Setúbal is the sexy new investment opportunity in Portugal

Bosc d'Anjou on Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-SA
Bosc d'Anjou on Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-SA
28 February 2019, Redaction

If there was ever a time when Setúbal was called "ugly" or "dirty", idealista/news can now affirm that this area on the South Bank of the Tagus is no longer so. Setúbal has become a city which is attracting large numbers of investors from Portugal and abroad. The city is creating new housing opportunities, more tourist lets and fresh business concepts, with lots more new development projects in the works.

Urban rehabilitation spread from the city centre to other parts of town

In terms of construction, the mayoress of Setúbal, Maria das Dores Meira, tells idealista/news that, "in the last four years, there has been an enormous intensification of acquisitions of old buildings for urban regeneration, particularly in the historic centre, although this has been a movement that has spread to many areas of the city."

Maria das Dores Meira also explains that this intensification was due to "the absence of new constructions, which is now reappearing, but also thanks to the enormous demand we have received from foreigners, including many French, Belgians and Brazilians who want to settle here because, I believe, they like the city, its climate and the many things it has to offer."

Maria das Dores Meira, Mayor of Setúbal / Carla Celestino
Maria das Dores Meira, Mayor of Setúbal / Carla Celestino

Foreign investment in real estate Portugal is especially popular thanks to the country’s Golden Visa programme, an initiative that aims to attract people to live there by offering citizenship to anyone who invests a certain amount of money in Portuguese property and other assets.

Holiday rental apartments on the rise

The Alojamento Local (AL) tourist rental market is currently one of the most dynamic activities in Setúbal. According to the National Tourism Register, there are 447 short-term rental apartments in the municipality and new establishments continue to appear at a fast pace.

This is confirmed by Setúbal’s mayor. "Setúbal has finally been discovered as a city and as the home of many quality tourist attractions. This explains the strong demand for new investments in Alojamento Local and hotels.”

Setúbal port
Setúbal port

She adds that today "we have a huge demand for tourism here, and from the most diverse backgrounds. Our restaurants are as lively as ever, with new businesses appearing every day and with our hotel capacity, quite apart from AL, being constantly strengthened.”

Wave of new property investments

For this new phenomenon, Maria das Dores Meira highlights "the efforts of many businesspeople who have ensured this growth, but also the work of the local municipality, which in recent years has invested many millions of euros in the reclassification of what was considered an ugly, grey and sometimes even dirty city. That reality has now changed."


Without wanting to get ahead of herself, the Mayor of Setúbal confirms that there are "many investment ideas already firm and under negotiation which, I believe, will significantly change in the next three years our volume of supply and further enhance our attractiveness as a tourist and investment destination."

When asked whether Macau Legend is still interested in investing in Setúbal, she said categorically, "Yes, they are still interested in the construction of a marina and other useful support real estate infrastructures." She added that "the progress of the process is now dependent on the launch of a public tender by APSS for the concession of this new marina".

ESTAMO, on the other hand, has the former Convento de São Francisco, which is located in Lugar de São Francisco and has a total land area has an area of 78,449 m2 (844,425 sq ft), for sale on its website. There is also a 994.3 m2 (10,702 sq ft) building site on Avenida da Independência das Colónias and a villa on Rua Tebaida, 9, with a total built surface area of 925.05 m2 (9,957 sq ft).

New construction work is progressing at a good pace

The construction work at the Albarquel Fort, under the aegis of The Helen Hamly Trust, was completed at the end of last year and in early 2019 will host a Cultural and Arts Centre. When it opens its doors, it will focus on culture, arts and pedagogy, but it will also contain a concert hall and a room to receive official visitors and investors.

This work was made possible thanks to the transfer of ownership of the fort by the Ministry of Defence to the municipality of Setúbal which, in turn, established a protocol with the foundation through the donation of 773,259.21 euro under the Lei do Mecenato (Patronage Act) and the Leis Inglesas e do País de Gales (English and Welsh Laws).

The land next to this fort, known as Bataria de Albarquel, was acquired by the Libertas Group from the Army for the construction of a hotel unit. The representative of the Group, Cecile Gonçalves, declared that the project "is currently being considered by the Setúbal City Council".

Also noteworthy is the Pousada de Setúbal in Forte de S. Filipe, which has had its doors closed since 2014 due to problems of instability on the hillside of the Arrábida Mountains. The refurbishment and expansion of this historic unit has an investment of 1 million euro and will double the capacity of the rooms, going from 16 to a total of 35 units, and 10 more jobs that add to the 15 that already exist. When contacted by idealista/news, the Pestana Hotel Group – which has the Pousadas de Portugal concession – said that the Setúbal unit should reopen in 2020.

Setúbal is on the crest of the surfing wave

The Think Setúbal Movement (Movimento Pensar Setúbal or MPS) has been supporting various business initiatives in order to attract innovative companies and projects, establish local populations and generate employment.

Port of Setúbal
Port of Setúbal

Vice President Orlando Santos revealed to idealista/news that there are two projects relating to tourist entertainment which will be located near the waterfront, one on the Sado River and the other on the Tagus River. "What will be on the banks of the Tagus River will be a theme park based around surfing which will generate artificial waves".

The project will occupy 20 hectares of land and will also involve a large hotel unit, being geared towards the practice of surfing and aimed at families. Without naming names, Orlando Santos says that it "is being promoted by a British investor with a lot of international experience".

Under the Juncker Plan, the MPS was also able to support a number of companies ranging from industry to agro-industry, tourism and social parks, so that they can settle in Setúbal. One of these projects "is already at a very advanced stage and there is already an agreement to occupy the facilities in the BlueBiz business park by a company that will generate 30 engineering jobs".

Projects in the portfolio

There are other projects, however, which have long been talked about for Setúbal, but which are still in the planning stage.

One of them is being promoted by The Edge Group. Initially, they had planned to develop the Setúbal Center, but the construction of the Alegro Shopping Center forced a change of plans for this developer, which now may give new uses to this land.

The Edge Group
The Edge Group

According to the latest news, this now looks to be an investment of around 30 million euro in an area of 30,000 m2 (323,000 sq ft), intended to create a new residential area. In the licensing process, it involves the construction of a set of buildings with a common central garden area directed to the medium-high/high end segment. The Edge Group confirmed this information to idealista/news but stated that this is not the time to talk more about the subject.

Meanwhile, the Israeli group New Lineo Cinemas (NLC), owner of Cinema City in Portugal, has a portfolio of "Nova Sintra" residential projects and a new hotel in Setúbal, but has also reserved the right to remain silent.

In the middle of the Arrábida mountains there is the so-called “7ª Bataria da Arrábida”, which is owned by the Government and has already caused a lot of media talk about a building which is to be transformed into a tourist complex (complete with hotel and cable car). The reality is that for the moment there is nothing concrete there.

Properties for sale and long-term rental in Setúbal:

Ready to find the house of your dreams?

Ready to find the house of your dreams?

Find houses for sale and long term rentals on idealista