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Iceland – Albufeira, Algarve, Portugal

Meravista Property

The opening of a new Iceland store in the Algarve has provoked some strong debate amongst the expats in Portugal who frequent certain Internet forums.

Many expats (ourselves included), cite the ready availability of high quality, fresh local food as one of the main reasons for moving here. We have certainly embraced it, and can be found at Tavira market most weekends, stocking up on wonderful produce, fish and meat.

However, after living here a while, you do come to miss certain things, especially some cooking ingredients that are hard to find or very expensive. For this reason, we count ourselves among those welcoming Iceland’s arrival, and all of the extra culinary variety it brings with it.

The new Iceland store in Albufeira is not a British Iceland as such. It is run by a Spanish-based company called Overseas, who have an agreement with Iceland to sell their products in Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands. Unknown to us before we visited, the company also have a deal with Waitrose, so their products appear on the shelves alongside those from Iceland, as well as many well-known British brands.

We visited at the weekend, choosing to avoid the opening day crowds, but the store was still very busy and perhaps not for the faint-hearted. (Or, for that matter, for the one expat who we heard saying outside saying that he was “never bloody well coming here again!”)

Iceland in Albufeira

Iceland in Albufeira

Fuelled by espressos and sugary churros from the van outside, we grabbed our trolleys and disappeared into the shop for a pleasurable couple of hours of exploring products that until now had been off-limits in Portugal–due to cost or lack of availability.

160 euros later, we left the store very pleased indeed. Plenty of Portuguese people, excited by a new range of products, joined the smiling expats, happy to have access to a well-priced taste of home.

Interestingly, the grocery aisles were far more crowded than the freezer sections – the particular highlights for us were condiments, ethnic foods, and some of the oils, herbs and spices not readily available in the Algarve.

The prices were low too, with the mark-up that must have to cover transport and importation costs seeming, to us at least, very generous.

Iceland in Albufeira also has a UK-style butchers counter, and although we didn’t make use of this, having already visited a “local” butcher earlier in the day, there was much of interest to us, especially fat English style lamb chops and big gammon joints.

I find it hard to find anything to criticize. The arrival of Iceland has created jobs, both for locals and expats, and given lots of variety to natives and expats alike. I can see the keen pricing offering a challenge to smaller food importers and Apolonia – but that is just the way business goes. Overseas and Iceland seem to be doing extremely well so far and they deserve to.

My Favourite Smoked Mackerel Salad - Thanks Iceland!

My Favourite Smoked Mackerel Salad - Thanks Iceland!

I’ll finish off with some of the highlights of our purchases from our first visit to Iceland in Portugal.

1. Christmas Crackers (we went without last year as the only ones we saw were extremely overpriced in Apolonia).

2. Lime leaves and lemon grass (once again we can enjoy Thai food without needing a mortgage to eat at the wonderful, but expensive Thai restaurant in Vilamoura).

3. Smoked mackerel (about to be devoured in a salad with new potatoes, walnuts and beetroot, as pictured above!)

4. Frozen cheesecake (Portuguse cheesecake isn’t cheesecake, sorry.)

5. Mini Kievs and Spaghetti Hoops (my wife’s highlights…OK so we did buy some processed food!)

6. Horseradish, mustard, cranberry sauce, redcurrant jelly, tartare sauce – all at prices we could afford – these often cost as much in Portugal as the meat or fish they are designed to accompany!

7. Quality Streets – well it’s nearly Christmas isn’t it?!

Iceland won’t be somewhere we visit, or need to visit, every week, but we WILL be back!

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16 Responses to “Iceland – Albufeira, Algarve, Portugal”

  • Ahhhhhhh, I’m ridiculously excited about our upcoming visit to Iceland on Thursday!
    I have a list that is growing every day (and not a freezer item on it!) and I can’t wait!

