The surface acidic properties of pillared clays (PILCs) with Al or Zr oxide pillars (prepared from a natural Portuguese smectite and a synthetic Laponite), and of a protonic NaHY zeolite, were studied by two methods: pyridine adsorption followed by infrared (IR) spectroscopy, and the catalytic transformation of 1-butene. The results of the pyridine adsorption revealed that all the pillared clays studied have mainly Lewis-type acidity, the exception being the clay pillared with Zr oxide, obtained from natural smectite, which also presents a significant number of Brönsted acid sites. The results of 1-butene transformation showed that the pillared clays exhibit catalytic properties similar to those of the protonic Y zeolite. The acid character of the solids was confirmed by the values of the cis/trans 2-butene isomers ratio. At short reaction times, product distribution showed that the main reaction is oligomerization, followed by cracking. After 15 min the products are mainly the linear isomers, cis and trans-2-butene, showing that the majority of the catalytic active sites, are already poisoned after 15 min of reaction. The particular behaviour of Laponite intercalated with Al oxide pillars is discussed. The IR spectra of the pyridine adsorbed on the fresh samples and after the catalytic assays, revealed that Lewis acid sites behave as active sites for 1-butene catalytic transformation. The consistency between the results of the two complementary techniques used for the characterization of the acidity of the solids was proved.