Digital Nomad Guide to Portugal
For the past several years, Portugal’s been on the way to becoming a new hub for digital nomads. It’s relatively cheap, unique, and well-equipped for remote workers. Here’s a Digital Barbaros guide for Portugal!
- Capital: Lisbon
- Currency: Euro
- Language: Portuguese (not Brazilian though!)
Portugal is the most Western country in Europe on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. Once pretty unknown and overlooked, it’s been gaining popularity every year for the past decade.
Portugal is very nomad-friendly, as the government is taking a tech-oriented course that creates a great environment for innovative companies, start-ups, small businesses, and freelancing. For example, as of 2022, Portugal is extremely attractive for all sorts of crypto investors and crypto companies because of its mild (read — almost absent) taxation on crypto assets. In addition, the country offers other interesting tax options for nomads and remote workers (such as the Non-Habitual Resident tax regime, when an individual freelancer can be freed of taxation for up to 10 years). Worth checking out, right?
Besides the rational tax benefits, there’s also the emotional part. Portugal is a beautiful country with slow-paced life, breathtaking scenery, and lots of places to visit. The continental part of the country is a clever mix of cultures, and once you explore those, feel free to check Portuguese overseas territories — Madeira and Azores islands.
Portugal has a mild climate: it doesn’t get extremely hot during the summer or dreadfully cold during the winter. The only trouble one might face is humidity: living right next to the ocean means dealing with tons of water.
- Touristic season: July–September
- Best times for surfing: April–June, and October–November
If you’re looking for a place to escape during the Fall season, Portugal is your perfect choice. The seasons are slightly shifted there: that means, the summer in Portugal starts around July and ends somewhere in October.
The weather in Portugal is quite stable yet versatile. If you prefer a hotter and drier climate, choose the Southern regions such as Algarve or Alentejo. If you’re into the hot sun and wetter ocean breeze, look into Leiria and the oceanside of Central Portugal. For those preferring weather 2–5 degrees down, consider Porto or other Northern parts.
Keep in mind that cities like Lisbon or Porto are not coastal in full definition — so if you’re in Lisbon on a hot 36 degrees day, it’s going to be quite a challenge. The difference in temperature and humidity is drastic between the coastal areas and the heart of the country at any given season, so choose your base carefully.
Cost of Living
Portugal is the most affordable country in Western Europe. The cost of living depends a lot on the season and the area you plan on living. But in general, it is cheaper than, say, Spain.
Here is the average price chart for Lisbon, Porto, and Peniche (oceanside capital of surfing).
|Rent per month (1 bedroom apartment)||961.63 €||703.82 €||500 €|
|Meal in a basic cafe||10 €||8 €||7 €|
|Mid-range restaurant meal for two||44.48 €||35.00 €||40 €|
|A bottle of wine||4 €||4 €||4 €|
|A cup of coffee||3 €||2.60 €||1.80 €|
|Surf lesson with coach and equipment||45 €||50 €||30 €|
The most expensive places would be Lisbon and Porto. Smaller towns like Peniche, Figueira da Foz, or even Coimbra are cheaper, but the rent prices in coastal towns might swell during the high season in July–September.
As we mentioned in the beginning, the Portuguese government is working on converting digital nomads and remote workers from other countries to stay in Portugal. Therefore, the country offers quite attractive visa options.
Unfortunately, there’s no official digital nomad visa yet, but many non-EU residents choose a D7 visa. For a long time, D7 was mostly an option for retirement as it would require a stable passive income. However, with time it transformed into “living off of a recognized stable income”, allowing entrepreneurs and other expats to apply just as well as retired non-citizens and pensioners.
Among other options, there are business visas (D2), start-up visas, a start-up in tech visas, investment visas, and visas for valuable specialists.
The good thing about Portuguese visas is that all of them are the first step to getting citizenship. So, if you get a D7 or a start-up visa, 5 years later you may get a passport — provided you’ve been good and obliged to every immigration rule (which is not that hard).
The bad thing about Portuguese visas is that it’s not a very fast process. There is quite a pinch of bureaucracy on the way, and right now (as of 2022), the immigration system is slightly overwhelmed. So applying for a national visa in your own country before coming to Portugal is much faster than applying from within the country.
