In Photos: Bargain Homes in Portugal’s “Oldest” Town

Sometimes when you’ve got boots on the ground, you hear whispers about an emerging destination.

That same destination keeps popping up again and again in conversations with investors, developers, real estate agents, tourists, expats…

In my experience, when this happens, it pays to go investigate.

That’s the situation that’s just unfolded with my scouts in northern Portugal…

The small town my scouts kept hearing about dates back to Roman times, but has become upmarket in recent years, with crafts markets and riverfront cafés and restaurants.

As I write, my scout Ciaran Madden and our RETA photographer/videographer Alan Kennedy are wrapping up a more than weeklong scouting trip to Portugal.

If you’ve been following their progress here in Overseas Dream Home over the last week, you’ll know that they have been traveling north up the coast from the country’s second city of Porto.

Along the way, they’ve uncovered some incredible beachfront bargains and scouted vibrant coastal towns that that are both affordable and livable. (Go to the Overseas Dream Home website here to check out their boots-on-the-ground reports.)

In the coming days, I’ll be gathering together all their findings and putting them into a special report for members of my Real Estate Trend Alert group, complete with videos, maps, photos, walkthroughs of properties, and contact details of local agents, as well as my take on it all.

(This report is for RETA members only, so if you’ve not yet joined,
you can do that here.)

Over the course of their week in Portugal, Ciaran and Alan tell me they kept hearing buzz about the same rural town. So before completing their trip, they carved out some time to go check it out.

This town is, by one measure, the oldest in Portugal…

It’s also beautiful and culturally rich, yet you can buy new-build apartments there for less than €200,000.

Below, they share a photo essay from the town…and some insights into the incredible bargains you’ll find there…


Ronan McMahon, Founder, Overseas Dream Home & Real Estate Trend Alert

P.S. Have you ever been to northern Portugal? Interested in owning there? If you have a question or any feedback, I’d love to hear it. Let me know here.

In Photos: Scouting Portugal’s “Oldest” Town
By Ciaran Madden

Ponte de Lima is often referred to as the oldest vila (chartered town) in Portugal, with an official founding date in 1125.

Though in reality, it’s much older still.

Sitting on the south bank of the River Lima, the town was a significant Roman settlement.

It later become a fixture on the pilgrim road from Braga to Santiago de Compostela and Lugo in southwestern Spain. Today, it’s still part of the Portuguese Camino Central route, a pilgrim trail that remains popular with hikers.

Ponte de Lima is a small inland town of about 3,000 people and is a 30-minute drive from the coast.

Ponte de Lima has been a major river crossing since the Romans built the town’s bridge in 1 AD.

The bridge you’ll see in the town today is partly the original constructed by the Romans, though it was restored and extended in the medieval period.

Ponte de Lima’s stone bridge is a mix of Roman and medieval architecture. The town takes its name from the bridge, highlighting its importance down through the centuries.

Remnants of Ponte de Lima’s medieval past are scattered throughout the town.

In fact, if you look carefully at the walls of the some of those medieval buildings, you’ll see the “signatures” of the townspeople.

Back then, education was reserved for ecclesiastics…very few lay people could read or write. So when they were building structures, stonemasons marked the stones they laid so they could collect their wages. You can still see their markings today on the bridge, towers, and on the town’s cathedral.

Cadeia Velha Tower was built in the 14th century as part of the town’s defensive walls. It became a prison in the 1500s and was used this way until the 1960s.

In recent decades, Ponte de Lima has gained a reputation as one of the best preserved towns in northern Portugal. It has started attracting tourists, who come to walk amid its gleaming whitewashed buildings with their signature terracotta-red tile roofs.

Today, many of the buildings along the riverfront and circling its plazas host upmarket cafés, restaurants, and stores.

Largo de Camões is the site of the town’s first fountain. Originally built in the early 1600s it was moved to its current location in 1929.

Despite its small size, Ponte de Lima is a buzzing little town with lots going on. Every second Sunday, in a leafy park along the riverfront, the town hosts a market.

On the day Alan and I visited, vendors were selling all manner of ceramics, paintings, embroidery, and woodcrafts.

