It may not be Paris or Milan, but Lisbon’s got plenty of wearables and stareables to offer even the most avid shopper.
Rua Augusta 176, Baixa
213 475 907
On Lisbon’s premier pedestrian street, Rua Augusta, there is an underwhelming selection of chain stores like H&M, Pull&Bear, Zara, and more where you can find plenty of mass-produced wearables that will have you blending in in no time. The breath of fresh air comes when you enter the 2-story Truz boutique which features women’s clothing and accessories that can’t be found elsewhere. Their racks are stocked with interesting items to satiate every aesthetic, from delicate and understated to fierce and bohemian. The prices can vary drastically, but there’s almost always something delightful for less than 20€ that will have you wanting to snip the tags immediately and try it out on the street. Keep in mind this boutique is cash only, so if you’re planning a wardrobe overhaul, it’s best to note the nearest Multibanco is about forty paces out the door and across the street. If you’re on a budget, try the rack in the back left corner as there are lots of discounted items just begging for you to take them home.
El Corte Inglés
Av. António Augusto de Aguiar 31, São Sebastião
213 711 700 website
This is Lisbon’s Spanish-based fine department store. It offers high-end goods at high-end prices. Looking for a Prada bag? How about a pillowcase in high thread-count Egyptian cotton? If it’s chic, trendy, or expensive, you can find it here. Don’t feel too priced-out though, they have great sales almost year-round where you can score a good deals on hot ticket items. Their shoe selection leaves little to be desired, except maybe a second job or the sudden death of a wealthy relative. Downstairs, you can find the cinema (they have nachos with fake cheese!), a good selection of places to eat, a supermarket chocked full of things you can’t find anywhere else (like Vegemite…eew) and more. If you take the elevator up to the top, you’ll find a kickass gourmet store where you can stock up on expensive caviar and foie gras and new restaurant outposts by hip chefs arranged like a fancy food court for the elite. We like to go in jean shorts.
Rua da Conceição 91, Baixa
213 425 049 website
Atlas has a sewing hobby, so when we stumbled upon this little art-nouveau treasure trove of trimmings, we were beyond overjoyed. It’s small, but packed with buttons, embroideries, and more. The shopping space is not what you would expect, it still carries an old-world approach, with most products located in the back room, so be sure you are comfortable pointing and miming if you don’t speak Portuguese. Prepare to see vintage items that are covered in dust and feel like a seamstress-version of Indiana Jones, but don’t think they don’t know how much these items are worth, because they certainly do. A set of glass buttons can run you upwards of 30€. While the entire street is littered with shops that carry similar trimming items, the facade and the selection (if you know what you’re looking for!) is what makes this one special.
R. Rodrigues de Faria, 1300, Alcântara
213 259 992 website
This former warehouse-turned-bookstore (translated to Read Slowly) is perhaps the only place where you can sip a glass of wine, snack on a cheese plate, and read just about any book you can imagine…at least in Portuguese. The English book section is slim, but you’re sure to find a few Saramagos and most certainly a translated Pessoa to accompany your wonderment at being in such a freaking cool space. A large white mobile hangs from the high ceilings, riding a bicycle and flapping her wings, which draws your eye upwards to the tower of book-filled shelves all around you, and the remains of the printing press at the center of the 2nd floor. Surrounded by steel walkways and tables and chairs for an aerial view, the steampunk-looking press connects you to a side room that offers constantly rotating art exhibitions. This is legitimate bookstore porn, people, and reason enough to walk through the hip alleyways of the LX factory in Alcåntara. As a former
New Yorker, this place feels like home, and as a weary traveler with a penchant for a good book, you can’t beat it.
Rua dos Fanqueiros, 276, Baixa
218 811 200 website
If you’re looking for home goods like fancy ceramics, kitchen articles, furniture, tupperware, shower curtains, blenders or whatever else, Pollux has it. It is a bit on the pricey side, but worth a look for one of the best-kept secrets in Lisbon: the cafe. Go up to the top floor, and grab table. You’ll find one of the best views in the city there, all for 60 centimos, the accepted price for a bica at just about every other cafe in town. Watch as the line for the Santa Justa elevator grows and grows with tourists angling for the same view but looking at YOU. Sit back, relax, and accept you have hacked the system. You won’t find many tourists, just savvy locals. The fact that wine and beer are also available doesn’t hurt either.
Helpful Hint: Lisbon Eat and Shop Card
For 6€, get at least 10% off in more than 30 restaurants and 5% off in more than 100 stores. The card lasts for a period of 72 hours. Good deal for 3 days, no? They are available for sale at any “Ask Me” Tourism Office and also online here.