15 Best Places to Live in Europe for the Highest Quality of Life

by Flora Backup
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Europe is more than just a continent; it’s a lifestyle. From its sunny Mediterranean coasts to its scenic Alpine villages and vibrant cities, Europe offers a rich tapestry of cultures and landscapes. But with its many countries and regions, finding your ideal home base can be a challenge. To assist you in this journey, I’ve crafted this guide on the best places to live in Europe.

I’ve traveled all over Europe (38 countries, to be exact) – exploring its bustling cities, hidden gems, and everything in between. I have also lived in a handful of European cities – including Barcelona, Valencia, Vienna. From Italy’s rocky coasts to France’s quiet wine regions, and from tech cities like Berlin to beach destinations like Mallorca, Europe has it all. Whether you love old history, wine areas, or busy cities like London and Paris, there’s a part of Europe just for you.

So, where to begin? The perfect locale varies for each individual. Some may prioritize proximity to beaches, others may seek top-notch education, and for many, the cost of living will be the ultimate decider.

Join me as I delve into the best cities to reside in, based on your own priorities. Having experienced Europe’s diverse offerings, I’m here to guide you through the top places to live. I’ve pored over research, analyzed statistics, and conversed with locals to compile a list that accommodates every lifestyle and budget. Let’s get started!

– For more Europe travel inspiration, follow my adventures on Instagram: @Global.Viewpoint

The best places to live in Europe right now

The Best Places to Live in Europe      

Eager to explore the most stunning places to call home in Europe? Located between Asia and the Atlantic, Europe has a spot for everyone. Keep reading to uncover Europe’s top living destinations.

Searching for your ideal European home and where is the best place to live in Europe? No matter your plans, Europe has a place that fits.

  • Best for history: Berlin, Germany
  • Best for beach and nightlife: Barcelona, Spain
  • Best for living quality: Vienna, Austria
  • Best for green living: Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Best for sunny lifestyle: Lisbon, Portugal
  • Best for modern history: Valencia, Spain
  • Best for old charm: Prague, Czechia
  • Best for city and nature: Helsinki, Finland
  • Best for lively culture: Madrid, Spain
  • Best for tech and history: Tallinn, Estonia
  • Best for waterways: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Best for outdoor life: Oslo, Norway
  • Best for quiet charm: Bologna, Italy

Here are all the must-know spots to live in Europe:

1. Berlin, Germany

In the heart of Europe lies a city where past and present merge beautifully. Berlin, Germany, often called the best place to live in Europe, is a tapestry of diverse neighborhoods. Artistic vibes pulse through Kreuzberg, while tranquility adorns the leafy lanes of Prenzlauer Berg. Each corner of this city has its own unique charm.

Culture enthusiasts will be captivated by Berlin’s rich museum scene and vibrant galleries. Nightlife here ranks among Europe’s finest, offering something for every taste. Additionally, Berlin’s cost of living is surprisingly reasonable compared to other major European capitals. Its efficient public transport system ensures easy access across the city.

Berlin, often hailed as the best place to live in Europe, weaves a tapestry of diverse neighborhoods
Berlin, often hailed as the best place to live in Europe, weaves a tapestry of diverse neighborhoods

The city’s landscape is a fascinating mix of the old and new. Iconic historical landmarks like the Brandenburg Gate stand proudly amidst contemporary architectural marvels. The Berlin Wall, once dividing the city, now shows colorful street art. It stands as a sign of Berlin’s strength and change. The city is always evolving, making it the best place to live in Europe for those who love constant change. Berlin blends its deep history with a lively, modern spirit. This mix makes it a fascinating place to live.

2. Vienna, Austria

Steeped in imperial grandeur and modern comforts, Vienna stands out as one of Europe’s best cities to live. I may be slightly biased, given that my wife is from Vienna and I’ve spent months here over the years. However, Vienna has won many international awards for being among the world’s most livable cities.

This Austrian capital is celebrated for its striking classical architecture, lush green spaces, and exceptional quality of life. The charm of Vienna is further enhanced by its traditional coffee houses and unique food scene, each weaving a distinct atmosphere throughout the city.

