Crowds got you down? This post is part of a series of 10 European Discoveries for 2019 — off-the-beaten-path gems where you can escape the tourist rut and find a corner of Europe all your own.
Exploring Lisbon recently to beef up the coverage in our Rick Steves Portugal guidebook, I was struck by the energy and bustle of this up-and-coming capital. But, like in a lot of popular cities, it seems that most of Lisbon’s tourists are concentrated in just a few small areas: the Baixa (the flat “downtown,” facing the harbor) and the Bairro Alto (the hilly “uptown,” with fado bars and nightclubs). Tucked right between these zones is a steep, upscale residential zone called the Chiado.
The Chiado swirls like a peaceful eddy, surrounded on all sides by the churn of tourism. It has diamond-in-the-rough Art Nouveau storefronts; breezy, tree-shaded squares with inviting al fresco kiosk cafés (a Lisbon specialty); some of Lisbon’s most enticing foodie finds (such as various outposts of celebrity chef José Avillez; and Manteigaria, where you can slurp up heavenly, hot-from-the-oven pastéis de nata custard pastries that you’ve just watched them bake); and Lisbon’s most appealing shopping zone, around the Príncipe Real Garden (don’t miss Embaixada, a mall of trendy designers filling a fanciful Neo-Moorish palace). And just downhill is one of Europe’s best market halls, the Mercado da Ribeira, divided in half between old-school fishmongers and greengrocers, and cutting-edge restauranteurs and street-food stalls.
The next time I go to Lisbon, there’s no doubt I’ll hang my hat in the Chiado.
Planning a trip to Portugal? The new season of Rick Steves’ Europe features two episodes about Portugal that you can now stream online for free: Portugal’s Heartland and Lisbon. You can pick up a copy of our Portugal guidebook here — or leave the planning to us and explore Portugal on a Rick Steves tour.
And for nine more suggestions on where to get away from the crowds, be sure to check out my 10 European Discoveries for 2019.