Percebes in Portugal: The Day We Ate Barnacles

Portugal, now one of our favorite countries to visit in Europe, has some incredible seafood delicacies. One of which my kids will never forget!

One of the countries we visited while traveling by RV through Europe was Portugal. Portugal is one of the oldest nations in Europe and is a country incredibly rich in history and culture. Its location by the coast means that it played an important role during the age of discovery. A lot of Portuguese explorers such as Ferdinand Magellan, and Vasco De Gama, were responsible for discovering far-flung countries.

It’s hard for us to pick just one favorite Portuguese city – they all have their own uniqueness and charm. But, if you really had to make us choose, we’d have to say our time spent in Sintra was unforgettable.

Discovering Sintra

The town of Sintra has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage & Cultural Landscape site, and when you visit, it’s not hard to see why. You can walk through parts of town that have been around since the Middle Ages, visit a Moorish castle built in the 9th century atop a fairytale hill, surrounded by lush forest and greenery, and indulge in a unique seafood delicacy, goose barnacles.

Here are a few Sintra tours we recommend taking

What are Goose Barnacles or Percebes?

percebes in portugalFreshly picked from the ocean, and hot out the kitchen!

Percebes, pronounced PER-CE-BES and also known as Goose Barnacles, are crustaceans that live and grow on rocks in the Atlantic ocean. Widely consumed in Portugal as well as Spain, we were excited to be able to try these expensive little creatures for the first time. We were told the best place to eat goose barnacles was in Portugal.

percebes in portugal
The views from Adraga restaurant are beautiful…a must if you’re in Sintra
percebes in portugal
Nothing better than this view during lunch

Where to try Percebes in Portugal

During our private tour with Selection Tours, we stopped at a wonderful family-owned and managed restaurant in Almocageme called Adraga Restaurante. The owner, Jorge, had a table already set up for us with the most beautiful views of the ocean. As we sat and ordered our fresh seafood for the day, along came a plate of percebes!

percebes in portugal
Our first time trying goose barnacles, percebes
percebes in portugal
LouLou getting ready to try them…

Percebes are considered a delicacy in this part of Europe. Divers make dangerous expeditions to scrape the shells off the sides of cliffs that plunge deep into the sea bed. The ones we ate in Sintra, overlooking the ocean left us wanting more…we got our wish in Lisbon, where we ate at the popular Cervejaria Pinoquio, with its entrance aquarium loaded with live fish and crabs. They’re best steamed and served piping hot table-side; there’s an aroma of the sea as the plate is placed in front of you. Briny like lobsters.

Food tours to take in Lisbon

How to Eat Percebes

Snap off the neck and a spray of ocean hits your chest and drips down your hand and your shirt. You need a bib and a finger bowl with this dish. A traveler’s stick of Tide wouldn’t hurt either.

percebes in portugal
Taking a closer look…

Visiting Sintra? Here are some guided tours we recommend taking

Barnacles are exotic and their appearance takes some getting used to, no doubt about it. Just like the first time you plunge into escargots. Or, pig’s ears for that matter. I told my best friend about my experience and she said, “Wow, that’s something!”

And, they’re definitely something to talk about at my next dinner party, but I don’t think I’ll try the ones in Long Beach.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve eaten on your travels? Let us know in the comments below!


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