Ler Devagar

English Bookstores in Lisbon! Discover Hidden Gems!

The Charm of Lisbon’s Bookstores

Ah, Lisbon! A city that’s not just known for its picturesque landscapes, iconic yellow trams, and mouthwatering pastéis de nata. Dive a little deeper, and you’ll uncover a rich tapestry of literary history that’s as captivating as its sun-kissed shores.

Lisbon has always been a city of stories. From the poetic musings of Fernando Pessoa and Alexandre Herculano, who penned their thoughts in various Lisbon cafés, to the tales of explorers setting sail from its ports to discover new worlds, literature has been the heartbeat of this city. Portugals love for literature can be seen in its oldest operating bookshop, Livraria Bertrand, located in the Chiado area, and in the Livraria Lello, a popular tourist destination in the city of Porto, known for its iconic red staircase and rumored to have inspired JK Rowling.

But as timeless as Lisbon’s love for literature is, there’s a new chapter unfolding. With the city’s growing expat community and the steady stream of tourists eager to soak up its culture, there’s been a surge in demand for English books. It’s not just about catering to non-Portuguese speakers. It’s a beautiful blend of the old and the new, a meeting of cultures, and a testament to the universal language of storytelling. 

Whether you’re a local looking for new books and international books, a book lover wanting a taste of Portuguese literature by authors like Eça de Queirós and Nobel Prize author José Saramago in a language you understand, or an English teacher seeking resources, Lisbon’s English bookstores are becoming vibrant hubs of cultural exchange.

Top English Bookstores in Lisbon

Bertrand Livreiros: A Journey Through Time and Literature

Imagine stepping into a place where time seems to stand still, where every nook and cranny whispers tales from the past, and where the aroma of fresh pages mingles with the scent of history. Welcome to Bertrand Bookstore, the world’s oldest bookstore still in operation, nestled in the heart of Lisbon’s Chiado district.

Bertrand Livreiros - English Bookstores in Lisbon
Bertrand Livreiros

A Legacy Etched in Time

Founded in 1732 by the French Bertrand brothers, this isn’t just any bookstore. It’s a living testament to Lisbon’s rich literary heritage. The blue and white tiles adorning its façade beckon you into a world of stories. And as you walk in, the Guinness Book of World Records certificate by the door proudly proclaims its age-old legacy.

A Melange of Old and New

While Bertrand boasts an 18th-century charm, its offerings are anything but dated. The wooden floor-to-ceiling shelves are adorned with the latest bestsellers, timeless classics, and a plethora of newspapers and magazines from around the world. 

English Books Galore

For English readers, Bertrand is a haven. There’s a dedicated section for English fiction, brimming with contemporary novels. From New York Times bestsellers to insightful travel guides, the selection is vast. But what truly sets Bertrand apart is its curated collection of Portuguese authors translated into English. Dive into the poetic world of Fernando Pessoa or the thought-provoking narratives of Nobel Prize winner José Saramago.

More Than Just Books

Beyond its literary treasures, Bertrand offers a unique experience. Tucked away in the back is a quaint, literary-inspired café. It’s the perfect quiet spot to enjoy a cuppa, perhaps with a book in hand. And if you’re looking to take home a piece of history, don’t forget to get your book stamped, marking it as a memento from the world’s oldest bookstore.

Getting There and Exploring Nearby

Located at R. Garrett 73 75, 1200–203 Lisboa, Portugal, Bertrand Livreiros is easily accessible. It’s just a short walk downhill from Livraria Sá da Costa or a stone’s throw away from the Baixa-Chiado metro station. And if you’re using the Lisboa Card, you can enjoy free rides on the metro, trams, buses, and more.

The bookstore is open every day of the week from 9 am to 10 pm. For additional information or inquiries, feel free to visit the Bertrand Livreiros Website or reach out to them at +351 210 305 590.

