- Firstly, the Portuguese keep their crafts alive, much more than in most other countries. That means a lot of original and unique handmade products.
- Secondly, prices in Portugal are much lower than in most countries of Europe, which makes everything easily affordable.
- And thirdly, Lisbon has lots of incredibly beautiful old, traditional shops with dark wooden panels and old-fashioned interiors, which you don’t see anywhere else. I have travelled a lot, but I’ve never seen in other places so many of those exquisitely preserved old-fashioned shops. Visiting them, you turn shopping into a cultural experience.
Opening Hours of Shops
Opening time of shops in Lisbon is usually between 9 or 10am and 7pm, Mon-Sat. In the centre some tourist shops are open on Sun, too. Shopping malls have an incredibly long opening hours: they remain open until… midnight!
Typical Portuguese Products
1. Everything Made of Cork
Cork is the soft bark of the the cork oak. While the rest of the world uses it solely for producing wine taps, in Portugal (and Sardinia & Corsica), uses of cork are incredibly versatile and creative. The most surprising cork products include cork umbrella and cork gloves (spectacular! I have a pair). You may choose among a variety of cork shoes – there are all kinds of them: sandals, flip-flops, even sneakers! Then, you can find a matching purse – they are exquisite! And don’t forget about accessories: cork wallets, passport holders, case for glasses, even earrings etc. The choice is endless! Definitely my favourite gift from Lisbon!
Azulejos are square tin-glazed ceramic tiles, extremely typical for Portuguese (and Spanish) art. In Portugal, you will see them on facades of numerous buildings: churches, palaces and residential buildings. They are used on exterior and interior walls, floors and ceilings, even on benches and fountains, often depicting huge scenes of Portuguese history. Others have geometrical patterns related to their Arab origins. The most typically Portuguese colour of azulejos is blue, or blue and yellow.
The azulejo souvenirs can be single tiles with beautiful traditional scenes, or a collection of them. You may use them as a wall decoration, or as tea coasters, or pads to use under hot dishes.
3. Everything with Azulejos Motive
Azulejos are so characteristic for Portugal, that they inspired all kind of products with their typical patterns. Dresses, purses, shawls, earrings – you may find a lot of items with this lovely iconic image.
4. Woollen Clothes
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Portugal is a great producer of wool of superior quality. The quality/price ratio is quite unbeatable. You will find beautiful hand-made sweaters and cardigans, scarves and plaids, but also exquisite classic woollen coats and hats.
A great shop particularly worth recommendation is Burel Chiado, address: Rua Serpa Pinto, 15 B
5. Canned Sardines
The Portuguese, and Lisbonese in particular, are crazy for sardines! They love their grilled and canned sardines. They come in all flavours and types. And their cans are an art on its own: they come in all colours of packaging, making the fish shops look like rainbow candy shops! It’s really something unique to Portugal.
The fairytale shop called “O Mundo Fantástico da Sardinha Portuguesa” (“The Fantastic World of Portuguese Sardines”) is something you have to see to believe. Even if you don’t care for canned fish, seriously – you can’t miss this shop, it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before ;)
Address: Praça Dom Pedro IV 39, 1100-200 Lisboa
6. Sardine-Shaped Items
On the topic of the love of sardines: just think that Lisbon’s symbol is a sardine! It comes as a colourfully patterned decorative fish, or even more often three sardines. They can be made of ceramic, textile or cork. It may be a decorative item or key-chain, or a pattern on any other product: a plate, ashtray, mug or wallet, just anything.
7. Rooster-Shaped Items
The same goes for rooster. So-called Barcelos Rooster, vividly coloured with hearts and flowers, is an emblem of Portugal. You will find it in a form of ceramic or wooden statuette, or as a decorative pattern on a variety of items.
8. Porto – Port Wine
As the name suggests, it comes from Porto, not Lisbon, but if you are looking for a truly typical Portuguese product, here you are. Port wine is a fortified wine made of grape spirits only in the Douro Valley in the north of Portugal. This sweet strong wine comes in four varieties: ruby, tawny, white and vintage. It has usually 19-20% alcohol, more than regular wine, due to the addition of distilled grape spirits.
9. Ginjinha / Ginja
Ginjinha, also called ginja, is a liqueur made of sour cherries with sugar, extremely popular in Portugal. Typically, it is served in small shot cups made of dark (or sometimes white) chocolate, with a cherry at the bottom. After drinking a shot, you eat the “cup”. It’s super tasty!
10. Pastel de Nata
Pastel de nata is the nation’s most beloved pastry. It is a delicate egg custard tart in crunchy shell, dusted with cinnamon and powdered sugar.
The most famous ones – and an absolute must-try – are Pastéis de Belém (address: R. de Belém 84-92, 1300-085 Lisboa), produced according to the same recipe since 1834. The Guardian listed Pastéis de Belém among the 50 best foods in the entire world!
