Gone are the days when Portugal topped our list of overlooked countries to visit. You’ve undoubtedly seen its freakishly beautiful beaches and vineyards on the ol’ Instagram; you may even be planning your road trip along the Algarve as we speak.
Portugal’s capital bears the brunt of its tourism (though we’re big fans of Porto ourselves). The camera loves Lisbon, with its classy architecture and museums, bustling plazas, and food markets. Many of the city’s older neighborhoods have undergone dramatic revitalization, and now rock lively bars, luxury boutiques, and dreamy Airbnbs.
Yet, as with life, change brings some bad with the good. Long-time residents decry that revitalization and home-sharing are not only leading to over-tourism, but paving over much of the history and culture that made Lisbon so charming to visit in the first place. And true, you probably aren’t flying all the way to Europe to eat in a restaurant that looks like Los Angeles.
Enter Almada, one of Lisbon’s most underrated areas. Take a 10-minute ferry ride across the Tagus and you’ll be greeted at the dock by grandmas in cheerful floral dresses, enticing you with fresh fruits and veggies grown on their plots further inland. Most visitors come over in the late afternoon and catch the 101 bus up to the famed Jesus statue, known as Cristo Rei. Maybe they stick around for dinner... more likely they head back to their Airbnb.
But it’s well worth going off the tourist path and lingering in Almada. Technically its own municipality, Almada has a down-to-earth neighborhood vibe populated by an older, working-class bunch of locals. Spend a day ducking into humble shops specializing in cheese, wine, bread, and delicious barbeque chicken. And with four distinct areas to explore -- Cacilhas, Cova da Piedade, Almada Velho, and Bairro Pombal -- there’s plenty of things to do in Almada between meals.