Much of Porto's commercial space consists of shops that appeal mainly to residents and, except for their curiosity value, only rarely to international visitors. In recent years, many of these have clustered in shopping malls. The newest and most elegant are the Centro Comercial Peninsular, Praça do Bom Sucesso, and the particularly charming Centro Comercial Via Catarina. It's in the pedestrian zone of the city's most vital shopping street, Rua de Santa Catarina, at the corner of Rua Fernandes Tomar. The storefronts inside duplicate the facades you'd see in a folkloric village of northern Portugal.
If you're looking for the designer wares of noteworthy clothiers from France, Italy, and Spain, these malls will have them. Other shopping malls have a sometimes uneven distribution of upscale and workaday shops. They include the Centro Comercial de Foz, Rua Eugénio de Castro, which is adjacent to the sea and especially pleasant in midsummer, and the Centro Comercial Aviz, Avenida de Boavista, rather inconveniently located in the middle of the city's largest concentration of automobile dealerships. The big but seriously decayed Centro Comercial Brasilia, which is, to an increasing degree, being stocked with inexpensive manufactured goods from Asia, is on Praça Mouzinho de Albuquerque. More chic and upscale, with a greater emphasis on clothing, furniture, and housewares, is the Centro Comercial Cidade de Porto, Rua do Bom Sucesso, whose shops are interspersed with restaurants, bars, movie theaters, and cafes.
Open-air markets supplement the malls. You can buy caged birds at the Mercado dos Passaros, Rua de Madeira (near the San Bento railway station), every Sunday from 7:30am to 1pm; and potted plants at Mercado das Flores, Praça de Liberdade, every day of the week between April and October from 9am to 5pm.
For a glimpse of the agrarian bounty of northern Portugal, head for the Mercado de Bolão, where hundreds of merchants sell food, flowers, spices, and kitchen equipment from the city's most famous open-air market. Open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, and Saturday 9am to 12:30pm, it sprawls for several blocks beside one of the great shopping arteries of Porto, Rua de Santa Catarina.
Porto has always sheltered a community of artisans crafting gold jewelry from stones brought in from all parts of the once-mighty Portuguese empire. One of the city's leading jewelers is David Rosas, Lda, Av. de Boavista 1471 (tel. 22/606-10-60) is stocked with wristwatches, gemstones, and miles of gold chains.
The local showcase for Portugal's fabled Arraiolos carpets -- nubby, pure wool carpets that teams of women spend hours crafting -- is Casa dos Tapetes de Arraiolos, Rua de Santa Catarina 570 (tel. 22/205-48-16). Look for symmetrical patterns that make full use of the subtle palettes of grays, blues, greens, and soft reds that have attracted non-Portuguese homeowners to these carpets for many generations.
Cutting-edge home furnishings, most of them in a minimalist Iberian style that evokes the best of the movida movement that swept over Spain after the death of Dictator Francisco Franco, are sold at Móvel, Rua 1 de Maio 243 (tel. 22/961-70-20). For high-quality leather ware, including suitcases, wallets, belts, briefcases, duffel bags, and handbags, go to Haity, Rua de Santa Catarina 212 (tel. 22/205-96-30).
If you're looking for any standard international perfumes, as well as more esoteric brands available for the most part only in Iberia, head for Perfumaria Castilho, Rua de Sá de Bandeira 80 (tel. 22/208-56-58).
To stock up on traditional Portuguese handicrafts, begin at the Regional Center of Traditional Arts (CRAT), Rua da Reboleira 37 (tel. 22/332-02-01). In an aristocratic 18th-century town house, it sells the best handicrafts from artisans throughout the country's northern tier. Lively competitors in the handicrafts trade include the following: Casa do Coração de Jesús, Rua Mouzinho de Silveira 302 (tel. 22/200-32-17), and Casa Lima, Rua de Sá de Bandeira 83 (tel. 22/200-52-32), where the inventories include large numbers of gloves, umbrellas, crystal, and embroideries, many of them laboriously crafted within the region. At Casa dos Linhos, Rua da Fernandes Tomás 660 (tel. 22/200-00-44), you'll also find good linen and embroideries -- many of them excellent examples of the exquisite handiwork that has traditionally been produced in the north of Portugal.
One of the finest names in Portuguese porcelain is Vista Alegre, Rua Cândido dos Reis 6 (tel. 22/200-45-54). It carries a variety of items and can arrange shipping. Prices vary greatly, depending on the handwork involved, how many colors are used, and whether a piece is decorated in gold.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.