The Complete Lisbon Digital Nomad Guide

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Written by: | Last updated on March 1, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 22 minutes
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There’s Chiang Mai, Medellin, Barcelona, and there’s Lisbon. Over the past few years, Lisbon has become one of the top digital nomad hotspots, not just in Europe but in the entire world. It’s difficult to know just how many digital nomads there are in Lisbon, but the Meetup group has more than 20,000 members and the Thursday night meetup usually has anywhere between 100 and 300 attendees depending on the time of year.

And it’s easy to see why Lisbon has become so popular.

  • There is a large community of freelancers and digital nomads with regular digital nomad meetups, knowledge shares, stand-up comedy nights, coworking days, padel groups, and more.
  • There are around 300 days of sunshine per year.
  • Winters are mild and often still sunny (although properties can be cold inside).
  • If you surf, Lisbon is just under half an hour from Costa de Caparica, over an hour from Peniche, an hour-and-a-half from Nazarè, and around 2-3 hours from the Algarve.
  • Internet speeds are good (you can even get up to 10 gbps home internet).
  • Lots of vegan and vegetarian options.
  • With the exception of rental costs, the cost of living here is generally very affordable.
  • Living here gives you access to the rest of Europe.
  • English is widely spoken, so you don’t need to speak Portuguese fluently (although you should learn a few words).
  • Lisbon is very safe, even for solo and female travellers (particularly when compared to the US or other European cities. However, there can be some issues with pickpockets, break-ins, and people aggressively trying to sell fake drugs).
  • Lots and lots of coworking spaces, with daily rates starting from around €15.

Do I Need a Visa?

Non-EU/EEA citizens can typically stay for 90 days in a 180-day period (in Portugal or anywhere in the Schengen Area). EU/EEA/Swiss citizens don’t have the same travel restrictions, but should be aware that you may be considered a Portuguese tax resident if you spend more than 183 days here.

If you are a non-EU/EEA citizen and wish to stay longer, Portugal offers a digital nomad visa for people that want to move to Portugal long-term. After 5 years of residency you will then be able to apply for Portuguese citizenship, which means obtaining an “EU passport.” What’s more, Portugal recognises dual citizenship so you won’t be asked to give up your current passport.

Because of this, Lisbon has become a destination that digital nomad establish a base in rather than simply visit. Of course, there’s nothing to stop you from visiting for a few days, weeks, or months — lots of people do that too!

EU/EEA/Swiss citizens have a different (and easier) route for moving to Portugal.

digital nomads at the weekly digital nomads meetup on a Thursday
Nomads at one of the regular Thursday night meetups for digital nomads

Where to Find Digital Nomad-Friendly Accommodation

The biggest challenge of being a digital nomad in Lisbon is finding affordable and good-quality accommodation, whether that’s for a few days or on a long-term basis.

Because Lisbon has become the place for digital nomads, accommodation prices have risen rapidly and demand often outstrips supply.

That’s not to say it’s impossible to find accommodation, even affordable accommodation, it’s just not as easy (or cheap) as it once was.

Short term accommodation for nomads

If you’re just visiting for a few days.

  • Flatio – Similar to Airbnb, but with a minimum stay requirement of 5 days. This is a good option if you can’t find anything suitable on Airbnb.
  • Selina Secret Garden – A coliving and coworking space with a bar and rooftop swimming pool (the coworking space is priced separately, but the wifi is accessible throughout).  
  • Home Lisbon Hostel – A boutique hostel that gives their guests free use of their onsite coworking space (normally €8 per day).
  • Outsite Lisbon – A coliving space with on-site coworking space and cafe. Access to the coworking space is included. 
  • Airbnb – Probably the most popular option for digital nomads visiting Lisbon short term. You can find affordable options if you book in advance, but there are unlikely to be too many deals if you look last-minute, especially in summer.
  • Booking.com – A useful site for finding hotels, hostels, and even apartments. In Europe, this is probably the most-used accommodation booking website.