    Reading your post has just made me even more impatient LOL

  • Ann Appleyard:

    Hi, Please can anyone tell me if the new Iceland have an on-line ordering and delivery service, as I live in Alvor and don’t have a car
    Alternatively how near to the train/bus station is the store?
    Please email me a reply.

    Thanks!

  • I am totally in agreement with the article’e comments. It is not somewhere that we would shop every week, but for those things you miss from living in the UK, it is a delight to shop in a store like this. The prices are also competitively priced and there is a good variety to choose from. We live in Loulé and frequent the local supermarkets there, but to give yourselves a treat now and again, Iceland is a great place to visit.

  • Margaret Harris:

    Happy Christmas to all the wonderful Staff. Did you know the locals call it Little Britain?/
    Its so wonderful to be able to get everything we need for an English Christmas without paying a fortune.Hop the New year continues to be as prosperous .
    Thank to all.

  • [...] Iceland – Albufeira, Algarve, Portugal » The Cult of Bimbi in Portugal The Portuguese don’t really “do” ready meals, and [...]

  • I loved Iceland,particularly the big variety of spices to prare Asian dishes.The one thing that surprised me was the fact they don’t sell Portuguese wine.I think they should.

  • Dawn Woodhurst:

    As a Canadian, it’s great to find some products that I haven’t been able to find here in the Algarve, and the prices are reasonable, the staff friendly. As one who is fluent in Portuguese (actually fluent, not just “beleive” I’m fluent), though, I do have to mention that if you want a good laugh and can speak Portuguese, read their Portuguese translations on their products! You will be rolling on the floor laughing! I don’t know who they got to do them, but it’s a hoot! Did you know that you should take your juice to the icecream store for 4 days after opening it??? LOOOOOLLL!!! And their houmous is “lowland” housmous with “juice that makes you concentrate”… Well done. Just another example why the Portuguese roll their eyes at the Brits. But… you can get stuff there that you can’t get elsewhere, so…!

  • Christine:

    We have just bought a quinta near Castelo Branco and I know that one of the things I will miss is my weekly shopping trip to my local Iceland. Does anyone know if they plan to open any more stores?

  • Christine:

    I am shortly moving to Castelo Branco. Does anyone know if Iceland are going to open any more stores in Portugal?

  • Dave McClements:

    Hi there…….
    I am not sure if this is the correct place to ask a question, but here goes.
    I e mailed Iceland last week to ask if there branch in Albuferia sells Porridge as I need it daily for my diet, but so far I hve had no reply.
    I also asked them if I went there at the end of November would they have any Xmas stuff, (like Xmas Pudding), but no reply from them.

    Could anyone help me out?

    All the best

    Dave

  • admin:

    Hi Dave – have replied to you privately.

    Hi Christine – I know that, at one point, there was talk of more Iceland stores – I would suggest contacting Overseas, who run own the stores at http://www.overseas.es

    Best wishes,

    Ben

  • Admin:

    Hello am a British living in Portugal am very happy to see Iceland in algarve. And I wish to know they can open more stores in Lisbon side thank you

  • cindy clarke:

    hi there, i live near algarve shopping, i have searched the internet on trying to find application form to apply for a job in the store, can anyone please help
    many thanks cindy

  • admin:

    Hi Cindy,
    If you visit http://overseas.es//stores/17 you will be able to access the contact number and email address for the Albufeira Iceland store.
    Best wishes,
    Lou

  • Rita Adernera:

    Hi Everyone,

    I was just wondering if iceland has a portuguese online order and home delivery???
    if yes i would like to know the web site if not i highly recomend they do and probably make a charge on top for extra income, not everyone lives in albufeira.
    i live in portimão and as much as i would loe to go weekly to icelands i can only afford and have time to go once a month not even that.
    I really miss my british food!! just by visiting iceland i feel like im home….

  • admin:

    Hi Rita,

    I’m not aware of Iceland offering home delivery, but I agree that such a service would be wonderful!

    You can find out more information at their website: http://overseas.es/stores/17

    Best wishes,

    Lou

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