Lisbon has been a digital nomad hotspot for several years now, and Porto is catching up. Porto isn’t as big as Lisbon, and it doesn’t have as big a community of digital nomads, freelancers, and startups, but it’s getting there. It has plenty of great cafés and co-working spaces, a real arty and hipster vibe, and it also has the very important benefit of being much cheaper than Lisbon.
Its location in Northern Portugal means that winters aren’t great here: they’re cold, damp, and grey. If, like most digital nomads, you’re a sun-seeker, you’ll probably want to head to the Algarve, maybe Lisbon, or away from most places in Europe entirely during the winter. The summers are good, though, and Porto’s northern location is great for hopping into Spain and visiting places like Galicia and Salamanca as well as other small cities in Portugal like Braga, Coimbra, and Guimarães.
With a population of around 216,000, Porto is quite a small city, and that does mean you may run out of new things to do after a while. Between this and the cold winters, it may not be a great long-term destination for digital nomads but, then again, how many digital nomads plan to stay anywhere on a long-term basis?
Why Porto is great for digital nomads
- Growing digital nomad scene – Porto’s digital nomad scene is nowhere as big as Lisbon’s, but there at least a few digital nomads here that you can meet up with. These meetups often take place at Porto i/o co-working space, which is one of the most popular spaces in Porto. There are also two Facebook groups where you can keep up with what’s happening: Digital Nomads Porto and Porto – DigitalNomads.pt.
- Great coffeeshops to work from – Porto has some seriously great coffee shops, many of which were covered in our hipster guide to Porto.
- Plenty of coworking spaces – If you’d prefer to work from a co-working space, Porto has plenty of great co-working spots. There are also a few near Matosinhos, which is great if you want to be closer to the coast.
- Great for surfers – While Lisbon trumps Porto and the Algarve on many things, it doesn’t when it comes to surfing. Porto has several surf schools, and it doesn’t take too long to get to the surf spots.
- Good airport – Although Porto is quite a small city, it has a very good airport. You can fly to Faro and Lisbon very cheaply, and to most other major European countries as well. There are also a handful of international flights to countries like the US, Canada, Morocco, and Brazil.
- Safe – This isn’t something that’s specific to Porto: Portugal is very safe overall, and it’s actually one of the world’s most safest countries. It’s also a country that’s incredibly welcoming of people from all backgrounds and walks of life including gay travellers.
- Easy to get around – Porto is small, but that’s often a good thing. It’s very easy to get around on foot, and there’s a great public transport system as well.
- Cheaper fine dining – Porto is a great place to go for cheap fine dining. Places like Antiqvvm, which has 1-Michelin Star, offer a lunch menu for afford €25 per person.
- Good bifanas – The bifana is one of Portugal’s most popular sandwiches, and it’s one of the closest things that you can get to streetfood here. Although bifanas originate in the Alentejo, I think the ones in Porto are better.
Co-working spaces in Porto
As mentioned, Porto has some great co-working spaces and we’ve written a separate article about that. There are also a handful of co-working spaces in Matosinhos, which is around 8 km from Porto.
Meetups to add to your calendar
- Porto Digital Nomads Meetup – The main meetup for digital nomads living in and visiting Porto.
- Porto Startup Coffee – Aimed at startup owners and entrepreneurs, this is a great place to meet other empire builders in Porto.
- Creative Mornings Porto – Aimed at anyone in the creative community who’s living in or visiting Porto.
- Let’s Grow Again – A meetup for those in marketing to discuss growth hacking strategies.
- Founders are Happy [hour] – A meetup for founders and those interested in entrepreneurship in Porto.
- Tech Tech Talk – A technology meetup run by the same group as Let’s Grow Again and Founders are Happy.
- Geek Girls Portugal – A meetup for girls in the tech industry.
Accommodation for digital nomads in Porto
As with anywhere, finding affordable accommodation is always the hardest part of moving somewhere new. Most digital nomads who visit Porto rent medium term through Airbnb. If you’re staying longer, there are several others long term accommodation sites to look at.
Nomadx – An accommodation site aimed entirely at digital nomads, Nomadx lists houses and houseshares that have great wi-fi and spaces to work. The houseshares are normally with other digital nomads and freelancers as well, so a great way to find like-minded flatmates.
Working from Porto Airport
Neither Lisbon or Porto Airport are particularly good for working from. Both have a handful of cafés, but finding a table to work from, and especially one with a plug socket, isn’t always easy.
There is an airport lounge at Porto Airport, which is normally quieter but, unfortunately, lacks laptop friendly surfaces to work from. If you ask at the airport lounge reception, they will let you take a look before deciding whether to pay or not.
Pre-security on the ground floor there’s a strange unmanned stall called Xpress Market that’s essentially a collection of vending machines selling coffee, soft drinks, and travel gadgets like international adapters. It does have some tables with plug sockets that are okay to walk from, and there’s also nobody there to give you evil eyes if you stay too long.
If you have enough time, you could take an Uber to the municipal library in Maia (map). It’s roughly a 10-minute drive from the airport, and the adult section usually has plenty of seating as well as a decent number of plug sockets. The internet connection is okay, and there’s a café in the building as well.