Lisbon is a city with a big personality, loved for its steep hills, colourful tiled buildings and legendary fado music. But as a food destination, it often slips under the radar. When you get underneath the skin of this captivating city, you will discover that its food and drink scene is one of its most expressive characteristics. Local food markets are a hub of city life, and the perfect places to get to know the tastes of Lisbon. Not sure where to start? Here, we compile four great food markets in Lisbon and how to visit them.
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Best food markets in Lisbon
On a four-day trip to Lisbon for a workation I enjoyed lunch each day at a different one of the city’s food markets. It was a fun and compelling experience, and a great way to sample local delicacies while also getting the feel of daily life and culture in the city.
So, if you want to discover the best of food and drink in Lisbon on your trip, I highly recommend it! Exploring food markets is definitely one of the best things to do in Lisbon. Each of the food markets in Lisbon has its own character and vibe, and will give you a different perspective on local culture.
You will find a range of experiences, from huge touristy fusion food halls with an array of international outlets, to off-beat food markets in quieter neighbourhoods where local vendors sell fresh local produce and families gather at little corner cafés.
Time Out Market Lisbon (Mercado da Ribeira)
- Opening hours: 10am–midnight (Time Out Market) / 6am–2pm (Mercado da Ribeira traditional market hall)
- Where is it? Cais do Sodré, opposite the railway station
The huge Mercado da Ribeira building near the north bank of the Tagus River blends together Lisbon’s oldest and newest markets.
Its traditional old market hall has been a staple of the local community since the 19th century. Conversely, the modern Time Out Market was opened inside the building in 2014, and has become one of the city’s major tourist attractions, with a very different vibe and clientele.
The old market building, Mercado da Ribeira, opened in 1892 and was Lisbon’s first central market. Prior to the building being erected, a food market is believed to have been held regularly at the site since the 12th century. A rich history sits beneath the foundations!
It remained the city’s biggest market throughout the 20th century, selling an array of fresh produce. Today, the old traditional market under the iron ceiling is still a hive of activity from the early morning right up until the stalls close at 2pm.
The centre of the hall is dominated by fresh fruit and veg stalls. Around the perimeter you will find fresh fish, meat, bakeries, deli outlets and florists. Come along early for the best deals, and a tasty breakfast!
Stepping across from one market hall into the other inside the building is like walking between different worlds, old and new. Time Out Magazine chose the site for its first food market venture due to the building’s heritage, but has built it into a much more modernised concept. And thus Time Out Market was born.
Time Out Market is a dream for foodies and hipsters alike. It brings together dozens of carefully curated gourmet food stalls based on Time Out reviews, some even boasting Michelin stars.
There is a blend of local and international. Portuguese tapas, seafood and pastry stalls are intermitted between burger stalls, sushi, noodles and the like. In the middle sections are various drink bars to choose from, and the whole complex stays open until midnight, so you can make a night out of it.
You will find traditional dishes from near and far as well as plenty of modern culinary creativity. Seafood is a cornerstone of the cuisine in Lisbon, and so I wasn’t surprised to see a selection of delicious-looking fish dishes at a stall called Sea Me – but I can safely say I’d never seen an ‘octopus hotdog’ before!
Around the perimeter you will also find charcuteries, bakeries and wine outlets selling tantalisingly good local produce. Street-food-style stalls in the centre sell traditional Portuguese delicacies, such as codfish cakes and petiscos, while there are also cake and donut stalls for something a little sweeter.
The downsides to Time Out Market? It’s definitely the most expensive of the food markets in Lisbon, and the busiest by a distance. But you get a lot of fun for your money, and the quality of the food cannot be denied.
Naturally, the weekends draw the biggest crowds. If you want to find a quieter moment, then try coming during the week.
Cais do Sodré station, which stands opposite the market building, is one of the city’s biggest transport hubs. This makes it easy to reach from pretty much anywhere in the vicinity by train, bus or tram.
For an immersive experience, you can try the local market, food and culture walking tour that includes a visit to Time Out Market to learn about its history.
