I visited the fourth healthiest city in the world – this is what locals say is the secret
Cobbled streets bathed in sun, colourful tiles dotted around the city, and… Content source - www.soundhealthandlastingwealth.com
Cobbled streets bathed in sun, colourful tiles dotted around the city, and yellow custard tarts greeting you on every corner make Lisbon a must-visit destination.
Situated at the mouth of the River Tagus that empties into the Atlantic Ocean, the Portuguese city is a stimulating cocktail of strong sunshine and refreshing ocean breeze.
Despite staying for only two nights and exploring the vibrant streets mostly by foot, my stay in Lisbon made me feel revitalised.
As soon as I took the first step out of my Uber from the airport, I felt a bit lighter and easier.
According to the statistics, it seems like I wasn’t just experiencing the traditional holiday feeling one gets when they leave work behind.
Lisbon has been ranked the fourth healthiest city in the world to live in back in 2022.
Christina Hippisley, from the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce in the UK, explained to me that the city’s high ranking was based on metrics such as health care, number of nurses, psychiatrists, social workers, and psychologists per 100,000 population as well as overall health spending per capita.
“But beyond the dry stats, Lisbon has 300+ days of sunshine each year, and the surfing beaches of Caparica and Carcavelos are within 30 minutes’ drive of the city centre, with all the lifestyle benefits that implies,” she added.
One of the locals, who spends most of his time outdoors, walking around the hilly city, also thinks there’s more to Lisbon’s health reputation than the “dry stats”.
Jose Cabral, 43, a real estate agent from Lisbon, said: “Living in Lisbon for me means living in a city of hills, sunshine and sea air.
“The sea air blows away any air pollution, although these days traffic is restricted in the old downtown zone of Lisbon so pollution levels have dropped dramatically.
“Plus, the long sunny days and evenings mean we spend lots of time outdoors.”
Jose feels Lisbon allows him to stay fit “very easily”, whether that’s through surfing on the nearby beaches or navigating the hilly terrain of the city.
While the bakery windows around Lisbon are illuminated by yellow custard tarts, locally known as pasteis de nata, don’t let the high concentration of the cream-based desserts fool you.
Lisbon prides itself on many small family-run restaurants that serve ‘pratos do dia’, or dishes of the day, based around fresh vegetables, fish and meat.
Hippisley explained that the proximity to the ocean lends itself to consuming more fresh fish.
The last secret behind Lisbon’s high ranking in terms of health is revealed to me as I’m walking through one of the oldest neighbourhoods, known as Alfama.
The colourful maze of narrow streets and traditional houses leads me to a small souvenir shop, where I chat with the seller, who was once a Londoner himself.
He is eager to tell me how swapping the commotion of the UK’s capital for the tranquillity of Lisbon suited him better.
But the most important thing for him is the “village feel” Lisbon offers. You can travel from one corner to another and still meet a friendly face.
Hippisley said: “Many of the inhabitants in central Lisbon live in apartment blocks – families of all ages can live for decades in the same building or neighbourhood – therefore knowing all their neighbours well. Moreover, the prevalence of local ‘tascas’ (restaurants) and bars where people regularly socialise for hours and eat together, at affordable prices, means a strong community spirit prevails.”
A health charity The King’s Fund explains that the communities people live and socialise in have a significant influence on their health.
Although I only stayed for a short time, I definitely felt the hospitality of locals wherever I went during my trip.
Whether it’s the ocean air, the fresh local cuisine, the hilly picturesque terrain or the warmth of the people, I think Lisbon definitely offers a great getaway for those seeking a healthy city break.
Source: | This article first appeared on Express.co.uk
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