For many years, Vila Nova de Gaia was one of Porto's relatives. The municipality, located on the south bank of the mouth of the River Douro, which was a kind of Plan B for those who wanted to buy a house, oscillating between a dormitory and a workplace, underwent a radical transformation and today is, on its own merit, one of the most desirable cities to live in and most sought after by tourists and investors. The famous birthplace of the Port wine cellars is now a Plan A for Portuguese and foreign families, it has gained its own existence and no longer lives in the shadow of any comparison.
All its virtuous features were already there, but it still lacked quality construction, the public requalification essential to quality of life, the retention of talent, some polish in mobility and a focus on lifestyle and cultural life. All this has changed. Gaia is a new city. It is, in fact, the main city on the rise in the country. You only have to look at the new developments and you will easily see that they offer a set of qualities that are hard to beat in any neighbouring city: apartments with river and sea views located next to D. Luís Bridge, condominiums with endless gardens, jogging tracks, paddle tennis courts, balconies and terraces with a view over Porto or superb condominiums with luxury villas. All this while maintaining the quality/price ratio.
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This positive transformation, visible to the naked eye, is now also demonstrated in an annual report promoted by Bloom Consulting Portugal, a company that measures and analyses the performance of the territories, highlighting the talent, tourism and business of each region. Thus, in the seventh edition of Portugal City Brand Ranking all the spotlights were on the city of the North of Portugal that historically also distinguishes itself for its beaches, and that this year surpassed municipalities such as Oeiras or Guimarães. Gaia made a vital triple jump and occupies 6th position in the ranking of the 25 best cities in the country. "Without the slightest doubt, Vila Nova de Gaia's conquest of four positions, ascending to 6th position, is the great highlight of this Top 10. Gaia continues to surprise by conquering positions since the first edition of this ranking, held in 2014. In 2021 it is, once again, the national star brand", reads the study. The Top 10 includes, in this order, Lisbon, Porto, Cascais, Braga, Coimbra, Gaia, Sintra, Aveiro, Faro and Funchal.
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The study continuously analyses five quantitative variables - attracting investment, attracting tourists, attracting talent, increasing prominence and increasing exports - and crosses them with emotional values, such as, for example, the happiness index reported by the population, the evolution of their perceptions, proactive internet search or economic benefits. Besides, it also awards "Star Brands" in several categories. Vila Nova de Gaia, as already mentioned, was the municipality to win the "National Brand" star. This is an award attributed to the city that, "through its excellent results, has stood out and achieved important positions in the respective regions or dimensions of the ranking". Resilience, creativity, solidarity, strong strategy and effective communication were its flagship values in a particularly difficult year, in which the territories had to face the pandemic.
In 2021, the city also made its debut among the five best performers in business brands, occupying the fourth position. The same positive performance was demonstrated in the tourism sector, consolidating itself among one of the strongest brands in the country - it is now in 10th position, which represents a sharp rise of ten places. In relation to the "living dimension", Gaia continues to be well placed, in 11th place. But, in this aspect, it is worth mentioning two municipalities of the Metropolitan Area of Porto which also drew attention: Maia, which climbed ten positions, and Matosinhos, are now on the list of the 15 best cities to live in.
When one takes a panoramic look at the 308 municipalities of the country, it is clear that the North Region is one of the most balanced in all areas. Its Top 5 remains unchanged: Porto, Braga, Vila Nova de Gaia, Guimarães and Matosinhos. The city of Porto, undisputed leader, also recorded a curious performance: last year it was the one in which it came closest to Lisbon in the national ranking, shortening, for the first time, the distance between the two cities, from four to three tenths. Finally, the study reveals, unsurprisingly, that the city continues to see "a significant increase in proactive research in search engines from all over the world".
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