If you’re a digital nomad looking for a fantastic place to live, you should consider moving to Madeira, Portugal. This stunning Portuguese island has everything you need, from world-class infrastructure, great weather, and breathtaking views to a vibrant culture and a welcoming nomad community.
Madeira is a must for travelers seeking an escape from cold winters or unbearable humidity, people who crave the island life but also want fast internet and things to do day and night, or those thrill seekers who love adventure, hiking, and diving.
I personally wanted all those things in one and was craving for a place that could respond to my demands. I found out about Digital Nomad village during a very harsh winter lockdown in January 2021, in which I was indulging in manifestation journaling as a way to manifest my freedom and get my travels back. I never had in my plans to visit Madeira before that.
No wonder why this place sounded like a paradise. In February 2021, the digital nomad village officially opened, so I bought my flights, and one month on the island (which was the plan initially) suddenly became four.
Where is Madeira
Madeira archipelago consists of four islands off the northwest African coast in the North Atlantic Ocean Macaronesia region. Madeira Islands contain the largest and most populous main island, with approximately two-thirds of Madeira’s population. The small capital town of Funchal is located on central Madeira Island.
The archipelago is a volcanic group consisting of the central Madeira Island, Porto Santo Island, Desertas Islands, and the Savage Islands. Madeira island has an area of 741 square kilometers (286 sq mi) and a population density of 176 inhabitants per square kilometer.
How to get to Madeira
Reaching Madeira island is really easy, with direct flights from most European cities and multiple flights a day from Lisbon airport. The Madeira International Airport (FNC – or Cristiano Ronaldo international airport) is just 13 kilometers (8 mi) from the capital city of Funchal.
You can also fly directly to the island of Porto Santo and take a ferry to Madeira.
There are also regular ferry services to Madeira Islands from mainland Portugal and Morocco.
What are the reasons every digital nomad should live in Madeira, Portugal?
The weather is mostly warm and sunny all year round
Madeira has a subtropical climate, meaning it has mild temperatures all year round (think of the weather as an eternal spring). This makes it an ideal location for digital nomads who come from cold countries and want to escape the winter temperatures. I come from Greece, and although most of you think we have warm winters, our temperatures drop significantly, especially during December, January, and February.
So visiting Madeira in February and being able to enjoy some sunny hikes, beach yoga, and a cold beer on a warm day was particularly pleasant to me.
Madeira is the perfect location for digital nomads who want to enjoy the best of both worlds – stunning scenery, a relaxing environment with great weather, and plenty of opportunities to work online outdoors or pursue outdoor activities.
It's a very safe place to live
Madeira is a very safe place to live and work. The crime rates are low, and the atmosphere is extremely relaxed, with locals being super friendly and welcoming all around the island. This makes it ideal for digital nomads who want to feel safe and welcome while living and working in an unfamiliar place.
I can recommend Madeira to anyone who wants to raise a family and escape the busy city life while having plenty of things to enjoy and see, or to anyone considering places to start an online business. Madeira is also a great place for solo female travelers, as I felt safe walking around alone during my stay.
There are plenty of things to do and see
The entire island of Madeira is an excellent place for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. There are plenty of hiking trails, waterfalls, levada walks ( Madeiran irrigation channels), and viewpoints to explore, to which you can catch some fantastic pink sunsets and breathtaking views.
Also, the Laurisilva forest of Madeira (the largest surviving area of laurel forest) is a Unesco world heritage site and contains a unique combination of plants and animals.
I particularly enjoyed the Madeira Island Levada Walks app, which offers GPS-guided walking routes and maps of Madeira’s levadas. I’ve also indulged in adventurous activities like canyoning (there are plenty of AMAZING waterfalls to explore and jump from), diving, and exploring the fantastic sea cliffs from a cable car.
I couldn’t resist the urge to become a licensed diver there. The bottom of the Atlantic ocean is just so interesting not to explore.
