How to work remotely from Madeira: a digital nomad guide

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Madeira burst onto the digital nomad scene in recent years and became a much-loved remote working location, sprouting several thriving nomad hubs around the archipelago. Here’s everything you need to know to plan a remote stay in Madeira.

What really put Madeira on the map was a local “digital nomad village” initiative, which was set up just before the COVID-19 pandemic but was then massively accelerated by it. This attracted a whole new audience to Madeira and helped establish new co-working and co-living facilities. It is now viewed by many as one of the best digital nomad bases in Europe.

Not only is Madeira a great place to base yourself from a practical point of view, but if you decide to stay longer, you’ll have the chance to fully enjoy its beautiful nature and uncover some of its hidden gems.

Is Madeira good for working remotely? 

In a word: yes! There are several reasons why Madeira is an ideal destination for working remotely. 

First and foremost, Madeira has a perfectly mild climate all year round, which means you can enjoy outdoor activities or relax in nature after your working sessions. Nicknamed the “Hawaii of Europe”, Madeira has a subtropical climate with sunshine and warm temperatures from March to November. But even winter can feel more like a Northern European spring whenever the sun is out.

The second reason is that Madeira is a phenomenal destination for outdoor activities. If you have an active lifestyle or love being surrounded by incredible nature, you’ll have a top-notch digital nomad experience on the island. In Madeira, you can do it all — from swimming inside natural volcanic pools to hiking mountain peaks. Surfing, SUP, scuba diving, canyoning, and paragliding are just some of the sports and activities you can do.

The island has mostly a rural and natural character and is only moderately urbanized. The most populated area is the capital Funchal; for the rest, you will find quieter villages. Plus, the island is fairly small, and you can go from one coast to another in one hour and a half maximum.

Last but not least, Madeira is still relatively affordable, especially if you come from a country with more spending power. (The situation is more difficult for locals however, particularly when it comes to rent and property prices. Boasting about how ‘cheap’ Madeira is may not make you popular with locals, though it is true that it’s still good value for many foreigners.)

You may want to check our pros and cons of visiting Madeira for more general points on what to expect. For instance, it’s an amazing island if you’re into nature, but there is very little nightlife.

Is it easy to get to/from Madeira? 

Despite its island status, Madeira has excellent connectivity by air. The main island has only one airport, the Cristiano Ronaldo Airport, located in Funchal. This international airport offers regular direct flights to and from cities around Europe.

There are also some direct flights to places outside of Europe (e.g. New York) though it may still be cheaper or better to fly via Lisbon or Porto due to the greater number of connections there.

What is the internet like in Madeira? 

Your internet connection will surely be a central concern, but fret not, as Madeira invested in high-speed internet infrastructure and you almost certainly won’t have any issues.

We had some question marks ourselves before we first visited in 2021, imagining it to be somewhat remote or lacking in connectivity, but Madeira’s infrastructure is luckily well-developed.

The island has fast and stable internet connections, often fibre, with average download speeds ranging from 50 Mbps to 1 Gbps, depending on the package and provider. 

High-speed and reliable Wi-Fi is widely available in public spaces like caf茅s, restaurants, hotels, and co-working spaces. As you’d expect, many of these businesses offer complimentary internet connectivity for customers.

4G/5G connectivity is good, apart from some of the most remote areas that you might reach on hikes or road trips, or perhaps if you’re in a weird blind spot in a valley. You can check this map of coverage.

We’ve personally had a great mobile connection in any of the developed areas with both Vodafone and MEO. If you’re staying for a while, then you may want to pick up a local SIM card from one of the Portuguese providers.

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Digital nomad hubs in Madeira 

Ponta do Sol 

Ponta Do Sol is Madeira鈥檚 original digital nomad village. Located on the island’s southwestern coast, Ponta Do Sol enjoys the most hours of sunshine per year, making it a perfect place for those seeking to enjoy the beach after work. The area is characterized by its many terraced banana plantations.

