Portugal has been on every digital nomad’s to watch list in the past decade. The emerging tech industry in Lisbon, the enchanting beaches of the Algarve, and the hedonistic life in Porto attract all kinds of expats and investors. Additionally, the friendly locals and local cuisine mixed with a relaxed lifestyle transform Portugal into a haven for digital nomads.
The Portuguese government invested in a robust, high-speed internet infrastructure. Additionally, it encourages foreign investments in companies and start-ups through the Golden Visa program.
In this article, we’ll take you through a journey in Portugal as a digital nomad destination.
Cost of Living in Portugal
Portugal amazes expats and digital nomads with its affordability. Even compared with cheaper European countries like Spain, it still stands out.
Of course, how much you spend depends on where you live and what you do. If you chose to live in the heart of Lisbon, a couple can live a good life from €2,000 to €2,500 a month. If you’re looking for something a bit more pocket-friendly, you can always check out the Silver Coast or Porto where you can live quite comfortably at just €1,500 a month.
Below are a few approximate costs of a digital nomad in Portugal:
- Meal for two at a mid-range restaurant: €25
- Renting an apartment in Lisbon or Porto: €650-€850
- A beer in Porto: €2
- Basic utilities and internet: €100
How To Find a Place To Stay in Portugal
The Portuguese real estate market received a lot of investment in recent years. Especially in Porto and Lisbon, you’ll find an abundance of shiny new Airbnb units, ideal for digital nomads. As for coastal areas, you will find hotels and hostels literally two steps from the beach.
The further inland you move, the harder it is to find suitable accommodation. Those charming stone villages on the sierras don’t entertain much. This means that you might need to conduct a search there in person in order to find a nomadic pad. You may be able to find some hotels near or around such areas if you wish to book in advance.
Here are some websites which can you help you with your digital nomading in Portugal:
As mentioned above, Portugal poured a lot of funds into infrastructure and real estate projects recently, specifically to attract expats and digital nomads. Lisbon specifically is littered with sleek and chic apartments in the heart of cities. Just what the digital nomad might be hunting for. Here are some pro-tips on using Airbnb in Portugal:
Book for at Least One Month at a Time
You might find great discounts if you book for slightly longer times. We tried out a nice nomadic pad in Porto in 2017 and got a good 50 percent discount because we committed to a whole month. To be honest four weeks is way less than you need to really soak up anywhere in Portugal, so it’s a win-win.
Negotiate with the Host
Bargaining is ingrained in the culture in Portugal, whether you’re buying fruits at the local market, trying to buy some shoes as a Christmas gift or even buying a home. Send a message to the Airbnb host and ask politely if they can knock the price down a bit. What’s the harm in that? More often than not, the host might be actually expecting it.
Try Tto Grab Your Booking Early
Portugal in the summer is basically the holy grail for tourists, most of whom choose Airbnb. This is why if you’re thinking of visiting Portugal in the summer you need to snatch that good Airbnb as soon as you can.
This might look like an Airbnb ripoff but in reality, it’s not. This is a portal built by location-independent nomads for other nomads and has listings you can’t find anywhere else. The range of apartments here is astounding, from beach-view apartments, to smack dab in the middle of city studios.
What’s awesome about this website is that it is specifically for digital nomads. This means that they are all extra careful to have fast internet, good neighborhoods, and super comfy beds.
Get Golden Visa: Who We Are and How We Can Help You
If you’re looking to rent a long-term apartment or even invest in a property, our local team in Portugal can help you find your next home.
We are a diversified team of local Portuguese, as well as expats and digital nomads in Portugal. Rest assured, we will help you find your ideal home, no matter what stage of the search you are or where you are currently located.
Entering Portugal: Digital Nomad Visas and Documentation
Depending on your nationality, you may need a visa when entering Portugal. Also depending on where you’re coming from, you might need a residence permit to stay there for a longer-term.
There is no specific Digital Nomad Visa per se in Portugal yet. This would fall in the category of a normal residency (e.g. D7) or another type of residency for entrepreneurs that involves creating a company in Portugal.
Regardless of where you’re from, you should always have a clean criminal record, as the Portuguese government will run a criminal background check.
It’s extremely easy for EU (European Union) citizens to visit and stay in Portugal. Since Portugal is part of the EU, citizens from the EU require no visa or resident permit to visit, live, and work in Portugal.
As a US passport holder, you can visit Portugal visa-free for up to 90 days. If you’re planning to stay longer, then you can apply for a 120-day stay visa in Portugal. For that, you should provide proof of income, showing at least 1,000 Euros monthly for the duration of your stay.
Non-EU and non-US Citizens
For non-EU citizens, the process for a Portugal visa might be a little more elaborate. You’ll need to apply for a Schengen visa at your local Portuguese consular office. Usually, you’ll need the following documents:
- Valid passport
- Proof of health insurance which provides coverage in Portugal
- Criminal record
- Proof of income
A popular visa type for expats in Portugal is the D7 Visa; it is also referred to as a passive income visa. You can read more about the D7 Visa here.
If you have the funds to invest, then you can also check out the Golden Visa program in Portugal. The program allow you to make an investment in the country and obtain a residence permit, which can then lead to Portuguese citizenship in five years. If you’re interested, read our comprehensive Portugal Golden Visa guide.
Best Destinations for Digital Nomads in Portugal
We really went back and forth a few times about whether to list Lisbon or Porto first in this list. Both are excellent destinations with so much to offer, but there is just something about Porto. The cobbled street, enchanting castles, ancient houses on the hills hugging the Douro river. The city feels like something from a fairytale.
