Lisbon is looking for and beginning to attract new blood. Europe’s forgotten “sleeping beauty” of the 20th century woke up after 1998’s World Fair, and local and foreign residents are injecting doses of cutting-edge creativity despite all the economic hardships. It’s on its way to becoming one of the places to be in Europe, to live and do business in (confirmed by the Financial Times/fDi Magazine which for the first time placed Lisbon on a list of “European Cities & Regions of the Future” 2012-13).
One of the main advantages of being in Lisbon is that it’s the closest European capital to the United States and to South America, particularly to booming Brazil. There are more flights from Lisbon to more cities in the former Portuguese colony than from any other city in the world. Lisbon also maintains privileged ties to its former African colonies, especially Angola. It’s also less than one hour away from Madrid with several flights every day, and about two and a half hours from Paris and London (it’s the only capital in mainland Europe sharing the same time zone with the British capital).
Being on the edge of Europe also means that the ports of Lisbon, Sines and Setúbal are gateways to the old continent and to a market of 250 million Portuguese speakers around the world.
With close to 300 days of sunshine throughout the year, no snow, and temperatures that never reach the freezing point, Lisbon is a truly blessed city. It’s great living in a place where you can have beach days in October or March, where you can sit comfortably outside at a café terrace in February, and where you don’t have to worry about the dangers of snow on the ground.
Lisbon officially has the lowest homicide rate of any European capital and the lowest number of residents who have been victims of any crime in the previous five years, making it Europe’s safest capital. Naturally as a big city that doesn’t mean it’s crime-free, and you do hear reports of petty crime like pickpocketing and car break-ins are not that uncommon. But compare Lisbon’s safety issues with that of any major city in the world and you begin to get a sense of how much safer and lucky you really are in Lisbon.
Safety and agreeable weather are just two factors that contribute to a high quality of life in Lisbon. Freedom, human rights, a stable democracy, recreation facilities and leisure time also make the Portuguese capital one of the best places to live in Europe. Residents can be at the beach just minutes from downtown, or enjoy nature in several green spaces such as Monsanto, the largest urban forest in Europe. Golf, surfing (Europe’s first surfing reserve is 30 minutes away) and other outdoor activities are also more accessible here that in other European capitals.
The people of Lisbon live complaining about everything that is wrong with their city (and they do have many reasons to, just like anywhere else), but they do live a more relaxed life at a more human pace, reflected in their long dinners, coffee breaks, and stops to enjoy the views.
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