceries from your home country
If you’re missing your favorite flavors from home, then you may be able to get hold of them easier than you think in Portugal. Indeed, many supermarkets stock a range of international goods, although the selection will be limited and likely more expensive than what you are used to. Furthermore, the choice will largely depend on where you are in the country and whether there is a large international community in the area.
In larger cities and resort areas, you’ll also find dedicated international grocery stores that cater to tastes from around the world. You can search our directory to find your nearest ones. However, if these aren’t convenient, you can always check out the online grocery stores and have food delivered straight to your door.