7 Things You Need to Know About Living in Castelo Branco

Nestled in the heart of central Portugal, the Castelo Branco region is an alluring destination for those seeking an affordable, laidback, peaceful lifestyle. The affordability of the region, combined with its stunning landscapes and peaceful atmosphere, has attracted a growing number of people looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and embrace a more self-sufficient and sustainable way of living.

However, while there are plenty of pros to living in this part of Portugal, there are a few cons as well, which this article will address. 

Property Is Affordable

Castelo Branco is renowned for having some of the most affordable property in Portugal, making it an attractive destination for those moving to the country on a budget or individuals seeking more spacious living accommodations than what they might find in more expensive areas like the Silver Coast, the Algarve, or the metropolitan hubs of Lisbon and Porto.

This affordability factor draws a diverse group of homebuyers and investors, from retirees looking to stretch their pensions further, to families in search of a better quality of life, and even to digital nomads seeking a scenic backdrop for their remote work lifestyles.

A significant portion of the property market in Castelo Branco consists of ruins and older homes that are ripe for renovation. This presents a unique opportunity for those who dream of transforming a ruin into a dream home. 

However, potential buyers should approach such projects with caution and thorough planning. Renovating a property, especially one that has fallen into disrepair, involves considerable time, effort, and money. The process may also require navigating local building regulations and securing the necessary permits, which can be daunting tasks without the right knowledge or assistance.

Nevertheless, for those up to the challenge, Castelo Branco offers a pathway to not only affordable living but also the rewarding experience of bringing a piece of Portuguese heritage back to life.

Living near Spain offers the best of both worlds

Living in the Castelo Branco region positions you uniquely for easy access to Spain, offering a seamless blend of Portuguese and Spanish cultures right at your doorstep. The proximity to the border means you can embark on road trips to a number of desirable Spanish towns and cities, enjoying the rich tapestry of experiences both countries have to offer.

Notable destinations include Cáceres, a city known for its medieval architecture, which is roughly a 2-hour drive away. Salamanca, with its renowned ancient university and vibrant cultural scene, is approximately a 3-hour journey. For those willing to venture a bit further, Madrid, Spain’s capital, offers an array of museums, restaurants, and shopping options, all within a 4-hour drive from Castelo Branco.

Moreover, shopping in Spain can be advantageous, as certain goods, including fuel, can be cheaper, providing an opportunity for savvy shoppers to take advantage of cost savings. Living in Castelo Branco thus not only enriches your life with the local Portuguese culture and natural beauty but also opens up a gateway to the diverse and rich experiences Spain has to offer.

The Weather is a Mixed Bag

The weather in the Castelo Branco region is characterised by seasonal variations that potential residents and visitors should consider.

During the summer months, the region experiences very high temperatures, often reaching levels that can be uncomfortable without adequate preparation and adjustment. This extreme heat, combined with a dry atmosphere, significantly increases the risk of wildfires, a well-known issue across Portugal during this period.

In contrast, the autumn, spring, and winter months bring a drastic change in weather patterns. The region receives a substantial amount of rainfall during these seasons, contributing to its lush landscapes and agricultural productivity. However, this also means that for about half the year, the weather can be quite windy and wet, significantly affecting outdoor activities and daily life.

There Are Lots of Big Supermarkets

Living in the Castelo Branco region doesn’t mean you’ll be cut off from the convenience of large retail chains. In fact, the area is well-served by major supermarket brands such as Continente, Auchan, and Lidl, ensuring that residents have access to a wide range of products, from groceries to household goods. Naturally, Amazon and other major online retailers deliver as well, although sometimes deliveries can take a little longer than desired. 

Alongside these modern retail options, the region also boasts vibrant regional markets where locals can find fresh produce, traditional crafts, and specialty foods.

However, despite the wide availability of regional markets and supermarkets, it’s wise to explore what shopping options are available in your specific area before moving, as the availability of these stores and markets can vary between towns within the Castelo Branco region, influencing both your lifestyle and convenience.

Public Transport is Good

By rural Portuguese standards, public transport in the area is quite good. This is due to the fact that there are both bus and train services available locally. 

If you wish to go further afield, there are good connections to both Lisbon and Porto as well as other Portuguese cities. 

  • To Lisbon: The journey by train from Castelo Branco to Lisbon can take approximately 2.5 to 4 hours, depending on the service chosen. By bus, it normally takes just under 2.5 hours. 
  • To Porto: Traveling from Castelo Branco to Porto is generally longer due to the greater distance. By train, it can take around 4.5 hours to reach Porto—or even longer. Taking the bus is usually faster, with a typical journey time of 3-4 hours. 

However, you’ll Need a Car

Having a car in the Castelo Branco region, as in much of rural Portugal, is almost essential for residents due to the limitations of public transport. While some bus and train services provide connectivity to key locations and larger cities, they often cover only the main routes and can leave many smaller towns and villages less accessible. This limitation becomes particularly apparent when trying to carry out daily activities such as shopping, accessing healthcare, visiting friends, or exploring the beautiful countryside that the region has to offer.

The Nearest Airports Are Far Away

One of the key aspects to consider when thinking about living in Castelo Branco is its distance from major airports. The nearest international airports are in Lisbon, which is approximately 220 kilometers away, and Porto, around 300 kilometers away. This means that for those residing in Castelo Branco, getting to either of these airports requires a journey of about two to three hours by car or longer by public transportation.

According to the Portuguese trains website, cp.pt, the journey from Castelo Branco (city) to Lisbon Oriente would take anywhere from 2.5 hours to 4 hours. According to Rede Expressos, the main bus website, the same journey would take just under 2.5 hours. Even though both the train and bus can take the same amount of time, the bus times are more consistent and so this is likely to be the faster way to get to and from Lisbon and Lisbon Airport. 

For individuals who travel frequently, either for work or leisure, this distance to the nearest airport could be a significant inconvenience. Planning trips would necessitate additional time for travel to and from the airport, and catching early morning or late-night flights might require staying overnight in Lisbon or Porto. 

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