Vienna offers a unique blend of tradition and modern living for those fortunate enough to call it home.
Vienna offers a unique blend of tradition and modern living for those fortunate enough to call it home.

Residents here enjoy a strong sense of community and safety. The city’s efficient public transport and well-maintained streets make daily life convenient. Vienna also has a vibrant cultural scene. From world-class museums to lively music events, there’s always something to do.

The city’s parks and the Danube River offer nature and relaxation right in the city’s heart. Living in Vienna means experiencing a blend of tradition and modern living. This combination, along with its welcoming community, makes Vienna a great place to live in Europe. The city’s charm lies in its ability to preserve its past while embracing the future.

3. Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich, with its pristine lakeside setting and alpine backdrop, is a standout for livability in Europe. This city, known for its high quality of life, attracts a diverse mix of professionals, especially those in finance and tech. It’s also a popular place for families and expats seeking stability and safety.

Zurich city center with street car

Zurich’s charm lies in its efficient public transport, abundant green spaces, and a vibrant cultural scene. It’s a city where you can hike in the nearby mountains in the morning and enjoy world-class opera in the evening.

The blend of outdoor activities, cultural richness, and a strong sense of community makes Zurich not just a place to work, but a place to truly live and enjoy life’s finer aspects.

4. Copenhagen, Denmark

With its high quality of life and a perfect mix of heritage and innovation, Copenhagen earns its reputation as one of the coolest places to live in Europe. This Danish city enchants with a harmony of old-world charm and cutting-edge sustainability. Colorful buildings line its streets, and the pristine harbor invites a refreshing swim, adding to the city’s irresistible allure.

Life in Copenhagen is centered around community and well-being. The city is famous for its cycling culture. Most locals bike everywhere, making the city eco-friendly and accessible. Copenhagen also leads in innovative urban solutions, from green energy to waste management.

Copenhagen, with its commitment to sustainability and happiness, stands out as a true gem in Europe.
Copenhagen, with its commitment to sustainability and happiness, stands out as a true gem in Europe.

The Danish concept of ‘hygge’ – coziness and comfort – is at the heart of Copenhagen’s lifestyle. Cafes and homes radiate warmth and welcome. The city also boasts an impressive culinary scene, from street food markets to Michelin-starred restaurants.

Copenhagen balances urban living with nature. Its parks and waterfront areas offer peaceful retreats. Living here means being part of a progressive, thoughtful community. It’s a nice city to live in Europe for those seeking a harmonious, vibrant, and green urban life. Its commitment to sustainability and happiness makes Copenhagen a true gem in Europe.

5. Lisbon, Portugal

Bathed in sunshine and brimming with cultural vibrancy, this city makes its mark as one of the best places in Europe to live. Nestled on scenic hills, it offers stunning views of the Tagus River and the Atlantic Ocean. Wandering through its streets, one finds historic trams and colorful tiles, adding to the unique charm of Lisbon, Portugal.

The city’s lifestyle is relaxed yet full of energy. This Portugal gem enjoys a warm climate year-round, ideal for outdoor activities. Its cafes and restaurants buzz with life, serving delicious Portuguese cuisine. Seafood here is a must-try, especially the famous bacalhau.

Lisbon's distinctive rhythm and warm spirit render it an irresistible choice for a multitude of individuals.
Lisbon’s distinctive rhythm and warm spirit render it an irresistible choice for a multitude of individuals.

Lisbon is rich in history and tradition. You’ll find Gothic cathedrals, monasteries, and quaint shops in its narrow streets. Yet, it’s also modern, with a growing tech scene and vibrant nightlife. The city’s music, especially Fado, adds a soulful touch to its atmosphere.

Living in Lisbon means enjoying a high quality of life at a relatively low cost. The city’s welcoming nature makes it easy to feel at home. It’s a where to live in Europe destination for those who love a blend of traditional charm and contemporary living. Lisbon’s unique rhythm and warm spirit make it an irresistible choice for many.

6. Valencia, Spain

Basking in the Mediterranean sun, Valencia is a gem that captures the essence of Spanish living. It’s known as one of the good places to live in Europe, thanks to its perfect blend of history, culture, and innovation. The city is alive with vibrant festivals, like the famous Las Fallas, and boasts stunning architecture, from Gothic to modernist.

