Once overlooked in favour of capital city Lisbon and the Algarve, Porto is now an emerging star of the Portuguese property market. Having shrugged off its shabby reputation (thanks to changes to a 1920s rent control law that meant there was no imperative for owners to maintain their properties), Porto has undergone welcome rejuvenation in recent years, thus establishing itself as one of Europe’s most exciting up-and-coming cities for property investors.
Rising dramatically from the banks of the Douro River, Porto - or Oporto, as it’s known within the country - is Portugal’s second largest city, but is by no means an overwhelming one; with a population of around 230,000, including a growing expat community, its a friendly, welcoming place that’s easy to call home. Other than Europeans, settlers here include fellow Portuguese-speakers from countries including Angola, Cape Verde, Brazil and Mozambique, making for a melting pot of culture.
And it’s culture, as well as the city’s rich history, that draws people to living in Porto. It was named joint European Capital of Culture in 2001, sharing the honour with Rotterdam whilst, as one of Europe’s oldest cities, it was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 1996, and much of its charm lies in its magnificent historical buildings.
Those buildings include the famous 15th century Romanesque Cathedral, as well as the art deco Coliseu do Porto theatre and the imposing São João National Theatre. In line with the city’s regeneration, countless bars and restaurants have popped up in the historic centre, catering to the growing tourist trade and resident population alike and lending a vibrant buzz to this
Despite the city’s rising star, property in Porto remains good value. Properties in the so-called ‘Golden Triangle’ - the area between Rua das Flores, Rua de Mouzinho da Silveira and Largo de São Domingos - are the most in-demand, whilst the Downtown area is on the rise too.
Away from the centre, the district of Foz - further towards the mouth of the Douro estuary - is a popular upmarket residential area. Here the higgledy piggledy houses of the city centre are replaced by generous villas, apartments and condos on wide, tree-lined promenades. Nearby Blue Flag beaches, a slightly cooler climate and the presence of British, German and French schools makes this sophisticated area a popular choice with expat families.
Meanwhile, property purchasers looking for an altogether grander investment will find sprawling estates, vineyards and quintas (farmhouses) in the towns founds dotted along the breathtaking banks of the Douro, where the grapes for the famous tipple that gives Porto its name are grown.