If you’d like to read more about the visas and the options one gets when coming to Portugal, check out our article “Where to Next: 10 Countries With Digital Nomad Visas” and the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Where to Live
As you probably figured already, Portugal is a small country. But don’t be fooled by the size of it — everyone finds a place to their liking here. There are lots of places to explore and camp in for a while, but here are some of the most common options if one thing you definitely have on your list is a community of other nomads and expats.
As a capital, Lisbon is, of course, the first choice for many. Given the whole easy-going vibe Portugal radiates, Lisbon is not that much of a megapolis as, for example, Madrid or Berlin. Yet, if you’re a fan of fancy restaurants, clubs, and bars with whooshing nightlife, third-wave coffee places, and nomadic culture, Lisbon might be just the right place.
Despite being quite old in general terms, Lisbon doesn’t give off an ancient vibe like Rome. The reason behind it is a devastating earthquake back in 1755 when almost 80% of the city was destroyed. Lisbon was practically wiped out and built again from scratch. However, it doesn't make it less of a fascinating place for culture junkies, especially if you’re into modern art!
Lisbon is a gateway for many, so you can find it breathtakingly versatile. Portuguese cuisine “taska” sits right next to a Cabo Verde family-owned place that borders a Nepal and Indian cafe. One’s never bored in Lisbon, that’s for sure.
Being a big city, Lisbon is full of options for short-term rentals. However, it’s easy to run out of options during the high season, as Lisbon is also a touristic mecca. If you’d like to find a place for a longer stay, try local Idealista instead of your classic Booking.com or Airbnb.
Lisbon has a beach about 15 minutes away by train. It’s not that fascinating but does the job as well. There are tons of concerts and events going on every day and night, so don’t overlook meetup.com and Facebook events!
A Lisbon’s brother from another mother, Porto is the northern capital of Portugal, and it shows. Despite being smaller and slightly cheaper than Lisbon, Porto tends to fascinate in another way and radiate a noble, magical sensation. The nightlife is less wild here: if you’re more of a “wine with friends” rather than a “clubbing all night” kind of person, Porto is your choice.
Porto is very hipster: it offers a lot of modern art exhibitions, music festivals, cultural events, third-wave coffee places, coworking spaces, local clothing brands, and the most beautiful Livraria Lello bookshop. It feels more familiar than Lisbon but also definitely less hectic, while still being a relatively big city.
In Porto, there are surfers but keep in mind that the ocean’s going to be slightly colder in the north. But if you’re worried about getting cold in the north of the country, don’t worry — the temp difference is insignificant, and you can always warm up with delicious port wine of all kinds!
A couple of coworking spaces worth checking in Porto:
Do you want to live closer to the ocean? Then get a bus ticket from Lisbon to Peniche, and forget all about it! Peniche is a small coastal town and also the capital of European surfing. Being home for fishermen and surfers mostly, Peniche is not a fancy place. But it makes up for it with a warm familiar atmosphere, the freshest seafood, a beautiful ocean, and marvelous dunes and cliffs.
Peniche is nicely situated: just 1,5 hours from Lisbon, and on the way of all intercity transports, it’s a comfortable place to camp in and travel around Portugal. The town is clenched between surf spots for any level of proficiency: from very novice-friendly Praia da Cima to a famous professional Supertubos.
Peniche, along with nearby Baleal, is becoming a new hotspot for nomads who prefer the ocean to the big city. Slow-paced life, fresh pastries, lots of expats, surfers, and remote workers, much cheaper cost of living, and familiarity of a small town introduce the real Portugal.
It has a nice balance between turning into a touristic all-inclusive pinpoint and wild rural area: you won’t find barkers alongside the restaurants but you’ll be glad about the infrastructure the town has, including good Internet connection and transport availability.
If you choose to visit Peniche, drop us a line at email@example.com! In Peniche, we created Barbaros Hut — a nomad-friendly housing on the shore of the ocean with a stable Internet, equipped work zone and coworking, and community events! Learn more at the Barbaros Hut page.
- Bom dia! Boa tarde! Boa noite! — Good morning (until noon)! Good afternoon! Good night!
- Por favor — Please
- Obrigado / Obrigada — Thank you (if you’re male / if you’re female)
- Adeus / Ate breve / Ate amanha — Bye / See you soon / See you tomorrow
- Queria um copo de vinho verde, por favor — I would like a glass of vinho verde, please
- Taska — a traditional Portuguese restaurant with cheap and simple food of the local cuisine
- Prato do dia — a complex lunch