Squeezed between downtown Baixa and the nightlife party-central of the Bairro Alto, glossy Chiado is within shouting distance of the romantic ruins of Carmo Church (Igreja do Carmo) and the hidden treasures in the Church of St Rocco (Igreja de São Roque). It is also home to glorious Art Nouveau shops, old-world Lisboa cafés with window displays brimming with delicious pastries, and timeless antiquarian bookshops. Amid the fine 19th-century townhouses fronted with wrought-iron balconies and the piazzas with madly patterned mosaic sidewalks stand top-end fashion designers, jewelers, theaters, concert halls and posh boutique hotels. An eclectic mix of restaurants – from Michelin stars at Belcanto to basic snacks at neighborhood tapas bars – adds to the cultural soup of this sleek hillside enclave.
When Chiado was hit by fire in 1988, the famous Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza Vieira (who redesigned much of central Porto) was called in to oversee the regeneration of the area; he designed the sophisticated mall Armazéns do Chiado and restored the Art Nouveau glamor of streets such as Rua Garrett, with its host of charming cafés. The hip area of Príncipe Reale is known for design stores and antique shops while also doubling as one of Lisbon’s leading gay quarters; interwoven into all this urban sophistication are hidden nooks and crannies such as shady Praça das Flores, perfect for people watching over a glass of port and a custard Pasteis de Nata.
Walk up to Chiado from Baixa or take the Metro to Baixa-Chiado.