SHOPPING (INCLUDING MARKETS)
There are loads of markets in Portugal. We have one in Côja and Arganil. They run on different days. Some are once a week like the Arganil market every Thursday morning but others are less frequent – Côja is every 2nd Saturday of the month. I have only visited the Côja and Arganil markets. For an extensive list view: https://www.heyportugal.com/index.php/shopping/markets
The Arganil market is good and has a wide selection of plants, fruit & veg, clothing, livestock, tools, baskets etc. They sell live chickens and rabbits. I was sad to see all the bunny rabbits crammed into a small cage, I wanted to buy and save them all but resisted and bought a lemon tree instead.
I do really miss the temporary closure of the local markets.
There are various DIY shops in Portugal. Leeroy Merlin is a huge one and our nearest store is in Coimbra. It’s a bit like B & Q and sells everything you need for home DIY. I have spent many hours in this shop translating tins of paint and getting wood cut to size. Agriloja and AKI are also great DIY stores. I think AKI is owned by Leeroy Merlin. Some DIY shops are still open in our current situation as they are selling pet foods which is one of the essential stores that needs to stay open.
Portugal has some fantastic shopping malls especially in Porto and Coimbra. Most shopping malls have a variety of shops, entertainment, food hall and a supermarket. We have visited the Forum in Coimbra, Alma Shopping and also CoimbraShopping mall close to Leeroy Merlin (not as big as The Forum). There is also a lovely mall in Viseu called Palácio do Gelo (it has an ice rink). It also has a leisure centre with pool, cinema, bowling and most importantly a Macdonalds Mcflurry kiosk selling Mcfluries and sundaes with a wide range of toppings. I don’t have any photo’s of the ice rink as I didn’t want to get arrested taking photo’s of other peoples children! Whenever we visit the food court in this shopping mall we always eat a kebab. What can I say, I’m a cheap dinner date (ha ha). The Via Catarina in Porto is also a nice smaller shopping mall. We have also visited the Mar Shopping mall in Matosinhos (Porto). It has a huge Ikea and other great shops.
The food options in the mall food courts are amazing. You can even have wine and beer with your meal! Some places serve the food on an actual china plate with proper metal cutlery. This is one of our favourite mall dinner options when we don’t fancy fast food (KFC or Burger King). There is a set meal deal with a drink and coffee for around €8. I LOVE the banana fritters.
Posh Burgers & Bowling
We sampled some very posh burgers at Palácio do Gelo shopping mall in Viseu. What is hilarious is the fact that it is located right next to McDonalds! (ha ha).
Teanna won bowling! I lost but technically I came 3rd (ha ha)
We have visited a lovely garden centre CriaVerde near Viseu. It stocks a wide range of garden plants and equipment.
Cooperativa Beira Central
This store near Arganil is fantastic and sells a wide range of products for the garden.
There are several supermarkets in Portugal: Intermarché, Continente, Mini Mercado, Pingo Doce, Mini Preco, Rui & Dinora, Aldi, Lidl etc. We do a monthly shop at Arganil Lidl for staples like canned and frozen goods then shop at a weekly market or greengrocers for fresh fruit and veg, a butchers in Côja for meat and a bakery in Côja for bread. We have a laminated sheet with a meal plan for 7 days on one side and the shopping list on the reverse. We take this to Lidl with a dry board wipe pen and mark off as we buy items. When we return home we wipe off the sheet and stick it on the fridge displaying the menu side, then we mark a line (tally) next to the meal we have eaten. This way we don’t have to decide what we want to eat until the day and we have roughly 4 of each meal to last the month and we eat a few meals out when we are away from home, making life a whole lot easier. The supermarkets here are great and Lidl have a lovely machine to press oranges into OJ and huge bags of weigh your own nuts. The Intermarché in Arganil has a launderette in the car park. If you really want British foods there is usually a British aisle with overpriced gravy, tea bags, marmite, custard powder and baked beans etc.
I am very impressed with the systems in place here due to current situation re: Coronavirus we are all experiencing. I have viewed online the panic buying and queueing around the block in the UK and other parts of the world and the physical altercations over purchasing toilet rolls and essential staple items. At present here it is very calm. We are only venturing out when strictly necessary. Currently we both do the one monthly shop then one of us will do a small weekly shop over remaining 3 weeks which means we are only going out once a month then 3 further trips split between us.
We visited Lidl in Arganil on Saturday 28th March at 10.30am and it was a pleasant experience. There were 3 people in the queue in front of us and they have a maximum they are allowing in the shop at one time approx. 20 people. Then it is one in and one out policy, we were allowed in together. They had hand sanitiser and gloves for every customer and a lovely member of staff monitoring the queue and letting you know when you can enter. There was also a member of staff wiping down the freezer tops with spray. There are no shortages at all and we managed to buy a whole months food shop for April. We then visited Intermarché in Arganil as I couldn’t find dessicated coconut in Lidl. There was no queue and there was a staff member at entrance dispensing hand sanitiser to every customer. All staff wear masks and gloves.
It was all so well organised and as I said before no shortages at all and no crazy panic buying like the UK. I feel very blessed to be living in such a country with considerate non selfish shoppers.
There is a huge Ikea in Matosinhos, Porto and it’s open until 10am-11pm Mon-Sat and 10am-9pm Sundays. Sundays (July, August, first half of September, November and December): 10am-11 pm.
Mondego retail park in Taveiro just 5 mins from Coimbra is an excellent retail park with lots of furniture shops and homeware including JYSK, Moviflor, Espaco Casa, JOM and many more stores they also have a DIY store called Bricomarche and a supermarket called Mini Preco and a Decathlon shop.
There is a fantastic shop called Rotunda near the roundabout in Arganil. It sells almost everything for home and garden DIY and even clothing and beauty items. Not gonna lie I wouldn’t buy any clothing there personally but the home ware and DIY is great. Hubby quite fancied the elefante thong complete with trunk that was displayed in the window during the Christmas period but by the time I went in to buy it the item was no longer for sale – my loss! Ha Ha.
The owner is super friendly. I am glad I went in as from just passing by, peering through the door and viewing the signage you may think it just sells fashion clothing and beauty items but it is a great store. If your from Bristol, UK, it’s a bit like Rajani in Fishponds. I only went in for a nail file and glad I did.
Tábua Market (September 2021)
I haven’t visited many markets since arriving here in Portugal as many were closed due to Covid and I’m not great with crowds. We are ready to buy our hens so visited Tábua Market for the first time. I was a little disappointed as there were only plant/gardening stalls and birds/rabbits as well as the indoor market opposite selling fresh produce. I did manage to buy some freesia bulbs which were mums favourite flower so hopefully I can grow some pretty flowers in memory of my wonderful mum who died way too soon. I had to use all of my self control not to buy all the rabbits to save them. I think most people go for the chicken lunch.