Mercado do Bolhão is a must see place in Porto. Located in the center of the city, this market is where you’ll find fresh produce, meat, fish and flowers. And you’ll meet the most unique characters in Porto. Dating back from 1839, when the town hall bought the land where the market now stands and defined the area as a market. As there was a small creek running though the square and there was an air bubble (“bolha”) forming on that spot, the market was named Bolhão (as in big bubble). The neoclassic building that now exists was built in 1914 and it divided the market into two floors.
Walking around inside the building, you’ll find that the market is divided into different areas: fishmongers and butchers, greengrocers and florists. On the ground level, you can also find a couple of small restaurants where the meals are homemade and quite cheap. You’ll also find some souvenirs shops inside the market as it became a tourist attraction in the last couple of decades.
In Bolhão market you’ll find women selling their products with something like an outcry. We call it “pregão”. Each one has their own and it’s really interesting to see them defying each other and the clients with their different outcries. It’s something that you can now only see at Bolhão market. Another unique feature of this market is a knife sharpener who’s usually at the northern entrance. This is something you don’t see that often. He’s one of the last knife sharpeners to get on his bicycle and go around Porto sharpening knives.
One of my favorite spots in the market is store nr 71. It’s a butcher shop. The owner is a very friendly woman. She sells some of the best “floury tripes” in town. Don’t know what that is? God… Portuguese food is hard to explain, but I’ll give it a try: pork tripe filled with a mix of corn flour, cumins and pepper. You fry it and eat it. DE-LI-CIOUS! And you won’t find it anywhere else in Portugal! Just a reminder: the tripe is raw. You have to cook it!
The market is open from monday to friday from 7h-17h and from 7h-13h on saturdays.