Valencia’s streets are a mix of the old and the new. The historic old town contrasts with the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences. Life here is outdoorsy, with vast parks and gardens, including the Turia Gardens, a green haven in the city’s heart.

Valencia's warm climate, friendly locals, and rich cultural tapestry make it universally appealing.
Valencia’s warm climate, friendly locals, and rich cultural tapestry make it universally appealing.

The city’s food scene is a delight, especially its paella, often considered the best in Spain. Valencia’s beaches are another draw, offering golden sands and clear waters. It’s a city that loves its traditions yet embraces change.

Choosing Valencia means living in a city that’s both laid-back and lively. It’s the best area to live in Europe for those seeking a balance of leisure and excitement. Valencia’s warm climate, friendly locals, and rich cultural tapestry make it an appealing choice for many.

7. Prague, Czechia

Nestled in the heart of Europe, Prague is a city where history whispers from every corner. This enchanting city in Czech Republic, often listed among the best Europe towns to live in, is a blend of medieval charm and modern vibrancy. Its streets are a maze of cobblestones, leading to ancient chapels, hidden courtyards, and the iconic Charles Bridge.

Prague’s appeal lies in its ability to preserve its rich history while adapting to modern times. The city is known for its stunning Gothic and Baroque architecture. The Prague Castle, perched above the Vltava River, offers panoramic views of the city.

Opting for Prague entails embracing a city that beautifully balances enchantment with a sense of grounded reality
Opting for Prague entails embracing a city that beautifully balances enchantment with a sense of grounded reality

Cultural life in Prague is as rich as its history. The city is home to world-class theaters, museums, and galleries. Czech cuisine, with its hearty dishes, is another highlight. The city’s café culture and buzzing nightlife add to its allure.

Choosing Prague means embracing a city that’s both magical and grounded. It’s a place to move in Europe, a choice for those who appreciate the blend of historical grandeur and contemporary lifestyle. The city’s affordable living, friendly locals, and central location in Europe make it an attractive destination for many.

8. Helsinki, Finland

Imagine a city where nature and urban life exist in harmony. Helsinki, the capital of Finland, is just that—a great place to live in Europe with its stunning seaside setting, green spaces, and innovative spirit. This city impresses with its blend of modern architecture and historic landmarks.

Life in Helsinki is about balance. The city excels in sustainability and quality of life. It’s known for its clean air, safe streets, and efficient public services. Helsinki’s design scene is world-renowned, reflecting the Finns’ love for simplicity and functionality.

Helsinki's charm stems from crafting a city with aesthetic appeal and a high quality of life
Helsinki’s charm stems from crafting a city with aesthetic appeal and a high quality of life

Residents enjoy a rich cultural life with numerous museums, theaters, and music venues. The city’s love for coffee is evident in its numerous cozy cafes. Outdoor activities are a part of daily life, with easy access to islands, parks, and forests.

Living in Helsinki means embracing the Finnish concept of ‘sisu’ – resilience in the face of adversity. It’s the best European city choice for those who value a community-focused, environmentally conscious lifestyle. Helsinki’s unique charm comes from its commitment to creating a city that not only looks good but feels good to live in.

9. London, UK

London, a bustling metropolis steeped in history and modernity, is a beacon for expats and professionals from around the globe. Its appeal lies in the incredible diversity of experiences it offers.

From the historic streets of Westminster to the trendy lanes of Shoreditch, London is a city of contrasts. It’s a hub for finance, arts, and culture, attracting a vibrant mix of creatives, corporate professionals, and students.

Patriotic streets of London with UK flags

Living in London means having the world at your fingertips: world-class museums, diverse culinary delights, and endless entertainment options. It’s a city where history coexists with cutting-edge innovation, offering something for every lifestyle.

For those who thrive in a dynamic, ever-evolving urban environment, London is an unmatched destination.

10. Madrid, Spain

In the center of Spain lies a city pulsing with life and culture. Madrid, known as one of the best cities to live in Europe, captivates with its blend of vibrant history and modern living. The city’s streets buzz with energy, from bustling tapas bars to lively plazas like the famous Puerta del Sol.