Medium-term accommodation for nomads

If you’re visiting for a few weeks or months.

Finding medium-term accommodation can be a little tricky as most accommodation sites like Airbnb tend to focus on short-term stays. However, there are a few websites that focus on medium-term stays, as well as coliving houses, and of course, Airbnb.

  • Yon Living – This company primarily focuses on coliving properties for digital nomads, although they offer some solo homes as well as their shared homes. All properties are aimed with digital nomads in mind, so come with high-speed internet, desks, and other nomad essentials. The minimum stay is 30 days as there is a large focus on building communities.
  • Flatio – Similar to Airbnb, but with more of a focus on medium-term and long-term stays. You’ll find whole apartments as well as rooms for rent, although the rooms aren’t usually in a coliving setup as they are with Yon Living.
  • Spotahome is like Airbnb, but for medium or even long-term rentals. It’s easy to search and filter through the different properties, and they have a customer support team in case anything goes wrong.
  • Uniplaces, despite the name, isn’t only for students – anyone can book a room or apartment through Uniplaces. The customer service doesn’t seem to be anywhere near as good as Airbnb’s judging by the reviews on TrustPilot, but it’s another Airbnb alternative if you can’t find anything else.
  • Bleisured – Offers high quality serviced apartments that all have high-speed internet as well as desks and chairs for working from. These apartments are ideal for medium-term stays, but can also be booked long-term.
  • Accommodation for digital nomads in Lisbon (Facebook Group) – A Facebook group dedicated to digital nomad-friendly rooms and apartment rentals in Lisbon. As well as longer term rentals, some people list properties that are available for a few days or weeks at a time. 

Longer-term accommodation for nomads

If you’re staying for at least a few months, but ideally six months or more.

The Cost of Living in Lisbon

While the cost of living in Portugal is affordable, particularly when compared to the US, Australia, or parts of Northern Europe, Lisbon is more expensive than the rest of the country. The main reason for this is the cost of accommodation.

  • Apartment Rental: If you’re renting on a long-term basis, expect to pay around €1,000-€1,200 for a one-bed apartment and around €1,500 for a two-bed apartment. A small apartment on Airbnb will usually cost closer to €1,500. Prices tend to increase during the summer months.
  • Room Rental: Around €500-600 on a longer-term basis. Around €1,200 if in a coliving space through Yon Living or Outsite.
  • Transport – Uber/Bolt: Around €5–6 for a cross-town trip; over €10 for airport or Belém trips. Taxis in general are very affordable, regardless of whether you take an Uber or use a traditional taxi.
  • Metro Ticket: €1.65 per journey or you can get a monthly pass for around €40.
  • Coffee: €0.50 – €1.00 for an espresso (called a ‘bica) in a traditional Portuguese cafe; €2–€5 for flat whites and lattes at specialty shops.
  • Beer/ Wine: As little as €1 in a more traditional Portuguese cafe or bar. International bars or bars specialising in craft beer are more expensive.
  • Cocktails: Between €5 and €10.
  • Eating out: €10 for lunch/dinner per person at a traditional Portuguese restaurant, whereas you should expect to pay €15–€40 for lunch/dinner per person at an international restaurant.
  • Home Internet: Around €45.99 for 1 gbps on a two-year contract. Around €30 for a mobile hotspot with ‘unlimited’ internet.
  • Phone plan: Around €33 for a plan with unlimited calls, texts, and date on a two-year contract.

Based on this, you should expect to spend around €500-€600 to rent a room or €1,000-€1,500 to rent a private apartment. Groceries and eating out will set you back between €250 and €400 per month, depending on your preferences. Most of the other costs are discretionary, depending on your needs and wants.

The Best Neighbourhoods for Digital Nomads

The following are some of the most popular neighbourhoods for digital nomads and expats living in Lisbon. However, you’ll come across people staying in all different parts of the city. If you can’t find anything in these neighbourhoods, your main focus should be staying somewhere close to the metro line as this is the easiest way to get around.

