Window of a wine shop in Lisbon
Shopping in Lisbon is fun because there are many independent shops including vintage and traditional shops that are disappearing fast in London. Unfortunately, I didn't have a lot of time to shop, but I did manage to visit a few 'essential' shopping destinations and stumbled across some intriguing shops during my short stay.
Embaixada (Praça do Príncipe Real, 26, Príncipe Real) One of the newest and most exciting shopping destinations in Lisbon is this design/lifestyle concept store that opened in 2013. Located in a 19th century Moorish palace, Palacete Ribeiro da Cunha, it is hard not to be awestruck as you enter into this stunning building. The building accommodates retail spaces for more than 15 Portuguese brands over two floors, offering fashion, design, crafts, as well as an indoor and outdoor restaurant, bar and art exhibition space.
Top: Real slow retail concept store; Bottom: Lisbon lovers
On the same street further down the street, there is another smaller concept store Real slow retail concept store which also offers fashion and lifestyle products with a small cafe inside. Next to it is Lisbon Lovers, a shop that sells Lisbon-related souvenir that is more design-focused than the average tacky ones.
Shops and barber in Alfama
Meanwhile, Lisbon's most emblematic and historical quarter, Alfama also offers some interesting crafts, traditional and quirkier souvenir shops including A Arte da Terra (Rua Augusto Rosa, 40).
2nd left: Luvaria Ulisse; the rest: CHIcoracao
A few shoos up the hill, there is a wonderful woollen shop CHIcoracao (Rua Augusto Rosa 22-24), which has restored looms from the 60's and the 70's to produce their own range of high quality woollen blankets and fashion lines. The prices here are reasonable, and if I had the room in my small case, I certainly would have purchased one of their soft and locally made blanket home!
In Chaido, Luvaria Ulisse (Rua do Carmo, 87A, Chaido) is a contestantfor the title of "world's smallest shop". This tiny (4 square metre to be exact) art deco glove shop was founded in 1925 and can fit only about two or three people at a time. The shop manufactures all the gloves they sell, and it is the only specialist glove shop in Portugal. If you want to invest in a pair of high quality and stylish gloves that will last, then this is the place to visit.
Top: Bertrand Livraria; Bottom: Fabula Urbis
Wandering the streets of Lisbon, I came across many bookstores including specialists and vintage ones. This, I think says a lot about the culture of Lisbon and its people.
Interestingly, the oldest bookshop in the world is in fact in Lisbon, and it even has a Guinness World Records certificate on a wall at the entrance to prove it. Bertrand Livraria (Rua Garrett 73 -75, Chiado) was founded in 1732, but it was destroyed after the great Lisbon earthquake of 1755 and moved to its present-day premises on Rua Garrett in 1773. This original branch has beautiful wood-paneled walls and a wide assortment of all types of books, including some English-language books at the back, offering translated Portuguese literature from names like Nobel Prize author José Saramago or Fernando Pessoa.
Fabula Urbis (Rua de Augusto Rosa, 27) in Alfama is a small gem that sells books and CDs that revolves around Lisbon, past and present. The subjects offered cover poetry, novels, history, politics, art, photography, crafts, textiles, fashion, theatre, cinema, opera, music, astronomy, archaeology, gastronomy, and travel etc.
Situated above the bookshop is a room designed with a stage and piano. It is used for evening recitals and exhibitions of paintings or photography. It is certainly more than just an ordinary book shop.
Palavra de Viajante (Rua de São Bento, 30) is a bookstore that is dedicated to travel. Aside from guide books and travel-related books, they also sell maps, games and notebooks. There is also a pleasant cafe that serves coffee, cakes and simple lunches.
