Must-try food and drink in Portugal

Tuesday, 7 June 2022

Fresh-baked Portuguese pastel de nata

Portugal is a country known for many things, and one of those is its amazing food scene. If you are heading to Portugal on a cruise holiday and want to make sure that you sample the best of the best, then read on to find out the must-try Portuguese food and drink.

READ MORE: Which country's cuisine is the most popular?


One thing that you’ll not be able to miss when visiting Portugal is canned sardines. A humble and simple food, canned sardines are a staple of Portuguese cuisine and make for a brilliant souvenir. You’ll find bright and exciting cans in many souvenir shops and food stores with a range of flavours and coatings. The obsession started with the patron saint of Lisbon, Saint Anthony. It’s said that during one of his expeditions when he was having trouble converting people he turned to fish, and they listened to his sermon instead. Now in Lisbon, there is a month-long celebration of Saint Anthony and sardines are the star of the show.


As a country with a long coastline, it should be no surprise that Portugal boasts many delicious fish dishes. Another popular speciality you’ll find on the menus of almost all restaurants in Lisbon and Portugal is bacalhau, dried and salted cod. A mild and fishy taste with a hint of sweetness, you’ll often find this served with potatoes and eggs in the form of bacalhau à bras. For those who want to sample a traditional meal that is honest Portuguese food, this is what we recommend you order.

READ MORE: Essential guide to Lisbon, Portugal

Portuguese dish of Bacalhau a Bras


If it’s a quick and easy lunch you are looking for, bifanas are a great option. One of the most popular sandwiches in Portugal, a bifana consists of thin-sliced pounded pork marinated in white wine, paprika, garlic, bay leaf and vinegar. Every place sells their slightly differently, some places will just serve the pork with bread, others will add a sauce over the top and some will dunk the sandwich in the sauce. However it’s served to you though, you’re sure to enjoy.

Chicken Piri Piri

Piri Piri chicken is popular in the UK thanks to the restaurant chain Nandos, but did you know that their menu is based on Portuguese cuisine? If you love a bit of spice, getting some fresh-grilled piri piri chicken is a great idea for a sit-down meal and can give you a taste of authentic and vibrant flavours. Typical Portuguese chicken isn’t the most luxurious dish, but what it lacks in façade it makes up for in deep and warming flavours.

READ MORE: Hidden gems in Lisbon, Portugal

Pastéis de Nata

If you have a sweet tooth, then there is nothing you should try more than pastéis de nata. The flaky custard pastries have been being made in Portugal since the 18th century when they were first produced in the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon. You can still get pastéis de nata in Belem made to that recipe, but you’ll also find them in bakeries, coffee shops, restaurants around the country. Typically eaten at breakfast, why not pick up a couple as you first land (and be sure to top with cinnamon, like the locals do!)

Port wine overlooking the Douro River


A sweet, fortified wine popular worldwide, port is a Portuguese drink made in the Douro Valley. A dessert wine, for those who drink, trying one whilst visiting Portugal on a Mediterranean cruise is a must. If you want the real experience, seek out a port wine bar and sample a range of vintages to discover just how varied the flavours can be. You may have tried port before but there is nothing better than trying something in its place of origin, and we think the quality difference you’ll experience will blow you away.


If port isn’t your tipple but you’d like to get a bottle of something local to take home as a memento, then we suggest ginjinha. A sour cherry liquor, ginjinha (also known as ginja) is a dark red colour and has whole cherries in it – when buying it by the shot you’ll get a cherry in the bottom. A great gift to take home for loved ones (if you’re willing to share!), the rich and tart flavours complemented with the sweetness of the fruit makes for a unique and delicious drinking experience.

Must-try dishes in Portugal:

  • Sardines
  • Bacalhau
  • Bifanas
  • Chicken Piri-pri
  • Pastéis de Nata
  • Port
  • Ginjinha

With these delicious food and drink options on offer, you’ll have to make sure you make time to visit a café or restaurant and give something a try. Plus, whether a tin of sardines or bottle in ginjinha, there are some great food and drink options to top up your suitcase.

For more tips, guides, and advice, make sure to visit our blog page.