One of my favorite Portuguese brands of all time is Vista Alegre. Founded in 1824, they’ve been making beautiful porcelain items for nearly 200 years for everyone, from royalty to people just like you and me. When the opportunity arose for me to visit the Vista Alegre museum (complete with gift shop and outlet store), it was impossible to say no.
The Museu Vista Alegre actually underwent renovations between 2014 and 2016. A few months ago, after the renovations were completed, I visited this museum and was so pleased with the result. Here are my 3 tips on making the most of your visit to the Vista Alegre Museum.
1. Pick and choose. I’ll admit it: if you want to read and absorb all the information, there’s a lot to take in. I suggest going in, taking a good look around each room and seeing what catches your eye. It could be a single display case in one room or three or four in a different room. As there’s a certain chronology to the museum, some rooms may really interest you whilst others may not. Find something that appeals to you, learn about it and really admire it. Then, look for the next thing you love.
Make sure to stop and read the signs if there’s something that could be interesting. For example, I had no idea that Portugal didn’t make porcelain until Vista Alegre started producing them in 1827, whereas other European countries had been producing them about a century earlier. (I think it’s fair to say that we have successfully caught up!)
2. DIY. I can’t say that I personally experienced this, but one aspect of Vista Alegre museum that really appealed to me was that they let you make your own porcelain piece. They have workshops where you can either be a potter for the day or a painter for the day. If I’d had more time when I was there, I would’ve absolutely loved these workshops (yes, I would’ve done both). But now I have something new to come back for. When I do, I’ll be sure to post my gorgeous creation on the blog.
3. Souvenirs. Come expecting to take home a piece… or many. After being surrounded by such beautiful museum pieces, you find yourself in the stunning gift shop. Here, you’ll find classic collections that are best-sellers, as well as the latest pieces. We couldn’t resist some modern Christian Lacroix for Vista Alegre coasters for our house. We were also tempted by some stunning gold-detailed Old Fashion glasses, but we saved those for another time. If you feel some of the items are outside your budget, head across the courtyard to the outlet store, where you can pick up some great bargains. In addition to the coasters, we brought home with a dozen large glasses and six mugs. And if you aren’t all shopped-out yet, there’s also a Bordallo Pinheiro outlet store right around the back.
A church, a gift shop, two outlet stores, and workshops… There really is so much to do and see, aside from the Vista Alegre Museum. It’s absolutely worth the trip out there.
Have you been to the Museu Vista Alegre? What are your insider tips?