Portugal’s capital has more than its fair share of independent jewel-box shops set in beautiful historic buildings. Shopping in Lisbon is a joy, both aesthetically and financially. Unique, high-quality Portuguese items can be had at surprisingly reasonable prices, especially with the ongoing strength of the U.S. dollar. These are my favorites to bring home.
Many souvenir shops sell industrially produced tiles, but it takes only a glance to see that handmade azulejos are superior. For superb reproductions of classic patterns, shop at Fábrica Sant’Anna (Rua do Alecrim 95), Lisbon’s oldest extant manufacturer. Loja dos Descobrimentos (Rua dos Bacalhoeiros 14B) has both classic and contemporary designs. And for an astonishing array of antique tiles from the 15th to 20th centuries, visit Solar Antiques (Rua Dom Pedro V70). Each accepts custom commissions.
Nowadays it’s possible to find cork shaped into all manner of unexpected pieces, from attractive wallets to shoes to umbrellas. Buying a cork item also helps sustain Portugal’s precious cork forests. My favorite cork shops include FORMS (Largo da Trindade 15), Cork & Co. (Rua das Salgadeiras 10) and, tucked away on an unpromising side street, Pelcor (Pátio do Tijolo 16).
Elegant Vista Alegre (Largo do Chiado 20-23) stocks two floors of highly refined Portuguese-made china. Favorite patterns of mine are Marcel Wanders’ “Blue Ming,” the opulent gold-trimmed “Animals” and reproductions of Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro’s cabbage ware.
Tinned fish can be found all over the city, but one old Alfama shop stocks nothing else. Conserveira de Lisboa (Rua dos Bacalhoeiros 34) produces three historic brands, Tricana, Minor and Prata do Mar, all of which come in appealingly retro packaging. The choice of seafood (tuna, mackerel, squid, mussels, lamprey, etc.) and marinades (olive oil, tomato, garlic, lemon) is dauntingly broad, but the friendly and English-speaking staff can help you find something to your taste.
Claus Porto (Rua da Misericórdia 135), which has produced exquisitely packaged soaps with enticing fragrances since 1887, opened its own beautiful shop late in 2016. It has everything you want in a Lisbon boutique: an azulejo-clad exterior, wood-framed display cases and a 110-year-old plaster ceiling. The soaps are sold individually or in lovely gift boxes. A chic barbershop in the back occasionally offers hot-towel shaves.
Lisbon has no shortage of fine shoe shops, but my newest favorite for men’s shoes is Armando Cabral. This small shop stocks stylish and finely crafted loafers, oxfords and polished-looking sneakers, all designed by Cabral and made in Italy. I also love the store itself, located in the Embaixada Shopping Gallery (Praça do Príncipe Real 26), a spectacular neo-Moorish palace turned mall. Stop for a snack or cocktail at Gin Lovers & LESS restaurant, occupying a central court surrounded by arabesque arches.
Port and Madeira may not be especially fashionable at the moment, but they are both sensational wines. For an excellent selection and knowledgeable English-speaking service, visit Garrafeira Nacional (Rua de Santa Justa 18) in the Baixa neighborhood, with bottles displayed on charming wood shelves beneath stone vaults. It has a “wine museum” with bottles dating back hundreds of years (a 1715 Madeira sells for a cool 15,950 euros), as well as a more affordable wall of Port and Madeira from the past 50 or so years. Take advantage of the dispenser on the right to taste some extraordinary and well-aged wines. I won’t soon forget my small glass of 1968 Madeira Boal D’Oliveiras, a rich and vivacious wine aged 40 years in oak. Skip the more famous and more chaotic Manuel Tavares around the corner, the historic pedigree of which draws crowds of tourists nowadays.
Portuguese mountain sheep produce high-quality wool, and several shops sell wonderful products made from it, including soft scarves and sweaters as well as durable felt handbags and backpacks. Arguably the best shop is Burel (Rua Serpa Pinto 15B), but I was also impressed by the craftsmanship at CHIcoração (Rua Augusto Rosa 22-24).
The pretty glove shop Luvaria Ulisses (Rua do Carmo 87-A) is also in every Lisbon guidebook. Its leather gloves are undeniably wonderful. But again, the shop is minuscule and browsing is difficult, especially with the line of tourists outside the door nowadays.
A Vida Portuguesa, on the other hand, appears in several guidebooks and is indeed worth a visit. Its Rua Ivens 2 location stocks a lovely array of home décor items, including reproductions of Pinheiro’s cabbage ware and Portuguese wool. The larger original shop at Rua Anchieta 11 has been magnificently restored, and it carries all manner of Portuguese-made gifts, including Tricana tinned fish, local liqueurs, Claus Porto soaps, high-quality olive oil and home décor items.
Many guidebooks also recommend stopping for candles at Caza das Vellas Loreto (Rua Loreto 53/5), and the tiny wood-paneled shop is very charming. But it’s so small that browsing is virtually impossible — customers go only to make a purchase — and, truth be told, the candles themselves aren’t especially interesting.