The tarts are fragile, but they are packed in special rigid tube boxes, which make them portable, so as long as you don’t crush them with heavy things, you can bring them home.
11. Vintage-Style Fragrances
In shops with typical Portuguese products, such as “A Vida Portuguesa”, you may find a variety of traditional perfumes and natural essences in lovely old-fashioned packaging. There is a great choice, and they make an impressive and original gift!
Address: 3 shops “A Vida Portuguesa”: R. Anchieta 11, 1200-087 Lisboa; Largo do Intendente Pina Manique 23, 1150-017 Lisboa; Av. 24 de Julho 49, 1200-109 Lisboa
12. Milk Soaps (Donkey, Cow, Sheep and Goat Versions)
Traditional soaps made of donkey’s, cow’s, sheep’s or goat’s milk are a charmingly old-fashioned product nowadays. To make them even more old-fashioned, they are wrapped in beautiful papers with traditional patterns and designs. They are worth buying already for the packaging itself!
Also available in “A Vida Portuguesa”.
Portugal is one of the Europe’s major producers of shoes. Portuguese shoes are original, stylish and come in excellent, unbeatable prices. Don’t overpack your suitcase and take back home a pair or two of nice elegant Portuguese shoes. Particularly good are shoes of Portuguese suede and leather.
A good place to look for shoe shops is Principe Real area.
14. Fernando Pessoa Books & Items
Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935) was the most important Portuguese poet, writer and philosopher, who immensely influenced the culture of his country in the 20th century. He wrote under a variety of names, or rather heteronyms. His most known publication is “The Book of Disquiet”, assembled after his death from a lot of fragments of prose he wrote for several decades. His style was melancholic, nostalgic and pessimistic, but profoundly intellectual and raising existential questions.
You will see signs of this highly respected writer around Lisbon, in the form of his statues, his books (in many language versions) in every library of Lisbon – the city he lived in, but also in the form of a drawing of his characteristic face wearing round glasses and a hat on a variety of souvenirs. Literature lovers will appreciate e.g. Pessoa coffee cups or a tie.
15. Portuguese Books
On the topic of literature – Lisbon boasts the world’s oldest still-existent library: Livraria Bertrand opened since 1732 (address: R. Garrett 73-75, 1200-203 Lisboa). You will quickly notice that the Portuguese love reading, and there are more bookstores in Lisbon than in most cities in our digital era. For bookworms, a truly Portuguese souvenir or gift may be some good piece of Portuguese literature, easily available (also in Bertrand) in English.
Portugal may be really proud of its crafts heritage. There are incredibly many great quality, original, creative artisan typical Portuguese products of all types. We have already mentioned many above. Instead of buying some industrially made product, support local artisans and choose a hand-made scarf, hat, dress, gloves, purse, decorative items, ceramic tiles, artworks – the variety is endless.
Best Shopping Areas of Lisbon
Best shopping areas include the following:
- Baixa, especially around Praça do Comércio – here you will find some traditional shops even 300 years old! Also, many artisan and souvenirs shops with typical Portuguese products;
- Chiado – artisan products, fashion, art;
- Príncipe Real – fashion, shoes, gourmet products;
- Avenida da Liberdade – luxury fashion and accessories.
Best Shops with Typical Portuguese Products
- “A Vida Portuguesa”
R. Anchieta 11, 1200-087 Lisboa
Largo do Intendente Pina Manique 23, 1150-017 Lisboa
Av. 24 de Julho 49, 1200-109 Lisboa
- “Capitão Lisboa”
Rua dos Fanqueiros, 77, Lisboa
- “A Arte da Terra”
R. Augusto Rosa 40, 1100-059 Lisboa
Best Shopping Malls in Lisbon
- Vasco da Gama Shopping Centre: Av. Dom João II 40, 1990-094 Lisboa
- Centro Colombo: Av. Lusíada, 1500-392 Lisboa
- Amoreiras Shopping Centre: Av. Eng. Duarte Pacheco n° 2037, 1070-103 Lisboa
- El Corte Inglés: Av. António Augusto de Aguiar 31, 1069-413 Lisboa
Shopping malls are rather similar to malls elsewhere, with well-known international brands, so if you are looking for some truly typical Portuguese products, they may not be the best option.
Best Markets in Lisbon
- Mercado da Ribeira:
Av. 24 de Julho s/n, 1200-481 Lisboa
- Time Out Market (right next to the previous one):
Av. 24 de Julho 49, 1200-481 Lisboa
- Feira da Ladra:
Campo de Santa Clara, 1100-472 Lisboa
There are also occassional markets organized in different periods, where you can buy typical Portuguese products often in bargain prices.
More on Shopping in Lisbon
I prepared this guide basing on my experience of living – and shopping – in Lisbon for almost a year. If you have any questions, or you would like to add anything, or simply express your opinion – write a comment below!
And enjoy shopping in Lisbon!