You never know how tech-centric you are until you move to Portugal. Gone are the days of luxuriously clicking “add items to cart” with certainty, knowing the goods you paid for will be in your possession… quickly. Everything—from art to furniture sets to an entire swimming pool— is often available to be delivered within 24 hours to your door thanks to Amazon Prime. If you haven’t figured it out yet, this is not the case here. In Lisbon, finding modern electronics (and making them work!) and ordering home deliveries will become your waking nightmare.
Did you ship everything you own to Lisbon only to find nothing fits your new, refurbished apartment or house space?
Yah, it happened to me too.
I soon came to discover most Lisbon homes that have been “recently refurbished” means the first renovation likely dates back to sometime around the 17th century. Think about that! We’re talking hundreds of grandfathered-in updates guised and marketed as “newly renovated” all over this fair city. Most applicable if you moved into a more authentic Portuguese abode because you loved the old fixtures juxtaposed with the new, modern improvements and have no interest in new-builds.
While there are a million reasons why we expats love living in Lisbon, easy-to-use (and find), home goods and appliances is not one of them. You will inevitably have to shop. Rather than waste time, which you’ll need plenty of to see the sites, sample the food and learn all about your new local life in Lisbon, here is the next step, use this guide to baseline shops (no Portuguese tiles and overprized antiques just yet) to know about for setting up, decorating, and fixing up your casa.
Get plugged in, now.
Part of the Continente supermarket conglomerate, Worten is one of the main chains selling electrical goods in Portugal. You can easily find most of their stores in most shopping malls (if there’s a Continente, usually a Worten lurks nearby). Boasting all your basics, it’s the Portuguese equivalent to Argos or Currys PC World, for when you need anything from a new TV to Smartphone accessories to a washer/dryer, Worten should be your first stop. The prices are often fair, and all electrical goods come with warranties, so long as you never lose that paperwork. Bonus: the website is surprisingly easy to navigate… make sure to always click and collect. Deliveries in Lisbon as a rule are slower than molasses in January.
While Pollux is a bit of an institution in Portugal for home and decoration boasting multiple locations, nothing beats the grand-sized department store kitted out with all your household needs (and many items you didn’t know you needed) in the middle of central Lisbon. Standing tall at eight-stories, it almost feels out of place among the high-priced boutiques usually dotting this tourist-heavy area, a stones throw from the Santa Justa Lift on R. dos Fanqueiros. A warning: I have gone there to purchase a new bathmat only to find myself spending hours in here, perusing flatware, decorations, towels, bedding, and beyond at every price point. If you get lost, the very eager salespeople at Pollux are old-school Portuguese, but despite language barriers, they are extremely helpful. Bonus: Don’t miss a blissful lunch on at the eighth-floor of Pollux, where you’ll find the modern café-restaurant complete with an outside terrace and plush cushioned chairs making for the perfect respite from the buzzing city below. Easily one of the greatest spots to dine and relax after all that shopping, you will find yourself surrounded by jaw-dropping panoramic views of Lisbon, which in itself is a next-level surprise.
Leroy Merlin is for anyone with a home, but especially those of the DIY mentality. It’s like a Home Depot in the States or B&Q in the U.K., the French home-improvement chain has stores outside of Portugal too as far reaching as Brazil and China, so many expats may already know the name Leroy Merlin. If not, this is the place you go for heaps of plywood, aisles of terrifying tools like chainsaws and jackhammers, essentially any items one requires to make your casa fit your vision. The offerings are limitless for not-so-DIY-minded folks as well. You can find outdoor patio/garden supplies and furniture, bedroom sets, lighting ranges, bathroom wares, when it comes to improving the house Leroy Merlin has everything, including the kitchen sink.
This one needs no explanation or introduction. If you are breathing, you know about Ikea. The various locations in Portugal are just as mammoth and exhausting as the ones from whence you came. Once again, I highly suggest clicking and collecting. You want to avoid missing pieces that seem to occur with Ikea deliveries (this has happened to me more than once), plus shopping around will suck you in, every time. Avoid getting hooked by all the Ikea bait by pre-purchasing online, and picking up your new home goods quickly at your nearest Ikea without stopping to buy those enticing 500-pack of candles or whatever MALM knickknacks on display at every turn. If only I took my own advice.
Another chain popular throughout mainland Europe, Casa is the homeware store more suited to people looking for decorating rather than electrical bits and large appliances. It’s what I call, “the fun part” of moving. The store sells common household décor items, such as towels, throw pillows, kitchenware, and other goodies. Think of Casa as a slightly up-market Ikea with select ranges that are a bit more stylish aesthetically, and thus a bit pricier at times, and still, everyone ends up with the exact same stuff in their homes.
Increasing the price-point ante one more time for Lisbon dwellers with slightly larger budgets is German decoration brand Kare. You can choose the décor yourself or Kare offers to design your home expertly with an even more tasteful, up-market range of furniture, lighting and other household items. Kare also caters to professional spaces with a decorating programme dedicated to creating lush offices, trendy restaurants and other business interiors in need of an aesthetic makeover.