Mercado de Campo de Ourique
- Opening hours: 12noon–10:30pm
- Where is it? In the chilled-out neighbourhood of Campo de Ourique
Mercado de Campo de Ourique is a wonderful hidden gem of Lisbon, and a real offbeat alternative to the popular Time Out Market. I sought it out after a recommendation from a local who lives in the area.
The market is a popular hangout spot for locals in the relaxed neighbourhood of Campo de Ourique, and attracts fewer tourists, partially because it requires a little more effort to reach.
Mercado de Campo de Ourique actually shares many similarities with Time Out Market. First opened in 1934, it originated as a traditional farmers’ market, but in recent years it has been remodelled and a modern gourmet food hall has been introduced.
The main differences are that it’s smaller, and pretty much everything is integrated together in one central hall. The prices are cheaper too, and it’s less crowded. Win, win!
A communal seating area occupies the centre of the hall, which is straddled by rows of lively street-food vendors, food sizzling away. The smell of spices when you enter the hall is guaranteed to get your taste buds primed!
Various stalls selling an array of fresh produce fill the spaces in between and around the sides. Look out for colourful fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and breads.
While it’s not as huge as Time Out Market, there is still a sizeable and varied range of street-food stalls at Mercado de Campo de Ourique. You will find a choice of international cuisines as well as local classics.
There is a good selection of vegetarian and vegan options too. The dishes at the hummus and falafel stand look particularly fabulous, and come in generous portion sizes.
I tried a plate of pica pau from the traditional Portuguese tapas stall, and I don’t exaggerate when I say it was the best thing I tasted during my entire time in Lisbon. The dish is essentially tender strips of beef fillet fried up with pickles and spices. It’s even better than it sounds.
Whatever your drink of choice, you won’t be left wanting at Mercado de Campo de Ourique. It seems that each drink type has its own dedicated stall, with a sangria stand, beer bar, cocktail bar and beer bar all within the building, and fresh juices and speciality coffees available too.
I chose to wash down my pica pau with a refreshing glass of sangria, which was prepared freshly and expertly by the bartender. Perfect.
Cold foods and other delicacies are also on offer around the hall. Meats and cheeses, nuts and pulses, pickles and preserves, tinned fish, oils, olives – it’s all there. For dessert you can try one of the amazing cakes from the ‘God’s Bake’ stall.
Mercado de Campo de Ourique is on the direct route of the famous yellow number 28 tram, or you can also reach it by taking the 709 bus. It’s quite a distance by foot from downtown (45 minutes or so), but it’s an enjoyable walk that passes by various sights, parks and interesting neighbourhoods on the way.
A local guide called Rodrigo, who lives in Campo de Ourique, runs a foodie tour of the Campo de Ourique neighbourhood for couples that explores the market and its history. He’s a charming, passionate character and will give you a real insider perspective on the place.
Mercado 31 de Janeiro
- Opening hours: 7am–2pm (not open on Sundays)
- Where is it? In the offbeat but upcoming neighbourhood of Saldanha
Mercado 31 de Janeiro has much more the feel of an authentic local food shopping market. This is evident in its more traditional opening hours of early morning until just after lunch.
It is located on the edges of the Saldanha neighbourhood, which is set away from the tourist areas but still has a liveliness about it. The area is becoming a focal point for the growth of coworking spaces, and is also rife with coffee houses, shops and little parks.
One local described Saldanha to me as the ‘new centre of Lisbon’. However, Mercado 31 de Janeiro has been at the crux of community life here for many years already.
The market is especially known for its expert fishmongers. It has a reputation for providing the best fresh seafood in the city, which is why many of the city’s top restaurants and chefs source their fish from here.
Walking around the aisles, it’s enrapturing to see the fishmongers hard at work preparing their catches for sale. There’s a fish restaurant in the building too, Casa do Peixe, which serves seafood from the market.
Besides fish, there is an extensive range of fresh produce available in the hall. The fresh fruit, vegetables and meat are excellent quality and won’t cost you a fortune.