Once you’ve soaked in the literary ambiance of Bertrand, the surrounding area has more to offer. Fancy seeing one of Europe’s first elevators? It’s hidden on the 4th floor of a nearby United Colors of Benetton store. Or perhaps the Gothic ruins of the Convento do Carmo beckon you. The choices are endless.

FNAC: A Modern Haven for Book Lovers in Lisbon

Stepping into FNAC feels like entering a contemporary wonderland. With its sleek interiors and vast collection, it’s a stark contrast to the historic charm of Bertrand. But don’t be fooled by its modern facade; FNAC is every bit a treasure trove for bibliophiles.

A Fusion of Electronics and Literature

Located in the bustling Armazéns do Chiado mall, FNAC might first strike you as an electronics store. But venture further in, and you’ll discover a massive bookstore waiting to be explored. With locations all over Portugal, FNAC has made its mark as a go-to spot for both tech enthusiasts and avid readers.

Diverse Selection with a Contemporary Flair

FNAC’s bookshelves are a testament to diversity. From classic literature to the hottest new releases, there’s something for everyone. And for those who prefer reading in English or French, FNAC doesn’t disappoint. They have a large selection of English books, rivaling that of Bertrand. Whether you’re looking for mainstream titles or literary gems, FNAC has got you covered. And if you’re eyeing the latest bestseller, chances are, FNAC has stocked up on it.

The huge contemporary selection at FNAC
The huge contemporary selection at FNAC

Navigating the Online Store

For those who prefer online shopping, FNAC’s digital store is a breeze to navigate. A quick tip: if you’re searching for English versions of books, add “ingles” to your search term. And always look out for “Edição em Inglês” in the item description.

Getting There

There’s something about FNAC located at Armazéns do Chiado, R. do Carmo nº 2 Loja 407, 1200-094 Lisboa, Portugal, that consistently draws me in, whether it’s the vast collection of books or the convenience of finding everything from the latest gadgets to gripping novels under one roof. While it may not have the historic allure of some of Lisbon’s older bookstores, FNAC seamlessly blends modernity with literature.

FNAC is open every day of the week from 10 am to 10 pm. For additional information or inquiries, feel free to visit their official website or reach out to them at +351 211 536 000.

Ler Devagar: A Literary Oasis in LX Factory

A Journey Through Time and Space

Ler Devagar’s journey is as captivating as the stories it houses. From its humble beginnings in Bairro Alto, it wandered, seeking a home, until it found its rightful place in LX Factory, one of Lisbon’s trendiest spots. What was once a printing space has now transformed into a literary haven, offering readers everything they could ever dream of.

The entrance to Ler Devagar
The entrance to Ler Devagar

More Than Just a Bookstore

But to label Ler Devagar merely as a bookstore would be an injustice. It’s a cultural hub. From concerts and exhibitions to events that celebrate the written word, there’s always something happening here. And its accolades? Numerous. Named one of the world’s most beautiful bookstores, it has been featured in the NY Times and countless global publications.

A Visual and Sensory Treat

Step inside, and you’re greeted by a grand space, united by a majestic staircase. Antique printing machines stand as silent witnesses to the past, while two bars, sculptures like the iconic flying bicycle, and thousands of books beckon you to explore. Whether you’re sipping coffee, catching up with friends, or simply losing yourself in a book, Ler Devagar promises a sensory delight.

Ler Devagar
Ler Devagar

A Bibliophile’s Dream

Located at 1300, R. Rodrigues de Faria 103 in LX Factory, Alcântara, Lisboa, Portugal, Ler Devagar is a sight to behold. The English collection, all brand new, leans towards Portuguese books and authors on Portugal’s rich history and travel. But you’ll also find contemporary masterpieces from American and British authors.

For those who’ve traveled the world exploring bookstores, Ler Devagar stands out. The remnants of its printing press past, the jazz vinyl shop on the second floor, the ground-level café, and the adjoining art gallery all come together to create a mesmerizing space. And the best part? Zero entrance fee.

Ler Devagar is open from 10 am to 10 pm from Thursday to Saturday, and from 10 am to 9 pm from Sunday to Wednesday. For additional information or inquiries, feel free to visit their official website or reach out to them at +351 213 259 992.

