Lisbon is the rising star of Europe, and many have been comparing it to Berlin. Rents are affordable, so artists are spreading out and they are obviously enjoying the nightlife scene.
And let’s not forget the mild climate, right at the ocean. I guess if Berlin and Barcelona had a love child, it would be Lisbon. But what do people mean when they say “Lisbon is the new Berlin”? Because if we’re honest, those two cities don’t have much in common.
On my last trip, I think I found out what made it so special. Unlike other metropoles, Lisbon is a city in which you can get by without working your ass off. One the one hand, the economic situation is dire; on the other hand, that means working for money has become secondary to simply making the best out of life.
Of course – Berlin used to have the same reputation. While this is slowly changing here, Lisbon is only getting started.
What makes Lisbon so special?
People are so laid back in Lisbon.
Everybody’s doing their own thing. Start-ups, new restaurants and expats mix into the old, narrow streets on the steep hills of the city. Lisbon is more like a little beachside town with better food. And sometimes time seems to stand still in Portugals sleepy capital.
But what makes Lisbon stand out?
Berlin’s worst party shack is better than Lisbons poster-child Techno club Lux. We went on a Friday night when the line-up resembled a Klubnacht at Berghain, but the club was full of obnoxious guys trying to grind up on girls. Granted, we didn’t come for the clubs, but it still left a sour impression.
There’s also a Friedrichshain of Lisbon called Bairro Alto, a hip part of town where backpackers and Erasmus students fill the narrow streets while drinking from plastic cups. It’s nice for one night out, but that can’t be the only reason for Lisbons popularity.
A city that doesn’t feel like a city
I think what makes Lisbon really stand out is that life happens on the streets. Everything happens outside, and everybody can join. Drinking, laughing, music, shopping, walking, gazing, smoking, skating – everything happens in the narrow streets or on the plazas of Lisbon.
Imagine you’re in a little town. Everybody knows your name, where you live and what you do. And your circle of friends all meet up at the same place, every night. But instead of being a boring routine, it’s quite exciting, because all the visitors of your town also meet at this place. So the characters keep on changing.
And that’s what is so fantastic about Lisbon: the city is big enough to cater to your every need, but it’s so small that you will definitely meet people. And since everything happens in public spaces anyway, you’ll never feel left out.
Lisbon makes you feel urban – but not lonely. Lisbon is small and spontaneous – just like Berlin used to be for everyone. People have enough time to indulge in the lush nature, and the endless views. And that’s what makes people say Lisbon is the new Berlin.