After over 20 years of corporate life, working remotely is, for me, one of the best ways to live. The freedom that comes with a flexible schedule really suits my lifestyle, and when you’re in a beautiful city like Lisbon, Portugal, there are lots of interesting spots to work from, so I never get bored.
Lisbon is now one of the most popular cities in Europe for digital nomads, and there’s no surprise why: it has a trifecta of desirable attributes. It’s cheap—a one-bedroom rental costs as little as $700 a month. Sunny most of the year, it has the perfect climate, with it’s proximity to the Atlantic Ocean keeping it from getting too hot. And finally, it’s an extremely fun place to be, with nightlife, castles, history, food, and culture that can rival Berlin, Paris, or Barcelona.
However, working as a digital nomad in such a city has its hurdles. Without a boss to tell me what to do, it’s up to me to sort out my schedule and get things done. Some people are more organized than others, but I definitely need a bit of structure to make things happen, so I have found a great solution: co-working spaces.
According to Coworker.com, there are 153 co-working places in Portugal, and almost half of them are in Lisbon. Some of them are targeted at creative people—photographers, writers—and some offer a more corporate style, so you can choose what fits best with your skills and objectives. Since I work with coaching, workshops, and writing, I like places where I can easily use a meeting room to have some privacy and silence when needed.
I enjoy talking to people and my work largely revolves around human contact, so I often go to cafés for a change. There are cafés all around the city that offer free, and fast, WiFi, as well as affordable and delicious food and drinks. There are so many expats living and working remotely here that you’ll nearly always hear English being spoken in cafés.
One of my favorite cafés is the Sandwich Bar at CCB (Centro Cultural de Belém). Housed in the cultural center in the historical neighborhood of Belém, the café has a magnificent view of the Tagus River and comfortable tables and chairs. The food is also great, so I usually end up staying for lunch. Right beside the Sandwich Bar, the cultural center has a small library that is open to the public, so if I have a deadline and need to be super concentrated, that’s my go-to spot (and I still get the fantastic riverside view).
One of the most popular cafés for working and meeting up with entrepreneur expats and other digital nomads is the Copenhagen Coffee Lab. Every Monday there’s a meetup where you can just show up with your computer, chat with other expats, make connections, and get some work done.
For a place with a more Portuguese vibe, I like to go to Padaria Portuguesa cafés. With more than 60 locations in and around Lisbon, even though it’s a chain, they have a homey feel and fresh food. They serve Portuguese dishes and pastry, and all of the locations I have visited have decent WiFi. I just avoid lunchtime, since it can get too crowded and hard to find a table.
When I’m in need of some inspiration and I’m looking for a calmer and more relaxed place, I head to the town of Cascais, about 18 miles from Lisbon city center. My favorite spot in sunny days is Casa da Guia. There are restaurants and cafés as well as some small shops with a fantastic ocean view. It’s very calm and peaceful, away from the urban hustle and bustle, and the perfect place to have a calm read and get inspired. Some of my best ideas were born there and I have even been lucky enough to have spotted dolphins swimming around while preparing my next workshop.