Madrid is a city of art. The Prado Museum houses masterpieces by Spanish and European artists. But it’s not just about the past. Madrid’s contemporary art scene is thriving too. The city’s green spaces, like the Retiro Park, offer a peaceful escape from the urban hustle.

Madrid is a prime destination for those seeking an urban experience—one of the best places to live in Europe.
Madrid is a prime destination for those seeking an urban experience—one of the best places to live in Europe.

Life in Madrid is about embracing the Spanish zest for life. The city’s culinary scene is a delight, featuring everything from traditional paella to avant-garde cuisine. Madrid’s nightlife is legendary, offering something for all tastes.

Choosing Madrid means living in a city that’s both traditional and trendy. It’s a what are the best places to live in Europe destination for those seeking a lively, passionate urban experience. Madrid’s warm climate, friendly locals, and rich cultural tapestry make it a top choice for many.

11. Tallinn, Estonia

Stepping into the future while honoring the past, Tallinn is a digital hub wrapped in medieval charm. It stands as one of the best European towns to live in, especially for tech enthusiasts. The city’s old town, with its cobblestone streets and ancient buildings, tells stories of centuries gone by.

Tallinn is at the forefront of digital innovation. It’s a pioneer in e-government and internet freedom. This tech-friendly environment blends seamlessly with the city’s rich cultural heritage. Residents enjoy a high-quality life with excellent public services and a strong sense of community.

Tallinn is a unique and captivating environment that makes it an interesting and distinct place to live in Europe.
Tallinn is a unique and captivating environment that makes it an interesting and distinct place to live in Europe.

The city offers an array of cultural experiences, from historical museums to contemporary art galleries. This makes it one of the best places in Estonia. The food scene in Tallinn mixes traditional Estonian flavors with modern culinary techniques. The city also boasts a vibrant nightlife and music scene.

Choosing Tallinn means embracing a lifestyle where history and the future coexist. This place offers a chance to explore a corner of Europe steeped in history without stretching your budget. It’s a nice part of Europe for those who value innovation, history, and a strong community spirit. Old and new come together in a way that makes Tallinn a unique and interesting place to live.

12. Amsterdam, The Netherlands

With its iconic canals and vibrant cultural scene, Amsterdam is a city that effortlessly blends tradition with a modern, progressive spirit. Renowned as one of Europe’s best places to live, it offers a unique lifestyle. The city’s narrow houses and picturesque bridges create a charming backdrop, making it one of the prettiest places to visit in the Netherlands.

Amsterdam is celebrated for its artistic heritage. The Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum display famous works by Dutch masters. The city’s commitment to freedom and tolerance is evident in its diverse and inclusive community.

Amsterdam stands out as Europe's most livable city, offering a perfect fusion of historical charm and progressive approach to modern-living
Amsterdam stands out as Europe’s most livable city, offering a perfect fusion of historical charm and progressive approach to modern-living

Life in Amsterdam revolves around its canals. Whether it’s biking along the waterways or enjoying a boat ride, the canals are central to city life. Amsterdam’s cafes and restaurants offer cozy spots to experience the local cuisine and international flavors.

Choosing Amsterdam means embracing a lifestyle that values history, art, and freedom. It’s a most livable city in Europe for those who appreciate a blend of historical charm and a forward-thinking approach to living. A lot of people who want to live a healthy city life choose Amsterdam because it has a laid-back vibe and a lot of different cultures.

13. Barcelona, Spain

Okay I may be a bit biased here, having lived in Barcelona for a semester back in college, but this is one of the most livable European cities, hands down.

Barcelona captivates with its unique blend of Catalan culture, innovative art scenes, and beachside relaxation. This cosmopolitan city is a magnet for creatives, digital nomads, and expats drawn to its dynamic atmosphere and Mediterranean lifestyle.

The Gothic District of Barcelona is very livable

Living in Barcelona means embracing the outdoor life – from strolling along the sun-drenched beaches to enjoying tapas on a lively terrace. The city’s architectural marvels, like Gaudí’s Sagrada Família, add to its allure. It’s a place where history meets modernity, and life is lived passionately outdoors.

For those who thrive in a vibrant urban environment yet cherish moments by the sea, Barcelona offers an unmatched living experience. It’s more than a city; it’s a lifestyle. The city is also easily one of the coolest places to live in all of Spain.

