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Buying property in Portugal’s most charming regions

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Experts like Luis Horta e Costa weigh in on buying property in some of Portugal’s most charming regions. 

Perched on the southwestern edge of the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal boasts a massive geographical advantage: Water surrounds half of its periphery. Sea cliffs dominate part of the lonely coastline, leaving rugged cliff lines without a structure in sight. Then there are the pristine beaches bordered by pastoral countryside, rice fields and olive trees.

Much ink has been used to write about hotspots Lisbon, Coimbra, and Porto. But the smaller towns beguile would-be homeowners with their own brand of beauty. Beyond their year-round climate of largely sunny days and first-rate cuisine, seaside towns also yield golfing, surfing, boating, and hiking attractions. 

Affordable prices, compared with similar destinations in Europe, also attract homebuyers. A transport system provides access for those in cities who desire an easy escape to coastal towns. And, according to real estate experts, smaller municipalities offer looser regulations. This opinion is held by businessman Luis Horta e Costa, the co-founder of Square View, a real estate property developer and asset manager based in Lisbon.

“We have a problem in Portugal about bureaucracy, which is tough,” he says. “So, we try to avoid the complicated city halls.” 

Luis Horta e Costa Recommends Cascais
The coastal town of Cascais is a 36-minute drive – or one-hour train ride – from Lisbon. Essentially the Portuguese Riviera, the region became a popular holiday resort in the 1870s when well-heeled Europeans followed King Luís I of Portugal and his family there for their summer residence.

King Edward VIII decamped to the region in 1940 with his wife Wallis, staying a month at the mansion of banker Ricardo do Espírito Santo that locals call “The Pink House.” The region’s glamorous Casino Estoril inspired Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel, Casino Royale. Today, shoe designer Christian Louboutin maintains a villa and is establishing a luxury boutique hotel in Cascais. 

Louboutin confessed to Expresso magazine, “I am Breton. I was born on the coast and found the same here, but with better weather.” 

Cascais retains a glamorous yet relaxed vibe, combining the cosmopolitan convenience of nearby Lisbon with the comfort and pace of a smaller town. Maria Bravo of real estate agency IAD Portugal calls Cascais a “small fishing village that retains its traditional features.” 

Luis Horta e Costa says of the seaside stretch, “Cascais is a very good destination.” 

Melides, Another Luis Horta e Costa Favorite
Located in the southern wine region of the Alentejo, Melides is replete with lagoons, unspoiled nature, and vast beaches. Lovers of the charming town enjoy disconnecting luxuriously while barefoot. 

Only 130 km south of Lisbon, Melides offers the calm of the countryside with the sea nearby. It has been compared to the Long Island Hamptons before they were developed. Surfing, kitesurfing, and horseback riding are popular activities. 

“My family is building in Melides, which I think is beautiful,” he says. “We are looking for a place to build a wellness and meditation center in Alentejo.”

Discovering Santiago do Cacém 
Whether one wants a seaside beach house or country home, there is something for everyone in Santiago do Cacém. A medieval castle, the Castelo de Santiago, dominates the hilltop of this charming town located in the Alentejo region around 150 km south of Lisbon. 

Another favorite of Luis Horta e Costa, who is building in the area, Santiago do Cacém is a mecca for water lovers, as windsurfing, sailing, kayaking and canoeing are all popular pursuits on the area’s calm lagoon waters. 

Santiago do Cacém’s gentle slopes make for the perfect horseback riding trails. Nearby sights include the Miróbriga Roman Ruins, Badoca Safari Park, and Santo André Lagoon, where bird-watching opportunities abound. 

Enjoying the Algarve 
Algarve’s dramatic cliff formations punctuate the beaches that are among the best in Europe. One can find lush hilltops inland near the Monchique Mountains and River Guadiana, where hiking is heightened by the sea view. Despite modern restaurants and top-class golfing, the Algarve region can still seem like a step back in time. 

Algarve is home to the Golden Triangle, which attracts footballers and celebrities, as well as small villages where homeowners can find three-bedroom properties of good quality for low prices. The Algarve’s average property prices range from €150,000-plus for a two-bedroom apartment to €400,000 for a two-bedroom detached villa.

The Silver Coast
Whether one wants a condo with a sea view, a traditional villa, or even a renovation project in a quiet village, the Silver Coast delivers. Stretching from north of Lisbon to Nazaré, a traditional fishing town that offers an alternative to the famous Algarve, the Silver Coast is attractive for many reasons. 

One draw is its proximity to Portugal’s cities, Lisbon, Coimbra, and Porto. Another is the crashing Atlantic that draws surfers to beaches including Peniche and the Mount Everest of surfing, Nazaré, with its 20-meter-plus waves. 

Many real estate options exist for gaining a toehold in Portugal’s paradise. Its charming seaside towns exist as gateways for those who love exploring nature, fauna, and flora. Others love affordable food and wine and ancient history and architecture. Fortunately, homes can be found in charming Portuguese cities for the most reasonable prices in Europe.


Photo by Humphrey Muleba on Unsplash

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