Vendors sell crafts at a fortnightly fair staged beneath the leafy trees at Ponte de Lima’s riverside park.

Each summer, the town also hosts the Festival Internacional de Jardins (International Garden Festival).

Running from the end of May through to October 31, the festival showcases 12 different gardens (the designs are chosen from a mix of national and international floral specialists) filled with flowerbeds, fruits trees, and a huge variety of plants.

There’s also a leisure area, a playground, and swimming pools at the festival site.

Although small in size and population, Ponte de Lima is big on charm and beauty.

Ponte de Lima is also a center for the production of Portugal’s famous vinho verde (“green wine”). Usually light and fruity, this wine uses young grapes (three to six months) and comes in red, white and rosé varieties.

You’ll find plenty of restaurants and cafés around town to sample a glass or two.

Stop and admire the river views at one of Ponte de Lima’s cafés and sample the local green wine.

Although it now features regularly on lists of Portugal’s most picturesque towns, Ponte de Lima, like so many other regions in the north, continues to fly under the radar.

I was astonished by the beauty of the town but even more astonished when I saw the real estate prices here. Dated three-bed condos in old buildings like this one list for €123,250.

New-build one-bed condos in the center of the town are on the market for €175,000. (See a listing for one here.) Two beds in new developments spanning 1,250 square feet list for just €185,000. (Listing here.)

With those kinds of prices and the livability of this town, more people will come here. I’ll put the full details on this town in our comprehensive scouting report on northern Portugal that we’re pulling together for RETA members. This report will include images, maps, video walkthroughs of homes, contact information for agents, an important update on new short-term rental rules in Portugal, and more.

(Not a RETA member? You can sign up here with this special offer.)

Believe the buzz. Ponte de Lima is a town that’s now firmly on our radar.

Ronan says: Ponte de Lima looks utterly charming. I was glued to Ciaran’s photos and videos that pinged up in our internal WhatsApp Scouting group. I’ll be scouting northern Portugal in August and I can’t wait to visit this town. Those real estate prices are simply eye-watering.

On its own Ponte de Lima is a pretty little town. Taking a broader perspcetive, it’s another piece of our Caminha/northern Portugal story. This little corner of the country is wildly attractive, overlooked, and undervalued.

The visitors will come…just like they did to the Algarve and Silver Coast. By the time they are here in big numbers, real estate prices will have more than doubled. Northern Portugal is your shot at a time machine—to buy like it’s the Algarve 30 years ago or the Silver Coast 20 years ago. Full details coming in our upcoming report for RETA members.

Questions and Feedback

Have a question or comment? Share it here. Here’s one I got from an Overseas Dream Home reader…

Barbara H. says: Hi Ronan. Thanks for the information! So you need 30% down on a residential property loan in Portugal?

Ronan says: Thanks Barbara. Glad you’re enjoying our scouting on Portugal.

The rules on how much you can borrow vary from bank to bank. With some banks, the maximum that non-resident foreign buyers can borrow is 65% of the purchase price of the home. Some banks will lend up to 80% of the purchase price.

In the examples I’ve been using to illustrate the cost of borrowing, I’ve been using the 70% figure since that is a common amount among non-resident foreign buyers. Many thanks again for the question.

If you have a question on borrowing, or any other aspect of buying, owning, or living in Portugal, share it with me and my scouts here.

Your Daily Dream Home

Sicily, Italy


This charming one-bedroom apartment features a bathroom, and an open plan kitchen/living room. There’s also a balcony overlooking the nearby church. The apartment has air conditioning installed.

The apartment is located in the historic center of Castellammare del Golfo. It is situated in a pedestrian area near Via Roma and parking facilities. The marina, beach, and Villa Margherita are within walking distance. The entrance to this recently renovated building faces Piazza Madonna delle Grazie.

Click here to find out more

Remember, we don’t make money from any listing shared here in the Your Daily Dream Home section. We have no dog in the fight. We’re just sharing cool properties we’ve found.

I haven’t visited this property or done due diligence on it. If you’re interested in the listing, you should hire an attorney and do your own due diligence.

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