Chiado

Praça Luís de Camões in Chiado
Praça Luís de Camões in Chiado – © Portugalist

Chiado, nestled between Bairro Alto and Baixa Pombalina, is a cultural hotspot in Lisbon. It’s home to a plethora of museums, theatres, and historical landmarks. The National Museum of Contemporary Art, established in 1911, is a highlight, alongside the iconic Elevador de Santa Justa, designed by a student of Gustav Eiffel. Chiado’s vibrant artistic heritage, dating back to the founding of its literary guild in 1856, makes it an essential destination for culture enthusiasts.

Baixa and Sé

Praça do Rossio
Praça do Rossio – © Portugalist

Baixa and Sé are located right in the centre of Lisbon. These neighbourhoods boast a plethora of restaurants and traditional shops, but they can be a bit touristy. Baixa, known for its post-earthquake architectural marvels, and Sé, with its historical significance, provide an immersive experience.

The benefit of staying in this neighbourhood, or nearby Chiado, is that you’re right in the city centre. Although they lack a residential feel, you’ll rarely have to take public transport to get anywhere.

Príncipe Real

Príncipe Real, translating to ‘Royal Prince’, is a neighbourhood aspiring for regal recognition. It’s a hive of activity with its trendy bars, diverse stores, and art galleries. Known for its alternative shops and vibrant nightlife, Príncipe Real also boasts an eclectic culinary scene, offering a taste of global cuisine.

Alcântara

Lx Factory main street
The Lx Factory in Alcântara – © Portugalist

Alcântara, bridging the gap between downtown Lisbon and Belém, is a delightful blend of the old and the new. This riverside neighbourhood is a bustling hub of activity, famous for the Docas de Santo Amaro – a lively dock filled with an array of bars and restaurants.

Another key attraction is the LX Factory, a creatively repurposed industrial complex that now houses trendy shops, offices, and eateries. Alcântara’s unique positioning along the river and its mix of traditional charm and modern urban culture make it a fascinating area for both locals and visitors alike.

Estrela

The pond at Jardim da Estrela in Central Lisbon

Estrela is a serene and upscale neighbourhood in Lisbon, known for its grandeur and tranquility. Dominated by the majestic Estrela Basilica, the area exudes an air of elegance and historical significance. The neighbouring Jardim da Estrela, a beautifully landscaped park, provides a peaceful retreat from the city’s hustle and bustle. Estrela is also home to several embassies and is characterised by its well-preserved, opulent 19th-century mansions. This neighbourhood offers a more refined and subdued Lisbon experience, making it ideal with those that are living in Lisbon long-term.

Alfama

typical Alfama building with clothes hanging outside
Typical Alfama building with clothes hanging outside – © Portugalist

Alfama, Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhood, is steeped in history and charm. Clinging to the slopes between São Jorge Castle and the Tejo River, its winding, cobblestone streets are quintessentially medieval. Alfama is not just picturesque but also offers breathtaking views of the city and river. This photogenic neighbourhood is a treasure trove for photographers and Instagram enthusiasts alike, offering a glimpse into the authentic, old-world charm of Lisbon.

Alfama is quite touristy, and one of the downsides of this neighbourhood is that so many buildings have been turned into Airbnbs. You will find plenty of short-term accommodation here, but the area can feel very touristy, particularly if you’re staying long-term.

Graça and Castelo

rooftops of Lisbon - a view from Graça
View of Lisbon from the heights of Graça – © Portugalist

Graça and Castelo invite visitors to explore and discover. Nearby, the historic Lisbon Castle offers panoramic views and a deep dive into Portugal’s rich history. These neighbourhoods are perfect for those looking to immerse themselves in traditional Portuguese culture and enjoy some of the most iconic sights in Lisbon.