More speciality stalls fills the gaps around the perimeter of the hall. Friendly bakeries sell their fresh breads and pastries, and a tucked-away stall sells dried fruit and nuts from giant jars. Bouquets of colourful flowers are bunched outside the market florist.
Tucked away in a rear corner of Mercado 31 de Janeiro is an absolute gem of a shop selling charcuterie meats, speciality cheeses, local wines, oils, and an assortment of artisan products.
I was served at the shop by Duarte, who gave me a warm welcome and told me all about the various products on offer and where they came from. As always, it’s the people who make the experiences at local markets so memorable.
Several hunks of succulent pork were on display in a glass counter at the shopfront. I bought a pork sandwich, a steal for €4! Duarte heated it up for me and added some garlic and pepper sauce.
Opposite the shop there is a small seating area, making it a great spot for lunch. If the weather is nice, which is most of the time in Lisbon, there is also a nice green space outside with a few benches.
Mercado 31 de Janeiro is about a half-hour walk from downtown Lisbon. If you take a slight detour you can walk via via Eduardo VII Park, where you will find one of the best viewpoints in Lisbon looking down towards the river.
Otherwise, you can take the metro to Sandanha station, and it’s less than five minutes’ walk from there.
Alvalade Norte Market
- Opening hours: 7am–2pm (not open on Sundays)
- Where is it? In the peaceful district of Alvalade
Alvalade Norte Market is about as authentic as local food markets come. Set in the trendy but peaceful residential district of Alvalade, there are no gimmicks or gourmet street-food shacks. It is simply a classic suburban Lisbon market hall, where dozens of local vendors come each day to hawk their produce, and locals gather to shop and eat.
The Alvalade district is a world apart from the pace and gusto of downtown Lisbon. Its tree-lined boulevards and leafy gardens emanate an easy-going way of life. Cosy little cafés, quirky shops and independent local restaurants are clustered around its central streets.
Alvalade Norte Market has been a focal point of life in the neighbourhood since it opened in 1949. Since then it has been ever-present as the neighbourhood has expanded. Today it remains a hubbub of activity each morning, while still seeming laidback and peaceful compared to other food markets in Lisbon.
The late, great Anthony Bourdain brought attention to the market ten years ago when he visited it during a trip to Portugal for his No Reservations series. Perhaps not by coincidence, local markets in the city have enjoyed a surge in popularity since.
The market is set within a giant hall with a lot of open space, and the stalls organised neatly into aisles of different fresh produce. Fruit and veg stalls are clustered together, as are fish and meat.
I was struck by the friendliness of the stall-runners throughout the market. As a courtesy I always ask before taking photos. On the fish aisles, a vendor asked me with a smile to make sure I didn’t miss his stall in my photos.
In addition to the plethora of fresh produce, there are also various bakery, deli and spice stalls. I had an entertaining conversation with Nuno, who runs a stall selling preserves, nuts, dried fruits and other tidbits.
Around the perimeter are a few more assorted stalls selling miscellaneous goods, such as clothing, gifts and handbags. And, of course, there is a florist! You’re never short of options for buying flowers at Lisbon’s local markets.
If you want to eat brunch or lunch at the market, there is a good set-up for it. Inside the hall there is an open seating area, and at the back of the building there’s also a restaurant with outdoor terrace seating that looks out onto the park behind.
The market is also well equipped for visiting families. There is a children’s play area by the seating court in the hall, and another play area outside in the park to the rear.
Alvalade is easy to reach by public transport. The quickest and easiest way is to take the green line on the metro, but you can also reach it directly from downtown Lisbon on the 735 or 744 bus.
The district is a lovely option for spending an alternative Lisbon morning in a pleasant city suburb. Peruse the market, wander the parks and boulevards, and grab a pastry or meal at one of the local eateries. You’ll pay a lot less than in the touristy neighbourhoods, that’s for sure! And you’ll get a warm welcome too.
Map of food markets in Lisbon
The location of the food markets in Lisbon featured in this article are shown on the map below.
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