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Portugal for Digital Nomads (there’s more than just Lisbon)

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Talk about being a digital nomad in Portugal and most people will assume that you mean Lisbon. They’re probably right too: although nomads travel to other parts of Portugal (particularly Porto and the Algarve), the majority of nomads are based in the Portuguese capital.

It’s easy to see why. Lisbon is one of the largest digital nomad hubs in the world, along with Chiang Mai, Medellin, and Bali. It’s an easy place to meet other nomads, make friends, and get involved in the events that are happening.

But, people are starting to spill out of Lisbon. Whether that’s due to increased prices in Lisbon or just a curiosity about what else Portugal has to offer, more and more digital nomads are exploring the rest of Portugal.

Some tips for digital nomads visiting Portugal

Wifi

  • Wifi is generally good all over Portugal. It’s always sensible to double check any hotel or apartment reviews before booking but, generally, the wifi connection is not something that you need to worry about.
  • Most large supermarkets (i.e. not the small ones in the city centres) will have wifi (and often a café) if you can’t find anywhere else. Other places you’ll find wifi are shopping malls, town squares in some towns (especially those popular with tourists), and local government-run services e.g. a library or the câmara or council.
  • A library is a “biblioteca” and are good places to go and work as they have free wifi and sometimes extra power sockets as well.

Accommodation

  • Airbnb and Booking.com are the two sites you’ll book the majority of your short-term accommodation through. Both are worth looking at, and Airbnb in particular can be very affordable in more rural parts of Portugal.
  • For medium-term accommodation (30 days – 6 months), it’s as tricky as it is anywhere.
    • Most people use Airbnb (sometimes with a little haggling).
    • NomadX, a startup specialising in mid-term rentals, is definitely worth looking at especially now as they are expanding into other parts of Portugal.
    • The various digital nomad Facebook groups for Portugal are also worth looking at as often you’ll find people looking to sublet their apartments.
  • For long term accommodation, you’ll want to look at classifieds websites like OLX and also Facebook (the guide to renting long-term in Lisbon gives a list of sites for finding apartments that apply to most of Portugal).
  • There are a few co-living spaces in Portugal. These are usually more expensive than renting a room through Airbnb or Booking, but are a good way of meeting other digital nomads.
  • Portugal has a fairly relaxed view towards campervans (you’ll see rows of them in car parks across the country), and they can be a fun way to get around – especially if you can work from a mobile internet connection. There are plenty of motorhome companies all over Portugal.

Getting around

  • Overall, coaches are the easiest way to get around as the train network only covers some parts of the country (book long distance journeys through Rede Expressos).
  • The bus station is called “rodoviário.” You can’t always buy local bus tickets online, so you will need to go to the rodoviário. There’s a rodoviário for each region e.g. rodoviário do alentejo. 
  • If you can get a train, you can get discounts on some journeys if you book in advance. Most train tickets can be bought online and sent to your phone as an SMS.
  • The wifi rarely works on either buses or trains.
  • For some rural parts of Portugal, it’s a very good idea to rent a car. Skyscanner.net and Rentalcars.com are two of the best comparison websites (most of the others just whitelabel the Rental Cars software).
  • Different car rental companies are good for different things: some don’t charge you for taking the car into Spain, for example, while others are cheaper for 1-way rentals.
  • Car rental companies that you’ve never heard of (i.e. companies other than Hertz or Europcar) are usually best approached with caution.

Working

  • Coworking spaces are not necessarily cheaper outside of Lisbon. In fact, they can be more expensive.
  • The Croissant App can be useful if you’re travelling around and want to work from different coworking spaces.
  • Although Portugal has a traditional coffee scene, most nomads prefer to work from the more modern coffee shops.
  • Trivago, the hotel comparison website, allows you to search for rooms with specific features (like a desk). Great if you don’t want to work from the bed.
  • Libraries are definitely great places to work from, but some have weird hours (not open on Saturday mornings, for example).
  • If you’re on the go, it can be difficult to grab a quick bite to eat as this just isn’t part of Portuguese culture. Sandwich shops aren’t really a thing here, although you can usually get a simple sandwich or savoury snack from the pastelaria.

Popular destinations with digital nomads

Lisbon

Lisbon is not only the main nomad hub in Portugal, but in Europe as well. It’s nowhere near as cheap as it once was (read: it’s now expensive) but, despite rising accommodation prices, it has remained popular with digital nomads.

There are lots of coworking spaces, plenty of cafés that are nomad-friendly (the Copenhagen coffee chain seems to be the most popular), and a huge weekly meetup as well as smaller events dotted across the week.

Useful links:

Popular accommodation for digital nomads in Lisbon include:

Porto

Although nowhere near as big as the scene in Lisbon, Porto does have a small but growing nomad and tech scene. Most of this seems to be focused on the i/o group of coworking spaces, which hosts meetups for digital nomads in Porto.

Useful links

Algarve

The Algarve has a small (but growing) community of digital nomads, many of whom come back there regularly. There are no formal meetups, but some people connect through the Algarve Digital Nomads Facebook Group.

Lagos is the most popular destination for digital nomads. Faro and the West Coast of the Algarve are also popular, with the remainder of nomads dotted across the different towns of the Algarve. Because it’s quite a wide area, this does mean that it can be difficult to connect with other nomads unless you’re in the same town.

Useful links

Alentejo

Although many nomads take a weekend break to Évora, the Alentejo doesn’t attract a huge number of nomads. This is partly due to its harsh, hot summer, but also because it’s incredibly rural – ideal for a short break, but not always the best location for digital nomads.

It’s definitely a part of Portugal that’s worth exploring, though. It has a beautiful coastline and an equally beautiful interior.

Of all the Alentejo towns most likely to become a nomad hotspot, Évora is probably the main contender. It’s somewhere that most people living in Portugal end up visiting at least once, and it’s the main city in the Alentejo as well.

Évora does have 1 or 2 coworking spaces but be aware that they’re often located outside of the historical city centre, which is where most people visiting Évora end up staying.

Useful links

Coimbra

After Lisbon and Porto, Coimbra is one of the most popular destinations for digital nomads visiting Portugal. But, like most other places in Portugal besides Lisbon and Porto, even though Coimbra often has nomads passing through, there isn’t really a nomad scene there. 

It’s also a little short on co-working spaces, and the public library (Biblioteca Municipal De Coimbra) is quite a bit outside of the city centre. So, for the time being anyway, Coimbra is probably not going to become another hub for digital nomads. 

Ericeira

Ericeira is one of several surfing towns in Portugal along with Peniche, Nazaré, and Sagres. Of these, Ericeira is probably the most popular with digital nomads and the place that has the most amenities for nomads.

Some digital nomads live there, but most are usually just passing through either on a weekend break from Lisbon or as part of a trip across Portugal.

Ericeira is still growing as a digital nomad hub, but there are now a few coliving spaces in Ericeira as well as one or two coworking spaces as well.

Last updated in July 2019.
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