Property on the Silver Coast
Coastlines don’t come much more dramatic than the Silver Coast. This is where, in winter, the world’s surfers gather to ride waves the size of a ten-storey building. Yet there are no ten-storey buildings in this lovingly preserved and unspoilt location.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t affordable property though. You have the choice of classy purpose-built resorts, or seaside towns that combine attractive old architecture with modern services and usability. Or you could choose rural properties where you can keep a bit of lifestock, grow your own wine and stable your horse at a fraction of the cost of the British alternative.
All this is just an hour’s drive from Portugal’s capital, Lisbon, in a country where the British are liked and well regarded, and with property prices in this part of Portugal a good 20 per cent cheaper than in the Algarve.
It’s the beaches that first impress. They are long, wild and sandy, usually backed not by tacky resorts but by countryside and the occasional fishing harbour. The most photogenic section is Obidos Lagoon, near to which are most of the resorts. The water is certainly colder than the Mediterranean and you have to be wary of the waves and the tides, but the cool water is wonderful in summer when the temperature hits 28ºC most days.
There is no technical definition of the Silver Coast – Costa de Prata in Portuguese – and some say it continues all the way from Lisbon to Porto. Usually it is taken to be the 150 kilometres, however, from a little north of Lisbon to just beyond Nazaré. Along the way there are spectacular coastal towns such as Peniche or Obidos.
Holiday property companies have been developing here, but always mindful of the fact that the location’s appeal is that it is not the Algarve, but somewhere more traditionally Portuguese.
The Portuguese do love their golf however, and popular golf-beach-holiday communities include Praia d’el Rey and Royal Obidos which have 1,600 homes between them, where you can have a holiday and plenty of rental income, or live permanently with low-tax advantages. They love their horses too – they’re practically a way of life – and at Quintas de Obidos you are invited to bring your horse with you.
Don’t forget the independent rural properties though – they are very affordable and the locals will welcome you like old friends – which you soon will be.
Where to Buy Property on the Silver Coast
If you like your seaside beauty spot with a bit more drama than the Mediterranean usually offers, a bit more lush than southern Spain and a bit more traditionally Portuguese than the Algarve, then the Silver Coast will be right up your alley.
The Silver Coast (Costa de Prata) begins just north of Lisbon and stretches around 150 kilometres to beyond the coastal town of Nazaré. There is no set definition though, and some claim it continues all the way up to Porto, another 150 kilometres north. Development lagged decades behind the Algarve and was further delayed by the financial crisis. Now, however, the Silver Coast is shaping up for another boom period, with prices on the rise.
It is an utterly gorgeous and dramatic stretch of coastline; wild and beautiful sandy beaches and lagoons, backed by cliffs and rocky headlands, hot enough in summer but warm in winter too. Although relatively unknown and definitely unspoilt, this coast makes the news each year when the world’s craziest surfers flock here to ride the world’s biggest waves.
Although most famous for the beaches, the Silver Coast is part of rural Oeste Portugal. It’s not unusual to see locals riding on a donkey to their farms and vineyards. There are mountain ranges just a little inland offering all sorts of outdoor activities. Golf is more popular nearer the coast and several courses have been built in recent years to tempt us away from the Algarve. Praia d’el Rey, near Obidos, is the most famous.
It’s a spectacular coastline, but a convenient one too. You can get to your seaside bolthole from the UK in time for lunch or after work. Both Lisbon and Porto get budget flights all year from the UK, including from regional UK airports, then
Where should you buy? You have a choice of new purpose-built resorts, including golf communities, the old towns and fishing villages, or country properties a little way inland or in the small country hamlets.
You see Nazaré in the world’s press most years; it’s the town in the foreground of all those dramatic “surfer rides world’s largest wave” shots. In 2014 all records were smashed when a surfer rode a 100 foot wave – the same height as a ten storey building. The town itself has around 15,000 people.
Peniche is a medium-sized town sitting out on a small but spectacular headland with the sea on three sides. It has an attractive harbour, photogenic white windmills and long sandy beaches popular for all windsurfing-type sports. The town has almost 30,000 people in the area and has always been a busy fishing port. It is also a popular surf-school location.
Caldas da Rainha
A city of 27,000 people, Caldas is 10 kilometres inland. With museums and exhibition centres plus a bustling centre of shops of cafes, it’s buzzing in summer but there’s plenty to do and see in winter too. Nicely renovated apartments start at around €100,000.
There’s a network of villages around that offers semi-rural Portuguese life but with access to local services and transport links – the bus from Caldas to Lisbon only takes an hour.
Buy a property on the Silver Coast and you can guarantee you’ll be showing all your visiting British friends around this dramatic medieval walled town. Obidos is not only a local highlight but one of Portugal’s most visited places.
It has traditional restaurants serving local fish in the narrow cobbled streets and wonderful views from its battlements – perfect for spotting a nice place to buy! Best of all is the beautiful and dramatic Obidos Lagoon nearby, cutting inland from the little beach resort at Foz do Arelho.
Sao Martinho do Porto
Sao Martinho do Porto is a lovely little town set round a lagoon, it has been built up with holiday apartments in recent years but is a good choice of families wanting something purpose-built and easy to look after and rent out. Two-bedroom apartments and townhouses go for about €130,000-160,000 here.
Mafra and Ericeira
Mafra is a substantial town of 76,000 people with a huge baroque palace at its heart. A few kilometres away on the coast is Ericeira, a town of some 10,000 people and a major beach and surfing resort. It’s a popular weekend break destination for Lisboetas.
Praia d’el Rey Golf and Beach Resort is the best known of the developments, situated between Peniche and Obidos Lagoon. It was started in the 1990s and comprises a thousand privately-owned properties set around a five-star hotel with sports facilities and a golf course. You can buy resale apartments here from around £100,000.
Quintas de Obidos is an estate of just 79 properties with a unique selling proposition, it is dedicated to equestrianism. The multimillion-euro villas are set around a lake, just south of Obidos Lagoon, with a country club and stabling for your horses. Captain Mark Phillips bought a villa here.
Royal Obidos Spa and Resort has nearly 600 properties, a mixture of villas, apartments and hotel suites, plus a hotel, spa, tennis club and an 18-hole golf course designed by Seve Ballesteros.
Campo Real is a luxury golf and equestrian resort at a place called Torres Vedras, a little way inland from the coast and nearer to Lisbon than the other resorts. It is operated by the Dolce group.
Bom Sucesso Design Resort has a golf course and beach front and some startling and innovative apartment and villa designs.
it’s a pleasant drive along a good motorway from either.