Bivar Books: A Cozy Nook for English Bibliophiles in Lisbon

In the heart of Estefânia, a charming neighborhood in Lisbon, lies a hidden gem for English book lovers. Bivar Books, with its quaint charm and inviting ambiance, is a great choice for second-hand books.

A Unique Collection with a Touch of Nostalgia

Bookshop Bivar isn’t your typical bookstore. It has a distinct fondness for Penguin editions, those iconic paperbacks that have graced many a reader’s shelf. But what truly sets Bivar apart is its impressive collection of science fiction titles. For enthusiasts of the genre, finding such titles in English in Lisbon can be a challenge. But at Bivar, they’re in abundance.

A Legacy of Passion and Community

While the bookstore was once under the warm stewardship of Leena Marjola, since 2019, it has been helmed by Eduarda, a figure many in the community affectionately refer to as “Mom.” Eduarda’s passion for books and her commitment to fostering a community of book lovers is evident. From readings and exhibits to book swap parties and book club meetings, Bivar Books is more than just a store; it’s a hub for literary enthusiasts.

There are many English titles at Bivar Bookstore
There are many English titles at Bivar Bookstore

More Than Just Books

Bivar’s commitment to building a community is evident in its array of events. Whether you’re looking to swap a good book you’ve just finished or dive into a discussion at a book club meeting, there’s always something happening here. And for those looking to hone their writing skills, Bivar even offers a community writing course.

A Testament to Lisbon’s English-Friendly Vibe

Lisbon has garnered a reputation for being incredibly English-friendly, and Bivar Books, situated at Rua de Ponta Delgada 34A, 1000-243 Lisboa, Portugal, only amplifies that sentiment. Located north of the city center, near Saldanha, this all-English second-hand bookshop is a testament to the city’s cosmopolitan spirit. It’s a haven for anglophiles, often found browsing its shelves or sharing tales at the nearby Irish pub.

Bivar Books is open from 11 am to 6 pm from Tuesday to Saturday and is closed on Sundays and Mondays. For additional information or inquiries, feel free to visit their Facebook page or reach out to them at +351 935 328 672.

Livraria Britânica: A Quintessential English Book Haven in Lisbon

Nestled in the vibrant Bairro Alto, and extending its charm to Principe Real, Livraria Britânica stands as a beacon for lovers of English literature in Lisbon. With its welcoming ambiance and shelves brimming with literary treasures, it invites you to explore, discover, and lose yourself in the world of words.

A Diverse Array of Literary Treasures

Livraria Britânica is not just any bookstore; it’s a celebration of English literature. From the timeless tales of Charles Dickens and D.H. Lawrence to the magical world of Harry Potter, the selection is both wide and eclectic. Whether you’re a fan of classic novels, children’s books, or popular fiction, you’re bound to find something that resonates with your literary taste.

Livararia Britanica
Livararia Britanica

A Unique Focus on English Language Learning

What sets Livraria Britânica apart is its unique focus. Geared towards English language learners and teachers, it has been serving the English Language Teaching community in Portugal since 1981. This specialization is reflected in its distinctive selection. While you might not find books by Hemingway, you’ll discover books about him, offering a different perspective on literary exploration.

A Warm and Welcoming Atmosphere

Stepping into Livraria Britânica, you’re greeted by a warm and friendly atmosphere. The staff, young and clearly passionate about their work, are always ready to assist, making your visit not just a shopping experience but a delightful literary adventure. This English bookstore is the perfect place to browse, explore new authors, and while away some time immersed in the literary charm of Lisbon.

Convenient Online Shopping Experience

For those who prefer the convenience of online shopping, Livraria Britânica has got you covered. Located at Rua de São Marçal, 83, Rua Luís Fernandes 14, 1200-244 Lisboa, Portugal, the physical store operates from 10 am to 2:30 pm and 3 pm to 6 pm from Monday to Friday, while remaining closed on Saturdays and Sundays.

