Portugal’s pastiche of sleepy hilltop villages, orange-tiled roofs, cobbled streets, and the glistening Atlantic Ocean has never been more beguiling. The country’s charms include nearly year-round sunny days, first-rate cuisine, seaside towns, surfing, and hiking. It’s no surprise that many visitors eventually buy homes in this sunny paradise on the sea.
Luis Horta e Costa, a Portuguese real estate expert, says, “Portugal is attractive because of the people, cost of living, safety, and weather. And I think the quality of the services is increasing a lot.”
Horta e Costa co-founded Square View, a real estate property developer that builds and refurbishes properties in Portugal’s cities and beaches.
French footwear designer Christian Louboutin went on a seaside vacation in Portugal with his family during the Coronavirus pandemic. It led him to purchase a second home and build a 5-star hotel in the Portuguese village of Melides.
“It was my first spring in one place, discovering nature,” Louboutin told Italian writer Alain Elkann in a podcast interview. “It was fantastic.”
French designer Philippe Starck owns a second home in Portugal’s Sintra Mountains that slope 10 miles to the sea.
The Sintra Mountains have long been an off-the-beaten-path respite for celebrities and royalty. The former palace Tivoli Palácio de Seteais, reinvented as a five-star hotel, has lured luminaries for decades.
Long before this 18th-century Baroque palace opened to the public, the Portuguese royal family’s princes and princesses decamped there each summer. Walking up the carriage drive, guests can relive the royals’ route as they enter a fantasyland of frescoes, tapestries, antiques and chandeliers.
Some Spots Stand Out According to Luis Horta e Costa and Others
According to the numbers, home seekers chose to buy property in famous Lisbon, followed by Loulé, Albufeira, Cascais, and Porto. Lisbon, the capital city, remains beloved for its modern-ancient mix of high-speed internet that delivers service alongside Renaissance cathedrals, Moorish palaces, and Roman ruins.
“I love Lisbon because there are a lot of beautiful places to visit,” Luis Horta e Costa says.
The coastal town of Cascais offers an inexpensive alternative to Lisbon in a one-hour train ride from the capital. Cascais combines the convenience of nearby Lisbon with the pace of a smaller town. Maria Bravo of real estate agency IAD Portugal calls it a “small fishing village that retains its traditional features.”
In February 2022, Idealista reported that Porto, Portugal’s second-largest metropolis, was among the cities where property sells quickly. This hillside city, alongside the Douro River, is dotted with historic townhouses and Baroque churches, but it boasts a vibrant creative scene and modern nightlife.
Luis Horta e Costa, Other Experts, Extol the Beauty of Beach Towns
On the southern coast of Portugal, the Algarve region’s dramatic cliffs, luxurious accommodations, and award-winning golf courses conspire to make it a popular holiday choice. But like Lisbon, the Algarve’s property is the most expensive in Portugal.
Luis Horta e Costa prefers the quieter Alentejo region between the Algarve and the Tagus River, which boasts 40 miles of virtually untouched beaches. There, the countryside and sea surround cozy villages.
“The interior of the Alentejo is surprising and includes beautiful places to visit,” Horta e Costa says.
Melides, a 500-year-old village in the Alentejo’s center, attracts fans for its gorgeous location in unspoiled nature, only 130 km south of Lisbon. Dotted with lagoons and home to a vibrant bird population, Melides hums along slowly. Surfing, kitesurfing, and horseback riding are popular activities in the sleepy village.
“Melides is a fantastic place,” Horta e Costa says. “I think it is beautiful.”
He also adores the Douro Valley in northern Portugal, the home of Port wine. Natural parks, vineyards, and museums populate the area that takes its name from the Douro River.
Luis Horta e Costa says, “The Douro Valley is stunning.”
Starck cites villages Ericeira and Peniche as favorites. Ericeira, a former fishing village, birthed one of Portugal’s best surfing spots. Peniche is a seaside town in Central Portugal whose beaches also attract surfers.
Portugal Offers Many Property Types and Price Points
Elegant home designs exist in Portugal’s bustling cities and slow-paced villages, from countryside estates to beachside villas to city apartments. Home prices are affordable compared to similar European destinations, slightly below the EU average. In 2022, a new house costs an average of €2,352 per square meter. Properties in Lisbon reach around €3,797 per square meter, and those in Faro in the Algarve cost up to €2,685.
For bargains, home buyers should head inland. Properties in Portugal’s central region are less expensive than in its cities and coast. Plus, homes tend to be more spacious. The Silver Coast is also an attractive area for people seeking inexpensive properties, as it is a budget-friendly alternative to the Algarve.
Regardless of where one chooses to reside in this small but diverse country, magic awaits. Portugal’s architecture, geography, history, and multicultural past conspire to enchant those who visit and stay.