Portugal Shopping and nightlife
Shopping in Portugal
Just like any self-respecting tourist destination, Portugal has a vibrant shopping scene to take advantage of the native enterprise. Thanks to the fascinating ethnic mix inherent in the country, you can pick up Arraiolos carpets, dazzling jewels and Madeira embroideries. There is a thriving lace industry in Vila do Conde outside Porto, with Coimbra playing host to delightful blue and white pottery.
Should you have a penchant for metal, head down to the Algarve to buy enchanting lanterns or outdoor furniture. The jewel in this country’s crown though is the leather industry, which centres around Lisbon for the most part.
If you want to pick up local leather goods a bit more cheaply than in the capital, then you can often buy them for 20% less outside Lisbon, but beware of nasty knock-offs. Some of the smaller cities and larger towns have thriving industries, which use medieval techniques passed down through generations to produce goods for tourists.
Visitors who live outside the EU can reclaim the sales tax of 23% which is included in prices (minimum spend per shop €61.35). Travellers wishing to take advantage of this must ask for a tax free form at the time of purchase (available at participating stores only). This must be stamped by customs and a refund claimed before passing through passport control. See Global Blue (www.global-blue.com) for details.
Large shopping malls are open daily 0900-2300 and often provide a welcome respite from the hot summer sun. Other than that, shops are open Mon-Fri 0900-1900 and Sat 0900-1300.
Nightlife in Portugal
Not surprisingly in a country that dances to a different tune, night-time is when Portugal comes alive. Up and down the land you can wander into places that showcase native music from down the years or contemporary beats that will get your feet tapping, not to mention the other cultural treats on offer until dawn.
First take time to chat or people-watch at the lovely bars or cafés, whether they overlook the sea or town square, before having a sumptuous dinner in peace or to the sound of the traditional fado. Move on to your entertainment of choice at the broad selection of nightclubs, theatres, cinemas and operas before you head to Espinho, Estoril, Figueira da Foz or Monte Gordo’s casinos to cap off an evening with a cheeky punt.
Should you prefer a street parade, June is your best bet to soak up the open-air festivities, which celebrate local patron saints. With 800km (500 miles) of coastline to visit, there is also the chance to take it a notch down by watching the sunset at the fantastic array of beachside bars and restaurants.
Fling off your flip-flops or sandals at the nightclubs too. Specific gems standing out from the crowd include taking a stroll down the Bairro Alto in Lisbon ahead of some classic DJ sets at the bars and clubs set in former warehouses at the Santa Amaro docks on the banks of the River Tagus. Further north in Porto, seek out the Ribeira district over the River Douro for fun and frolics before carrying on to Matosinhos and Vila Nova de Gaia with your dancing shoes. Elsewhere in Portugal, you can join the lively student population in Braga, Coimbra and Evora to party the night away.