What to Do at the Bolhão Market in Porto?

Polina
Polina

A sommelier and a wine tour guide. I travel all around Portugal collecting the best wineries to visit, best places to stay and eat.

I organize wine tours in the Douro Valley.

Building

Located at R. Formosa 322, Mercado do Bolhão is one the main attractions in modern day Porto.  I would plan a visit to the Bolhão market in an afternoon to taste leisurely taste local flavours, talk to vendors and have a glass of wine.

The historical market building opened to the public in 1915 on the place of the first market square known from 1837.  In 2018, Bolhão closed for reconstruction and was fully refurbished by 2022.

The new market is clean, spacious and modern.  Many say it was too crispy and empty when it opened, but in the recent months, I see more locals and tourists at the market and its finally lively and crowded. 

As someone who shops at Bolhão regularly, I believe that produce, fish, meats and cheese here are fresh and of higher quality compared to other options in the center of Porto.  

Come and enjoy the market on any day other than Sundays and public holidays.  The market stalls are covered, so Bolhão may be one of the places to visit on a rainy day in Porto.

It is also a good idea to visit Bolhão with an experienced local as part of a Porto food tour

If you are visiting Bolhão on your own, here are some tips for you to enjoy the market. 

Things to Do in the Bolhao Market?

1. Taste wine

For my fellow wine lovers, the number one thing to do in Bolhão is to go to the fish stalls area.  Near those, you will find two little bars serving a nice selection of Portuguese wines by the glass.  Even being a wine snob like I am, I was surprised to find excellent white wines of Azores and sparkling rose from the Bairrada region of Portugal (3B)  here.  

Get a glass in a price range from 3 to 6 euros. You can then walk around and enjoy your drink while strolling through the market and tasting local foods.

For those not interested in wine, you can get a nice smoothie or a juice from the fruit vendors at the south side of the market.

2. Taste local specialties

Vendors preparing fish and seafood

Many stalls in the Bolhão market are selling little bites that you can consume right here. 

My favourite snack options at Bolhão are:

  • Tuna and salmon carpaccio
  • Wild boar empanadas
  • Sea urcins
  • Cheeses from Serra da Estrella and the Azores
  • Alheira sausage

You can have your snacks at the communal tables on the south side of the market or at the stairs at the north entrance.

Also, there is a hot pasta kiosk and fresh crêpes stall in the central part of the market.

3. Visit stalls of traditional vendors

Fresh fish cutting at Bolhao market

Although many of the 79 stalls are newly established, you can still find some old vendors at the market, mainly in the vegetables, meat and fish sections.  Some families have worked at the Bolhão stalls for 6 generations.  The old-times of Bolhão may not speak English, but it is a pleasure to see them at work.

Everyone knows Dona Ilda who has been at her vegetable stall 68-83 for 32 years, at the stall started by her mother 60 years ago. She sells vegetables produced by herself and by her family in the Póvoa de Varzim and Vila do Conde areas.  Dona Ilda is always smiling.  I buy vegetables from Dona Ilda and she always adds a bunch of parsley and a lemon as a bonus.

I buy my fish at Binihna at stall 172. Albina Ferreira known by nickname “Bininha” has been helping her mother and aunt Laura at Bolhão when she was a little girl.  Bininha will show you her fish, and clean and cut just the way you like.  

4. Have lunch or dinner at a Bolhão restaurant

There are several new restaurants on the upper level of Bolhão. While the market closes after 8 pm, you can access the restaurants till midnight. 

Check out Peixe no Mercado for fresh fish and seafood.  

On the lower side facing the street you can find two wine bars for a glass of Portuguese wines and snacks.

If you are looking for more than a bite, I definitely recommend going up the stairs and having a sit-down meal away from the crowds.

5. Listen to Fado

If you are in Bolhão for dinner, starting from 8 pm, you can listen to a Fado concert by Ana Cristina.

8:00 pm l Café da D. Gina 
8:30 pm l Herdade 1980 
9 pm l Nelson dos Leitões – Original da Bairrada 
9:30 pm l Culto ao Bacalhau

Recommended Porto Food Tour

  • Free Cancellation

  • 3-Hour Tour

  • Best Value

6. Shop for local souvenirs

In the north part of the Bolhão market you will find several souvenir stalls with good selection of Portuguese souvenirs:

  • Sardine cans
  • Chocolates and tins of cookies
  • Traditional ceramics
  • Olive oils

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