Holiday shopping in Lisbon provides visitors with all sorts of opportunities to purchase wonderful souvenirs of their vacation, and the retail therapy can be memorable.
Goods that are made in all regions of Portugal can be bought in the country’s capital, and there are some areas of the city renowned for their specialist stores, where the shopping experience is truly unique.
In Lisbon’s elegant Chiado neighbourhood, for example, A Vida Portuguesa only sells items made in Portugal, ordinary household wares that are nonetheless regarded as cherished cultural icons.
Retro-wrapped scented soap on sale at A Vida Portuguesa — Photo courtesy of Paul Bernhardt
Particularly striking is their extraordinary range of Ach. Brito/Claus Porto scented soaps. Each bar is enclosed in retro wrapping that features the original manufacturer’s design and logo. What you’re buying is effectively a piece of Portuguese heritage, a product first introduced onto the market nearly 100 years ago.
Fortunately, an enterprising former journalist, Catarina Portas, decided to “rediscover” some of Portugal’s most revered products like these by collecting them under one roof and promoting them exclusively as “an inventory of brands that have survived the passage of time.”
Thus in 2009, A Vida Portuguesa was established. Along with soap, the emporium sells all manner of genuine Portuguese must-haves, anything from gourmet vinegar and potent liquors to homespun blankets and decorative ceramics.
“We want to highlight the quality of Portuguese trademarks,” remarks Portas. “They evoke the everyday life of another time and reveal the soul of the country.”
At Conserveira de Lisboa in Lisbon’s Baixa (downtown) district, it’s tinned fish and seafood that grace the shelves. But this, too, is packaged vintage style.
The assorted Tricana labels evoke mid-20th-century Portugal and the country’s proud seafaring tradition, with a radiant 1940s-era female cannery worker emblazoned on the wrapping, smiling for the customer.
Candle shop Caza das Vellas Loretto was founded in 1789 — Photo courtesy of Paul Bernhardt
But for a truly magical yesteryear Lisbon shopping experience, nip into Caza das Vellas Loretto, one of the city’s most alluring stores. Here, the old-fashioned ambiance is tangible: the premises date from 1789!
Located back in Chiado, this tiny wood-paneled candle shop is a delight to visit anytime of the year, but particularly so during the festive season, when the wall cabinets are lined with scarlet-hued ecclesiastical candles.
Two products epitomize Portugal: cork and wine. Both are harvested from the countryside and definitely worth investing in.
Genuine cork skin goods from Pelcor — Photo courtesy of Pelcor
Portugal is the world’s largest producer of cork, with nearly 7,000 square kilometers under cultivation. The country turns out some 30 million corks a day!
But the versatility of this natural and eco-friendly material extends far beyond its use as a bottle stopper.
At Pelcor, they sell fashion accessories in cork skin. The company was previously recognized for its Champagne corks, manufactured for some of the finest vinters in Europe.
But in 2003, Sandra Correia – granddaughter of the factory’s owner – hit upon the bright idea of using cork skin in the production of items such as belts, purses, handbags and even umbrellas. The collection housed at Pelcor’s boutique in the city’s Intendente area is suitable for all sorts of occasions, with many items crafted in bright, chic colours.
The vast selection of wines and other gourmet goodies at Deli Delux — Photo courtesy of Paul Bernhardt
They probably use Pelcor corks to bottle some of the hundreds of wines stocked at Deli Delux, an upmarket delicatessen located near Lisbon’s Santa Apolónia cruise port. Just about every wine-growing region in Portugal is represented here, and a fine Portuguese reserve makes an ideal present for the folks back home.
Another beverage inexorably linked to Portugal is coffee. While it isn’t produced here, it’s nonetheless drunk in obscene quantities. Freshly roasted blends from around the world can be purchased at A Carioca in Chiado.
Decorative tableware, including porcelain, is sold at Vista Alegre Atlantis — Photo courtesy of Paul Bernhardt
Other unique gifts to consider shopping for in Lisbon include the rare and exquisite decorative azulejos ("tiles") from the Fabrica Sant’Anna showroom, some of which are centuries old.
More contemporary home decoration can be found at Vista Alegre Atlantis – one of the most celebrated names in home-produced porcelain and crystal ware. Both are located in Chiado.
If you’re a fashionista seeking genuine Portuguese designer clothing, browse the collection at Ana Salazar, named after one of the country’s most respected and pioneering fashion designers. Her flagship boutique straddles the city’s Baixa and Chiado areas.
And for quirky keepsakes and quality mementos, pop along to Silva & Feijó in the downtown area. This captivating all-in-one gift store offers visitors wine and cheese tastings and plenty of fun for those holiday shopping in Lisbon.