South Africans can buy property in Portugal’s ancient walled cities

Oct 14, 2019, 8:00:00 AM

There is something inherently charming about ancient walled cities. The narrow, cobbled streets, beautiful town squares, quaint cafes and ornate churches hold a special fascination that makes them some of the most popular tourist destinations.

Lagos, on the Western side of the Algarve, is a mecca for outdoor sports especially known for its surfing and mountain biking, and there's a huge variety of property from central historical townhouses to villas and modern apartments.

International property specialist and founder of Hurst & Wills, Lisa Bathurst, says walled cities also offer excellent opportunities to own international properties in popular cities.

Throughout history, walls were built to protect cities from enemies. Some cities were built on hills to make invasions more difficult, while others fronted the sea to protect the towns from invaders in ships or even pirates. “Today well-preserved walled cities bring tourists and have become wonderful cities to live in,” says Bathurst. “They also offer South African buyers a great opportunity to own successful property abroad.”

According to Bathurst, Portugal has some of the most impressive walled cities in Europe. “What adds to the appeal of owning property in one of Portugal’s delightful walled cities is that South Africans are able to get a Golden Visa.”

The medieval village of Obidos in Portugal is one of Bathurst’s favourites. The town is situated only an hour from Lisbon by bus, costing only €8 (R133,89) per trip.

“This village is a wonderful example of a medieval town completely surrounded by intact fortified walls, made out of local limestone and marble,” says Bathurst. “The charming look of its streets, squares, houses and walls, along with the massive castle have turned the picturesque village into a very popular tourist destination in Portugal.”

Tourists flock there to immerse themselves in the village’s visible history, while tasting the local cherry liqueur known as ginjinha or ginja. 

Obidos is also located on the Silver Coast, a Portuguese property hotspot. With its white beaches, championship golf courses and mild climate, this area offers the ideal location for relaxation and fun outdoor activities like hiking, surfing and golf. Properties range from traditional homes to modern villas with sea views.

This is an excellent alternative to expensive areas of Lisbon and Cascais, while still being close to the city and international airport, says Bathurst.

Another walled gem is Evora, about 2 hours south of Lisbon, says Bathurst. “Historically, Evora was a major trading and religious centre contained within the city’s ancient walls. These days it is a young and vibrant city, with a large student population attending one of the world’s oldest universities.”

The city is surrounded by the wine region of Alentejo, known for its vineyards, olive groves, fortified towns and traditional villages. “This city has a warm climate, great wine and fine restaurants,” she says. “The cobbled streets are charming and overlooked by an impressive, colourful cathedral that offers fantastic views of the surrounding wine region, it’s a real gem.”

Bathurst says Evora has some excellent property opportunities from delightful new townhouses to refurbished places and vineyards in the Alentejo wine region. “The area also falls within the low-density rehabilitation criteria for Golden Visa, meaning that there are Golden Visa opportunities from only €280 000 (R4 687 006,80).” 

Another walled city is Portuguese Lagos, situated on the Western side of the Algarve. Lagos is a mecca for outdoor sports especially known for its surfing and mountain biking. It also offers wonderful cultural attractions and a well-preserved old town with town walls dating back to the 16th Century, says Bathurst.

“The old town is full of beautiful, colourful architecture,” she says. “There is no shortage of churches but one of the most interesting is the Capela dos Ossos (the Chapel of Bones), at the Church of San Sebastian. The marina is the town’s social hub, with a throng of bars, restaurants and shops. The area is famous for its beaches, the best on the Algarve, it’s great for swimming and kayaking as you search for orcas, dolphins and whales.”

There is a huge variety of property in Lagos, says Bathurst. “From central historical townhouses to villas and modern apartments.  The area is popular for holiday rentals which, though seasonal, can earn good annual yields. It’s also popular with lifestyle retirees looking for sailing, relaxation and golf. Some resorts offer guaranteed returns.”

Walled cities, especially these three in Portugal offer good value for South Africans looking to diversify their wealth portfolio with international property.

Topics: buying property, Relocating, Buying in Portugal