The biggest downside to Graça is the hill, which is incredibly steep (although you will get used to it). Although the famous Tram 28 runs through this area, getting on it can be quite difficult due to how popular it is with tourists.

Cascais

View of Cascais, and the beach, from above

Just a half-hour drive from Lisbon, Cascais is a popular seaside town offering more of a seaside feel. There is a train that connects Lisbon and Cais do Sodré in downtown Lisbon, and the journey is typically just 30-40 minutes long. If you don’t want to go all the way to Cascais, there are other small towns along the train line. Carcavelos, for example, is popular with surfers or those that want to live close to the beach.

Costa da Caparica

costa da caparica view of the beach and buildings

Costa da Caparica, a short drive across the 25 de Abril Bridge from Lisbon, is a stunning coastal gem renowned for its vast, golden beaches and vibrant surf culture. It isn’t technically in Lisbon, but it is becoming popular with nomads that want to live near Lisbon but not in Lisbon.

This area is a haven for beach lovers, surfers, and sun-seekers. The beaches here are famous for their consistent surf breaks, making them a popular destination for both novice and experienced surfers.

Moving to Lisbon Long-Term

One thing you’ll notice is that a lot of people move to Lisbon as opposed to just visit. There are a number of reasons for this. One is that Lisbon offers a good quality of life, and so makes an excellent base for spending a few months of the year. A lot of the people who live in Lisbon are long-term digital nomads who’ve decided they need a base rather than spending their entire lives on the road.

There’s another reason that Lisbon (and the whole of Portugal) is a popular place for people to move to and that’s because of Portugal’s digital nomad visa (officially known as the D8).

Essential Info

  • The D8 visa is aimed at location-independent workers and freelancers earning over €3,280 p/month on average.
  • It is available as temporary 1-year stay or 5-year residence visa (latter has path to citizenship).
  • Key requirements are proof of income, travel insurance, 4+ month housing lease, and a clean criminal record.
  • It is attractive to nomads who want to base themselves in Portugal long-term and take advantage of benefits like the fast path to citizenship, which you can apply for after just 5 years. Spain, in comparison, requires you to be a resident for 10 years before applying and doesn’t recognise dual citizenship.
  • There are also alternative options such as the investor “golden visa” or the D7 visa for those with a passive income.
  • EU/EEA/Swiss passport holders do not need to apply for a visa to move to Portugal.

Read the complete overview of the digital nomad visa.

Note: Many out-of-date websites refer to the D7 as Portugal’s digital nomad visa. However, this visa is for people with a passive income (such as income from a rental property, dividends, or a pension). The D8 or digital nomad visa is for actively-earned income (such as from a remote job or freelancing work).

Coworking Spaces in Lisbon

heden coworking space in Graça
heden coworking space in Graça – © Portugalist

Lisbon is home to lots and lots of coworking spaces — far too many to write about in one article (but this article on coworking spaces goes into them in more depth).

One of the best ways to find the right one for you is to use the Croissant app, which gives you access to multiple coworking spaces in Lisbon.

  • Avila Spaces: Avila Spaces, acclaimed as the ‘Best Co-work in Lisbon’ in 2018 and 2019, is situated on Av. República. This contemporary workspace is designed for digital nomads and remote workers, offering a stylish yet relaxed environment. It features a range of fully equipped meeting rooms and a sophisticated co-working business lounge. Avila Spaces provides diverse set-ups, from private office suites for concentrated work to various communal spaces.
  • Heden: Heden has several locations but the main locations is located just off a central square in Graça. The coworking space is known for its bright workspace and serene atmosphere. This co-working space is particularly appealing to creative individuals, as it includes an art studio. Heden offers flexible desk options at €10 for half a day or €15 daily, perfect for those who prefer spontaneity. Amenities like tea, coffee, and fruit are included, and there’s a comfortable lounge area for breaks, making it an attractive option for those seeking a relaxed and creative environment.
  • Second Home: Second Home is a distinctive coworking space renowned for its lush, plant-filled interior, offering a luxurious and exclusive atmosphere. Catering to a more upscale clientele, it appeals to nomads accustomed to more of a high-end lifestyle.