14. Oslo, Norway

Surrounded by mountains and sea, Oslo is a city where nature and urban life coexist beautifully. This Norwegian capital is often highlighted as one of the best towns to live in Europe, offering a high standard of living and a strong connection to the outdoors. The city’s design and architecture are a testament to Norway’s focus on sustainability and innovation. This makes it one of the best places to visit in Norway for tech enthusiasts.

Residents of Oslo enjoy a balanced lifestyle. The city is known for its green spaces, clean air, and outdoor activities. From skiing to sailing, the natural surroundings provide endless opportunities for adventure and relaxation.

Oslo, the best place to live in Europe, is where the natural surroundings coexist seamlessly with the urban environment.
Oslo, the best place to live in Europe, is where the natural surroundings coexist seamlessly with the urban environment.

Cultural offerings are abundant in Oslo. The city boasts world-class museums, a vibrant music scene, and a rich history. The culinary landscape is diverse, featuring everything from traditional Norwegian dishes to international cuisine.

15. Bologna, Italy

Bologna, a hidden gem in Italy, stands out as one of Europe’s most livable cities. Its charm lies in the perfect blend of vibrant student life, rich historical tapestry, and a world-renowned culinary scene.

Streets of Bologna

This city, with its iconic medieval architecture and the oldest university in the Western world, attracts a diverse crowd – from students to young professionals, and culture-loving expats.

Life here is about savoring the famed Bolognese cuisine, exploring the bustling piazzas, and getting lost in the maze of picturesque porticoes. For anyone seeking a slice of authentic Italian culture with a lively, youthful twist, Bologna is the place to be. With its lively charm, it’s no wonder Bologna is a top place to live in Italy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the Best Places to Live in Europe             

Want to know more about the top places to live in Europe? Here are some frequently asked questions I often receive about Europe’s best living spots. So, if you are still wondering what are the best areas to live in Europe, the answers to these questions might help you.

Which country in Europe is the best to live in?

Determining the best place to live in Europe depends on individual preferences and lifestyle choices. However, certain countries consistently rank high for their quality of life, cultural richness, and public services.

  • Norway: Known for its stunning natural beauty, high standard of living, and strong social welfare system.
  • Denmark: Offers a balance of work-life, innovative design, and a focus on sustainability.
  • Germany: Renowned for its economic stability, cultural diversity, and excellent education system.
  • Sweden: Praised for its progressive policies, emphasis on equality, and environmental consciousness.
  • Netherlands: Offers a tolerant, inclusive society with a high level of English proficiency among locals.

Each of these countries has unique qualities making them attractive to different people. It’s about finding a balance between personal preferences, job opportunities, and lifestyle.

What city in Europe has the best quality of life?

To find the European city with the best quality of life, you have to look at a lot of different things, such as healthcare, schooling, safety, and cultural offerings. Some top cities known for their high quality of life include:

  • Vienna, Austria: Regularly tops quality of life rankings due to its excellent public services, rich cultural scene, and well-maintained urban environment.
  • Zurich, Switzerland: Known for its efficient public transportation, high level of safety, and picturesque landscapes.
  • Munich, Germany: Offers a strong economy, lush green spaces, and a balance of modernity and tradition.
  • Copenhagen, Denmark: Praised for its bike-friendly streets, focus on sustainability, and the Danish concept of ‘hygge’ which emphasizes comfort and contentment.
  • Stockholm, Sweden: Combines a vibrant city life with access to nature, and is known for its progressive and inclusive society.

Which country is cheapest to live in Europe?

When considering affordability, some countries in Europe offer a lower cost of living while still providing a good quality of life. Here are a few notable ones:

  • Portugal: Known for its affordable living costs, especially in terms of housing, food, and general expenses. Cities like Lisbon and Porto offer a vibrant lifestyle at a reasonable cost.
  • Greece: Offers a lower cost of living with its affordable housing and daily expenses. The country also boasts a rich history and beautiful landscapes.
  • Poland: Stands out for its low living costs in Europe, particularly in cities like Krakow and Warsaw. Poland offers a mix of historical sites and modern amenities at a budget-friendly price.
  • Romania: Noted for its low cost of living, especially in terms of rent and utilities. The country combines natural beauty with urban life at an affordable cost.
  • Bulgaria: Offers some of the lowest living expenses in Europe, particularly in terms of housing and food. It’s a great option for those looking for an economical lifestyle.
Europe presents numerous fantastic options for expatriates, each boasting distinctive qualities and opportunities for those seeking a new international experience.
Europe presents numerous fantastic options for expatriates, each boasting distinctive qualities and opportunities for those seeking a new international experience.