We should say the beach is small and covered in pebbles and rocks. It’s a lovely spot, but don’t expect a sandy beach (most beaches in Madeira are rocky). The village itself is quiet and small with just one short street with some cafes and restaurants. If you’re staying in an apartment or holiday home, it will likely not be in the village itself but a short drive away on the surrounding cliffs, since accommodations are a bit spread out over the valley.

Ponta do Sol has some pros and cons, but a big pro is the digital nomad community, which seems to be most active here.

There are several co-living and co-working spaces in Ponta Do Sol. The best co-working space is inside the John do Passos Cultural Centre by StartUp Madeira. It is free to use for anyone who has registered on the Digital Nomads Madeira website

This coworking spot is only a few steps from the town’s main street, which has pubs, caf猫s, restaurants, and shops. Among the popular co-living options are Outsite and Banana House

To network and have fun after a workday, digital nomads staying in Ponta Do Sol gather at Steak and Sun for a meal, at The Small House for a craft beer, or at the stunning hotel Estalagem da Ponta Do Sol for weekly sunset parties.

Check stays in Ponta do Sol

Machico 

Machico is popular among digital nomads with a close-knit remote worker community and a lovely boulevard with a marina and small sandy beach. Just a 20-minute drive from Funchal, Machico’s lifestyle is all about surfing, jogging, and taking sunrise or sunset yoga classes.

It’s officially classed as Madeira’s only other city besides Funchal, but it feels more like a town and is surrounded by green mountains.

The best venue for remote workers is Amparo, a free co-working space (previous registration on their official website required). Hosted in a centuries-old fort, this coworking spot offers stunning ocean views. Inspired by the original digital nomad village in Ponta do Sol, Machico locals set up the Madeira Eastcoasters group to develop the local community.

There aren’t proper co-living options in Machico; however, you will find many villas and houses you can share with fellow digital nomads. There are also many good apartment rental options.

Machico is not one of the top places to stay for tourists, but it has many quality-of-life aspects that make it particularly attractive for a longer stay. It’s also in a strategic location for exploring both the north and south sides of the island.

Check stays in Machico

Jardim do Mar

Located on a faj茫 (coastal plain) sheltered by imposing rocky cliffs, Jardim do Mar’s name (“Garden of the Sea”) is pretty telling of what you will find here. This picturesque town is surrounded by a majestic natural landscape.

We love Jardim do Mar and highly recommend it if you’d like to be in a beautiful and somewhat isolated place close to nature.

It receives swells from the North Atlantic that make it a great surfing spot, though be aware that it is typically recommended for experienced surfers.

The best co-working and co-living space in town is Nomadico, a franchise with venues across Europe and beyond. The staff and guests at Nomadico organise family dinners and other social events. Other great spots to remote work and socialise are Joe’s Bar, just a minute’s walk from Nomadico, and XS Cafe.

Check stays in Jardim do Mar

Funchal 

Madeira’s capital city offers charming historical architecture and ocean views from nearly everywhere in the city and is home to a thriving digital nomad community.

There are many things to see and do in Funchal, from wine tastings to leisure strolls in magnificent gardens to fun toboggan rides. As the largest settlement in the island, it’s also the one place with the most conveniences, the largest variety of cuisines, and the most transport connections. We recommend Funchal in particular if you don’t plan on renting a car, as it’s easiest to catch buses from here.

There are many co-living options in Funchal. One is A Ver o Mar, a recently opened co-living space in the city centre that offers magnificent views and large spaces. 

In Funchal, there are two co-working venues, Cowork Funchal and Sangha Cowork. Cowork Funchal is housed in a 300-year-old historical building with six floors of offices and meeting rooms.

Funchal also boasts plenty of caf猫s with complimentary Wi-Fi where digital nomads can get their jobs done. Third-wave coffee places are a bit of a rarity in Funchal (this isn’t Mexico City or Bali!), but there are a handful of cafes serving speciality brews. Check out Prima Caju, Greenhouse Coffee Roasters, or Maia Coffee Shop. 

Check stays in Funchal

Porto Santo 

Porto Santo is a small island off the coast of Madeira, just two hours from Funchal by ferry. Featuring golden sand beaches, stunning viewpoints, and great hikes, Porto Santo is a place to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of your daily life. 

