8 Reasons Why This Lesser-Known Sunny Island In Europe Is A Digital Nomad Paradise

8 Reasons Why This Lesser-Known Sunny Island In Europe Is A Digital Nomad Paradise

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As a journey author and digital nomad who’s made it his life’s work to discover the world whereas sharing his experiences on-line, I’ve already seen over 79.1% of Europe – in accordance with my Mark O’ Travel stats I religiously replace each month – and have inevitably labored remotely from most international locations on this aspect of the Atlantic.

From bleak mid-winters within the Balkans to the canicules of Southern France in a scorching July, and each writing session in between, be it holed up in my AirBnB room attempting to maintain the heat in or mendacity on the sting of a seashore, letting the ocean caress my ft, I really feel I may put collectively a digital nomad guidebook for newcomers within the Old Continent.

Aerial View Of Camara De Lobos In Madeira, Portugal, Southern Europe

Being near finishing my ‘European nomadic trek’, I used to be satisfied already I had my immutable high three favorites: nowhere I might go subsequent may ever high Georgia’s generous visa policy and excessive affordability, Albania’s stunning nature and welcoming people, or Poland’s underrated delicacies and awe-inspiring History.

As you may need guessed, I’ve a professed love for Eastern Europe and would usually overtly keep away from the Western flank, primarily as a result of, most of the time, it doesn’t match the funds and it’s simply too touristy.

The big crowds are a giant turn-off for me, who’s principally seeking to work in peace whereas sampling some tradition.

digital nomad work station in lisbon

As a nomad, my wants are slightly primitive: I want consolation, good meals, low value of dwelling, and sunshine.

As we approached winter, nonetheless, my choices as a Europe-based, sun-loving nomad began thinning dramatically.

The Eastern bloc and its plummeting temperatures have been abruptly off-limits.

I needed to look elsewhere, as far South as I may.

Call it intuition, or maybe a little bit push from the Instagram algorithm, however subsequent factor I knew I used to be boarding a four-hour flight to a mysterious island so small you’ll be able to’t see its define on a map until zooming in on the precise proper spot.

mountain village on madeira island portugal

In chasing the solar, I stumbled upon this beautiful Portuguese archipelago that has me questioning whether or not I ought to reshuffle my very own private rating of favourite nomad hotspots.

Madeira is the right year-round vacation spot for distant staff, and listed below are 8 the explanation why:

Madeira Is Perfect For An Escape Into Nature

If you’re uncertain what or the place Madeira even is, it’s an autonomous, archipelagic territory of Portugal positioned off the coast of West Africa comprising 4 islands, two of that are inhabited, and a further two held as protected reserves.

From Lisbon, the Portuguese capital, to the archipelago, it’s a whopping 600 miles, and actually, it’s a part of the African tectonic plate, being geographically nearer to Africa than Europe, and to be fairly trustworthy, it does really feel worlds aside from mainland Portugal.

In phrases of nature, Madeira is markedly completely different from the Iberian Peninsula, the place mainland Portugal sits, as it’s a subtropical island crisscrossed by climbing paths main up towering mountains and dominated by an evergreen flora, together with a 20-million-year-old laurel, UNESCO-listed forest.

From Curral das Freiras and its jagged peaks, all the way down to the rugged South Coast, interspersed with quaint, hilly seaside villages and banana plantations so far as the eyes can see, to the waterfall-dotted inland, the place Mother Nature is the ruling, unchallenged queen, Madeira is ideal for slowing down and working towards some interior therapeutic.

According to analysis carried out Demandsage, 11% of digital nomads are overtly searching for simpler entry to nature, and I’m undecided about you, however that’s precisely what I wanted as a nomad, having jumped from nation to nation all through 2023.

For one of the best half, I gravitated in the direction of sprawling city facilities, as they’re supposedly the place you could find one of the best infrastructure, the web cafes, and the most important group of expats, however the city fatigue was fast to catch as much as me.

Having consistently primarily based myself within the largest doable metropolis and main a busier life anyplace the social scene is liveliest, I didn’t really feel as that essentially boosted my happiness ranges, nor my productiveness.

Digital Nomad Working Barefoot With Coffee

Deep down, I used to be reluctant to go away the city middle out of concern the good outside wouldn’t be nomad-friendly, and in case you’re a fellow nomad, you understand how essential is having high-speed web and a neighborhood to encompass your self with.

These are usually not simply discovered exterior metropolitan areas.

Shockingly, as I landed in Madeira, I realized most of the island is nomad-friendly, and this brings me to level quantity two.

A Nomad-Friendly Remote Island

For an island as distant as Madeira, I used to be positively stunned to be taught nomads are unfold throughout your complete territory, versus being concentrated within the regional capital, normally the best-equipped settlement.

