Lisbon – a paradise for shoppers!

Angela Youngman


From flea markets, and artisanal crafts to vintage and designer brands – Lisbon has it all, -making this city a true paradise for shoppers.

Designer style amid the Avenues

Anyone looking for high quality, international designer names like Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Burberry need go no further than the wide avenues around the Baixa area. Although one of the most popular shopping areas in Lisbon, the 1.5km long Avenida da Liberdade never seems crowded with shoppers. High end designer shops and hotels can be found throughout its length, but with extensive tree lined plazas complete with fountains occupying the centre of the street there are plenty of places to sit back and relax for a while with a coffee. Even the noise from10 lanes of traffic passing along the Avenida are muted. No less than three metro stations serve the Avenida – Restauradores, Avenida and Marques de Pombal. It is reckoned to be among the most expensive streets in the world.

Venturing away from the Avenida into the smaller side streets enables you to find countless exclusive stores, some of which have been trading here for hundreds of years. Luvaria Ulisses is one of the smallest but also most exclusive shops in the area. There is just enough space for two or three people at time within the Art Deco styled store, which contains a superb collection of hand made gloves. Equally unusual is the Casa des Velas do Loreto which is the oldest continuously operating Candle Shop worldwide. Candles have been made here since the 1700’s. Ask for a sample tray before buying – this enables you to smell the different aromas, and discover the varying sizes that are available. You can even have candles engraved, but you will need to allow several days for this to be done. 

Bargain hunt in the flea markets

The flea markets of Lisbon are a fantastic way to obtain artisanal or traditional items, as well as vintage clothing and homewares. Be prepared to be up early to do so, as they tend to start trading around 6am and the best items are always snapped up quickly. Take your time and explore the wares carefully, as you can find some really unexpected gems.

By far the most famous of these flea markets is the twice weekly Feira da Ladro – the ‘thieves market’ Despite its name, this is not a market filled with stolen goods! Every Tuesday and Saturday stall holders lay out their wares on the pavements and walls in the area surrounding the Pantheon and St Vincent’s Church within the historic Ålfama district. You can find anything here from vintage vinyl records to antiques, clothing, jewellery and pottery.

The Feira da Ladro may be the most famous, but it is not the largest of the flea markets. That honour goes to the Feira do Relógio near the Bela Vista metro station. Occupying a vast roundabout, it sells everything from fresh fruit to antiques, furniture to clothing!

Books are the speciality of the Chiado area of Lisbon, and a popular book fair is held every Saturday selling first editions as well as inexpensive second-hand paperbacks mainly in Portuguese and English. Almost any genre can be found here, it is a matter of searching among the long lines of books on offer to find exactly what you want. 

Foodie treats

Lisbon is a great place to buy food, especially from the produce markets. Particularly good ones can be found in the Mercado de Campo de Ourique (cured meat, cheese and fruit) and in the Mercado da Ribeira which specialises in fresh fish and seafood. The Saturday market within the Principe Real district is another popular location to buy organic food especially honey, cheese, cakes and wine. The Conserveira de Lisboa is a shop with a difference - it sells only Lisbon canned fish using retro packaging dating back to the 1930’s within a period shop interior.

Look out for Portuguese specialities like the deep friend Alheira sausages made from chicken or game, salted cod and Queijo cheese which has a buttery interior that has to be scooped out and eaten on bread. Anyone with a sweet tooth should beware the pastelaria’s as these are filled with irresistible cakes and biscuits. Not to be missed are the Pastéis de nata (Portuguese custard tarts), a classic of local cuisine. There are even stores specialising in Pastéis de nata such as Pasteis de Belem which is said to sell up to 30,000 tarts every day!

Artisanal delights

Heritage is very important in Portugal, and you can get some really good artisan products. Portugal produces most of the world’s cork and has proved very innovative in the uses to which it can be put. Best of all, it is also very sustainable as no trees are destroyed during harvesting. From designer cork dresses to umbrellas, shoes, jewellery and bags, cork is big business in Portugal. Good places to visit within Lisbon are Cork & Co in the Barrio Alto and Peclor in the Principe Real; although cork products are sold in almost every craft shops in the city. Other local specialities include gold jewellery within the Chiado district, Tiles within the Chiado and Principe Real areas and soap made in traditional styles from A Vida Portuguesa or Claus Porto.

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