Literary City Guide | LISBON, PORTUGAL

For the traveler who comes in from the sea, Lisbon, even from afar, rises like a fair vision in a dream, clear-cut against a bright blue sky which the sun gladdens with its gold. And the domes, the monuments, the old castles jut up above the mass of houses, like far-off heralds of this delightful seat, of this blessed region.
— Fernando Pessoa, Portuguese poet

Tour Guide: Joana Taborda

Born by the seaside, Joana was always less than an hour away from Lisbon. Today she lives in one of the most beautiful hills of the Portuguese capital. She’s had a thirst for traveling ever since her parents took her on her first flight abroad. Combining her passion for writing and photography she started a travel blog called City Odes where you’ll find stories about her road trips and recent wanderings. Follow her on FacebookInstagram or Twitter(Photos by Joana Taborda)



Relationship to Lisbon: I was born in a seaside town called Cascais, which is only 30 minutes away from Lisbon but has a completely different vibe. I’m a city girl at heart and always found it hard to commute every day to work, so I started looking for apartments in the city centre and was really lucky to find one with an incredible view and amazing roommates. That was when I truly started to enjoy the Lisbon lifestyle!

Writer you’d like to invite to dinner: Nick Hornby, just so we could spend all night talking about High Fidelity.

Chef you’d like to prepare the meal: Anthony Bourdain, more than the meal I think he would be a good laugh and I would love to hear about his adventures around the world!

Writing soundtrack: It varies, when I’m not searching for a writing playlist I’m probably playing something from my favorite artists, including The Cure, Tame Impala or Unknown Mortal Orchestra. I also enjoy a bit of silence every once in awhile.

Pen or Pencil: I feel like writing with a pen has a more permanent effect on a page.

Coffee or Tea? Tea most of the time but coffee in Lisbon is really good!

Paperback or Hardback? There’s nothing like holding a hardback book, specially if it’s an old one (I get shivers just thinking about it).


Good Reads


Ler Devagar.  Ler Devagar is a bookworm’s delight. Located in LX Factory, one of Lisbon’s creative hubs, this bookstore took over a former printing space and now holds thousands of books with a variety of themes. The space is also used for exhibitions, concerts, and other events. Considered one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, it features sculptures, like the flying bicycle that hangs on the ceiling, antique printing machines and even has two bars where you can grab a bite to eat. (Rua Rodrigues de Faria 103, 1300 Lisboa)

Bookshop Bivar. Leena Marjola is the face behind Bookshop Bivar, a Finnish woman who always dreamt of owning a bookshop and found Lisbon to be the perfect place to set it up. It’s been running for a few years now and it’s still the only bookshop in Lisbon that sells exclusively second-hand English books. From classics to children’s literature, they offer books for every taste. Recently the bookshop has emerged as a cultural center, organizing events for the local community, that include writing workshops and book readings. (Rua de Ponta Delgada 34A, 1000-243 Lisboa)

Palavra de Viajante. Any travel lover should stop by Palavra de Viajante! This is the only bookstore in the country solely dedicated to travel items. It features travel books, city guides, maps, notebooks and much more. The books are available in multiple languages, including English, Portuguese, French and Italian. They often organize events with writers and even have their own café where they serve international treats! This is the perfect place to find inspiration and plan your next trip. (Rua São Bento 34, 1200-819 Lisboa)


Biblioteca do Palácio Nacional de Mafra. Set inside the Mafra Palace, this library holds over 40.000 books! It was established by a Portuguese king in the 18th century and is considered to be one of the most important libraries in the world, since it includes very rare publications both national and international. These works of literature are kept intact thanks to a group of bats that come out at night and eat the insects that might damage the books. While you might not be able to handle all the books, it’s definitely worth coming here to admire the library itself! (Terreiro D. João V 2640-492 Mafra)

Biblioteca Camões. Right in the heart of town you will find this quiet library.  Named after one of the greatest Portuguese writers, Camões, it is located on the second floor with many of its rooms facing the river. Here people can read, work or study and enjoy the view at the same time! There is one room with sculptures of renowned literary figures and another dedicated to exhibitions where you can suggest featuring your own projects. (Largo do Calhariz, 17 - 1º Esq. 1200-086 Lisboa)

Biblioteca Municipal S. Lázaro. If you want to literally be surrounded by books this is the place to go. This hidden library is set right next to a primary school and can sometimes be missed. Once you go in, you must visit the study room, a space with several tables and plugs where people can connect their laptops. There is a small spiral staircase that leads to another floor of books right above the study room. You will never loose track of time here thanks to the wall clock that chimes every half an hour. (Rua do Saco 1, 1169-107 Lisboa)


Lisbon Coffee & Books Club. Founded in October 2014, the Lisbon Coffee & Books Club is now the 4th largest meetup in Portugal! Pretty much every month they organize an event at the Bookshop Bivar around a specific theme. From books to song lyrics, all members are welcome to bring whatever they want as long as it’s connected to the given theme.

Litlovers. Every month the Litlovers group gets together to discuss a specific book. Everyone is meant to read it and discuss their thoughts on the next session. They usually alternate between a classic and a modern piece.

Feira do Livro. Lisbon’s Book Fair is held every year between May and June at the Eduardo VII park, one of the largest green areas in the city. Publishers set up their stalls around the park and there are also a variety of street food vendors in case you want to take a break from browsing books! During the event you can attend readings and book signings.


Cabine de Leitura. From the outside it might look like an ordinary telephone booth but if you come a bit closer you’ll realize this one is filled with books, from the bottom to the top! This mini-library aka Reading Cabin (Cabine de Leitura) promotes book exchanges among the local community. If you take a book, make sure to leave one in return. (Praça Londres 10, 1000-167 Lisboa)

Menina e Moça - Livraria Bar. A mix between a bookshop and a bar, Menina e Moça is set in one of the coolest night spots in Lisbon - Pink Street. The ceiling is decorated with colorful illustrations by João Fazenda and the walls are covered with books written by Portuguese authors. Here you can order food, drinks or buy a book, all under the same roof! (Rua Nova do Carvalho 40-42, 1200 Lisboa)

Bertrand Chiado. Bertrand is among one of the most known bookstore chains in Portugal. This one in particularly is considered the oldest bookstore in the world that is still running! It’s been open since 1732 making it a crucial element of Lisbon’s past. Over the years, several literary and political discussions took place here and many of its frequent visitors were famous writers. (Rua Garrett 73, 1200-309 Lisboa)

Good Eats


Pois Café. Comfy seats, nice food and a great stock of books and magazines, make Pois Café worthy of a visit. They have free Wi-Fi so it’s also a good spot to work. The café is located right next to Lisbon’s Cathedral and a few steps away from the Santa Luzia viewpoint. (Rua São João da Praça 93–95, 1100-521 Lisboa)

Café da Garagem. Up on a hill, Café da Garagem provides a wonderful view over the city. It’s set inside a local theatre and is full of interesting decor elements, from framed chairs on the wall to tables made out of old doors. They serve delicious toasts, perfect to accompany with a glass of wine! (Costa do Castelo 75, 1100-022 Lisboa)

Café do Monte. A cozy café in the Graça neighbourhood, Café do Monte serves warm drinks and international adaptations of a “Croque Monsieur”. There is an English version with rosbeef or a Mexican one with cheese and beans, all incredibly tasty. They also have a few board games which you can grab and play with your friends. (Rua de São Gens 1, 1170-108 Lisboa)