Portugal: The “It” Destination That’s Just Getting Started

People enjoying Portugal, a hot travel destination

Portugal, decidedly the “it” destination for the past couple of years, continues its ascendancy. According to investment firm Athena Advisers, American inquiries into Portuguese property are up 67 percent this year, and global consultants PWC recently named Lisbon the best European city for investment and development. Lisbon’s current hot commodity is Marvila, the historic meatpacking and market district. New to the neighborhood is Prata Riverside Village, a 10-acre, 600-apartment complex designed by architect Renzo Piano (the first residents moved in earlier this year, with the last of the units due by 2023). And a few months from now, Marvila will be home to the Hub Criativo do Beato, a 20-building campus that’s set to be the world’s largest start-up community.

One hundred ninety miles to the north, Porto offers a heady combination of ancient beauty and great wine, a legacy that will be celebrated in a big way when the €100 million World of Wine visitor attraction opens in July. In real estate terms, Porto is about five years behind Lisbon, so prices at the top end are about 40 percent lower, according to Athena Advisers. In Lisbon’s Palácio Ficalho, for example, an apartment goes for $635 per square foot, whereas in Porto, a similar unit at Palacete Cedofeita costs just $461 per square foot.

South of Lisbon, the newly popular Alentejo coast will be basking in the limelight come summer when Christian Louboutin opens his boutique hotel in Melides. “Nearby Comporta is becoming too crowded,” says Margarida Freitas of real estate firm Tamea International. “Melides, which has better sea views, is attracting high-profile buyers.” Also coming soon: the area’s first major development, Umay, with a hotel, treehouses, and a handful of villas designed by Portuguese architect Vasco Vieira and set amid a 50-acre pine grove. Prices range from just under $500,000 to $1.52 million.