If you’re lucky enough, you might be able to snag an Airbnb at the Ribeira area, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Not to mention that the wine there is some of the best in the world. Additionally, you can have access to a wide variety of beaches. If you’re an adventurous digital nomad, there’s also excellent surfing, so be sure to check out Esmoriz or Azurara.
Where To Work in Porto?
Porto i/o is a magnificent coworking space, boasting four locations:
- Santa Catarina
- Douro Riverside
This fantastic coworking location has lectures, workshops, and talks regularly. It’s a great place to get some work done and to meet other digital nomads in Porto.
Lisbon is one of those unique places in the world. It is just large enough to have a bustling metropolitan life, yet just small enough to keep its old-world charm. You can visit a castle that was built hundreds of years ago then head down to an all-night party at the Bairro Alto neighborhood. It’s nothing less than an intellectual and cultural hub.
What’s great about Lisbon is that it’s also pocket-friendly. Unlike many European capitals, you can get by on a small budget if you spend your money carefully. You can grab dinner somewhere decent for $20-30 and grab a beer at a local pub for no more than a euro or two.
Lisbon is divided into various neighborhoods each with its own vibes. So a bit of research into the various neighborhoods and what each of them has to offer will help you in your endeavors there.
Where To Work in Lisbon
There are plenty of excellent coworking spaces for the digital nomads in Lisbon. One of those is Liberdade229. It has spacious offices, it is very conveniently located and the architecture allows for plenty of natural light.
You’ll find many entrepreneurs, start-up enthusiasts, and digital nomads having a coffee in the communal kitchen. Actually, you can easily get a few job offers just chatting with founders by the water-cooler there, so you might want to check it out.
For the adventurous digital nomad, Peniche is a must-visit. Being a surf-town at heart, it can be considered the best surf-town in all of western Europe. If you go to the Spertubos beach in the summer you’ll find plenty of surfers trying to master the roaring barrels.
There are plenty of surfing opportunities here ranging from challenging reefs to light waves for beginners. If you’re a surfer/digital nomad it’s next to impossible to find somewhere better. You can set up your HQ at one of the sea-view condos or move a bit to the center Peniche and find a charming condo.
Where To Work in Peniche
As Peniche is fairly small, there aren’t many coworking places there. Though Largo is an excellent space located in the old district. It is friendly, cheap, and has everything you need for all your digital nomading at the end of a surfing day.
You simply won’t believe your eyes when you visit Braga. It is the oldest city in Portugal, yet thanks to a joint effort between its university, business crowd, and the government, it has turned into a tech hotbed. This youthful city has the highest rate of higher education students in Science and technology in the country. Braga files for more patents than Lisbon or Porto.
Thanks to its university’s high-quality technical skills and its young, skilled population, tech companies are getting drawn to Braga like moths to a flame. The northern quarter of the city is quite common with expats trying to enjoy a breezy lifestyle and attractive property prices.
Where To Work in Braga
You will be shocked by the number of digital nomads networking opportunities you can find in Braga. If you head to Braga I/O, Factory Braga, or Regus branch, you’ll feel like you walked into a coworking space in NY or London.
Because of its university and youthful workforce, you’ll find tech-savvy developers, web designers, and even engineers trying to collaborate to create excellent new business. With some social skills, you might find yourself on board some of those rocket ships heading to the top of the tech industry.
Sagres has an incredibly unique position right at the southwestern tip of Portugal. Look to the north and you’ll find the Atlantic with excellent surfing waves. Look to the east to be blinded by the golden beaches of the Algarve with various resorts, clubs, and bars.
There are endless trekking opportunities on the cliffs leading to Tonel Beach. You also owe it to yourself to stay at one of the bungalows sprinkled along the shoreline. If you’d like to avoid the summer crowding, you might want to visit Sagres in the Autumn. You’d still have decently warm weather, amazing autumn colors, and much fewer crowds.
Where To Work in Sagres
The avid digital nomad will sure have heard of Coworksurf. It is a global network of workspaces founded right here in Sagres, especially for surfer nomads. You will have access to extremely fast internet and friendly co-workers literally two steps away from the nicest beaches and waves in western Europe.
One simply can’t make a list of the best places in Portugal without including Coimbra. Drenched in history and culture, this town straddling the Mondego River is nothing short of a gem. To paint a picture, imagine cobblestoned lanes, a towering gorgeous cathedral, tiny cafes, and a baroque university library.
Gondola rides on the river, serene walks in parks, and hours spent going through amazing books in the university library is what awaits you in Coimbra. Since it’s a bit far from the beaches, it’s much less busy than any coastal town which might attract the introvert nomad. It’s an excellent place to take a break from the hustle during the summer months so you can get some work done in peace and quiet.
Where To Work in Coimbra
The Nest Collective has a very elegant workspace in the heart of Coimbra. Simple, stylish, and affordable it’s an excellent space to get your work done while hiding out from the summer crowds in Portugal.
Ponta do Sol, Madeira: The Digital Nomad Village
Portugal takes its love for digital nomads to the next level. The Portuguese island Madeira has a “Digital Nomads Madeira” project, which is practically a digital nomad village. The town of Ponta do Sol has a population of 8,200 inhabitants. The town will host up to 100 remote workers at a time, providing them with a free working space, free internet access, and access to a Slack community. The overall experience will include fun activities and events that encourage connections and networking between the participants and the local community. Digital Nomads Madeira is a joint initiative between the government of Madeira and Startup Madeira. The goal is to help the community benefit from the economic and social impact of attracting young and energetic digital nomads into Portugal. If this sounds interesting to you, be sure to check out the official Digital Nomads Madeira website.