Top left: Notebooks at A Vida Portuguesa; Others: Artes e Letras Atelier and purchases from the shop
A Vida Portuguesa (Rua Anchieta 11, Chiado) is probably one of the most famous Portuguese shops thanks to its retro and quaint Portuguese packaging and products. The first Lisbon shop was launched in 2007, and since then it has even branched out to Porto (I love the interior and fittings of their Porto branch). The brand has established partnerships with many traditional Portuguese brands, and so all the products found here are quintessentially Portuguese. You will find bathroom essentials, homeware, food, toys and stationery including Viarcro pencils and Emílio Braga notebooks here.
I was on tram 28 passing through São Bento one day when I saw a shop that looks like a letterpress workshop. On the next day, I endeavoured to find the shop by following the tram route. I was quite thrilled when I eventually found it, and even more so when I stepped inside.
Artes e Letras Atelier (Rua dos Poiais de São Bento, 90) is indeed a letterpress workshop and shop that sells letterpress cards, prints and self-published art/ illustration books, with a small exhibition area at the back. I often feel extremely excited when I find gems like this in different cities, because usually they are not listed in guide books. Chatting to the owner, I found out that she is responsible for the designs of the cards and prints sold at the shop, and occasionally she will also print booklets and posters for other designers or small studios.
There are many quirky and unusual art and illustration books that are produced and published by local artists and designers. I felt almost like a kid in a candy store. With limited cash in my wallet (probably to my benefit that they don't accept credit cards), I decided to purchase a letterpress postcard and an 'erotic' themed illustration book called "Acontorcionista manifesto" (see above). This shop is a must if you love letterpress and all printed matters!
Like I mentioned earlier, there are many cool vintage shops in Lisbon and many of them are not listed in the guide books. One of them is Casa Pélys in Campo de Ourique. As soon as I walked into the shop, I felt like I was transported back in time... seeing the retro tiles on the floor, vintage children's books, toys and homeware brought a smile to my face. The shop was once owned by a photographer Mr Pélys, hence you can still see the remnant of the signage Foto Pelys on the shop front. Now the new owner is a former bookseller who has turned the ground floor and basement into a mini flea market where one can rummage around for as long as one wishes.
Vintage and antiques shops on Rua de São Bento
Rua de São Bento is home to many antiques and vintage shops, including The World of Vintage (Rua de São Bento 291) which specialises in 1950s - 1970s vintage furniture and objects.
Top 2 rows: Conserveira de Lisboa; 3rd & 4th left: Loja das Conservas; 5th row: Parceria das Conservas at Mercado de Campo de Ourique
One of the most popular souvenir to bring home from Portugal is undoubtedly canned sardines! And there is an array of brands, flavours and packaging to choose from. But the top favourite shop and brand is Conserveira de Lisboa (Rua dos Bacalhoeiros, 34, Baixa), which is recommended in almost every guidebook. Opened in 1930, the interior of this 80-year old shop has hardly changed for decades. The main attraction is the original wooden counter, selves and an old cash register. The retro packaging is also loved by tourists and locals alike, thus making canned fish a popular souvenir to bring home.
If you want to find out more about canned fish and its history, then you must pay a visit to Loja das Conservas (Rua do Arsenal, 130)/ National Association of Manufacturers of Canned Fish. Here, you can find a wide range of well-known Portuguese canned fish brands and the history of these canning factories. And aside from the famous sardine, you can also find tuna, eel, Ray's bream, mackerel and horse mackerel. If you are stuck on what to pick, you can always ask for recommendations (which I did) from the shop assistants. Don't underestimate the allure of canned fish, and make sure you have enough baggage allowance because you may end up buying more than you intended after a visit to this shop!
Last but not least, don't forget to bring back a bottle of Portuguese wine or port back home! Portuguese wine must be one of the most underrated in the world! Personally, I love Portuguese wine and I am surprised by the limited choices available in the UK. Wine is relatively cheap to buy and drink in Portugal, and one of the best places to taste and buy Portuguese wine is at Viniportugal at Terreiro do Paço. Visitors can purchase a rechargable Enocard for the price of € 2, which will give access to tasting 2 to 4 wines from a selection of 12 wines from different regions of the country. It is a good starting point if you want to learn more about Portuguese wine.