Shopping for Mementos to Bring Back From Lisbon

Updated on June 4, 2018
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Anna resided in Lisbon, Portugal for two years, married a Lisbonite, and calls the picturesque city her second home, only after NYC

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Portugal's charming capital, Lisbon, is an ancient city steeped in history and beauty. Travelers can explore winding alleys and cobblestone streets leading to hilltop castles, ancient marble fountains, and any of seven spectacular miradouros overlooking the city. Fado melodies fill the air as people emerge from the majestic doors of timeworn bars, and the scent of roasting chestnuts can be smelled for miles. Street vendors cook the ancient snack over a fire on their carts and roll sheets of newspapers into cones counting out a dozen into each one.

Exploring Lisbon is like stepping back in time to a bygone era. Over two years of living there before moving to New York and now traveling back three times a year due to marrying a Lisbonite, I can certainly say I’ve explored the city and been lucky enough to get an insider’s view into its many cabinets of curiosities.

The city has changed quite a bit in the last few years. It's become more contemporary yet it still retains an old-world charm. That old-world charm can still be seen in a handful of centuries-old shops that have been in the same family for generations and hold beautiful treasures with stories to tell, craftsmanship traditions inherent to Portugal, and delightful packaging. Who doesn't want to return home with a suitcase stuffed with treasures reminiscent of their travels?

Here, our recommendations for where to shop for objects that are quintessential Portuguese so you can bottle up a bit of old Portugal (perhaps literally!) and bring it home with you.

Gloves From a Bygone Era via Luvaria Ulisses

Walking through the art-deco door of this tiny century old shop dedicated solely to gloves is to be transported. There was a time when goods were always behind a counter so that you could be personally waited upon hand and foot -- in this case hand. Luvaria Ulisses holds onto this tradition. A cheery attendant sizes up your hands just by looking at them from the other side of the counter and retrieves a pair of soft, supple leather gloves and opens them on a peculiar antique wood apparatus. Once your exact sizing is confirmed, you will have thought these gloves were molded just for you and you’ll be dreaming up a suitcase full of colors and styles to take back home with you. Luvaria Ulisses is the epitome of traditional leather glove craftsmanship.

Luvaria Ulisses has been in this business since 1925. It is the last shop in all of Portugal dedicated solely to the sale of gloves. Shopkeepers attend to just one or two guests at a time, giving you their undivided attention. Since the shop is so tiny, you may need to wait outside for at least 10 minutes to get inside. Once you pick the perfect custom gloves, they will set you back around 65 Euros complete with a pretty silk bag to take them home. The raw material and production of the custom-made gloves are done in-house.

Suggestion: if you live in a colder climate, opt for their cashmere lining. They’re BEYOND luxurious!

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Porcelain From Vista Alegre

Vista Alegre is a porcelain company dating back to 1824 and is best known for its artistic design, incorporating Portuguese culture and collaborations with world renowned artists. The shop is located in Lisbon's trendiest neighborhood, Chiado, and is housed in a charming 19th century building adorned with beautiful tiles.

Vista Alegre produces its decorative porcelain, stunning dinnerware and crystals in one of four factories located in the central region of Portugal.

Our personal favorite collection is the one featuring calcada. If anything reminds you of Portugal when you reminisce on your travels, it's the calcada - the artistic black and white mosaic stones you won’t be able to miss as you stroll along the breathtaking streets of Portugal. There's an espresso coffee set that we had to get our hands on as soon as it was released - it features the most prominent calcada in Lisbon. The collection has expanded to include treys, a cake stand, a sugar box and everything you need to entertain your friends who come by to hear all about your travels.

Traditional Crafts From A Vida Portuguesa

A Vida Portuguesa is a charming shop playing tribute to Portuguese-made objects with stories to tell and manufacturing techniques that haven't changed in a hundred years. Here you can find infamous tasty ginjinha (sour cherry) liqueur, ceramics, throws, jewelry and everything in between stocked in old wooden cabinets once used by an old perfume factory.

We especially recommend picking up a divine bar of Claus Porto bath soap, a nice set of gold filigree earrings for that special woman in your life, and a tablecloth with Viana do Castelo embroidery.

There are currently five A Vida Portuguesa shops throughout Portugal, four of which are in Lisbon. Our favorite is the original shop, located in Chiado and housed in an old warehouse and perfume factory David & David.

Candles From Caza das Velas do Loreto

You could easily pass the quaint candle shop called Caza das Velas but it's worth making an effort to find because as you step inside, it's like you're back in the year 1789, the year of the shop's founding. This is actually the oldest continuously operating candle shop in the whole world. I mean, how cool is that? Upon entering, you'll find hand-carved wooden arches filled with rows and rows of shelves displaying handmade candles.

A Blanket From By Stro

By Stro is a modern Portuguese company making timeless wool and cotton products in one of the country’s oldest textile factories, with sustainability at its core. The company makes blankets, scarves and house slippers using traditional Portuguese techniques and historic patterns. They make an effort to cut out waste and decrease negative environmental impacts in the supply chain while supporting local communities. Each product has a fascinating story behind it, like the ‘Papa Blanket’ which had been used by shepherds for centuries for shelter against the cold in the Serra de Estrela mountains, Portugal’s highest peak. The blanket is made using fleece from an Iberian breed of sheep which is teaseled to make the blanket extra thick and warm. By Stro has reinvented the traditional blanket by using new color schemes.

Location of Recommended Shops in Lisbon

A
Luvaria Ulisses:
Rua do Carmo 87A, 1200-288 Lisboa, Portugal

get directions

B
Vista Alegre:
Largo do Chiado 20, 1200-108 Lisboa, Portugal

get directions

C
A Vida Portuguesa:
Rua Anchieta 11, 1200-224 Lisboa, Portugal

get directions

D
Caza das Vellas do Loreto:
Rua do Loreto 53, 1200-106 Lisboa, Portugal

get directions

E
By Stro (Entre Tanto Indoor Market):
Rua da Escola Politécnica 42, 1250-096 Lisboa, Portugal

get directions

by Stró is located inside the Entre Tanto Indoor Market

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Anna

    Do you have a favorite shop for souvenirs? Leave a comment!

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      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 

        5 months ago from Ontario, Canada

        Love the Porto soap. They are wonderful gifts. I would love to visit these stores next time we get to Lisbon.

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