Sun, sand and shopping in Lisbon

Daniel Wren

Vada Magazine staff writer. Interested in travel, news, politics and dating.
Daniel Wren

Lisbon is a wonder in autumn – and makes for the perfect place to go for some seriously sun-drenched shopping! The traditionally hot weather calms down at this time of year, so you’ll find the temperatures mild and the sun shining – the perfect weather for hitting the shops without working up too much of a sweat. What’s more, Lisbon is within easy reach of the UK’s major airports, with flights that leave daily. You can also find a range of hotels suitable for your budget.

Lisbon is the capital of Portugal. It sprawls along seven hills which overlook the river Tagus and Portugal’s west coast. Although known by sun-starved Brits for its year-round sunshine, visitors to Lisbon discover much more than mere sun and sand. The city’s grand architecture – inspired by a rich history – offers old-world charm that underscores the city’s modernity. And all this within easy reach of the beaches!

From grand shopping centres to quirky indie boutiques, the city is a one-stop shop for your retail therapy needs. You can easily navigate the city by district. Chiado, for instance, is known as an eclectic cultural hub where contemporary high street fashion stores jostle beside ancient book stores, and coffee houses flank old Portuguese tile and porcelain shops.

The primary pedestrianised shopping and banking district is Baixa. It runs from the river Tagus waterfront to the Avenida da Liberdade. Here the streets are named after merchants and craftsmen – the working men and women who once made Lisbon great. Laid down in the 19th Century, Avenida da Liberdade takes as its inspiration from the design of the Champs-Elysees in Paris, and the grandiosity of the street is breathtaking. Now the tree-lined boulevard is the place to find all the high-end brands you’d expect on catwalks in London or Milan: everything from Prada to Burberry.

Bairro Alto, or the ‘upper district’, is the city’s hippest district – and a key destination for the trendiest travellers. This picturesque neighbourhood is where you’ll find your alternative and independent shops. Whether you’re looking for boutique interior decorations or local designers, niche music or retro and second-hand clothes, then this is the place to visit. But don’t be fooled by the district’s relatively tranquil appearance by day. Come night-time, this charming district explodes into a nightlife hotspot. Traditional fado houses spill out onto the cobbles and bars are bustling with revellers and celebrants. Principle Real runs from Bairro Alto, centred around a beautiful park, and is where art-lovers troll for canvases, ornaments and design one-offs.

Alfama, with its flourishes of Moorish influence, is the city’s oldest and most striking district. Here it’s easy to lose yourself in the alleatory architecture – the snaking alleys and stairways with their village-like grocery stores and shops selling traditional gifts and souvenirs.

Manuel Tavares

This Portuguese delicatessen is a real charm. It’s one of the oldest delis in Lisbon, being established in 1860, and offers a gorgeous range of wines, charcuterie, dried fruits and cheeses from across Portugal.

Feira da Ladra

This Alfama flea market is held from sunset to sunrise every Tuesday and Saturday. You’ll find a hipster’s dream as you explore this heady mix of new and antique goods, from retro clothes to books to furniture.

A Vida Portuguesa

This stunning shop in Chiado is a real step back in time. It sells handmade soaps, books, blankets, tiles and gourmet products in their original packaging for extra collectors’ kudos.

Pelcor

Contemporary fashion label Pelcor, in the heart of Baixa, trades exclusively in sustainable cork skin accessories. You can pick up ultra exclusive belts and wallets, as well as handbags and purses.

Companhia Nacional de Musica

Portugal’s oldest music shop, CNM , is now a funky meeting place for hipsters, musicians, poets and keen travellers. Come here if you fancy a genuine taste of traditional Portuguese ambience.

Caza das Vellas Loreto

Since 1789, Caza das Vellas Loreto has been making fine handmade candles using traditional techniques. Whether it’s for your love interest or your aromatherapy-loving aunt, you’ll find the perfect gift here.

Outra Face da Lua

Connoisseurs of vintage clothing should head to this shop-cum-tea room in Baixa. The adjoining tea room serves delicious sweet and savoury dishes, making it the perfect place to park yourself for some wholesome refreshment after a hard day’s shopping.

Garrafeira Nacional

Opened in 1927, this Lisbon wine shop offers an astonishing 4,000 or so Portuguese wines. These can be shipped anywhere in the world, so you needn’t even worry about lugging them back in your checked baggage.

Luvaria Ulisses

Another oldie, Luvaria Ulisses was opened in 1925. This Chiado shop is the only one in Portugal that specialises entirely in gloves. Remember what Patsy Stone told us: ‘You can never have enough hats, gloves and shoes.’

Conserveira de Lisboa

This classic Baixa shop opened in the 1930s. Like Luvaria Ulisses, it specialises in just one product – in this case canned fish. You can pick up Atlantic squid, alongside staples such as tuna and sardines. The entire range of Conserveira de Lisboa fishes are renowned for their superior quality. Each can is highly decorated with a vintage-inspired collectible design.

Direct flights to Lisbon operate from Manchester, Liverpool, London, Edinburgh and Bristol with TAP Portugal, BA, easyJet and Ryanair.

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For more information on Lisbon please visit visitlisboa.com.