Funchal is the most important metropolis, and it’s certainly the go-to spot in case you’re on the lookout for a wider vary of providers and higher leisure choices, however Madeira as a complete is well-prepared to host sluggish vacationers and distant staff, and even 600-people-strong villages supply long-term rental and a myriad of eating choices.

Houses Of Santana In Madeira, Portugal, Southern Europe

I made a decision to get out of my consolation zone this time and left town for a one-week stint at a small coastal city in South Madeira, aptly titled Ponta do Sol (Portuguese for ‘Sunny Tip’).

A fishing port discovered on the coronary heart of a valley, bounded by sugar cane and banana terraces and lining the azure Atlantic, with winding alleys and a landmark church, it’s splendid for enjoyable, letting go of your mundane worries, and most significantly, getting work carried out with out distractions.

Other than the pleasant, hospitable locals and wonderful meals, my favourite reminiscence of Ponta do Sol is listening to the soothing crashing of waves as I labored from my pc on the pebbly beachfront by the Sun Spot Cafe.

Quaint Seaside Village Ponta Do Sol Seen From A Hilltop Miradouro, Southern Madeira, Portugal, Southern Europe

No site visitors noise, no interruptions, and, most significantly, a steady WiFi connection (and delectable seafood meals to high it off).

The subsequent factor you understand, the solar is setting and marking the sky in shades of jaune, blood orange, and purple: it’s really spectacular, and it’s no surprise the native Government has a devoted channel for broadcasting sunsets reside to homesick Madeirense residents residing overseas.

It’s The Land Of Eternal Spring

The sunny local weather is yet one more big plus.

You see, in contrast to continental Portugal, Madeira just isn’t topic to the seasonal modifications you see in mainland Europe. It is an island within the Atlantic, nearer to West Africa than it’s to the geopolitical entity it belongs to, and on account of that, the climate stays comparatively heat – or hotter than Europe – year-round.


It is really by no means too scorching nor too chilly in Madeira.

I used to be there in early December, and temperatures averaged from 59°F within the evenings, with chilly coastal winds you’ll be able to simply shield your self from by sporting a lightweight jacket, to nice highs of 75.2°F through the day.

Madeira has been aptly nicknamed the land of everlasting spring, and winters are typically fairly delicate, with 12mm of rainfall anticipated in January, the wettest month of the yr, and a 47% probability of a transparent sunny day, in accordance with TUI.

Tropical Gardens In Madeira, An Atlantic Island Part Of Portugal

If you’re a water creature, you’ll be thrilled to know the ocean temperature round Madeira by no means drops beneath 66°F in winter, which means you’ll be able to swim off the coast no matter season, because the water is rarely gelid, although it could take you a while to get used to the naturally-colder North Atlantic.

While most of my time in Madeira was spent in Ponta do Sol, I did got down to discover different coastal areas of the island, and a few of my favourite swimming websites have been Seixal, certainly one of a handful of sandy strips on the island, and the place sands are darkish and of vulcanic nature, and Porto Moniz, well-known for its lava-formed pure swimming pools.

Madeira Hosts The Ultimate Digital Nomad Event

Having traveled to over 60 international locations whereas working remotely, one factor I’ve realized fairly early on is that a few of the greatest digital nomad locations are those the place a thriving expat neighborhood has been established.

There are exceptions to this rule, nevertheless it’s normally international locations with a lot of alien residents which can be higher outfitted to cater to nomads’ wants, as public providers are more likely to be foreigner-friendly, English tends to be extensively spoken, and long-term rental choices are plentiful.

Aerial view from the highest Cabo Girao, Madeira island, Portugal

Try dwelling long-term as a digital nomad in fellow Lusophone Brazil with out a native ‘CPF’ quantity, as an illustration. Spoiler: it is no fun.

Madeira is well-prepared to host us, and I’ve touched on that already, however one thing that actually blew my thoughts is how the island has utterly embraced this surging development, a lot in order that it hosts a streak of digital nomad occasions yearly.

In reality, the Nomad Island Fest, one of many largest nomad retreats in Europe, takes place each December on the island, bringing collectively like-minded entrepreneurs, world vacationers, and aspiring nomads to debate new enterprise ventures and customary challenges they face.

The Nomad Island Fest In Madeira, Portugal, Southern Europe

I attended the Nomad Island Fest myself in Ponta do Sol, and over the course of the action-packed, week-long occasion, I used to be given the instruments to spice up my productiveness and let go of my limiting beliefs, and join with fellow ‘escapers’ on a deeper degree – extra so than another soulless enterprise convention I had been to earlier than.

