Exploring Braga: Why Portugal’s “Third City” Is A Great Place to Own Property

As Portugal's third-largest city and one of the happiest in Europe, Braga is becoming an increasingly popular place to live, visit and invest. We explore the appeal of this somewhat overlooked Northern treasure.

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Situated in the north of Portugal, Braga is the third-largest city in the country and a prime location for property investment.

It is one of Portugal’s oldest cities, with its origins rooted in the Roman period over 2,000 years ago. Today, the city combines historic charm and modern appeal. Just 45 minutes northeast of Porto, travellers often combine these two enchanting Portuguese cities into one trip.

Braga is home to elegant baroque architecture and the highest concentration of religious buildings in the country. Built in 1089, Sé de Braga is Portugal’s oldest cathedral with a distinct ancient-gothic style and breathtaking interiors. Bom Jesus do Monte, a hilltop church and notable Christian pilgrimage site, lies just outside of Braga and offers sweeping city panoramas.

Braga may be shrouded in ancient and religious history, but there is also a very contemporary side to the city. In addition to modern landmarks and architecture, the University of Minho boasts 32 research centres and draws a young, energetic population of students and working professionals.

Other standout features of the city include age-old palaces, bustling grand plazas, pristine gardens and a plethora of independent shops and restaurants. All of this draws an international crowd of visitors to Braga, keen to experience the very best of “old” and “new” Portugal.

Growing Tourism in Braga

Braga has experienced a surge in tourism over the past decade. The city attracts around 7 million visitors annually, and according to the Portuguese Tourism Confederation, tourist spending equates to more than 700 million euros each year.

In 2021, Braga was named the Best European Destination to Visit by a Brussels-based tourism company. Over 109,900 votes were awarded to Portugal’s third city—72% of which were from outside of Portugal.

In the past, this Northern treasure has been somewhat overshadowed by the likes of Lisbon and Porto. However, those looking to escape mass tourism while enjoying great Portuguese weather, culture and food are now landing on Braga as the ultimate destination.

Religious tourism remains a key driver of the industry. As well as being home to various religious landmarks, the city hosts renowned religious events such as the Holy Week Celebrations and the São João Festival, which attract tens of thousands of visitors from across Portugal and overseas.

Additionally, the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus de Braga was named a World Heritage Site in 2019—cementing Braga’s standing as a site of strong religious and cultural significance.

A Great Place to Live and Work

Braga’s excellent quality of life makes it an attractive place to live, work and own property. The city was named the 5th Happiest City by the European Commission’s latest study, which assessed the quality of life in cities across Europe. An overwhelming 97% of residents said they were very satisfied with life in Braga, making it the “happiest” city in Portugal.

As a beautiful city with solid access to education, healthcare, and transport, it’s unsurprising that Braga remains the destination of choice for many homeowners. It is a hub for business and trade in Northern Portugal, meaning employment opportunities are abundant. And to top it off, the cost of living and housing is more affordable than in Lisbon and Porto.

The Property Market

Braga has all the ingredients for a competitive market. As the city becomes an increasingly popular place to live and visit, it is seeing a surge in the demand for homes and rental properties. Meanwhile, there is a limited supply of properties across the city, but particularly in the city centre.

With that said, housing remains affordable compared to other regions. The average price per square meter for a property in Braga is €1,200—€300 lower than the national average, according to Idealista. Property prices are also 15% cheaper than in Porto and around 50% more affordable than in Lisbon, making Braga an attractive option for a wide range of buyers.

Short-term lets are gaining popularity as more people land on Braga as a top tourist destination. Meanwhile, with a high quality of life and a buoyant employment market, the city enjoys a strong and stable demand for long-term rental properties.

Whether you’re looking to settle in the sun, find your dream second home, or capitalise on the country’s booming rental market, Braga is full of opportunities. Get in touch to find out more about leading properties and projects in the region.

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