The island is more isolated and is much smaller than the main Madeira, being only about 6% of its size. However, it has the only wide sandy beaches (that aren’t man-made) and is perfect for water activities like kayaking, snorkelling, and diving after your work sessions.

This small island has a co-living space, Nomad Living, at the Vila Baleira Resort, offering working stations and networking sessions. The space can also be used by those not staying here.

There isn’t yet a digital nomad community established in Porto Santo, so there aren’t specific caf猫s and restaurants where remote workers gather. However, you will find plenty of laid-back beach venues for working and relaxing.

Check stays in Porto Santo

Practical tips

Here are some practical tips for a stress-free remote work experience in Madeira. 

Cost of Living

When compared to other European destinations, Madeira is pretty affordable. While accommodation can be pricier if you visit the island in the peak of tourist season, different aspects of daily life are relatively inexpensive, from eating and drinking to transport. Plus, many fantastic activities you can have fun with in Madeira are free or will cost a little.

You can read more in our Madeira travel costs overview, but keeping in mind that it’s easier to lower your costs when staying longer.

Car Rental

There are several different transportation options in Madeira. The best and easiest way to get around is by renting a car. The island has many beaches, viewpoints, and lesser-known hiking trails, which you will need a car to reach. You can check our tips for renting a car in Madeira.

The distances from one point to the other of the island can be covered in a maximum of a 90-minute drive. However, some of the mountain roads can be a bit challenging depending on your driving experience.

If you’re staying long-term, it’s worth searching for a one-month car rental, as you can sometimes find surprisingly good deals for longer rentals, especially in the tourist low season. You can use Discovercars to find the best car rental deals in Madeira from both local providers and global brands.

Other Transport

While there are bus routes all over the island, we generally recommend renting a car or taking tours if you want to do sightseeing. Buses don’t go to most of the tourist attractions, and the timetables are more designed for commuters than for visitors.

That said, if you’re in Madeira on a long stay, you may have more patience and willpower to put up with the slow and infrequent buses. If you’re just trying to do one or two activities every weekend, then the additional hassle of using public transport may be less of a dealbreaker than for a tourist wanting to see everything in just a few days.

Timetables are available at Hor谩rios do Funchal, but keep in mind that there are three different bus companies on the island.

Another way to get around is by catching a taxi. Taxis are readily available in urban areas such as Funchal and Machico. They are a good option for short trips or reaching specific destinations if you don’t have a car. 

There is no Uber in Madeira, but there is the ride-hailing app Bolt. Its service is highly limited due to local regulations, so you might sometimes struggle to find a ride.

Digital Nomad Community 

Madeira is becoming a hotspot for digital nomads, so much so that the Regional Government of Madeira created a project called Digital Nomads Madeira Islands to attract more remote workers to the island. 

Most digital nomads choose to stay in Funchal and Ponta Do Sol, where you will find most networking opportunities. But if you don’t need to be near other remote workers all the time, then the whole island is your oyster, especially if you decide to have your own vehicle to get around.

Slack Community

Most of the communication between digital nomads in Madeira occurs via Slack. Once you register on the Digital Nomads Madeira Website, you will receive an email with the access link and can begin browsing the different channels. 

The Slack channels are the best way to find accommodation, events (like workshops and talks), and leisure activities to join. There are also a number of (invite-only) WhatsApp groups for expats and remote workers.

Digital Nomad Visa

If you are not a European Union resident, you will need a visa to stay in Madeira as a remote worker. The Portugal Digital Nomad Visa is valid for non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens and has two routes – the Temporary Stay Visa and the Residency Visa. 

The Temporary Stay Visa is valid for one year and can be extended for another two years.

The Residency Visa is a good solution if you plan to stay in Madeira (and Portugal) for over a year. However, note that you will first get a temporary stay visa with a 4-month validity. 

During this time, you are required to request a residency permit. Following reforms in Portugal, the Immigration and Border Services (SEF) no longer exists, and the new agency to contact is the Integration, Migration and Asylum (AIMA) department.

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