Europe as a whole has always been an engine of innovation and entrepreneurship. Cities such as London (UK), Berlin (Germany), Dublin (Ireland), Copenhagen (Denmark), Amsterdam (Netherlands) and Paris (France) are popular hubs for startups, nurturing some of the continent’s most creative minds and forward-looking businesses. However, with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, about 40% of citizens began to consider moving from large European capitals to smaller cities. So, what are some of the best alternative European cities for aspiring or budding entrepreneurs? We’ve taken a look beyond the obvious to explore some of the less predictable European cities with dynamic startup scenes that are great for new businesses. Here’s what we found: Ljubljana, Slovenia Slovenia is in the early stage of developing an ecosystem for startups. With its vibrant economy, entrepreneur-friendly regulations, and affordable living opportunities, this is a great small town to move to in the post-COVID world. Found in Eastern Europe just a short drive from the Croatian, Austrian, and Italian borders, Ljubljana is known for its clean air, low crime rate, proximity to the “sunny side of the Alps,” and bustling arts scene. The country’s small size and location makes it accessible to support and investors from other EU countries, and the Slovenian government makes public funding sources readily available to entrepreneurs. Barcelona, Spain’s quintessential startup city in Europe Barcelona is a leading global technology hotspot. The city is full of startup success stories, and nearly two-thirds of the founders of startups in the city came from abroad. And it’s really no surprise why – given the affordable cost of living, attractive beachfront lifestyle, and reputed quality of life, it’s not hard to convince talented professionals to relocate. There’s a strong startup community with plenty of incubators and accelerators looking for the next big thing (and you don’t even need to speak Spanish to do it). There are regular tech and startup networking events, ranging from relatively small to major ones, such as Mobile World Congress. Although Madrid is the legal capital of Spain, Barcelona is the undoubted leader in the startup world. Prague, Czech Republic With its well-developed infrastructure, highly skilled and educated workforce, and relatively low cost of living in the capital city, Prague is a great place to relocate for aspiring entrepreneurs. Often seen as the gateway to larger startup hubs such as Vienna or Berlin, Prague is a great place to get your foot in the forefront of the European entrepreneurship scene. The country’s stable economy creates a dynamic business environment that attracts both local and international professionals. The work mentality and attitude there also offers the opportunity for a great work life balance for anyone looking to relocate. Often referred to as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, Prague has been attracting digital nomads since the early 2010s. You are practically guaranteed to be able to speak English wherever you go with the number of settled expats in Prague! Zurich, Switzerland Switzerland as a whole was recently ranked as one of the best countries to live in worldwide thanks to its quality of life and, most importantly for business people, the business-friendly environment. In fact, Swiss startups generated more than CHF 2 billion in 2021 alone thanks to the availability of capital, talents and clients in the market! Zurich is an enchanting city full of green spaces, lush riverside parks, an exciting art scene, and close proximity to a number of ski stations and hiking routes. The city is very liveable with an efficient public transport system, great schools and an international presence. Moreover, its unique location in Central Europe makes it a short drive from other major entrepreneurship centers such as Munich and Milan. Lisbon, Portugal Are you ready to fall in love with the azulejos, windy roads and Paste de Belém? Then Lisbon is the place for you! It’s a great city to move to if you’re looking to work with some of the greatest development minds on the continent. Lisbon universities are known for the quality of developers who come to them every year, with 53% of graduates holding a STEM degree! Foreigners flock to Lisbon for many reasons, one of which is the very favorable financial situation offered by the Portuguese government. For the first 10 years of life there, foreigners who work in strategic industries can qualify for non-habitual resident status where you pay a flat rate of 20% on income tax and nothing you earn abroad is taxed. Athens, Greece The cradle of philosophy, culture and technology, Greece has long been a center of innovation and knowledge. In recent years, the Greek government has put in place multiple incentives to help local and international entrepreneurs launch their business ideas – what’s more, it has worked! More and more startups are coming from Greece every year, with 800 startups currently operating in Athens alone. Athens, the country’s largest city, has year-round sunshine, an incomparably buzzing café culture, a nightlife that never seems to stop, and a large ex-pat community. The city center is filled with restaurants, bars, shops, galleries, and more – not to mention that it surrounds one of the most important historical artifacts – the Acropolis. Stockholm, Sweden Trendy Stockholm has recently become a hub for entrepreneurs with a surge in venture capital and government funding. This is the place for startups and small business owners looking to make a positive social or environmental impact! The cosmopolitan city is brimming with healthcare startups, companies focused on eliminating food waste, and EdTech to name a few. It’s a great place to go for entrepreneurs hoping to get seed funding, enter an acceleration program, or attract investors. Not to mention, Stockholm is known for its great quality of life, tolerant society, and strong focus on environmental protection. Florence, Italy When you think of Florence, you often imagine a beautiful old city, the Duomo, and a rich history of art and architecture. And while that’s absolutely true, did you know that it’s also the perfect e-commerce, retail, entertainment, and marketing place to start a shop? These industries thrive in Florence, and there are plenty of co-working spaces to network as well as startup incubators to get your initiative off the ground. An hour and a half away by train from both Rome and Milan, this safe little town is ideally located for anyone looking to explore Italy while building the next big thing! Cambridge, UK Known for its world-class university, Cambridge also has a thriving start-up scene. There are a number of high-tech companies and ecosystems ready to support new entrants at every turn. This is a great place to go for start-ups looking to hire the best and brightest from the University of Cambridge, enter a prestigious business incubator, or collaborate with peers in co-working spaces that are more pocket-friendly than London. This is a great alternative to London for entrepreneurs looking for a quieter lifestyle away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Just be sure to read on to properly settle in for post-Brexit. Hamburg, Germany Hamburg has the second highest number of startups in Germany, with nearly 10,000 new companies being founded each year! The local government spends a lot of resources on entrepreneurship here, building its reputation as a leader in services, games, technology and trade. The city is also the chosen location for the presence of Airbus and Google in Germany. The city attracts the best talent thanks to its world-renowned university. It is also ranked as the most liveable city in Germany due to its great educational opportunities, strong healthcare system, stability and infrastructure. Not to mention that it will be a unique opportunity to learn German and also explore the neighboring country of Austria! Did you find this article helpful? If you do, please follow us on our social media accounts on LinkedIn or Instagram. Please share the article with your friends or colleagues!