Once, a daily newspaper asked the renowned Portuguese composer JP Simões what a happy day is. "Arriving in Porto by the Arrábida Bridge, in spring, and seeing the sunny houses that go up from the Ribeira, combining austerity with welcome. When I get to Porto, I remember what it is to live", was the reply. The most distracted may think that the musician is from Porto and that the declaration of love for the city is therefore the comfort of those who return home. But no. JP Simões is from Coimbra.
As Porto is actively on the international music circuit, welcoming hundreds of foreign bands every year, it is easy to find musicians from all over the world surrendered to Portugal's second largest city. A quick search takes us to Canada, where we find another aficionado. Tamara Lindeman, actress and folk vocalist of The Weather Station, who has been to Porto several times, made a similar statement in one of her stops: "I will always remember my first time in Porto. It was late afternoon, the light was golden, reflected in the tall, elegant buildings. In North America, where I live, the buildings are often grey, black, brown, made of bricks or cement. In contrast, Porto is beautiful, full of tiles and colours. I went up to Passos Manuel street, I entered “Maus Hábitos”, a building with windows from the floor up to the ceiling, overlooking the confusion of the old city roofs, a cultural mystery in the sky. Never before had I played music in a place like this."
This place - a magical, energetic, creative city with a deep sense of culture - is also, according to several international surveys, one of the best places in the world to live. If you are thinking of buying a property in Porto, you need to consider some key factors before making your investment in what is now Portugal's most seductive and bustling city. First of all, you will have to choose between buying an apartment, a villa or a plot of land for construction. Then, there are a number of aspects that look like details but that are decisive, such as sun exposure, which will decisively influence your quality of life; or the network of services around you, like schools, hospitals or supermarkets, which will make the most of your time and comfort.
But above all, the key aspect of your choice must always be the location. Not just the location of the neighbourhood where your property is inserted; and not just so that, in the future, if you want to sell it, you can make a bigger profit. But mainly because Porto is full of places that cannot be ignored when setting an address. There are five places you really need to find out before you make your decision.
It's not really a place, it's 18 kilometres in a straight line, a riverside that goes along the Douro River until it reaches the Atlantic Ocean, sprinkled with luxurious closed condominiums, like this one, built on the first beach line and obviously with stunning views. From Ribeira, in the centre of Porto, to Matosinhos - or, going a little further, to Leça da Palmeira -, you will find the best houses, with garden and swimming pool, the best restaurants, the best terraces and the best quality of life. In Foz do Douro, there are still many traditional markets and a typical neighbourhood life. Not by chance, this place, by the sea and by the river, is one of the most sought-after places to buy a house.
Downtown Porto, there's an absolutely mandatory block. It's known as “Porto’s Soho", because there you'll find most of the art galleries in the city. Later, other projects related to art and culture were added, such as national fashion designers’ studios, vintage and luxury objects shops, organic groceries or tea houses. Miguel Bombarda Street is the main axis of this artistic neighbourhood, but it extends along six more arteries, all likely to be walked along. Straight ahead, the Crystal Palace rises. Besides its wonderful romantic gardens, the Palace houses the Almeida Garrett Library, which is one of the city's main art exhibition halls, and one of the most stunning viewpoints. It is an incredible place to live or to invest. For example, in a restored building, like this one.
The beautiful and fully-restored historic centre of the city is, since it was classified as World Heritage by UNESCO, one of the most popular places to buy a house. Strongly disputed by the tourist sector, there are still there to sell some magnificent old buildings, fully recovered, like this one. The real estate market dispute makes perfect sense because that's where dozens of the city's landmarks are located. Let us highlight only five mandatory stopping points, which are accompanied by a cheerful and lively dynamic of people: the São Bento railway station and its marvellous tile panels; the Arabic Hall of Palácio da Bolsa, which is pure rapture; Torre dos Clérigos and its 240 steps; Passeio das Virtudes, the best place in the world to watch the sunset; and the emblematic Sé neighbourhood, where the Cathedral Church is located.
The cities of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia were about to be merged several times. There was never an understanding for this to happen, but to be in one city or the other is just to be on one side of the Douro River or the other. The identity of the two cities has the same root but, as it couldn't be otherwise, each one has its own specificities. Besides the Port Wine cellars, Gaia also has the fascinating Serra do Pilar Monastery, one of the most remarkable examples of classical European architecture, which deserves at least two visits: during the day and at night. If you are fascinated by the view over the city that the monastery allows, know that it is now possible to have the same view in your home. Take a look here.
The Serralves Museum is one of Europe's leading contemporary art venues. Besides the museological content, the work of the architect Álvaro Siza, Pritzker award winner from Porto, in itself, would be worth the visit. It so happens that the Museum is in dialogue not only with the fabulous gardens of the Park and Casa de Serralves, but also with its surroundings. It is easy to understand that this axis is also one of the most attractive to live in. Especially now, because it is one of the places where the environmental decision of the massive plantation of trees (there will be ten thousand new trees by 2021) and tulips (one hundred thousand, of eight varieties, have already been spread this year alone) is most noticeable. Take a look at this villa.
So, if you are thinking of buying a house in Porto, the best thing is to contact a real estate agent of a company that acts with ease in these five areas of the city. Try LUXIMOS Christie's Real Estate, which is currently the leader in the luxury segment in the north of the country.