I’ve visited the Bolhão Market twice during our first week in Porto and will likely visit again before we leave. I enjoy wandering around the place and it’s a good spot to pick up some fresh fruit and vegetables as well as a variety of chourico.
The market dates back to the 19th century (I’ve seen references to 1830’s and 1890’s) and the structure looks that old. The ground floor has several buildings that house market stalls, with walkways between them. A set of steps at one end, and others at both sides of the market, lead up to the second floor which consists of a balcony that runs around the periphery and overlooks the ground level.
The upper level is mainly occupied by vegetable stands, where huge tomatoes and heritage strains of vegetables can be found amongst commonly available veggies.
But my favourite shop on the upper level is Manteigaria do Bolhão which sells an assortment of chourico, as well as cheeses, sardines, wine, etc. The lady behind the counter doesn’t speak English, so I just point to the different types of chourico and indicate with my fingers how many of each I would like.
In addition to more fruit and vegetable stalls, the ground floor of the market also has butchers, fishmongers, florists, fresh bread stalls, wine stalls and stalls selling tourist souvenirs. Some of the stall holders call out to visitors, advertising their wares, which contributes to the atmosphere of the market.
A cool feature of the market is that it has several small cafes where you can enjoy a glass of wine and tapas, or even a full meal. These restaurants are popular, so it can be difficult to find a table during the lunch period.
After wandering around for a while, I was finally able to get a seat at a wine-barrel table where I enjoyed a glass of vintage L.B.V. port with a small plate of three cheeses and some bread. A very nice way to end my visit to the market!
The Bolhão Market is easy to find. Just ride the metro to Bolhão station. Exit the station and turn right and you’ll find the market on your left.