The fest has a distinct program yearly, and it units itself aside from different nomad retreats as there’s a thorough screening course of in place that solely selects the best-suited friends.

Don’t fear: it’s not a discriminatory course of.

Michelle Maree Speaking To An Audience At The Nomad Island Fest In Madeira, Portugal, Southern Europe

You should not have to be a self-made millionaire and even somebody who’s efficiently transformed to a digital nomad to enroll: if something, occasion organizers are on the lookout for passionate people seeking to develop professionally and personally, and who’ve an open thoughts and are usually not scared to dig deep in confronting their very own fears.

That’s the entire level of the fest: it has a holistic method, combining enterprise and private growth.

As the recurring ‘escaper’ mantra reads, ‘work hard, play harder’:

Attendees Having Fun At The Nomad Island Fest In Madeira, Portugal, Southern Europe

I grew to become a digital nomad to free myself of the shackles of company life and 9-to-5 jobs and belief me once I say there’s nothing I might dread greater than sitting in an auditorium by means of lengthy, unbearable hours listening to older enterprise moguls who know higher.

Talks on the Nomad Island Fest really feel much less preachy and extra like an precise alternate, and although invited audio system are famend consultants of their respective fields, they’re eager on together with spectators and are simply as open to receiving enter as we’re keen to pay attention.

Add in meditation periods, card video games, lunch breaks, outside 4×4 excursions on dust roads traversing a wild Madeirense nature, and riotous Gatsby-themed events, and also you may simply get the gist of it.

Tourists Running Into The Ocean In Seixal, A Volcanic Beach In Northern Madeira, Portugal, Southern Europe
How Much Does The Nomad Island Fest Cost?

With Basic Passes beginning at simply €829, or roughly $903, that is an funding not solely on skilled development, but additionally lifelong friendships and potential life-changing encounters.

At the very least, nonetheless, you’ll be granted 7-day entry to the occasion venue, all every day workshops, talks, and periods, the health periods, a coworking area in Ponta do Sol with fast-speed WiFi, and a one-year entry to the Escapers Club, made up of digital nomads and business innovators.

Accommodation just isn’t included, however there’s actually no scarcity of boutique resorts and Airbnb listings on the town, inside strolling distance of the venue.

People Interacting At The Digital Nomad Fest Conference In Madeira Island, Portugal, Southern Europe

A Premium Ticket prices €1839, or roughly $2004, and contains all the above, plus lodging in a four-star resort perched on a clifftop with privileged views of Ponta do Sol, breakfast and dinners, one-on-one teaching and extra.

Other than the Nomad Island Fest, Nomad Escape gives two further retreats to nomads primarily based in Madeira: the Business Retreat and the Build Week, which you’ll be taught extra about here.

There Is No ‘Digital Nomad Fatigue’ In Madeira (Yet)

If something, the truth that the Nomad Escape relies in Madeira is additional proof this island has turn out to be certainly one of Europe’s high locations for distant staff.

Having chatted to and briefly interviewed locals throughout my time there, from taxi drivers to waiters in eating places to passers-by, I spotted anti-nomad sentiment is primarily non-existent.

Wide Angle View Of Porto Moniz, An Oceanfront Village In Madeira Island, Portugal

Naturally, I didn’t perform an official, in depth analysis – this was simply me brushing up on my native Portuguese – however latest stories that nomads are being accused of contributing to gentrification and even being instructed to ‘leave’ Lisbon and different elements of mainland Portugal don’t appear to have reverberations on this autonomous Portuguese archipelago, the place they’re being welcomed with open arms.

Other than shining mild on this fast-growing development, the Nomad Escape helps enhance the native financial system, actively encouraging guests to remain longer and discover off-path places – we have been staying miles away from the capital’s glitzy resort strip ourselves, consuming in native eating places, and supporting native companies.

Aerial View Of The Madeira Archipelago, An Autonomous Part Of Portugal In The Atlantic Ocean

Madeira Is A Hugely Underrated Cultural Gem

They could also be nice factors to contemplate, however a sunny local weather and pro-nomad sentiment are usually not the one metrics related to me.

I like my seashore spots with a little bit little bit of tradition, and Madeira actually didn’t disappoint: in some ways, it appears like its personal territory, as it’s tons of of miles away from mainland Portugal, islanders have their very own defining lingo and dialect, and the structure is often colonial in character.

Unlike Lisbon or Porto, Madeira was not settled hundreds of years in the past.

The Portuguese ‘stumbled’ upon the uninhabited archipelago through the Age of Discoveries, just a few many years earlier than reaching the Americas (Brazil), and because of this, Madeira developed at an identical tempo to that of the opposite colonies.

