Good neighborhoods for shopping, Lisbon
Walking Toward the Metro from Mercado Alvalade we found this unique neighborhood coffee shop. They have one of the oldest coffee grinding machines that should be on the Antique Road Show. The owners speak a little English and will understand you when you tell them what kind of grind you want.
Not only are the goods available unique but the whole place takes you back in time... Have your camera ready.
What to buy: We bought some tea and some coffee.
What to pay: Local prices, this is a neighborhood shop far enough from tourist areas.
The Baixa area between Praça do Comércio and Rossio has a wealth of shops.
This part of Lissabon that completely was rebuild after the Great Earthquake is ideal for shopping as this is one of the rare flat parts of town.
If when in Lisbon on a very tight schedule and finding you need to do some necessary shopping especially for take home presents, and to do and purchase everything at one convenient location, there's a perfect solution to all this from one perfect square - the Rossio.
The Rossio or by its historical name the Praca Dom Pedro IV as is mostly known only to the locals, is Lisbon's grandest square and the most centrally located hemmed in gorgeously by 18th century Pombaline-style buildings which houses every possible business establishment and merchants selling from food, shoes and all kinds of leather goods, carpets, ceramics, first aid and sundries, tee-shirts, wines, jewelry, couture fashion, to books and money-exchange and much much more...making this plaza the city's liveliest and very much the focus of constantly changing outdoor cultural offerings.
So here you can dash to when in great hurry precisely to look for all the items in your list sold within one central place. All the stores surround and then branch out strategically from the square with two massive fountains on both ends and in the middle a towering column supporting a life-size statue of Dom Pedro IV. But the king's statue itself is an impostor one, a recast adaptation from the original which was actually that of Emperor Maximilliam of Mexico. The statue which happened to be on a ship docked in Lisbon bound for Mexico ended up staying and bargained for when the news was received of Maximillian's assasination. It's not so important a fact now but one that is rather humorous in its historical context.
This handsome square with its typically-Portuguese tiled pavement designed with wave-like pattern single-cobbled stones was created forming a masterful conduit of grid-like streets, the first of its kind in Europe by that master Lisbon rebuilder the Marquis of Pombal who masterminded the resurrection of Central Lisbon from its devastation of that 1755 colossal earthquake.
Prior to the great earthquake, during the city's much earlier period, the Rossio where an Inquisitional Palace once stood was the scene of infamous violent events such as riots, public hangings, auto da fes and open bullfights. Nowadays, among flowering jacarandas, you hear nothing but the constant hum of traffic and the rush of crowd angling for a best seat at the square's many charming outdoor restaurants and cafes. As far as ideal cafes go, don't miss the best two on the opposite sides of the square: Cafe Suica and Cafe Nicola. Both exudes with great views of the open city.
Chiado is the best shopping neighborhood. It is right next to Baixa/downtown, and leads up to the Bairro Alto quarter. Here is a mall called Armazens do Chiado and several well-known international names like H&M, Zara, and Foot Locker along with the more luxurious shops like Cartier, Hermes,and the Portuguese fine porcelain shop, Vista Alegre. Also take a look at the shop of Ana Salazar, one of Portugal's top designers, and the turn-of-the-century hole-in-the-wall Luvaria Ulisses, guaranteed one of the most charming shops you'll see in the world.
On this picture is an old car that plays Fado as people go from store to store, making it even more pleasant to walk these streets.
What to buy: There are several bookshops in Chiado, many of them with a good selection of English-language books. The best is the old Bertrand, good for books about Lisbon and Portugal in general.
What to pay: Although Lisbon is not as inexpensive as it used to be, you can still find many bargains, and everything still tends to be much cheaper than in other European capitals.
The Chiado section of the city has step streets adn lots of great shopping. I found a lot of great book shops as well as women's clothing. The Baixa also has some shops, but they can be more expensive for the same product (especially on Rua Augusta). My rule of thumb is to shop around for souvineirs, but if you see something that you fall in love with, suck it up and spend the money.
What to buy: Leather goods are good to find in Lisbon, but quality and price are related. You get what you pay for in other words.
The Chiado neigbourhood has always been a preferred location for shopping as there are many nice shops all over the place.