If you want to escape the crowds, there are also many deserted beaches and Porto Moniz natural pools to enjoy swimming. And if you want to learn more about Madeira’s history and culture, there are several museums and art galleries to visit.
I was living in the digital nomad village, Ponta do Sol, where there were community lunches weekly, coworking space, a bunch of community events and mindfulness activities for nomads.
There was also a Purple Friday (a sunset event with a spectacular DJ, lots of drinks, and plenty of dance) happening weekly in Estalagem hotel, where you could easily connect with people and make new friends.
If you love the nightlife, you can head to the capital, Funchal, where there are many different pubs and bars full of people until late.
The people are friendly and welcoming
As mentioned above, the Madeiran people are super friendly and welcoming, which makes it a great place to settle for long periods.
I was particularly impressed with how helpful everyone was, whether it was giving directions, providing information about the island, or simply having a pleasant chat about life.
Most of the time, I had a sense of belonging there. I particularly enjoyed getting to know the locals, their culture, and learning about their way of life.
Madeira is also a great place to meet other digital nomads or slow travelers and mingle with the community, as there are many living on the island.
The cost of living is very low
Madeira is one of the most affordable places to live in Europe. The cost of living is meager, especially if you compare it to other popular digital nomad destinations such as Lisbon, the Canary Islands, Barcelona, and Berlin. Funchal is a place with a buzz of Mallorca and 1/4 of the prices.
If you cook at home and have a reasonable way of life, you can spend 1500 USD / monthly and live comfortably.
You can easily find apartments, villas, and cabins for rent at reasonable prices. Many different types of accommodation are available, from hotels, hostels, and camping sites to coliving places, Quintas, apartments, and villas.
You can also opt for sharing a house with other nomads to reduce your costs or check other coliving options significantly.
I initially stayed in a wooden cabin with a fantastic ocean view when I went there. Then, as I extended my stay, I opted for a villa with a private pool as we wanted to celebrate our birthdays and host some friends from abroad.
Then, we had a hotel nomad-deal where we stayed partly in the capital Funchal and Porto Santo island for approx 650 euros/month + breakfast. We could swap between the places anytime we wanted.
Food and drinks are also very affordable, with plenty of restaurants, cafes, and bars to choose from. Madeira is also a great place to buy fresh and organic products, as many markets sell locally grown fruit and vegetables.
It's easy to get around the whole island
Madeira is a relatively small island, measuring 57km long and 22km wide. This makes it easy to get around, whether traveling by car, bus, or on foot.
I often walked or hitchhiked when I wanted to explore a different part of the island, and it was never difficult to find a ride (from someone in the community). However, renting a car was the best option, as we wanted to explore every corner of the island at our own pace and hike every week.
The public transport system is also good, with regular buses running between the major towns and villages. Madeira has an extensive network of Levadas (irrigation channels), famous walking trails, and a great way to connect with nature and explore the island on foot. You can easily access these by taking a bus, a taxi, or a Bolt to the starting point.
Excellent internet speed and connectivity for online workers
Madeira has excellent internet speed and connectivity, making it ideal for remote working while traveling and online businesses. I found the speed fast and reliable, with no issues working online from every part of the island or streaming movies.
There are many coworking spaces on the island as well as cafes and restaurants with free Wi-Fi where you can work and socialize with new people.
Sometimes we work at the (totally free) coworking space in the digital nomad village in Ponta, others at home, and others from hotels, cafes, or the beach!
It's a great place to relax but also be active outdoors
Madeira is the perfect location for those who want to live in a beautiful and relaxing place and be active quite often. With hundreds of hiking trails, stunning nature, mountains, beaches, and waterfalls, it is difficult not to be in a new gorgeous place every weekend.
The nature of the island is simply breathtaking.
As mentioned above, it has a great climate, with mild temperatures all year round. This makes it ideal for working and exercising outdoors or taking advantage of the island’s many adventurous activities, like diving, paragliding (oh yes, I tried that too), hiking, or camping in the mountains.