Laptop-Friendly Cafes in Lisbon

selva cafe bench
Selva coffee shop in Alcântara – © Portugalist

Portugal has a big coffee culture scene but, generally speaking, people don’t work in the traditional pastelarias. The more modern cafes (the types that serve flat whites and Aeropress coffee) tend to be more laptop-friendly.

Here are some of the most popular places to work from:

  • Wish Slow Coffee House: This is one of the easiest places to work from in the LX Factory in Lisbon, one of the trendiest areas in Lisbon. The seating is reasonable comfortable, and the staff don’t seem to mind if you sit there for a few hours.
  • Copenhagen Coffee Lab: Almost everyone in Copenhagen Coffee Lab has a laptop in front of them, and this atmosphere makes it a very comfortable place to work from. There are several of these cafés around Lisbon, including in Alfama and Alcântara. Plug sockets can sometimes be hard to come by, particularly in the Alcântara branch, so try and get there early if that’s going to be an issue for you.
  • Selva: Selva is owned by Lisbon digital nomads, so you know the internet is going to be good: their highspeed wifi network has download speeds of more than 100 mbs (138 mbps when I tested it) and upload speeds of more than 80 mbps. Their coffee menu, similarly, is sure to please hipsters among us: flat whites, aeropress coffee, v60 coffee, and cold brew all feature on the menu. Although small, the café has an upstairs that’s suitable for working from with 3-4 small tables and one large table with benches. [map]
  • The Mill: Located at R. do Poço dos Negros 1, this café is a haven for digital nomads and coffee enthusiasts alike. It’s renowned for its exceptional third-wave coffee, providing a rich and sophisticated taste experience. The fast Wi-Fi makes it an ideal spot for those looking to work or browse the internet in a comfortable setting.
  • Hello Kristof: Nestled at R. do Poço dos Negros 103, Hello Kristof offers a serene escape with its simple, Nordic-inspired décor. This café is a treasure trove for magazine lovers, boasting a selection of international magazines that are perfect for leisurely reading during screen breaks. The minimalist design and calm atmosphere make it an ideal spot for those seeking a peaceful environment to work, read, or simply enjoy a quiet moment.

Meetups

There are a lot of meetups taking place throughout the week, and you should find something to do every single day. The two main places to find out about events are the Meetup group and the Facebook group. There’s also a Slack channel.

Weekly Meetup

  • Frequency: Every Thursday.
  • Venue: Rotates between various bars and cafes, mainly in central neighborhoods like Cais do Sodré, Bairro Alto, Baixa.
  • Attendance: Ranges from 100-300 people, varying with the season.
  • Overview: This is a casual gathering that allows digital nomads to socialize and network in a relaxed setting. There is sometimes a limit on attendees so be sure to sign up as soon as it’s announced on Meetup.

NomadSports

  • Activity: A weekly running group.
  • Distance: Typically covers between 5 to 10 kilometers.
  • Overview: Ideal for those looking to stay fit and connect with other sporty nomads. More info can be found on Meetup.

Standup Comedy

  • Specialty: English-language comedy scene.
  • Connection: Linked with the digital nomad community.
  • Overview: A great way to unwind and enjoy some laughs, fostering a light-hearted and fun environment. Events can be found on lisboncomedy.com

Storytelling Lisboa

  • Concept: Events based on specific themes like “Chaos,” “Breaks,” or “Landlords.”
  • Format: Participants volunteer to share a 10-minute story to an audience of over 200 people.
  • Languages: Stories are told in either English or Portuguese.
  • Overview: These events are structured, emotional, and thought-provoking, offering a unique experience that ranges from humorous to poignant. While not connected to the digital nomad group, it attracts a lot of nomads. Events are announced on Meetup.com.