Some years ago, shopping centers started to appear all over the country and smaller shops started having trouble surviving. That, added to the big 1988 fire that destroyed good part of the neighbourhood, has rendered life difficult for local shops.
You can still find some very nice shops here, like bookshops for instance. On top of that, you don't get that "artificial" feeling of the shopping centers, although some people will definetly prefer the convenience of having everything they need in one place.
As a tourist and while in Lisbon, I recommend going to Chiado for your shopping needs. There is also the "Armaz?ns do Chiado" shopping center if you really must :)
There are some larger shopping complexes in Lisbon but our favourite was the Baixa area. There were lots of local shops and smaller boutiques which made a pleasant change from the sterile atmosphere of most shopping malls. Browsing round the local delis and Port shops was an amazing experience. Down near the seafront there are also rows of shops selling dried codfish, smelly but fascinating nonetheless. So go on give it a go, even if you don't buy anything it's a great way to spend a few hours.
What to buy: Port - you can buy Port dating back almost to the turn of the century - a unique present for anyone with a special birthday coming up (hint hint !!)
Lace & Leather - not necessarily together but there are alot of shops selling this kind of stuff
Dried Cod - You might not want to pop some of this in your suitcase but it's worth a look
There are various pedestrian-only thoroughfares in Baixa that have a variety of shops generally catering to selling a specific item. You can find shops that sell only shoes, watches, jewelry, etc. as well as many restaurants and cafes. Although most of them cater to tourists, you'll commonly find locals on their work breaks hanging out in the streets to have a coffee and a snack.
What to buy: anything
What to pay: average
You can buy everything and anything in Chiado. This is the neighborhood just between Baixa and Bairro Alto. This cultural neighborhood is brimming with cafes, museums, bookshops, and designer clothing stores.
What to buy: shoes
electronics (Armazens do Chiado has a FNAC)
What to pay: more than average
Bairro Alto is an old traditional quarter in Lisbon. Besides the traditional shops, a new dynamic is growing there, since new artists and dealers started opening new alternative shops in its streets.
From music to fashion, food to handicraft, you can find anything that is not mainstream commercial brands.
A very nice place to browse until midnight, to dine and have a drink...
All the guides say go to Baixa for shopping. Noone mentions obscure but wonderful finds like this strip of button and braid shops. My eyes grew as round as saucers as I took in shelf after shelf of metal buttons, lovely ribbons, beads and braids.
What to buy: Metal buttons; all sorts of great designs.
What to pay: between 30 centime and 1 euro each, depending on the size and design.
Rua Augusta (Augusta street) is located in one of the busiest quarters of Lisboa. Closed to traffic, this pedestrianised street has all sorts of shops for all sorts of tastes, flower peddlars, hot chestnuts sellers, street cafés, independent street Artists like the "statue man" or the familiar harmonica player.
This street has on the northern extreme the Rossio Square and on the southern extreme the Commerce Square. Near the arch that gives way to the Commerce Street you will find many peddlers with all sorts of things to sell from jewellery to shoes to handbags, neck-scarfs to temporary tattoos... anything... even drugs, so, be aware! Although police is often nearby there are some people who won't hesitate in aproaching you and asking "Hash?". They will (most probably) not harm you but it's always good to know they are there so you can avoid problems.
Another curious thing in this area is the name of the streets that run parallel to Rua Augusta. They all come from the occupations or the materials once existent and worked on here: Rua dos Sapateiros (shoemakers), Rua da Prata (silver), Rua do Ouro (gold), etc.
The old architectural style, originally from the reconstruction of Lisboa made by Marquês de Pombal after the 1755 earthquake, is still intact, so you can see many of the buildings as they originally were.
Bairro Alto is a must go by night. but you should try to go there during the day. It's really cool to just walk around the small streets. It's on central lisbon, but it has quite a neighborhood spirit. And it has loads of places to spend money. A bit more alternative kind of shops... cool clothing, some designer shops, decoration, 2º hand. And you can also have a tatto to remember the journey.
Centro Comercial Colombo
El Corte Inglés
and few stores in Bairro Alto
Region of Lisbon
What to buy: Everything
Rua Augusta is the wide, pedestrianized center of Baixa and is lined with plenty of shops and restaurants. Pav couldn't resist buying a brown leather jacket at this boutique. He paid about 250 Euros for a really high quality jacket that would be twice that in the States.