Favorite places to walk, shop, eat and drink in Lisbon, Berlin and Madrid.

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Going to Europe? Walking is one of the best ways to sightsee. And here are don’t-miss streets in Lisbon, Berlin and Madrid.


Rua Nova do Carvalho

For decades, streetwalkers and sailors were the main denizens of Rua Nova do Carvalho, a dockside lane of seedy nightclubs named for Rotterdam, Liverpool, Copenhagen and other ports.

These days, all types of people walk the street, which has been closed to traffic, painted a cheerful shade of pink and elevated into Lisbon’s most bustling new party strip, thanks to a combination of enterprising bar owners and municipal action.

Tinned is in at Sol e Pesca (Rua Nova do Carvalho 44). Stacked in illuminated glass cabinets, hundreds of cans of tinned fish line the maritime-themed bar, a former fishing tackle shop. Drinkers can indulge in sardines in tomato sauce, mackerel roe and other briny bounty with their shots of ginjinha cherry liquor.

Gin is in a few steps away at Lateral (Avenida Barbosa du Bocage 107A), which serves multiple boutique varieties of the liquor, such as Bloom and Berkeley Square. Slip into one of the classic wooden school chairs and you’ll also get an education in neo-Portuguese cuisine, from scrambled eggs with lush farinheira sausage to tuna focaccia with wasabi mustard.

You’ll find robust tapas dishes at Povo (Rua Nova do Carvalho 32-36), but the real star is the Portuguese language itself. Within the intimate chapel-vaulted, candlelit space, local poets give readings and young practitioners of fado, Portugal’s melancholy folk music, perform concerts. It all goes down smoothly with Povo’s several varieties of caipirinhas.

The street’s most medieval space hosts its most modern performers. Stony and vaulted, the cavernous Music Box club (Rua Nova do Carvalho 24) is a sonic cathedral where you’ll hear Portuguese indie rock, Brazilian hip-hop, minimalist drum ‘n’ bass collectives, funk and electro DJs. An absinthe makes everyone fast friends.



Nobody would call Wilmersdorf one of Berlin’s hipper districts. The area suffers from a shortage of lively cafes and restaurants and has earned a reputation for being profoundly buergerlich — a slightly derisive term connoting affluent respectability.

But this sprawling residential quarter in western Berlin does have one major asset: a number of attractive streets and squares, classic jewels of Mitteleuropa, that were left largely untouched by the Allied bombing in World War II.

Ruedesheimer Strasse, tucked away in one of Wilmersdorf’s quieter corners, is my favorite. This tidy shopping street leads directly to Ruedesheimer Platz, which dates from the reign of Kaiser Wilhelm II, when the German capital was undergoing a rapid westward expansion into farms and woodlands.

An urban developer named Georg Haberland raised financing for the project in 1905 and named the square and area after towns in Germany’s wine-producing Rheingau region. To build it, he hired German architect Paul Jatzow, known for his English country-style aesthetic, who designed tidy rows of three- and four-story earth-toned apartment buildings with manicured front lawns, carved stone porticoes, red-tile roofs, gables and mock half-timbered facades.

The heart of the platz is an intimate park and flower garden. Overlooking the park is a 1911 fountain and a triumvirate of statues that hark back to German myths, including Siegfried, the dragon-slaying hero of the epic poem “The Nibelungenlied.”

For much of the year, Ruedesheimer Platz is a quiet urban oasis, but that aura of tranquillity vanishes between May and September. That’s when the annual Rheingau wine festival, or Weinbrunnen, moves in. Wine producers from across southern Germany and Austria sell their rieslings and spaetburgunders from a wooden hut in the square from the afternoon until late evening. On some weekends there is live music and an outdoor market.

The festival has become one of Wilmersdorf’s most popular events, but it hasn’t pleased everybody. Last year, one irate Ruedesheimer Platz resident demanded in a court filing that the festival be drastically shortened, claiming it was disturbing the peace. Five thousand locals signed a petition to keep the festival in place, which means that the wine is likely to keep flowing for a long time to come.



Calle Zurbano

Soon after moving to Madrid a dozen years ago, an acquaintance asked me where I hoped to settle. My answer, Calle de Zurbano — or simply Calle Zurbano, as it is usually called — brought a chuckle as he explained that it is one of the city’s best addresses, street lined with palatial homes, five-star hotels and fine restaurants. “Well, who wouldn’t like to live on Calle Zurbano?” he asked.

I simply loved the look of the street — and still find it perfect for idle strolling. It connects trendy Chueca and Salesas in the city’s center with the high-rise business hub farther north, giving the street a great mix of genteel early-20th-century revivalist buildings sitting shoulder to shoulder with brooding-on-the-outside, plush-on-the-inside examples of Spanish brick modernism from the 1970s.

Many buildings have verdant gardens tucked alongside, while others have flowering vines or colorful tiles clinging to their facades. The lobbies of a dozen buildings betray the locals’ collective taste for bold modern sculpture. Interior designer Lorenzo Castillo, who recently renovated the lobby and public rooms of the Hotel Santo Mauro at No. 36, agrees. “It’s one of the few streets in Madrid where you feel like you’re in a grand European capital,” he said.

Castillo’s update of the hotel, set in the former palace of a nobleman, offers a Grand Tour of styles and periods, from 18th-century Chinese to swinging 1960s London. The glam mirror-clad bar and paneled library restaurant provide respite from the action on the street.

Other refreshments — Spanish wines and jamón Ibérico and tinned delicacies from the sea — can be picked up at Mantequeria Gascón at No. 65, with its ornate carved wood and reverse-painted glass facade from the 1930s.