The island has something for everyone, stunning beaches where you can sunbathe, challenging hikes for nature lovers, water sports, surfing, canyoning, and much more.
There are also plenty of opportunities for cultural activities such as visiting museums, art galleries, live music, performances, sunset parties, barbecues… and the list goes on and on.
The food is delicious and affordable
Many restaurants, cafes, and bars in Madeira serve local and international cuisine, and there is a variety of them to choose from in and out of the capital, Funchal. There are mainstream options but also exceptional choices with local dishes. Every restaurant we visited in Madeira was generally affordable.
Madeira is also a great place to buy fresh and organic products and prepare your barbecues and homecooked meals, as many markets sell locally grown fruit and vegetables.
Funchal, the capital, has a wide range of shops, boutiques, supermarkets, and malls. You can find everything you need on the island.
Madeira is extremely popular for its Madeira wine, which is also delicious and very affordable.
It is also known for the super tasty (and vital) alcoholic drink, Poncha, which you can easily make with Rum, tropical fruit “maracuja” (or passion fruit), sugar cane, and honey. There was always a homemade Poncha at every nomad party.
No wonder how many of us got drunk from it!
There are plenty of opportunities to grow or change your career
Madeira is a great place to start if you are looking for new opportunities or exponentially growing your career with new connections, mentors, and nomads.
With many startups and established companies based on the island, there are plenty of job and internship opportunities in various fields, from digital marketing and web development to customer service and hospitality.
I networked with all kinds of people, from digital nomad moms with their work-at-home business ideas to bloggers, photographers, copywriters, and 7-figure entrepreneurs that managed to thrive in Madeira.
Interacting with so many individuals and learning from their stories is incredibly eye-opening.
If you dream of becoming your own boss, Madeira is a great place to start an online business.
While living on the island, I made some great connections that helped me further grow my business and brand in the digital nomad industry and beyond.
In the digital nomad village, many events are happening weekly that can connect you with people in the relevant working fields and explore opportunities together. I don’t think I’ve ever met so many incredible and exciting people concentrated in one place.
The digital nomad community will change your life
I left the community for the end, as to me, it is the most worthwhile reason a nomad should live in Madeira. Nothing would be the same without the digital nomad village, which -as mentioned earlier- is located in Ponta do Sol, and hundreds of nomads live there all year.
Ponta do Sol is a special and unique place because you‘re able to live and work in a neighborhood with other like-minded people from all over the world. One of the best things about being a digital nomad and living in Ponta do Sol is that you meet so many inspiring and exciting people from all walks of life every week, in every place, and at every opportunity.
It all started as we were working at the same place, at Centro Cultural John dos Passos. Every week, there was a new opportunity for socialization outside of work, whether going on hikes, exploring the island together, going out for drinks or lunch, or working out at the beach.
There was always someone there for me, which was particularly valuable at the pleasant moments and when I needed some affirmation and confidence boost. On my birthday, my friends and boyfriend planned a surprise party for me, and most of the nomads in the community cooked, made drinks, wrote birthday cards, gave presents, and made me the happiest 26-year-old in the world.
The community will change your life as it has changed mine. I’ve made some great friends here that I know I’ll keep for life, and they were the main reason I extended my one-month trip on the island to four.
If you’re a digital nomad, there are plenty of reasons why you should consider living in Madeira, Portugal.
The weather is mostly warm and sunny all year round, it’s a very safe place to live with plenty of things to do and see, the people are friendly and welcoming, the cost of living is low, and it’s easy to get around the island.
Plus, the internet speed and connectivity there are excellent for online workers. And if that’s not enough incentive, the tasty Madeiran food, Madeira wine, Poncha, and the incredible opportunities to grow or change your career will definitely you.
So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and visit Madeira!
Maria is a Greek girl passionate about traveling, self-development, and everything related to digital marketing.
She has been moving around the world for the last four years and shares her thoughts & pieces of advice on personal growth, travel & remote working at triggeryourtrip.com.