The lure of Lisbon

The lowdown on buying in Portugal, by Cathy Hawker
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Costa de Caparica, 14 miles south of Lisbon over the River Tejo, is a 13-mile stretch of sandy beach that can rival anything in the Algarve. It is one of Europe’s best urban beaches, combining natural beauty with good facilities. There are pine forests, cliffs and dunes: ideal for both families, who head to the northern beaches, and surfers, who take their boards to the wilder southern parts.

Aldeia dos Capuchos, set in 13 acres and surrounded by protected parkland, is a high-quality development of 1,050 apartments and villas being built around a Sol Meliá hotel and spa, with golf courses, tennis courts and pools. Due for completion in 2011, Hamptons is selling hotel apartments from £109,000 for a studio to £227,000 for two bedrooms.

“Suddenly Lisbon has woken up and realised it has a great coast,” says Carlos Tavares of developer Cantial. “We are competing with the Algarve now.” Just compare the prices. Last month, Portuguese newspaper Expresso quoted average property prices per square foot in Andalusia at £527, in the Golden Triangle of the Algarve at £344 and on the Estoril Coast around Lisbon at a bargain-busting £213. For property details, call 020 7758 8447, or visit

A palace in Sintra

Most visitors to Lisbon will take the steep and winding narrow road up to the mountaintop village of Sintra — where Portuguese royals and aristocrats came to escape the worst of the summer heat in beautiful castles and palaces.

Quinta de Princesa palace was rebuilt in the 19th century by King Ferdinand II, consort-king of Portugal and first cousin to Queen Victoria, and was home to his mistress and second wife, the Countess of Edla.

The palace sits high up on the edge of Sintra, with views over green slopes to the Atlantic. The five-storey property has high ceilings and grand proportions. There are 13 bedrooms, 12 reception rooms and beautiful, well-stocked gardens.

“This house was built as a love gesture and is a romantic property,” says Alison Macpherson of selling agent Aylesford International. “It has all the grandeur and elegance of a town house but in a wonderful country setting.” The palace is for sale at £4.3 million and requires some updating.

For details, call Aylesford International on 020 7351 2383, or visit

The basics

* Lisbon airport is four miles from the city centre. BA, EasyJet, Monarch and Portuguese airline TAP fly there from Heathrow, Luton and Gatwick.
* Discussions are under way over the location of a new airport to serve the capital.
* The Berardo Museum of Modern Art has just opened in Lisbon’s Centro Cultural de Belem, with works by Dalí, Picasso and Warhol.
* Purchase tax at 6.5 per cent should be added to property prices.
* Service charges at Azur will average €50 to €90 (£34 to £61) per apartment per month.

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