Named after Queen Mary II’s firstborn, D. Pedro V, the Príncipe Real (Royal Prince) district is filled with gardens and colorful 19th Century mansions, and is home to one of the coolest selection of stores in Lisbon. Bustling with local antique shops and concept stores, bio markets, Portuguese designers and art galleries, it’s the place to go if you’re looking for something unique. Lisbon is rightly known as a trove of charming backstreets and terraced bistros, and none of its neighbourhoods are more alive than Príncipe Real, a shopper’s dream of design and clothing stores interspersed with quaint little cafés.
Príncipe Real is the most cosmopolitan neighbourhood in Lisbon
Bohemian Bairro Alto‘s a bit less in-your-face cousin, it sits just north of the famous nightlife district, and takes you away from its busy streets. Here, the main meeting point is the Principe Real garden, home to a delightful pink kiosk, Quiosque do Refresco, and umbrellaed by a century-old cedar tree that spreads its branches over 20 meters, providing shade to the garden.
Daytime is fantastic to shop around, and even though international brands such as Barbour have settled here, Príncipe Real is all about going local. The highlight would have to be Embaixada, dating from 1877, the newest and coolest concept store to hit the neighbourhood. Housed inside one of Lisbon’s oldest palaces, a makeover has given it a new life, while still maintaining its old-world charm. Embaixada is home to many Portuguese designers that have chosen to display here. An innovative concept in the Lisbon scene, in Embaixada you’ll find a number of brands, like Amélie au Théâtre, Shoes Closet, Urze, VLA Records, Organii Bebé, Organii Cosmética Biológica and Linkstore, among many others. Besides the commercial area, there are also a few restaurants and cafés. Just down the street there’s Entre Tanto, an “indoor market” in the XVIII century Castilho Palace. The name is a play on words, which should convey a warm welcome and allude to the diversity offered by the almost 20 independent retailers in the categories of fashion, interior design, decoration and gastronomy. In Entre Tanto one can enjoy an informal, pleasurable, convenient and spontaneous shopping experience. Brands such as Liquid, for fantastic Detox juices, Francisca Prata e Lata for unique jewelry, Anti Milk kid’s wear and Portuguese men’s swimwear brand DCK are some of our highlights. Alexandra Moura is also a nice place to drop by for the Portuguese designer’s white dresses. 21pr Concept Store also deserves a mention, as do Shourouk, a favourite of Anna Dello Russo, the Christian Lacroix notepads and sketchbooks, Patine showcasing the colourful Castelbel collections and See Concept, a reading glasses design brand.
Moving along, Príncipe Real is also one of the best parts of town to go antique shopping, with AR-PAB and Isabel Lopes da Silva both having their shops here, along with Solar, a shop dedicated to the ancient Portuguese art of tiles – from the subtle designs of the 16th century, to the energetic and bold motifs of the 19th, to the Art Noveau and Deco of the early 20th century. Downhill to the west of Bairro Alto is the São Bento neighborhood, dominated by the former monastery—now the Assembly of the Republic, Portugal’s parliament—from which it takes its name. The long Rua de São Bento is home to several interesting antique shops; Deposito da Marinha Grande hand-blown glasswork in copies of old designs, Alma Lusa designer jewellery, clothes and quirky products and Jorge Welsh Oriental porcelain. At 396 S. Bento, you’ll find a wonderland of wood pieces; from columns, pedestals and wall panels, to delicate carvings of angels and model boats.
Homeware and interior design fans will also get their fix here, with the famous Príncipe Real Enxovais, located in the neighbourhood’s main street, that provides for the royal houses of Spain, Sweden, Morocco and England, where you can custom-order the finest linens in the country, or choose from the store’s pre-selected options. Some of its famous clients include Michael Douglas and Princess Caroline of Monaco.
But Príncipe Real is not just about shopping – the restaurant scene is one of the most exciting ones around. From local foodie favourites such as Prego da Peixaria, Cevicheria and Tease, to the classic and impeccably well-kept Pavilhão Chinês, a former 19th century tea and coffee shop, with comfy couches and glass cabinets displaying intriguing international artifacts and curiosities, that perfectly embodies the spirit of the neighbourhood, as well as signature cuisine such as Miguel Castro e Silva’s flagship De Castro.
Príncipe Real also houses one of the city’s most absolute gems; the Botanical Garden. Look close or you might miss it – although the garden spans over 10 acres, it’s almost invisible from the outside as you enter it through a very nonchalant-looking gate on the main street. However, the inside holds one of the most impressive collections of subtropical vegetation in southern europe, standing proud since the 1870s, with over 18,000 species and rare collections of Palms and Cycadaceae. The latter are extremely rare and are sometimes referred to as living fossils, as very few specimens survive today outside of botanical gardens.
All along the streets, colourful 19th century mansions pave the way as you wine and intertwine what feel like previously undiscovered corners, stumbling upon shop after shop of some of the coolest stuff you never knew you loved. This is the magic of this part of Lisbon; there are no crowds, no set itinerary, no extensive guides and maps, no one trying to tell you where to go. You’re free to explore, enter, exit and roam around at our own pace, stopping for a coffee or a snack here and there while you soak in the beauty of Príncipe Real.
– Embaixada and Entre Tanto for the unique shopping opportunities
– The Bio market on Saturdays to go green
– AR-PAB for the antiques
– The delightfully restored Quiosque do Refresco (Refreshment Kiosk) located in the Príncipe Real Gardens
– Cevicheria for Chef Kiko’s peruvian cuisine
– The Botanical Garden for a well-deserved rest
– Gin Lovers for the gins and great ambiance
See Monocle magazine’s video on shopping in Lisbon here.