Around the world, books are losing ground to screens, but Portugal hasn’t received the memo. Lisbon is home to the oldest bookstore in the world and hosts the largest book fair in Portugal, which celebrates its 86th anniversary this year. Second-hand shops are springing up across the cities along with stores specialising in the sale of English-print books.
In Portugal, coffee and wine pairs with everything, including books. The Café Candelabro in Porto is a bookstore, library, and café all in one, that attracts everyone from tourists to locals.
There is even a hotel that’s filled from the floor to ceiling with books! The Literary Man Hotel is located in Óbidos, a city known for well-preserved medieval infrastructure and cherry-flavored ginjinha liqueur, but which has also been labeled a ‘book lovers dream‘. Every spare inch of wall is covered, amounting to upwards of tens of thousands of titles. Hotels usually strive for that ‘home’ feel and the Literary Man has achieved that goal with this built-in library.
Walk along the streets and even through the metro, and there are more books! Fairs are common in Portugal, and tables appear all over the place. Mostly, they sell second-hand copies, many for a euro or less. The Oriente Station is one metro stop with daily book fairs.
Don’t worry about not being able to read Portuguese because it’s possible to find titles in English too. The Bookshop Bivar, outside Lisbon’s historic centre, is one shop dedicated to selling second-hand books in English. It’s Lisbon’s own ‘Shop Around the Corner’ (remember You’ve Got Mail?), complete with the cozy setting and an owner who loves to chat with customers.
Bibliophiles in Lisbon should not miss the Chiado neighborhood, home to Livraria Bertrand, the oldest bookstore in the world. Having first opened in 1732, it was destroyed by the Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 and rebuilt a short time later in the spot where it can be found today. Across the street from Livraria Bertrand is a bronze Fernando Pessoa . Pessoa, the illustrious author of ‘The Book of Disquiet‘ was one of Portugal’s most celebrated writers and poets known worldwide. Visitors looking for a keepsake from any of these bookstores is in luck. Even Portugal’s history has inspired world-renowned literature, including ‘The Night Train to Lisbon‘. In this philosophical novel, the author takes readers on an adventure through Europe, language, and history. The book was so successful that it was adapted for the big screen nearly 10 years after being published.