There aren’t any historic Roman ruins, because the Romans by no means obtained so far as the Macaronesian Islands, which Madeira is part of, nor imposing medieval forts, as Madeira was found in the direction of the very finish of the Middle Ages, when constructing monumental castles was now not viable, or wanted.

funchal at night

Still, you will see whitewashed Iberian-style church buildings and cobbled lanes that criss-cross cities are an indelible mark of Portuguese settlement, besides the encircling surroundings feels distinctly non-European, with tropical vegetation, rainforests, and unique scents filling the air.

Madeirenses have their very own delicacies, their very own sub-culture, and their very own identification, developed on account of centuries of geographical isolation, and they’re apparently exceedingly pleased with having spawned certainly one of Portugal’s nationwide heroes, Cristiano Ronaldo, who was born within the outskirts of Funchal.

You may even go to his self-titled museum on the Funchal waterfront.

Cristiano Ronaldo Sculpture In Funchal City, Madeira, Portugal, Southern Europe

Among different points of interest in Funchal, simply Madeira’s cultural middle, there’s a Municipal Square flanked by Baroque edifices, a Fifteenth-century cathedral with a wooded-Moorish ceiling, a neatly-kept Botanical Garden with intricate flower designs, a hilltop ‘Monte’ palace with an adjoining park bedecked with Japanese-inspired torii and temples, and the three,200-meter-long cable automobile, hovering above the red-tile-roofed historic metropolis middle.

If you’re on the lookout for an affordable eat in Downtown Funchal, I strongly advocate O Giro restaurant, within the coronary heart of the Old Town, and a brief four-minute stroll from the Municipal Square.

Their pork panini and ice cream churros are out of this world, and can solely set you again by some $14 bucks. Speaking of affordability…

Portuguese Food Next To The Beach

Madeira Is A Steal Of A Deal

This leads me to our fifth and last cause behind Madeira’s rising nomad inhabitants: it’s very affordable to reside in by Western Europe requirements.

In the affordability chart, I nonetheless wouldn’t place Madeira increased than Albania, Bulgaria, Georgia and the like, however contemplating Portugal just isn’t a part of the Eastern flank, and it’s a highly-developed nation with excessive requirements of dwelling, Madeira is really a steal of a deal.

A Person Taking Out Euro Notes From A Wallet, Europe Travel Concept

Dining out in central Funchal, I might pay anyplace from $16 to $27, relying on how elaborate a meal was and the recognition of a restaurant, with a few of my greatest dinners being in reality on the cheaper finish of that vary.

You simply can’t beat some conventional, taberna-cooked swordfish and banana with white rice on the aspect, passionfruit-flavored pasteis de nata, a novelty I had by no means come throughout touring within the mainland earlier than, and a few poncha, Madeira’s hard-hitting, distilled sugar-cane drink.

Of course, you’ll be able to all the time go for the well-reviewed eatery serving Portuguese dishes with a high-end twist within the fancier a part of city, however the true culinary wonders of Madeira won’t worsen the pressure in your pockets.

Pastel De Nata In Portugal, Southern Europe

On common, a primary lunchtime menu together with a drink within the enterprise district of Funchal will value you an estimated $10.91, as per information by Expatistan.

Cheap lease is yet one more essential issue for nomads relocating to Madeira, with month-to-month lease for a 900 square-feet furnished condo throughout Funchal averaging $793.99.

As Nomad List reiterates, Madeira is ‘affordable’, and in case you’re incomes a median $2,228 monthly, chances are high you’ll be high-quality.

You Can Live In Madeira On A Digital Nomad Visa

Finally, Portugal has its very personal Digital Nomad Visa, permitting foreigners who make a dwelling working remotely or who’re entrepreneurs to use for a long-term residence allow, enabling them to reside within the nation for an preliminary interval of two years.

Visa Application

Other than presenting a transparent felony report and present process additional checks on the Consulate interview, candidates should earn greater than €3,040 to use for this visa, which is issued for an preliminary interval of two years, renewable for added years.

This means a majority of digital nomads are eligible for a DNV for dwelling in sunny Madeira, or in reality, another Portuguese hotspot that’s been surging in reputation with nomads, equivalent to Porto, the unofficial capital of Northern Portugal (mainland), and even the Azores, the mid-Atlantic archipelago.

We could also be a bit biased, however judging by Madeira’s year-round, celebratory nomad actions, the truth that it hosts the Nomad Escape, it has some really magnificent climate, and a relatively low value of dwelling in comparison with the European mainland, we’re inclined to say it’s the most suitable choice.

Alternatively, American residents can go to Madeira and the broader Schengen Area, which the entire of Portugal and most European international locations adhere to, for as much as 90 days out of any 180-day interval with out a visa.

Read More:

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