30+ Tips for Digital Nomads in Portugal

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James Cave / Last Updated: October 5, 2022 / Posted in: Travel in Portugal

Ten years ago, it was surprising to meet another digital nomad in Portugal. Now Lisbon is one of the world’s main digital nomad hubs, and Madeira and Lagos are rapidly growing in popularity as well.

Portugal is a great place for digital nomads: it’s relatively safe, eating and drinking is very affordable, the beaches are great, and it has some of the best weather in winter, particularly in Europe. But despite all of these selling points, there are one or two things to be aware of us well.

Tip: Thinking about coworking in Lisbon? You can get a free 7-day trial of the Croissant app which allows you to work in multiple coworking spaces in Lisbon (and one or two in other parts of the country as well).

Accommodation

  • Accommodation in Portugal, particularly in Lisbon, can be surprisingly expensive and hard to find
  • Airbnb is probably the main site to use (as always) but Booking.com and Flatio are also worth looking at for short and medium-term stays
  • It’s possible to haggle on Airbnb for longer stays (with various degrees of success)
  • 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.
  • Although attitudes have changed a lot in recent years, 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.

Visas

Destinations

  • Lisbon is the most popular destination for nomads. Madeira and the Algarve (especially Lagos) are also both growing in popularity
  • There are smaller hubs of nomads in places like Porto, Ericeira, and Costa da Caparica

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.
  • If you’re renting or buying an apartment, use our internet options checker to see what internet is available
  • 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.
  • Vodafone and other networks offer a portable dongle with unlimited internet that costs around €30 per month, plus the cost of the dongle. This is on a pas-as-you-go-basis, so there’s no contract. It’s not as good as fibre, but better than using your phone as a hotspot

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.

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