It’s only natural to feel like you’re in another era when you walk down Lisbon’s baixa/downtown area. The trams, the old building façades and narrow streets are all evocative of past times. But there’s one store that truly embraces mid-20th century history and commerce. It’s called A Vida Portuguesa (The Portuguese Life) and it’s a must-visit for anyone who loves vintage things.
When you walk into this store on Rua Anchieta, it’s like time-traveling to the 1950s. The old wooden cabinets are original to the David & David perfume factory and store that used to occupy the space. Inside, you’ll find a treasure trove of items that make incredible gifts for yourself and, if you’re feeling generous, loved ones. There’s something for everyone in this store – and I genuinely mean that.
For all the gourmets out there, your options include wines, liqueurs, jams & preserves, cookies, tinned sardines, pâtés, teas, chocolates, olive oil and salts. There are even vintage-style chocolate game machines, which take a whole generation of Portuguese people back to their childhoods. There are also pots, ceramics, tins, chopping boards and dish cloths for your kitchen. A Portuguese home isn’t complete without some Bordallo Pinheiro ceramic pieces, such as their classic swallows.
Vintage-style coloring and writing pencils by Portugal’s only pencil company, Viarco, make lovely gifts for artistically-inclined adults and kids. And yes, there are old-fashioned children’s toys as well. You won’t be able to walk by the Claus Porto soaps section at A Vida Portuguesa without smelling all the different scents! Benamor creams complete with their 1930s designs have been around for decades; they’re a great gift for the ladies in your life who love a little pampering. Men who love toiletries can also find classic shaving sets and soaps here.
If you want to incorporate a little bit of Portugal into your home, you can pick up rugs, bed sheets and blankets here. You can even take home some gorgeous azulejos. Like I said: this store has something for everyone!
But don’t just take my word for it. A Vida Portuguesa’s success can be seen by its expansion in only 10 years to four locations in Lisbon (the one in Intendente is the largest one) and one in Porto. It’s a must for anyone visiting Lisbon. If you’ve been already, I’d love to hear your thoughts below!