The Quiosque: Meeting Up, Portuguese-Style

Quiosque Largo Camoes

I love going home to Portugal and diving straight into all the things I don’t get in the US. This doesn’t just mean eating all the foods I’ve been craving. In fact, a lot of it has to do with the places and experiences I’m missing when I’m not there. One of these things is the typical Portuguese quiosque.

A quiosque (pronounced key-oshk) is a small, (usually) round building often found in a square or garden. They often have chairs and small tables around for people to sit down with their food and drink.


Quiosque Estrela

Closed at the end of the day

The first ones were built in Portugal in 1869 just as one of my favorite architectural styles, Art Nouveau, was starting to take off. You could buy food and drinks at a quiosque, or flowers or newspapers or tobacco. Initially, it was a place where regular folks would go to take a quick break from their lives and jobs – it was cheaper than going to a regular café, after all. The upper classes picked up the habit of going to the quiosque and drinking hot chocolate, wine, sodas and other usual drinks of the era (could I interest you in a drink made of aniseed, caramel and water?). Around 1900, the first sorbets were sold in quiosques… that’s when things really took off! In the early 20th century, quiosques became a location for political progressives to meet and discuss politics.


Quiosque Amoreiras

A large quiosque in a park with lots of seating


Quiosque Amoreiras close-up

Newspapers and drinks at a traditional quiosque

The quiosque was a place for everyone – and still is today. Surprisingly little has changed in the last 100 years. You can still grab a bica (Portuguese espresso), a glass of wine, a pastry or an ice cream at most quiosques. Some quiosques still sell flowers, others sell magazines, newspapers, scratch cards and tobacco.


Quiosque Principe Real

Relaxing in Principe Real

Next time you’re in Portugal, don’t overlook these small, often ornate, structures. There’s about 150 years of history behind them and they’re a great way to immerse yourself in Portuguese culture so you can be just like one of the locals.

Quiosque Campolide

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  • nicklewis
    November 23, 2016 at 6:05 pm

    Ah yes, I love the Quiosques especially now that I know what they are called. You see them in every town and I can remember one in particular that we found in Lagos. It was a an ice-cream parlour which I think must count as being a Quiosque?

    • aportugueseaffair
      November 23, 2016 at 6:09 pm

      Would love to see a full ice cream parlor quiosque. It sounds amazing! Do you have photos? Absolutely it counts, although it’s certainly unusual in that it serves only ice cream.

      • nicklewis
        December 3, 2016 at 12:06 am

        Now that is a good question. I will have a look and see if I can find photos. Maybe it wasn’t a Quiosque in the normal sense of the word?!!

  • Cristina Pinto
    November 23, 2016 at 8:27 pm

    I remember seeing a lot of them in Madeira, and there is one specifically that my family and I always have the best coffees at in Funchal. It is right in front of the water which makes for a perfect view! Now I know what they’re called! 🙂

    • aportugueseaffair
      November 23, 2016 at 8:34 pm

      Oh, I think I’ve been to that one! Right between the marina and near a cross walk that leads to the other side of that main road that follows the water?

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