Where in Europe is best for expats?

Europe offers many fantastic options for expats, each with unique qualities. Some of the top choices include:

  • Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Known for its open-minded culture, extensive cycling routes, and excellent work-life balance. English is widely spoken, making it easier for expats to settle in.
  • Berlin, Germany: Attracts expats with its vibrant cultural scene, affordable cost of living, and dynamic job market, especially in tech and creative industries.
  • Madrid, Spain: Offers a sunny climate, rich history, and a laid-back lifestyle. The city is known for its welcoming locals and vibrant social life.
  • Stockholm, Sweden: Praised for its high quality of life, progressive values, and strong emphasis on work-life balance. It’s also a hub for innovation and tech startups.
  • Lisbon, Portugal: Becoming increasingly popular for its affordable cost of living, beautiful landscapes, and friendly community. The city’s growing tech scene is also a draw for expats.

What is the safest country to live in Europe?

Safety is a key consideration for many when choosing a place to live. In Europe, several countries are renowned for their safety and low crime rates:

  • Iceland: Often tops the list as the safest country in Europe and even globally. It is very safe because people believe the police and care about their communities, so the crime rate is very low.
  • Norway: Known for its high standard of living and low crime rates. The society is well-structured, and there’s a strong sense of community and mutual respect among residents.
  • Switzerland: Not only famous for its neutrality but also its safety. With strict laws and a high standard of policing, it maintains a very low crime rate.
  • Finland: Praised for its safety, especially in terms of personal security and low levels of corruption. The Finnish people are known for their trustworthiness and respect for law and order.
  • Denmark: Another Nordic country known for its safety. It has a well-functioning society, low crime rates, and a high level of social trust.

Which European country is most friendly to foreigners?

A lot of European countries are known for being welcoming to people from other places. Some of the most notable include:

  • Portugal: Renowned for its warm and welcoming people. The Portuguese are open and friendly, which makes it easy for people from other countries to fit in.
  • Ireland: It is a friendly place for tourists because the people there are known for being friendly. They will often go out of their way to make visitors feel at home.
  • Spain: Spanish people are known for their relaxed and friendly attitude. It’s easy for outsiders to fit in because of the country’s easygoing way of life and focus on socializing.
  • Sweden: It might take a while to get to know someone well, but Swedes are usually friendly and open to other cultures, which makes the country a good place for foreigners to live.
  • The Netherlands: Dutch people are known for their directness and openness. It’s easy for foreigners to live in because most people speak English well and are open to other cultures.

Final Thoughts on the Best Places to Live in Europe                          

Europe, with its rich history, diverse cultures, and stunning landscapes, offers a variety of living experiences. From the tech-savvy streets of Berlin to the sun-kissed shores of Lisbon, each city presents its unique blend of charm and functionality. Whether you’re drawn to the bustling streets of Madrid or the tranquil canals of Amsterdam, Europe caters to all preferences.

For people who want to live cheaply, places like Prague and Valencia offer a way of life that doesn’t skimp on culture or amenities. These destinations demonstrate that European living can be both high-quality and affordable. On the other hand, if you want to live in a lively city, places like Copenhagen and Helsinki offer a lot of chances to advance in your job and learn about other cultures.

Let’s not overlook the aspect of happiness. A lot of people say that towns in Europe like Oslo and Vienna are some of the best places to live because they have the best mix of natural beauty, city conveniences, and small-town living.

So, what are the best places to live in Europe? The answer is as diverse as the continent itself. It depends on what you cherish most in your ideal living situation. Europe is more than just a place to live—it’s a way of life. This is true whether you’re interested in jobs, beautiful scenery, or a lively culture.

The best places to live in Europe for all types of travelers
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