Lisbon is enjoying its day in the sun. Builders are busy across the light-flooded, hilly Portuguese capital and on the newly revitalised historic waterfront in particular, where there will be £29 million investment over the next three years.
Harsh years of recession have given way to booming tourism, tech start-ups and property sales, with new restaurants, hotels and homes being created all over the city.
“When Portugal goes through crises we stop buying clothes and luxuries but we never stop going out to eat and party,” says Carlotta Pelikan of Athena Advisers.
After dark, the cobbled streets of historic Lisbon are buzzing. Michelin-star chef José Avillez recently opened Bairro do Avillez, his sixth Lisbon restaurant, where even in midweek the double-height, brasserie-style courtyard is full to bursting. Meanwhile, keeping up with the latest grand hotel openings is dizzying.
“International buyers come for investment and lifestyle but once they see what’s on offer most decide to spend more time here,” says Pelikan. “Lisbon is a walkable city, historic, beautiful but most of all it is affordable.” Everything from a taxi ride to a home represents good value. Grand flats in Avenue Liberdade cost a third of those on the Champs-Élysées, their Parisian equivalent.
Strong sunshine under blisteringly blue skies reflects off the Tagus River to give the city its special light. This is a city that encourages an outdoor, healthy lifestyle — Pelikan is one of many residents who dashes out to surf in her lunch hour.
CITY NEIGHBOURHOODS FROM HIP TO ELEGANT
Property prices in central Lisbon rose 22 per cent last year, and, helped by reforms to rental laws, the elegant but neglected buildings in the city’s compact centre have been rediscovered.
Key city areas include Chiado, Lapa and Principe Real. Chiado, near the river, has a hip, family-friendly vibe and plenty of good shops and restaurants. Buildings are lower than along the grand Avenue Liberdade but there is plenty of lovely 19th-century architecture.
Upmarket Lapa is filled with elegant palaces and embassies. In a quiet residential street near the river Athena Advisers is selling Conde 35, 11 flats in a five-storey building by specialist period developer Stone. Behind the original façade are modern, liveable one- to three-bedroom flats of 732sq ft to 1,884sq ft, from £287,600 including underground parking and private gardens for ground-floor homes.
Santos, 10 minutes walk from Avenue Liberdade, is a fast-changing, good-value area filled with design shops and architectural practices. It’s central, beside the river and near the train station.
Santos Design is a rare new-build project by Stone, again for sale through Athena Advisers, with 24 one- to four-bedroom flats over eight floors, priced from £292,000 with good views, a pool, spa, gym and business centre. Completion is due in 2019.
Stone’s newest project is Santa Justa 60, a historic building in the busy, pedestrianised heart of Lisbon. Here, the developer plans to create eight two-bedroom apartments over existing retail space and Athena Advisers believes the central location will appeal to buy-to-let investors. Prices range from £553,000 to £768,000.