The online store is user-friendly, allowing you to explore and order your favorite titles with ease. Whether you’re looking for a specific Martin Amis novel or eager to dive into a classic, the virtual shelves are just as inviting. For additional information or inquiries, feel free to visit their official website or contact them at +351 213 428 472.

Tips for Book Lovers Visiting Lisbon

Alright, fellow bookworms, here are some golden nuggets for you. Want to avoid the crowds? The best time to visit bookstores is in the early morning or late afternoon. Trust me, it’s a different experience. Keep an eye out for special events or readings. Lisbon’s literary scene is buzzing, and you don’t want to miss out. Oh, and if you’re in town during a book-related festival or fair, go!

Beyond the Bookstores: English Literary Events & Communities

Lisbon is a city that tells stories not just through the written word, but through the vibrant literary communities and events that bring people together. It’s a place where every corner has a tale to tell, every gathering is a chance to share stories, and every event is a celebration of language and literature. If you’re eager to connect with fellow English-speaking book lovers and immerse yourself in the literary heartbeat of the city, Lisbon has a plethora of opportunities waiting for you.

Lisboa 5L – International Festival of Literature and Portuguese Language

Lisboa 5L is not just a festival; it’s a celebration of Language, Literature, Books, and Reading. The event transforms the city into a literary canvas, with theaters, cinemas, bookstores, streets, and squares all playing host to a myriad of activities. The festival’s goal is to position Lisbon on both national and international maps of literary festivals, celebrating the diverse forms, places, audiences, agents, and lovers of literature.

5L Festival
5L Festival

The festival is a reflection of Lisbon’s dynamic cultural life, combining the city’s inherent vibrism with a range of activities specifically organized for the event. The program is a literary feast, featuring debates, author’s round-tables, concerts, cinema, performances, and exhibitions, all celebrating their unique relationship with language and literature. Invitations are extended to both national and foreign writers and specialists, ranging from established names to newcomers, making it a melting pot of literary voices.

For more information, visit Lisboa 5L.

DISQUIET International Literary Program

The DISQUIET International Literary Program is an annual gathering of literary minds, set to hold its twelfth edition in Lisbon in 2024. Founded by a group of North American writers with strong ties to Portugal, the program seeks to foster a deeper understanding between writers from North America and their Portuguese counterparts.

Why not enter the Disquiet contest?
Why not enter the Disquiet contest?

Taking inspiration from “The Book of Disquiet,” the masterpiece of Lisbon’s great poet Fernando Pessoa, the city of Lisbon itself, and the late Portuguese poet Alberto de Lacerda, who valued the importance of literary community above all, the program is a testament to the power of shared stories and mutual appreciation of literature.

For more details, visit DISQUIET International.

Explore Book Club Meetup Groups in Lisbon

In addition to the festivals and literary programs, another wonderful way to immerse yourself in Lisbon’s literary scene is by joining a book club. Lisbon hosts a variety of book club meetup groups, where you can discuss your latest reads, explore new genres, and connect with fellow book enthusiasts.

Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, these meetup groups offer a welcoming space for everyone to share their love for books and engage in stimulating literary discussions. It’s a fantastic opportunity to meet new people, exchange ideas, and perhaps even discover your next favorite book.

To explore the various book club meetup groups in Lisbon and find one that suits your interests, visit Meetup – Book Clubs in Lisbon. Dive into the diverse options available, and become a part of Lisbon’s thriving literary community!

I hope you found this guide to Lisbon’s literary treasures useful. The city is a haven for book enthusiasts, offering a rich blend of historic bookstores and vibrant literary events. Whether you’re exploring English bookstores, attending events, or connecting with fellow readers, the enchanting literary world of Lisbon is sure to captivate you. Enjoy every story, and every connection, and let the literary magic of Lisbon sweep you off your feet.

Before you go, do you have any tips or hidden gems that weren’t mentioned here? Share them in the comments below. Let’s make this guide even better together!

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