Future Founders

  • Audience: Attracts founders, product professionals, and venture capitalists.
  • Activities: Networking, discussions on technology and funding, legal talks.
  • Format: Events include park meetups with rotating small group discussions and specific talks on legal aspects of business in Portugal.
  • Overview: Particularly beneficial for those with a business interest in Portugal, offering inspiration, knowledge, and networking opportunities. Events are announced on Meetup.com.

Downsides to Living in Lisbon

Nowhere is perfect, and there are definitely some downsides to living in Lisbon. Over the past few years, the number of negative comments about Lisbon has increased on sites like NomadList. Here’s a list of the most common pros and cons.

Pros

  • Charming and vibrant city with lots to see and do.
  • Friendly and welcoming locals.
  • Great food and wine.
  • Lovely beaches close by.
  • Pleasant climate.
  • Growing startup and tech scene.
  • Large digital nomad community.
  • Affordable cost of living (though rising).
  • Fast internet.

Cons

  • Housing crisis – rents rising rapidly and pushing out locals.
  • Housing quality often poor – damp, mold issues, bad insulation, noise.
  • Very overcrowded due to tourism, particularly in to summer time.
  • Safety concerns like pickpocketing and petty crime.
  • Hills – Lisbon is incredibly hilly, so every walk is a workout. This isn’t a major problem but could be a deterrent if you have mobility problems.
  • Bureaucracy and administrative processes are time-consuming if you decide to move here on a more permanent basis.
  • Lack of quality public services given taxes.
  • Nightlife options lacking.
  • Public transport overcrowded and unreliable.
  • Traffic congestion and pollution worsening.
  • Integration – While there is a great digital nomad community, this is typically made up of young international expats. Getting to know local Portuguese people can be challenging.
  • Perception of digital nomads – While some of it is exaggerated by the media, there has been an increase in anti-digital nomad sentiment in Portugal. While digital nomads aren’t exclusively to blame, the cost of living has increased in Lisbon and this has made it more difficult for local Portuguese people to find affordable accommodation.

Despite the perception of digital nomads and problems relating to gentrification, Lisbon is far from over for digital nomads. The numbers of people attending the weekly number are evidence of that.

Other digital nomad spots in Portugal

While Lisbon is still home to the largest community of digital nomads in Portugal, it’s no longer the only destination for nomads. Far from it! Here are some other locations you might want to think about visiting or maybe even moving to.

  • Madeira: Located off the coast of Africa, this island is home to the world’s first digital nomad village. The nomad community is primarily located around Funchal (the island’s capital) and Ponta do Sol (where the nomad village is located). Madeira has a year-round mild climate meaning it doesn’t suffer from some of the extremes that mainland Portugal does.
  • The Algarve: With beautiful beaches and the best weather in Portugal, it’s no surprise that the Algarve has become a popular destination for digital nomads. Most of the community are located in and around Lagos, but you’ll find others in Sagres, Portimão, Faro, and throughout.
  • Ericeira: Situated about an hour by bus from Lisbon, this small town is popular with surfers and digital nomads that want more of a small-town-feel.
  • Porto: Portugal’s second city is home to several coworking spaces as well as plenty of laptop-friendly cafes. However, it doesn’t have the same big digital nomad community that Lisbon has, it’s much colder and wetter in the winter, and there’s less to do as it’s a smaller city. On the plus side, accommodation is more affordable and the people are said to be more friendly.

And as well as Portugal, there are hubs in other European cities. Nearby digital nomad hotspots include Barcelona, Gran Canaria, Bankso, and Budapest, to name just a few.

Written by

James Cave is the founder of Portugalist and the author of the bestselling book, Moving to Portugal Made Simple. He has visited just about every part of Portugal, including Madeira and all nine islands of the Azores, and lived in several parts of Portugal including Lisbon, the Algarve, and Northern Portugal.